IWJ Plans Events to Support Workers' Rights on King Anniversary

by Michael Sean Winters

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An interfaith coalition of religious leaders, joined by labor and civil rights groups, is organizing a day of protest and witness on next Monday’s 31st anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Interfaith Worker Justice committee is leading the effort and organized a press call this afternoon. Specifically, the groups are calling attention to the need to defend workers’ rights in the face of political attacks unleashed on organized labor in recent months. Dr. King was shot in Memphis, where he had gone to stand with striking garbage workers.

Rev. Nelson Rivers III, vice president for stakeholder relations at the NAACP said, “In the context of our time, we face increased attacks by right-wing groups…engaged in a gigantic effort to turn back the clock.” Rivers noted that the NAACP has long stood with organized labor defending workers’ rights. He said many local NAACP chapters are organizing special events for Monday’s protests, including “Teach-ins” at several universities.

Mario Ramirez, a union organizer in Wisconsin, spoke about the recent attacks by Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP-led legislature on public sector unions in his state. Ramirez, who works at a manufacturing company, said he and his colleagues in the Voces de la Frontera Worker Center, stood in solidarity with the public employees in Wisconsin.

Calling attention to the protests in Wisconsin, Arlene Holt Baker, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO said, “This is about extremists who want to weaken the voices of working-class families.” She said the attacks on unions had nothing to do with balancing state budgets or creating a thriving economy. “We honor Dr. King with our determination to stand up…April 4th we are standing for the right of all workers to bargain for a better future,” Baker said.

Go to the Interfaith Worker Justice website to learn more about events scheduled in an area near you.

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