By William Barber II, August 29, 2017 – This Labor Day, tens of thousands of men and women are rising up in Chicago and cities from coast to coast to demand that everyone in America have the right to organize and join a union.
I’m proud to stand with them, because their fight is central to the battle against poverty, racism, and inequality.
Earlier this year I announced an effort by faith and moral leaders to carry forward Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of a Poor People’s Campaign. We are working across twenty-five states to alleviate the triad forces of poverty, militarism, and racism that Dr. King knew were poisoning our country then and still threaten us today.
The first Poor People’s Campaign was launched by Dr. King less than a year before his death. His goal was to unite people from all backgrounds and races to confront the politicians who rigged the system against them. In pursuit of that vision, Dr. King traveled to Memphis in April 1968 and joined local sanitation workers fighting for their union rights – where he was assassinated.
Dr. King understood that with a union, the sanitation workers could win better pay, alleviate horrific working conditions, and secure better lives for their families. The fight for union rights was central to his conception of a Poor People’s Campaign – and it will be to our effort as well.
Unions can lift families out of poverty and give working people the power to combat systemic racism and injustice.
For many black Americans, public sector unions were the traditional path into the middle-class. black union workers earn $24/hour compared to an average of $17.78/hour for people without a union, and they’re more likely to have crucial benefits like health care.
However, years of attacks on unions and the right to organize by corporations and the politicians they support have led to a loss of bargaining power, wages, and wealth for workers.
Read more: www.newsweek.com
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