“…If you stand up straight, people can’t ride your back. And that’s what we did. We stood up straight.”
April 4, 2009 12:00 AM Subscribe
When Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated April 4, 1968, he was helping sanitation workers in Memphis form a union.
posted by univac (20 comments total)
11 users marked this as a favorite
In 1967, SCLC initiated the Poor People's Campaign
to unify the African-American civil rights movement with working people's movements more generally. In MLK's words, "It must not be just black people, it must be all poor people. We must include American Indians, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and even poor whites."
The campaign brought him to Memphis in 1968 to rally with striking sanitation workers
. A movement of clergy & community activists had grown in support of the strikers after two workers died on the job
After King's death, the workers won recognition of their union, AFSCME Local 1733
, as well as a collective bargaining agreement containing wage increases, a grievance procedure, and improvements to outdated & dangerous equipment.
In 1968, union membership in the United States was at 29.4 %
of the workforce. Since then, the country's election of a black president has prompted suggestions that King's dream has been fulfilled
, while union membership has decreased to under 13%