ILA Local 1422 President, Charles Brave, Jr., and Newly Elected Officers Rededicate Their Commitment to Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Struggle
As the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. prepared to launch the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968, he traveled to Memphis several times to support striking black sanitation workers. On February 1, two Memphis sanitation workers were crushed to death when the trash compression mechanism in their truck malfunctioned illustrating the dangerous working conditions facing sanitation workers in Memphis. Soon after this tragedy 1300 Memphis sanitation walked off the job in protest of dangerous working conditions, poor benefits, inadequate pay and the City’s refusal to recognize their union. It was this struggle that brought Rev. King to Memphis several times during the strike including April 4, 1968, the fateful day of his assassination at the Lorraine Motel. Shortly after his murder, the union of the striking workers was recognized by the City. Many people forget that it was supporting a union struggle that brought him to the place where his life was taken.
The birth, service and death of Martin Luther King, Jr must remind all of us of how intertwined are the struggles for civil rights, workers’ rights and economic and social justice. His extraordinary sacrifice in the struggle for workers’ rights in Memphis, for striking workers, inspires the newly elected officers of ILA Local 1422. ILA workers in Charleston are confronting dangerous working conditions. In addition to the normal dangers that dock workers have always confronted, ILA workers in Charleston have been ravaged with disease and death arising from inadequate protections from the COVID virus.
We recognize that MLK sacrificed his life for all of us. And so, on the day we celebrate his birth, the Board of Local 1422 met to rededicate their commitment to the struggle he led. In a day long retreat, the officers of Local 1422 laid out a strategy to improve worker safety, restore the dignity of dock workers in Charleston and the Union that serves them, and address concerns about harassment in the work place. Consistent with the struggle he led, the Board developed plans to support our communities and secure the health needs of our members and their families.
At the end of their meetings, the officers of Local 1422 break bread together and committed themselves to celebrate the service and leadership of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr each and every day by improving the representation of Local 1422 members; building a better and more transparent union; demanding better and safer working conditions; protecting the economic security of our families and the port in which we work; and recognizing that the struggles for workers’ rights, voting rights and civil rights are the same struggles and that we must be a force supporting all of them if we are to build a better world in his image.