While some people may be content to honor Dr. Martin Luther King and celebrate his dream, others of us believe we have to keep fighting. North Texas Jobs with Justice handed out around 900 leaflets calling for public works projects during three different MLK activities during the 2011 celebrations. We linked our long-standing call for public works jobs to today’s urgent need to defend the existing jobs of teachers and other public workers.
We leafleted the Dallas parade on January 15 and a special MLK meeting at Teamsters Local 745 hall that afternoon. We participated directly in the Ft Worth parade on January 17 and leafleted the onlookers.
It was great to see that a number of unions participated in marches this year. Among them were Alliance/AFT (the Dallas teachers), Communications Workers 6201, Teamsters 745, UAW 129, UAW 218, and UAW 848 were represented in some of the marches and parades. Jobs with Justice participated in the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement float in the Ft Worth parade. Adrian Flores and the Ironworkers were a big help. Reverend Ed Middleton brought his family and his church’s Outreach Director, Jennifer Ratliff.
The Teamster’s meeting was especially exciting. They had a big delegation of International leaders from their Human Rights Department. Also, some of the most popular office holders in the county were there, including Sheriff Lupe Valdez and the new County Judge, Clay Jenkins. Reverend Fred Haynes gave a knockout speech on how important it is to bring the struggles of labor and civil rights together. Reverend Peter Johnson introduced the many other progressive activists, including Jobs with Justice.
Kenneth Stretcher brought the Dallas sanitation workers from his ULU 100 union, and Teamster President Brent Taylor read a resolution supporting them in their fight for a pay raise. They say that they are the only sanitation workers in America forced to work for minimum wage!
People seemed happy to get our leaflets. It attempted to alarm North Texans to the attacks that are under way against public employees and their unions. At the same time, we cannot turn out backs on the unemployment crisis, so we put the two together. The text read:
‘Nationwide, and especially in Texas, politicians are preparing more layoffs for public workers and cuts in services for our populations. Texas legislators want to raise the sizes of school classes so that they can lay off more teachers, no matter what effect it will have on our children.
‘At the same time, record numbers of American workers remain unemployed. Politicians have put forward no realistic plan for jobs. The answer is the same as it was during the last Great Depression: public jobs programs. And yet, politicians pretend that this simple solution does not even exist!
‘They refuse to even consider taxing the rich. Most Texas politicians even refuse to consider spending the $9.2 billion “Rainy Day” fund. It is left to us to defend the unemployed, the public workers, our government services, and our children!
‘Fight back with us!”