MLK's Labor Legacy

Dear OCEA member,

It’s a privilege to write to you on a day when our families and many of our coworkers are able to take some time to reflect on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his vision for our country. His immortal words, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” reflect the hopes that many of us have for our own families and how they will be treated by their government, in the halls of justice, and in their workplaces.

Dr. King has a special place in the hearts of those in the labor movement. His support for working families ran on a parallel track to his quest for racial justice in America. “Less than a century ago the laborer had no rights, little or no respect, and led a life that was socially submerged and barred,” Dr. King said. “The worker became determined not to wait for charitable impulses to grow in his employer.”

Dr. King was murdered in Memphis, TN in 1968, where he had traveled in support of a sanitation worker strike. We are living in a time now when workers’ rights and the rights of women, minorities and the poor of every ethnic and cultural background are under attack. Today, the pendulum is swinging back toward less rights and less respect. And so, we must be determined. We can’t afford to wait on the charity of our employers.

In our own County of Orange, injustice persists and we stand together each day to fight back. Today let us draw from the legacy of Dr. King, his message of hope and his admonition that we must take our future into our own hands and fight for the right of our families to work toward an American Dream that we can all be proud of.

In solidarity,

Jennifer Beuthin
OCEA General Manager

Publication Date: January 15, 2018