On April 4, 1968, shortly before his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood with sanitation workers in Memphis to demand human rights, basic respect and collective bargaining to gain a better life. Today, hundreds of thousands of people are taking the same stand—together.
On April 4th people across the country will come together in support of worker’s rights and against the current assault on worker’s rights playing out in various US states.
All workers have a right to organize and to bargain collectively. Amnesty International stands in solidarity with all those seeking to defend collective bargaining rights anywhere these rights are threatened, and on April 4 we urge governors and legislators to protect workers’ rights by rejecting any attempt to limit collective bargaining.
We encourage Amnesty members to join the April 4th events and honor Dr. King’s vision for human rights. To find an event in your area and for more information visit the We Are One website. RSVP on Facebook here.
Protesters join forces to kill Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's bill during a rally at the Capital Building on February 18, 2011 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mark Hirsch/Getty Images)
Legislation currently working it’s way through several US states would drastically restrict workers’ rights and violate numerous laws.
States including Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma and Tennessee–following Wisconsin’s lead–have recently proposed bills severely limiting the collective bargaining rights of trade union members.
Shane Enright, Amnesty International’s trade union adviser said that, if adopted, these measures would violate international law:
“The US has an obligation to uphold the rights of American workers – including the specific right to organize and bargain collectively.”
Wisconsin governor Scott Walker signed a bill on Friday that undermines the ability of unions in the public sector to protect workers. The legislation also takes away nearly all collective bargaining rights for most public employees, limiting their negotiation rights only to wages.
The stars appear to be aligning. Yesterday, for the first time, a state legislature voted to allow same-sex marriage. Vermont joined Connecticut, Massachusetts, and recently Iowa, in recognizing marriage equality. But unlike those states that overturned the ban on same-sex marriage through judicial establishment of constitutional protections, Vermont’s voter-elected representatives made the historic move. And they did it with enough support to overwhelm Governor Jim Douglas’ veto. All this happened while the Washington D.C. city council voted unanimously to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Those of us who believe in marriage equality are feeling pretty good. Just don’t turn on your television. Today, the National Organization for Marriage (don’t be confused by the name) launched a new ad campaign that “that highlights how same-sex marriage undermines the core civil rights of those who believe in the simple truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.” Huh? The people who don’t want to let same-sex couples get married are claiming their civil rights are at risk?
This illogical dribble is part of a larger strategy to make people who have recognized marriage rights, feel threatened by people who don’t. They have been up to it for a while. The “Defense of Marriage” Act that prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages performed by states was passed by Congress in 1996.
I recently listened to a radio interview, where the executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, Brian Brown, issued ominous warnings that overturning bans on same-sex marriage will “suppress, marginalize and punish” all the hetero marrieds. According to Brian, the state-by-state move to marriage equality represents a terrible threat to the country as a whole and to each marriage between a woman and a man:
I’ve tried, but I can’t see how my marital institution faces imminent threat because gay and lesbian couples are now able to get married in a handful of states. Just in case I am missing something, I took an extra hard look at my husband as we started our day. Nothing seemed amiss as I eyed him over my coffee mug. Was our union facing disintegration, brought on by allowing (gasp) gay people to have what we have? No revelations here. I can’t seem to find my way around the belief that this argument over “protecting” civil marriage is really just a mask for bigotry. Someone needs to explain it to me.
Action for Human Rights. Hope for Humanity.