- photo courtesy 1199 SEIU
A coalition of unions and elected officials gathered in Annapolis on Martin Luther King Day to launch the Fight for $15 campaign in Maryland. “It’s gonna be a fight,” said Ricarra Jones, political organizer for 1199 SEIU, but she is hopeful as this legislative “session is off to a great start for workers.” Following the lead of Montgomery County and the District of Columbia, a statewide living wage would raise pay for over a half million workers and strengthen the 35% of Maryland households who struggle to afford basic necessities. All Democratic candidates for governor have expressed support for the $15 minimum wage. Read more here.
- photo courtesy 1199 SEIU
Prominent labor union organizer and leader William Lucy was honored with the prestigious NAACP Chairman’s Award at the NAACP Image Awards on Monday. The award “is bestowed in recognition of individuals who demonstrate exemplary public service and use their distinct platforms to create agents of change.” Lucy, International Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) for nearly 40 years, was recognized for his role in the labor movement and his accomplishments as a labor organizer and justice advocate. “His work with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike and the instrumental role he played in the anti-apartheid movement – which helped free Nelson Mandela and led to the first democratic elections in South Africa – exemplify Mr. Lucy’s impact on the civil and human rights movement in the U.S. and around the world,” said the NAACP. The Memphis Sanitation ‘I Am a Man’ Workers received the organization’s Vanguard Award. Read more about both awards here.
“Warrior for justice” Paul Booth died January 17. On Monday, Martin Luther King Day, the longtime AFSCME leader responded to well-wishers with a note from his hospital bed: “I’ve been lending a hand to AFSCME and the Church of God in Christ on their ambitious plans for the commemoration of the 50 years since the Memphis sanitation strike and Dr. King’s assassination. I encourage you to go to www.iam2018.org to learn about and connect with the effort…On February 1, Local 1733 asks that we join them in a Moment of Silence at 10 am, to reflect on the deaths of Brothers Cole and Walker (the Memphis sanitation workers whose death sparked the 1968 strike), and to recommit to the struggle. In some cities, trash trucks will stop for that Moment; in others, sanitation workers and municipal officials will join for recognition and prayer. Dr. King famously said ‘the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice.’ But he knew, and I underline, that it’s up to us to do the bending. We shall do it together." Lee Saunders, President of AFSCME — the organization to which Paul devoted much of his life — said “We should take some time to grieve his loss — and then honor his memory by continuing to fight like hell for social and economic justice. That is exactly what Paul would ask us to do.” Read more about Paul from AFSCME, Harold Meyerson, and the New York Times. Click here if you'd like to send a note to Paul’s wife, organizer Heather Booth, and his family.
Note: AFSCME Council 20 and AFSCME Council 67 are participating in the February 1 Moment of Silence locally; stay tuned for details.
photo: Paul Booth with Jobs With Justice Executive Director Sarita Gupta at the group's 2008 conference in Providence, Rhode Island; photo courtesy JwJ
"It is one of the cherished American ideals that each generation shall stand in advance of the preceding one: better physically, mentally, spiritually. And America demands for her workers this opportunity for development."
-Manlapit (right) was a migrant worker, lawyer, and President of the Filipino Federation of Labor (see Today's Labor History)
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