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Today the 1,300 Memphis Sanitation workers who took part in the 1968 strike were inducted into the Labor Hall of Fame in Washington, DC. This edition of the Battleground Bulletin highlights this moving ceremony and asks some tough questions about just what happens at ALEC meetings.

Memphis Sanitation Workers Inducted into Labor Hall of Fame

White HouseSecretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today hosted a ceremony inducting the 1,300 workers who took part in the historic 1968 Memphis, TN sanitation strike into the Labor Hall of Fame.  Eight of the workers who took part in the strike were present at the ceremony held at the Department of Labor Headquarters in Washington, DC.  The induction process will conclude later this year in Memphis, marking the first time a Labor Hall of Fame induction is held outside of Washington.

The highlight of today's moving ceremony were remarks made by three of the inductees who attended the event after a visit with President Obama at the White House earlier in the day.  The speakers included Alvin Turner, who made a strong case, based on his own life experience, that we are living in the promised land of which Dr. King caught a glimpse before his tragic death 43 years ago.

The sanitation workers’ two-month strike was emblazoned on the American conscience by the signs they carried, bearing the simple but powerful words, “Collective bargaining is the American Way,” and “I Am A Man.” The strike was also burned into American history by the participation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who traveled to Memphis to lead a march to city hall to support the sanitation workers’ campaign. Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis just 12 days before the strike was settled.

The sanitation workers, as a group, will join 41 individuals and 403 9-1-1 rescue workers in the Labor Hall of Fame. The rescue workers (many of whom were AFSCME members) and the Memphis sanitation workers are the only living Labor Hall of Fame honorees. Prominent individuals include United Farm Workers of America leader Cesar E. Chavez, Mary Harris “Mother” Jones and Helen Keller, an advocate for the deaf and blind. 


Just who is this ALEC guy, anyway?

Yesterday, a shadow right wing policy group funded by some of the wealthiest and dirtiest industries in this country, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), kicked off its annual spring summit in Cincinnati. If you’ve never heard of ALEC, that’s probably because they like it that way.  

ALEC serves as the "ultimate smoke filled backroom," connecting elected officials with deep-pocketed companies that work together to turn their business agendas into "model legislation" that then sprouts up in state capitols around the country.  ALEC claims to be a non-profit organization that "educates" legislators rather than lobbying them.  This allows ALEC to avoid being subject to disclosure requirements or paying taxes. 

Back in January, the New York Times reported that ALEC was quietly spreading anti-collective bargaining model legislation around the country. In the past, ALEC model legislation and campaigns have opposed equal pay, opposed minimum wage increases and questioned climate change science. We can only imagine what destructive anti-worker legislation they are concocting at this summit.

Breaking News

News from the front lines of our fight for workers rights:

AZ: Phoenix employees continue rallies against SB 1322
Lynh Bui, Arizona Republic PDXBeat Blog, 04/28/11

AZ: Brewer vetoes privatization bill for city services
Jeremy Duda, Arizona Capitol Times, 04/28/11

WI: Walker plan brings warning from USDA
Jason Stein, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 04/28/11

WI: Dems have the momentum heading into final recall battle
Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, 04/28/11

CT: Union argues New Haven fiscal issues a result of borrowing
Abbe Smith, New Haven Register, 04/27/11

CT: Malloy: Layoffs still on the table
JC Reindl, theday.com, 04/29/11

OH: Shadow Right Wing Policy Group Holds Summit in Cincinnati
ProgressOhio Blog, 04/28/11

ME: LePage's DEP chief reassigned; DECD head steps down
Steve Mistler, Sun Journal, 04/27/11

MI: Black caucus plans federal case against Emergency Manager law
Eartha Jane Melzer, Michigan Messenger, 04/27/2011

PA: Most voters now think Corbett's failing
Harrisburg Bureau, The Morning Call, 04/27/2011

Conservative group to meet, draw protests
The Cincinnati Enquirer, 04/28/11

Quote and Song of the Day

"I was so inspired by what I saw in Madison. It seems very much like we're at an important crossroad, and that this movement was not just about stopping some bad legislation, but possibly harnessing the energy of 100,000 to 150,000 people who were in the streets and want to put some teeth back in the labor movement in the U.S." -- Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave/The Nightwatchman in an interview about his new eight-song EP, “Union Town,” the proceeds of which will benefit the America Votes Labor Unity Fund.  A free download and more information are available here.

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