Dr. King had arrived in Memphis, TN to support a strike by the city’s sanitation workers, who went on strike to gain collective bargaining rights and better conditions following the deaths of two employees of the city in an accident. Dr. King called upon the city to respect the “dignity of labor,” saying that all workers deserved fair treatment. He also said it was a crime for a rich country like ours to pay some people starvation wages. Now some changes have been made over time, but organized labor is still under attack. More states have dismantled unions and show no signs of slowing down. Here is documentary footage from AFSCME that captured King’s address to the workers; we should make sure to remember our worth.
“You are demanding that this city will respect the dignity of labor. So often we overlook the work and the significance of those who are not in professional jobs, of those who are not in the so-called big jobs. But let me say to you tonight that whenever you are engaged in work that serves humanity and is for the building of humanity, it has dignity and it has worth.” – Dr. Martin Luther King jr
“The Labor Movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress.” – Dr. Martin Luther King jr
Here is a very good article that is posted on AFSCME Council 31’s website: Martin Luther King’s labor legacy