President Obama talks with participants from the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike, an iconic campaign in civil rights and labor rights history, during a meeting in the Map Room of the White House Friday. (Photo: Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis honored the 1,300 workers who took part in the historic 1968 Memphis, Tennessee, sanitation strike, inducting them into the Labor Hall of Fame.
Earlier in the day, President Obama met with eight of the surviving members of the sanitation strike, who visited the White House today for the first time in their lives.
Martin Luther King Jr. lent his support to the Memphis sanitation workers during the 1968 march for recognition of the right to bargain, job safety, better wages and benefits. It was King’s final campaign before his death. The workers were members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. That labor union gave the strike its support, as did others.
The event included remarks from several of the Memphis sanitation workers, an invocation from Ambassador Andrew Young (one of King’s close associates who was in Memphis with him) and a tour of the Labor Hall of Fame, which was founded in 1988 to honor Americans whose distinctive contributions to the field of labor have enhanced the quality of life of America’s workers.