As many of our members already know, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. often called District 1199 “my favorite union.” The special relationship between Dr. King and our union began in the late 1950s and early ‘60s when 1199 launched large organizing drives and strikes by NYC hospital workers. The movement to end the Vietnam War brought Dr. King even closer to 1199 – when we worked closely together to bring about peace.
Just weeks before his untimely death in 1968, Dr. King spoke to 1199 members (you can see a video of some of the speech below). He used the occasion to highlight how every employee of a health care facility is just as important as the physician in protecting patients’ health:
You see, no labor is really menial unless you’re not getting adequate wages. People are always talking about menial labor. But if you’re getting a good wage, as I know that through some unions they’ve brought it up…that isn’t menial labor. What makes it menial is the income, the wages.
His words are just as true today — as the gap between the richest 1% and the rest of us who belong to the 99% has only grown bigger. Let us reflect on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and legacy, and recommit ourselves in this new year to carry on the struggle for civil rights and equality at work and in society.
To hear more of Dr. King’s speech to 1199 members — together with footage of 1199 members in action — watch the video below: