Celebrate MLK Day by fighting for his dream

On Monday we will celebrate the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the famed leader of the civil rights era. Dr. King was an advocate for civil rights both inside and outside the workplace.

The workplace dimension of the civil rights struggle – which transcended race – was an integral part of Dr. King’s vision of a new America. In fact, Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968, while he stood with striking sanitation workers (members of AFSCME Local 1733) who were seeking fair wages and better treatment. Speaking to the AFL-CIO on December 11, 1961, Dr. King stated that:

[T]he labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the nation to undreamed of levels of production. Those who today attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them.

As Dr. King’s memory lives on, the fight for workers’ rights continues. The “right-to-work” battle in Indiana represents the latest assault on workers. The bill proposed by Governor Mitch Daniels (R) explicitly targets labor unions and seeks to damage their members’ ability to bargain collectively for a fair shake. Proponents of these laws claim that they create a more business-friendly environment and lead to economic growth for states and their residents.  But research shows that “right-to-work” laws lead to lower wages, drive down the overall living standards in communities, and do not improve business conditions in the states.

So it’s clear that Dr. King had it right when he cautioned that “right-to-work” “provides no rights and no work. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining.” We should honor his legacy by fighting hard for his dream – and that means promoting workers’ rights so that all Americans, regardless of race or socio-economic status, can achieve their own dreams.

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This entry was posted on Friday, January 13th, 2012 at 12:05 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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