Minnesotans Declare “We Are One” 

 

"Isn't it ironic that on April 4, 2011, we are fighting the same fight they were on April 4, 1968?"

Rhonda Griffin of Hennepin County Social Services Local 34 was one of thousands of union members and allies who marched from the Cathedral of St. Paul to the state Capitol on April 4th. The march was to counter the right-wing attack on worker rights, and to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. King was assassinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968, while supporting AFSCME sanitation workers who were on strike for their right to decency and a voice on the job. The struggle continues from Memphis to Madison to Minnesota and states across the nation. 

 

 

 

Heather Hemmer, AFSCME Local 34 member, addressed union members attending the rally. 

Watch the New Video AFSCME created about the ongoing struggle for worker rights. Legendary soul and R&B singer and musician Aaron Neville recorded the song "America the Beautiful" especially for the video.

We Are One Labor Education Services Video.

March for the Middle Class Daily Planet Video

 

 

 

Here is the text of AFSCME Local 34 member Heather Hemmer's "We Are One" remarks to the crowd at the April 4th rally: "As my mom always says, “Everything keeps going up but our wages.” My name is Heather Hemmer and I’m a child support officer for Hennepin County, an AFSCME Local 34 steward, and a Next Wave Activist. I’m here to talk about why we still need unions. 

It really bothers me when people say, “We don’t need unions anymore. They were needed at one time, but are no longer needed.”  I think those people forget that the only reason working conditions have improved is because of unions, and people coming together to fight for their rights.

And we need unions to defend Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream. The dream of social and economic justice, fairness, social equality, a voice in the workplace, and collective bargaining rights.  

And we need unions to stop the cheap labor conservatives’ lies. They are saying unions are the enemy. When in reality, we are just doing our best to make Minnesota a better place.  

And we need unions to defend working and middle class people.  We need to protect our jobs, pensions, dignity, and respect. We need somebody on our side.  

And we need unions to unite the private and public sector, union and non union people because it’s the cheap labor conservatives that divided us in the first place. After all, we are one.  

And we need unions to fight for a fair budget and raise revenue fairly. It is time to end the burden on the middle and working class.  Because, it there will be no justice, then there will be no peace.  

(Chant)  (No Justice, No Peace)  

Now is the time more than ever when we need young people to grab the bull by the horns and continue the union movement. We have a lot of people that will be retiring now or within the next five years. It’s up to the younger people to carry on the torch and continue to fight for social and economic justice. As Paul Wellstone said, “We all do better, when we all do better.”  It’s about time that we all do better, instead of just the privileged class.  The cheap labor conservatives’ solution to everything is “Cut back.”  And when they say “Cut back” we say “Fight back!”   

(Chant)  (Cut back! Fight back!)  

Thank you all and please continue the fight!"

 

Jacquelyn Root of Local 4001 at North Hennepin Community College spoke at the rally. Read Her Remarks about keeping Dr. King’s dream alive. Union members, people of faith, and civil and human rights activists, students and other progressive allies are joined with working people in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and dozens of other states where well-funded, right-wing corporate politicians are trying to take away the rights Dr. King gave his life for - the freedom to bargain, to vote, to afford a college education and justice for all workers, immigrant and native-born.

 

 

 

Photos of St. Paul March and Rally by AFSCME’s Michael Kuchta.

Photos of St. Paul March and Rally by AFSCME’s Laura Askelin.

Photos of St. Paul March and Rally by MFT Local 59.

Photos of Duluth Silent March and Vigil by NE ALF

Download the Flyer “From Memphis to Madison – The Struggle Continues.”

 

43 years ago on  April 4thj, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took his last march with AFSCME Sanitation Workers in Memphis.  Watch videos about the sanitation workers’ struggle and labor’s pledge to keep Dr. King’s dream alive. 

 

Video: At the River I Stand Documentary

Video: Keep the Dream Alive

Video: I Am A Man Documentary

Video: Labor Groups Pledge to Keep Dr. King’s Dream Alive

Speech: “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.