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MLK’s Dream Was About Jobs & Justice

The historic March in Washington on August 28, 1963, was about more than a dream of Martin Luther King Jr. The title of the 1963 demonstration,

“The Great March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, as ‘right-to-work.’ It provides no ‘rights’ and no ‘works.’ Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining… We demand this fraud be stopped.”

The need for jobs and shared economic prosperity remains as urgent and compelling today as it was years ago. To show how profound MLK’s vision was, in 2020, the right to work rhetoric is high on the agenda of Republicans and President #45.

MLK’s prophetic words about ‘Right-to-Work false slogans have come true in present-day politics. This false slogan is currently used by Republicans to confuse their constituents that these laws have something to do with the giving workers the right to work.

As the Republican-controlled Senate with Republican President #45, it is no secret that big business bankrolls electoral campaigns. The Right-to-Work legislation is clear proof of false rhetoric that will further obliterate good wages throughout the nation.

The Economic Policy Institute reported, wages are 3.1 percent lower in Right-to-Work states for both union and non-union workers, even after calculating differences in cost of living, demographics and the local labor market. Under President #45 and Republican Control Congress this would be a reality nationwide as workers would now have less bargaining power. MLK was right, we didn’t listen, and now we are in a fight harder than when he spoke these truths. The false Right-to-Work slogan does nothing to create jobs, grow the middle class, improve the lives of workers and destroys all unionize labor.

I have watched how the media, through past articles and illustrations, have slowly painted a grim picture to the hard-working taxpayers that are dedicated, hard-working civil service workers and unions are to blame for high tax rates and governments economic downfall. This rhetoric s to spoil the reader’s mind and gather the support to reverse any and all legislation that protects workers’ rights and benefits. We have the greatest workers in the world because of labor rights, but now the rights and economic strength of America’s middle class is at risk now than ever before. This is a systematic assault through legislation by politicians that campaigns are usually supported by big businesses and the wealthy. Legislation to change funding for Education, Incarceration, Healthcare and Social Services are now fair game.

The poor and middle class cannot donate big money to Democrats or Republicans, therefore, they have become no better than ‘hit men’ for legislation assassination and the collateral damage are the many poor and middle-class families in America.

There’s a reason we have collective bargaining in this country because we know that workers have a right— should have a right— to bond together to improve the workplace, to improve the working conditions, and when they do, those rights flow to the rest of middle class working families in this country.

To attack labor and labor rights is to attack every person’s civil rights ultimately. Unfortunately, the silence of Union leaders collectively has been a sad disappointment to those union members who without question pay union dues for representation. Unions standing up and speaking truth to power in the past have accomplished victories for every worker. That’s why you have an eight-hour day. That’s why you have vacation time. That’s why you have health care. That’s how you achieved overtime whether in the union or not. Now they want to take away the rights of unions to organize in the workplace and the rights of workers to organize. While the people fail to realize when they take these rights away from organized labor they ultimately will take the rights away from the private sector employee.

These days union leaders give politicians their money, support candidates for the union presidents own political agendas, and not openly hold them accountable for their failure in protecting the rights and benefits of America’s middle class. Labor unions will not be able to go to their membership and say let’s vote for this one or that one again. The membership will respond; what have they done for us? And union leaders will look blank faced.

Many clergy leaders are facing the same dilemma as union leaders— especially black clergy. How will their congregation follow their lead to support a candidate that only visits the church around election time when family members are out of work, poorly educated, homeless and incarcerated?

When voters are deceived about the actual policies a candidate plans to enact; democracy is undermined just as inevitably as if they are physically prevented from casting their ballot. Is it time for a new type of political party? If the Democrats do not want or cannot vigorously stand up for the rights and benefits, preserve legislation of the poor and middle class, then it’s time for the unions, middle class and community leaders to pull their money from the Democratic Party. It’s time to stop raising money for them and organize to find our candidate to run for open political positions. If done correctly, it will force the Democratic Party to act on our issues like the Far Right has forced the Republicans to address their concerns and their agenda.

This is what Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor Peoples campaign was all about. The Poor People’s Campaign was to address issues of economic justice and housing for the poor in the United States, aiming itself at rebuilding America’s cities. Martin Luther King Jr. labeled the Poor People’s Campaign the “second phase,” of the civil rights struggle— setting goals such as gathering activists to lobby Congress for an “Economic Bill of Rights.”

Dr. King also saw a crying need to confront a Congress that had demonstrated its “hostility to the poor “, appropriating “military funds with alacrity and generosity,” but providing “poverty funds with miserliness.” Unfortunately, since 1963, there hasn’t been any relevant change in the situation of the poor in Westchester as well as the rest of the United States.

As usual, what hurts White Middle-Class Workers decimates Black Middle-Class Workers. The rate for black Americans has never been less than 66 percent higher than that for whites — and since January 1974, it has been at least twice the rate for Whites 80 percent of the time.

Government jobs, long considered the most secure form of employment in America, a safety net for Black America, these jobs have rapidly disappeared since December 2007. The tax rhetoric By both parties is no different that the Right-to-Work is nothing but a cover to attack the everyday worker, union member and middle class.

If the middle class can truly come together collectively, we can end the assumptions of the media and out of touch financial specialists’ that it is labors fault for the financial condition of the county and state. Then and only then the middle class can say: Do not expect to remain in office or be elected if you do not truly embrace accountability and balance at all levels. It’s time for the middle class to demand this fraud be stopped. Martin’s dream must continue, but we can’t be cowards in speaking “Truth to Power.

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About Damon K. Jones (214 Articles)
Damon K. Jones is an Activist, Author, and Publisher of Black Westchester Magazine, a Black-owned and operated newspaper based in Westchester County, New York. Mr. Jones is a Holistic Health Practitioner, First Aid in Mental Health Practioner, Diet, and Nutrition Advisor, and Vegan, Vegetarian Nutrition Life Coach. Mr. Jones is a 31 year Law Enforcement Practioner, New York Representative of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America. Mr. Jones has been a guest commentator on New York radio stations WBLS (107.5 FM), WLIB (1190 am), WRKS (98.7 FM), WBAI (99.5 FM), and Westchester's WVOX (1460 am). Mr. Jones has appeared on local television broadcasts, including Westchester News 12 “News Makers” and Public Television “Winbrook Pride. You can now hear Damon every Wednesday at 830 AM on WFAS 1230 AM, Morning with Bob Marone Show.
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