“It is a crime for people to live in this rich nation and receive starvation wages…”
Dr Martin Luther King Jr in Memphis, 1968
At Laborers Local 332, we honor the memory of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. While many recognize his enormous work in fighting against segregation and racial injustice, Dr King was a fierce and eloquent defender of the rights of workers. In fact, many people are unaware that Dr. King died while fighting for the right of public workers to have a union. , who was killed on April 4, 1968, died in a battle for the right of public workers to have a union.
During a heavy rainstorm in Memphis On February 1, 1968, two black sanitation workers had been crushed to death when the compactor mechanism of the trash truck was accidentally triggered. On the same day in a separate incident also related to the inclement weather, 22 black sewer workers had been sent home without pay while their white supervisors were retained for the day with pay. These events led to more than 1,100 black sanitation workers began a strike not only for better wages but for job safety, benefits, and union recognition. “Let it be known everywhere,” King declared, “that along with wages and all of the other securities that you are struggling for, you are also struggling for the right to organize and be recognized.” The key issues for the Memphis strikers were their demands that the City of Memphis grant collective bargaining rights and the collection of union dues
These are the very same items that are being targeted in so-called ‘Right to Work’ legislation
On April 4, 1968, an assassin robbed us of one of the greatest voices of the 20th century for the rights of workers. Throughout his life, King stood up for union rights. His teachings about the rights of labor can serve us well in our own trying times, when those rights are under fresh assault.
Laborers’ Local 332 honors the memory of Dr Martin Luther King with our continued struggled for the rights of our Union Members against discrimination, unfair wages, and the right to collective bargaining. Please take a look at the video below to reflect upon some of the unique insights of Dr Martin Luther King: