The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

FiftyYears After Memphis, the Fight Continues

Feb 19, 2018

On February 12th, protests were held throughout the country to demand a $15 minimum wage for fast food workers, janitors, and hospital workers. And for the right to join a union. These protests, held in nearly 50 cities throughout the country, including Detroit, also were a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike. That strike was fueled, in part, by frustration over unsafe working conditions, such as those that led to the crushing deaths of two of their co-workers, as well as low pay.

At these current protests, different workers expressed what they go through every day, as far as their working conditions and trying to survive on current minimum wages. One fast food worker in Detroit said that he understood the trials and troubles the sanitation workers in Memphis went through 50 years ago, because he is going through some of the same troubles today: “Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King and a bunch of sanitation workers fought for equal rights and to be able to form a union, and...now I’m here fighting for those same rights.”

The workers’ movements of the 1930s, the civil rights and black movements of the 1950s and 1960s, showed that the laboring population had the power to put pressure on this system to come up with some reforms.

Today, protests that may start with a fight for a living wage, have the possibility to spread further when workers understand that they are the ones who make everything run. They can be the ones to make everything stop. They can be the ones to guarantee that everyone has a true living wage.