Yesterday, AFL-CIO held nationwide events to promote the solidarity between the union protests over collective bargaining and the rights Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others fought for to gain civil rights. To highlight the essence of the labor events are two quotes from AFL-CIO president, Richard Trumka:
- April 4 [is] the day on which Martin Luther King Jr. gave his life for the cause of public collective bargaining.
- Join us to make April 4, 2011, a day to stand in solidarity 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.
This message sends the implication that public employees’ strife of losing collective bargaining is the equivalent of the horrific and systematic abuse of African Americans in the United States and their fight to attain equal rights. To point out the obvious, public employees are not forced into government employment, they can choose to work in any field or industry they desire. Federal government employees do not have collective bargaining rights. Are we expected to believe that federal workers are having their basic human rights systematically violated? For a long period of time in the United States, African Americans did not have the right to choose where they would work, go to school, or any other basic American rights. For an institution like a union, where the adages typically involve “solidarity” or “equality,” they should have a more all encompassing understanding of the atrocities of the struggle of the civil rights movement. Comparing the civil rights movement to collective bargaining rights for government workers disparages the heroic actions of civil rights leaders.