Tell Memphis City Council: Don't Gut the Union Dr. King Died For
  • Petitioned Kemp Conrad

This petition was delivered to:

City Councilman
Kemp Conrad
City Councilman
Harold Collins
City Councilwoman
Janis Fullilove
City Councilman
Myron Lowery
City Councilman
Shea Flinn
City Councilman
Bill Morrison
City Councilman
Bill Boyd
City Councilwoman
Wanda Halbert
City Councilman
Jim Strickland
City Councilman
Reid Hedgepeth
City Councilman
Edmund Ford Jr.

Tell Memphis City Council: Don't Gut the Union Dr. King Died For

    1. Petition by

      Workers Interfaith Network

June 2011


The Memphis City Council canned plans to privatize the city's solid-waste collection services, saving the jobs of 500 unionized sanitation workers that Martin Luther King Jr. fought and died for 43 years ago.

Dr. King, was in Memphis when he was assassinated on April 4, 1968. He was there to support city sanitation workers on strike for better working conditions after two were killed on a garbage truck.  

Memphis City Council Members received 178 messages from members in support of the union members.

"It makes me feel better to know that I still have a job," said Willie Douglas, a 17-year veteran of the sanitation department, in a news report.

    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!

Recent signatures


    1. VICTORY!

      More details coming. Read the CBS news story linked below to learn more.

    2. Reached 100 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Thomas Anderson KNOXVILLE, TN
      • about 3 years ago

      As an employee of UTK I have experienced the results of privatization first-hand. The savings to the budget is non-existent in the long run and the quality is terrible. Privatization is a lose-lose proposition for the City Council, the residents of Memphis and the workers who would lose jobs. You must also consider many of those same sanitation workers you put out of work will end up on public assistance costing taxpayer money. Why not keep them employed with decent wages and actively contributing to the Memphis economy doubly.

    • Tom Smith MEMPHIS, TN
      • about 3 years ago

      "Managed competition" is just anti-worker, racist privatization under another name. Please do not simply send me a form letter mentioning it as a solution, at least not unless you want me to start pulling recall petitions.


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