By ALFREDO ALVARADO
As labor unions come under increasing attacks from a right-wing network and the Donald Trump administration, union leaders gathered in New York to announce their plans for an aggressive national solidarity campaign.
The I AM 2018 campaign was announced during a breakfast meeting at the headquarters of the United Federation of Teachers.
Corey Johnson, the newly elected Speaker of the City Council, was among the invited guests.
“What Donald Trump has done is awoken a sleeping giant,” said Johnson, whose father was a member of the Teamsters. “Now is the time to organize like never before, and if we do, 2018 can be better a year.”
DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido, Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, and Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, are part of the leadership of the campaign initiated by DC 37’s national union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
I AM 2018 will be launched on Feb. 1, with a national moment of silence. It was on that date when Echol Cole and Robert Walker, two sanitation workers and members of AFSCME Local 1733 in Memphis, Tenn., were crushed to death on the job. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was in Memphis supporting the sanitation workers when he was killed at the Lorraine Motel.
“We must never forget the legacy of Dr. King,” said LaBarbera.
On Saturday, Feb. 24, union members and activists around the country will hold rallies in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Memphis, Philadelphia, Miami and other cities in support of their right to join a union. The New York rally will be held at Foley Square, in Lower Manhattan.
The following Monday–Feb. 26—the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Janus v. AFSCME case. The court case is the latest attempt by anti-union forces to strip millions of American workers of their right to organize and bargain collectively.