In 1968, after years of worker mistreatment and racial discrimination, 1,300 sanitation workers said enough was enough and walked off the job. After two co-workers were killed on the job, they knew they couldn't stand by and wait for management to "make things right."
This action by AFSCME members sparked a movement--and historically linked civil rights and workers' rights forever. That's why February 1 has been set aside, not only as a day to remember the lives lost on that day 50 years ago; but to honor the workers who fought so hard--and to encourage members today to continue the fight moving forward. Join OCSEA for a Moment of Silence on February 1 and then visit Iam2018.org to learn how to keep their legacies alive for generations to come.
A storm on February 1, 1968, forced two brother sanitation workers to seek shelter in the back of their truck. The workers repeated warnings to management about faulty equipment proved tragically prophetic that day when the truck's compactor kicked on, crushing the two men to death. Their coworkers decided they had had enough. Their deaths sparked the walkout of 1,300 fellow AFSCME sanitation workers.
In honoring their legacy, and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King who gave his life for their struggle, together, we resolve February 1 as a day to wake up America. There is so much to be done, so much business unfinished from 1968. America needs to re-engage with workers' aspirations: for dignity on the job, for quality public services, for prosperity to be shared among all of us, for human rights for everyone.
"America needs to re-engage with workers’ aspirations: for dignity on the job, for quality public services, for prosperity to be shared among all of us, for human rights for everyone," said AFSCME Local 1733 Interim President Keith Johnson of Memphis, who encourages AFSCME sisters and brothers to stand in solidarity with him and his union members.
Moment of Silence: An open letter from AFSCME Local 1733 Interim President (Memphis)