CONTACT: Fred Redmond, (412) 562-2307
(Pittsburgh) — The following statement was issued today by Fred Redmond, United Steelworkers (USW) Vice President for Human Affairs, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day:
In March 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. addressed a mass meeting of over 10,000 people in Memphis, Tenn., in the midst of a strike of 1,300 black sanitation workers. He told them, “All labor has dignity.”
Today, as we celebrate the civil and labor rights activist’s life, we must uphold that belief and stand up for those who work hard every day, especially as thousands of federal government workers are currently furloughed and unable to make ends meet. In 2019, no worker in the United States should have to wait in a food pantry line or sell family heirlooms to pay their bills, but that is what we are seeing as the current administration holds workers hostage in an attempt to fund a symbol of racism and disunity.
We also see an ever-growing racial wealth divide in this country, one that Dr. King dedicated his life to eradicating. We in the labor movement must commit to continuing this work, as the stakes are higher than ever.
Unions must also stand up for Americans who are victims of racial, ethnic, and religious hatred and violence, a phenomenon that, unfortunately, is all too common in the United States. Hate crimes against minorities, including people of color, increased in 2018 for the third year in a row. Labor must consistently condemn these despicable acts and fight back against inequality of all forms just as we fight back against unfair trade.
Dr. King had a dream, one where all workers and all Americans are treated with dignity. Let us rededicate ourselves to doing the hard work necessary to make that dream a reality.
The USW represents workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors.