Martin Luther King Jr. Day Statement from AFSCME Ohio Council 8 President Sean Grayson

Each commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is a reminder of the contributions one man or one woman can make through acts of courage and conviction to improve the lives of others by joining in the fight for civil rights and social and economic justice. It is also a reminder of the bonds between the civil rights movement and the labor movement forged over time in the struggle for economic security and human dignity.

Dr. King knew this coalition held the promise to lift people out of poverty and improve their lives. King said: “The labor movement was the principle force that transforms misery and despair into hope and progress. Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave birth to unemployment insurance, old age pensions, government relief for the destitute and above all new wage levels that meant not mere survival, but a tolerable life. The captains of industry did not lead this transformation, they resisted it until they were overcome.” 

In the dawn of this new year, we once again witness the slow but steady erosion of the economic and social reforms the civil rights and labor rights movements fought so hard to achieve.

The elimination of defined benefit pension plans is forcing Americans to work well past retirement age just to survive. An ever widening and disgraceful level of income inequality, driven by greed and corruption and an economy that works only for the wealthiest among us, is leaving millions of American families struggling to make ends meet.

Attempts by the Trump Administration to eliminate guaranteed health insurance coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions and soaring health care and prescription drug costs are resulting in Americans not getting the medical care they need.  And small but aggressive segments of our society are openly targeting people of color, women,  LGBTQI , Muslim and Jewish Americans with hate, discrimination and acts of violence that rip at the very heart of who we are as Americans together. 

But our society does not have to continue down this path. We need only look to our past and draw from the compassion and resolve of Dr. King to know that each one of us can make a difference. Acting together, change is not only possible but assured. With Dr. King in mind, we can summon the strength and courage to act in defense of civil rights and social and economic justice.

We can stand up and speak out. We can join and participate in our union and encourage others to do so. We can support efforts to strengthen workers’ rights to organize and to collectively bargain. We can support measures that broaden civil rights protections for all Americans.  And we can, and must, vote. 

In these and other ways, we can act to save the social and economic justice measures we fought so hard to achieve. And with momentum at our backs we can move the needle of progress farther until our society is one in which every American can prosper.

In solidarity,

President Sean Grayson

6800 North High Street, Worthington, Ohio, 43085-2512
Phone: 614-841-1918
Fax: 614-841-1299