MLK invoked as Ohio union fight moves to cities
Opponents of bills in Ohio, Wisconsin and other states curtailing public employees’ collective-bargaining rights have planned a series of protests beginning this weekend that they’re tying to the legacy of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Pro-labor forces and environmentalists are among those joining forces to bolster opposition to laws limiting union might by linking the current battle to blacks’ fight for racial equality in the 1960s. They call it “reviving the dream.”
In Ohio, a bill signed Thursday by Republican Gov. John Kasich bans public worker strikes, eliminates binding arbitration, and restricts bargaining for 350,000 public workers to wages and certain working conditions.
The bill was supported by majority Republicans in the Legislature and lauded by business groups and tea- party activists as necessary to Ohio’s economic future. Unions and Democrats opposed the measure, which drew thousands of protesters to the Statehouse over the past month.
The AFL-CIO, a union umbrella group, announced Friday that it was staging 20 protest rallies in 14 cities across Ohio. Most are on Monday, the anniversary of King’s 1968 assassination in Memphis. About 20 states will see similar rallies, including Maine, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Missouri, Florida and Minnesota.
The group noted King was supporting 1,300 striking city sanitation workers in Memphis when he was killed.
“On the eve of his death ... Martin Luther King, Jr. declared: ‘Work that serves humanity. It has dignity and it has worth,’” a promotional flier for the protests said.