This year, we honor Martin Luther King, Jr. at a watershed moment in our nation’s history. In the aftermath of the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, SEIU Local 721 staff, members, and community partners have joined thousands across the country in speaking out and marching as part of the growing Black Lives Matter movement–demanding that our leaders work to realize a more just future for our city, state and nation, and a fix to our broken criminal justice system. Their simple yet profound message: Black Lives Matter.
SEIU Local 721 recognizes that this call for racial justice is irrevocably connected to labor’s call for economic and social justice. It is not a coincidence that a great number of the men and women working at fast food restaurants and currently at the forefront of the fight for $15 are black and brown. It is also not a coincidence that cuts to good public sector jobs here in Los Angeles continue to disproportionately impact our communities of color.
Public service jobs have traditionally been the gateway to the middle class for blacks, Latinos and other people of color, and our fight to preserve good paying public jobs with benefits is key to enabling tens of thousands of workers to support their families and have a real shot at getting ahead in life.
As we celebrate Dr. King’s legacy, let us also remember the sons, brothers, and fathers whose lives were arbitrarily taken and whose families were left devastated. We must augment and strengthen our efforts and confront any and all racial disparities and injustices head-on. The dream of America can never be fully realized until justice prevails for every community, for every working mom and dad and for every child who depends on the adults around her for a better tomorrow.
We WILL continue our fight–in the streets, in the courtrooms, and at the bargaining table–for a better America for everyone, regardless of color or where they live.