WASHINGTON – Labor is planning a mass mobilization nationwide on April 4 to support workers’ rights, specifically the right to collectively bargain.
The decision was reached at the AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting in Washington, March 1-2, according to a nationwide conference call of activists. But the council did not formally announce it.
Instead, the word was passed to activists from the Communications Workers, the Teachers, other unions, allied student, civil rights and environmental groups and others.
They were asked to dream up events at work places to show solidarity with workers who are standing up for their rights, notably public workers in Ohio, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Indiana and other states.
Suggestions for solidarity include vigils at houses of worship, wearing red pro-worker clothing, and demonstrations and marches on city halls and state capitols.
Organizers of the mass mobilization specifically chose April 4 because, on that day in 1968, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., while campaigning for the right of 1,300 city sanitation workers – all of them African-American men — to organize and bargain on their own behalf, through joining AFSCME.
One of those 1,300, William Lucy, retired last year as AFSCME’s secretary-treasurer. The Memphis workers won their battle and organizers of the coming mass protest vowed workers would do so this time, too.
The workers’ cause, though not the specific protest, was joined by Obama administration Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who spoke on the conference call.
“I’m proud of all of those who went down to Wisconsin, and I try to provide support and empowerment” from her cabinet post “for middle-class people who must be at the table” when their futures are decided, Solis said.
“Public workers – nurses, police officers, fire fighters – are willing to make sacrifices,” the secretary added, alluding to the excuse GOP governors have used to demand that state and local workers take large pay and pension cuts and pay much more for health insurance. “Budget sacrifices are one thing, but demanding people give up their voice on the job is another.”
In Ohio and Wisconsin – two of the biggest battlegrounds, where workers face off against GOP Govs. Scott Walker, Wis., and John Kasich, Ohio – workers and their unions have already offered to cut pay.
Image: Department of Labor stock photo of Hilda Solis, who supports the demands of labor.