Demond Meeks of 1199SEIU shared the following testimony at the Poor People's Campaign action on June 11 in Albany, NY:
Greetings Sisters and Brothers, in all things give thanks unto the Lord!
When I was asked to speak today, I thought to myself, what aspect of the Union would I speak about. Then it came to me, the most important part of the Union, "The People!"
A Union is workers who band together to use their power and voice to get management to listen to their concerns, for there is power in numbers.
History shows that having a Union means better wages, benefits, and job security. Not having a Union results in the complete opposite.
Members of Unions have paved the way for many of the workplace luxuries that U.S. Workers reap the benefit of to this day.
While many jobs afford workers, vacations, holiday, severance, and sick pay, such benefits are not required by federal law. Union Members fought to implement no-discrimination laws, pay raises, fringe benefits, as well as the 40-hour work week. U.S. Workers have made great strides by way of Union fights.
Well Sisters and Brothers, the fight continues. Any day now the U.S. Supreme Court will hand down a decision in the Janus versus AFSCME court case. If the court rules in favor of Janus, then government and public-sector unions will see a loss of the financial power needed to fight for rights of workers, their families and communities.
The Janus case targets public sector unions such as teachers, police, firefighters, and all government employees, which makes up half of the entire labor movement.
This is only one of many efforts by anti-worker extremists and large corporations to prevent working people from uniting around issues that impact them. This has been the way of life in many of our so called right to work states across the country.
As a member of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, one of our objectives is to increase effective political alliances between labor, faith based organizations and the general community.
Now is the time for all Labor Unions to practice such objectives, stepping out of our silos and working with people from all communities to affect needed change.
We often chant "the people united will never be defeated," Now it's time we live it!
In closing I leave you with this warning from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1961:
"In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as 'right to work,” "It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone…. Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote."