Dozens of union workers gathered outside the City/County Building in downtown Wilmington to show their support for their fellow workers, and to remember the support union workers recieved from Martin Luther King, Jr.
It was sanitation workers fighting for collective bargaining rights that drew King to Memphis, Tennessee in 1968. He was assassinated during that trip 43 years ago today. Now, union leaders in Wilmington, and around the country, are remembering the man that stood with their brothers, and pledging to follow in his footsteps.
New Castle County Councilman Jae Street, who is also the leader of the Delaware Black Caucus, echoed King’s call for fighting injustice. “He (King) often said, ‘A threat to justice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.’ I say to you today, that a threat to labor anywhere, is a threat to labor everywhere,” said Street.
The crowd also heard from Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, who looked out at signs in the crowd that featured union slogans like “Collective bargaining is the American way.” After seeing the signs, Biden said, “Those are things that many of you have fought for. But here’s the good news though: it’s the law.”
Rev. Christopher Bullock of the Canaan Baptist Church in New Castle told the group that while Dr. King’s dream is still alive, there is some unfinished business. “When we have workers rights being assaulted, we still have some unfinished business. When we have the Wisconsin’s and the Ohio’s being hostile to workers, attacking the middle class, there’s still unfinished business,” Bullock said.
The rally was similar to an event held in late February, where more than 100 union workers gathered in downtown Wilmington to show their solidarity with workers in Wisconsin who are still battling Governor Scott Walker’s decision to push for legislatoin that would take away public workers’ rights to collectively bargain for their benefits and working conditions.