Organizers with the PPC’s local chapter in mid April presented the campaign at the quarterly joint meeting of AFT Connecticut’s executive committee and delegate assembly (above). Veterans with the “Fight for $15” shared the national and state-level goal of uniting the poor, disenfranchised, and marginalized with working people to take collective action.
“This campaign may have been inspired by historic events fifty years ago,” said AFT Connecticut President Jan Hochadel. “Yet, in 2018, we’re witnessing the lessons of non-violent, civil disobedience across the country, from West Virginia to Arizona and Oklahoma to Puerto Rico. Even in ‘right-to-work’ states where strikes are illegal, public employees are putting themselves on the line — and winning,” said Hochadel, who taught in the state’s technical high schools.
Hochadel’s comments refer to the PPC’s planned focus on mobilizing direct action to overcome false narratives that perpetuate economic exploitation, exclusion, and deep inequality in America. The approach is inspired by Dr. King’s vision, which he began implementing before his 1968 assassination while supporting union members on strike in Memphis, TN.
to learn more about the PPC’s history, principles and mission.
National labor leaders began educating and engaging affiliated unions and their members ahead of the campaign’s launch this month of “40 Days of Moral Action” across the country. AFT President Randi Weingarten in February invoked Dr. King’s legacy and his work with the original PPC in calling for renewed efforts to protect a voice for all working people.
“Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated fighting for the right of sanitation workers to have decent wages and a safe workplace,” Weingarten said at the time. She added, his was “the same fight we wage every day to win a better life for our members and communities. We’re taking King’s and our fight—the fight for jobs and justice—back to the streets,” she said.
Weingarten’s comments were delivered ahead of oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court in a special interest-funded lawsuit targeting public sector unions’ strength at the bargaining table. In a report released last month, the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) drew a straight line from decades-long erosion of collective bargaining rights to today’s staggering economic inequality in America.
to access IPS’ full report, “The Souls of Poor Folk.”
“Dr. King understood that it’s the ‘U’ and ‘I’ in ‘union’ that makes us strong,” said Stephanie Johnson, RPSGT, president of our AFT Connecticut-affiliated L&M Federation of Technologists. “He brought the labor and civil rights movements together in common cause. He knew joining forces was how to take on what couldn’t be accomplished when we act alone,” added Johnson, who also chairs our federation’s social justice committee.
Johnson’s comments, as well as Weingarten’s earlier remarks, refer to the value of building unity across lines of division in order to take collective action and make positive change. The principle is fundamental both to the new PPC and our labor federation’s efforts to overcome an adverse Supreme Court decision in the Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 lawsuit.
for more on our “U & I in Union” campaign.
The Connecticut PPC’s first of “40 Days of Moral Action” demonstrations takes place outside the State Capitol building in Hartford on May 14. Several union leaders have already committed to participate in non-violent civil disobedience at the event, which will focus primarily on the rights of women, children and the disabled.
for details on the May 14 “Day of Moral Action.”
Organizations spearheading local PPC activities include Moral Monday CT, the Hartford Catholic Worker and the Democracy Unity and Equality (D.U.E.) Justice Coalition. Nationally, the campaign is being coordinated by Repairers of the Breach and the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice.