With the City of Memphis facing a large budget deficit, City Council members are considering all kinds of proposals to generate more revenue or cut expenses.
One proposal that is sending chills down the backs of worker rights and civil rights activists comes from Councilman Kemp Conrad. In recent budget hearings, he has repeatedly brought up the idea of privatizing the City's entire sanitation department. These are the same workers who spent three months on strike in 1968 to win the right to a union in the first place - the workers who Dr. King died supporting.
It isn't even clear if privatization would save the City money, since contractors would need to make a profit. What is clear is that long-time sanitation workers would be jobless. The companies that replace them will likely pay low wages and offer workers few benefits, and would likely oppose workers trying to unionize.
On June 7th, the City Council failed to come to an agreement on a budget, including whether sanitation workers' jobs will be eliminated. Council members will vote again on the budget on June 21st, so please take action today!
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