Today, across the country, a battle rages on—there are those who would use the budget crisis to attack on our values of economic security and opportunity for all. Make no mistake about it, the attack on public sector unions in Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Ohio, Indiana, and many other states across this country is an attack on the middle class—on decent wages, benefits, safe working conditions, and retirement security. The recession has already taken a serious toll on working Americans, with 1.5 million Americans joining the ranks of low-income working families in 2009 alone. Far too many hard-working American families are not able to earn enough money to achieve economic security.
In this time of a fragile economic recovery, where workers have not seen much benefit from the large productivity gains since the end of the recession, we must work together to strengthen the middle class and the American Dream. Instead, some in Congress are seeking to roll back the historic achievement of healthcare reform, and lawmakers in many states are training their sites on ending collective bargaining. Attacking unions is not supported by most Americans, won’t fix state balance sheets, and will undermine the ability of hard-working Americans to achieve economic security. Public sector union members are not overpaid, and are in fact now mostly women, who are increasingly filling the role of the sole breadwinner for their families.
We stand this week in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated on April 4, 1968. At the time of his death, he was leading the fight for economic human rights—lending his voice and leadership to the Memphis sanitation workers, who sought the right to bargain collectively. Dr. King spent the last years of his life, including his critical year in Chicago in 1966, asserting a broad platform of fundamental human rights: the right to safe housing, the right to work for fair pay, the right to vote, the freedom to bargain, and affordable education to enable individuals to grasp the American Dream.
As we remember his brave legacy, we take on the challenge to strengthen what Dr. King fought for, and what the folks in Wisconsin continue to fight for. This week individuals, organizations, and churches will stand in solidarity with the working people in states where politicians threaten the economic human rights that Dr. King championed.
Please join us. You can find local events in your area here, starting with worship services this weekend, and then events throughout the coming week. In Chicago there will be a rally in Daley Plaza (50 W. Washington) in solidarity with those in Wisconsin on April 9 at 1:00 p.m., starting with a march to the plaza at 12:00 p.m., from the Hyatt Regency Hotel, 151 E. Wacker.
Let’s stand together as one to fight for the whole platform of human rights that Dr. King lived for, and died for.