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Black History Month: The #MoralMonday Movement and the Legacy of Selma

 

UFCW Local 1208 in attendance of the most recent Moral March, via NC State AFL-CIO https://www.facebook.com/ncstateaflcio

UFCW Local 1208 in attendance at the most recent Moral March; photo via NC State AFL-CIO https://www.facebook.com/ncstateaflcio

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the historic civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. A diverse group of marchers walked to demand that the state of Alabama uphold the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, which granted the right to vote to African Americans.

In recent years, after regressive policies reminicent of laws that spawned the civil rights movement of the 1960’s were passed in the state of North Carolina, concerned citizens and community members mobilized to fight back—and Moral Mondays were born.

Fed up with state lawmakers that consistently tried to undermine the economic mobility of poor and working people, and who cut the Earned Income Tax credit which cut unemployment benefits, and blocked access to healthcare for thousands of North Carolinians, the mass movement now called Moral Mondays involves a diverse group of people and organizations who gather in weekly demonstrations at the state Capitol. They come to defend the rights of all people—to stop the discriminatory creation of barriers to the ballot, protect funding for education and Medicaid, jumpstart stagnant wages, and continue the fight for racial justice. These non-violent protestors continue the tradition of direct action and civil disobedience that activists like Dr. Martin Luther King stood so strongly for in the 60s, and they continually face arrest and jail time.

One such Moral Monday event last year brought together a coalition of over 160 organizations and thousands of people in what was the largest protest gathering in the South since the Selma march. Since then, the movement has spread to other cities in the state and across the country.

In North Carolina, the activists have seen victories as a result of their collective action. There’s been a pay increase for public school teachers. A judge ruled in the people’s favor by blocking an unconstitutional school voucher program. Some state officials, including Gov. Pat McCrory, are backpedaling from their hardline stance against Medicaid expansion. And Raleigh’s District Attorney dismissed the charges against 941 protesters who were arrested for their acts of civil disobedience inside the General Assembly last year. But there is a long way to go. Republican lawmakers are still trying to pass laws that end up hurting the sick, the poor, and minorities.

Most recently, a Moral March for Love and Justice was held in Raleigh on Valentine’s Day. The march was attended by veteran moral marchers like the Reverend William Barber, an inspiring speaker and driving force behind the movement. UFCW Local 1208 members were also in attendance.

Over the past week, we have seen how collective action can really pay off. On Friday, our UFCW International President Marc Perrone made a public statement following the news from Walmart that it would be raising its wage floor: “This is not an act of corporate benevolence. It would not have been possible without the courage of countless workers who are standing together, taking risks, and demanding wages and schedules that can support their families. Walmart is responding directly to calls from workers and their allies to pay a living wage.”

AFL-CIO Communications Director Eric Hauser also released a statement that said, “In the past 24 hours, Walmart workers got a raise, IBEW and CWA workers settled their strike with FairPoint, and United Steelworkers made safety at oil refinery plants a national issue. One 24 hour period shows how much progress can be made when workers come together to speak with one voice.”

It takes bravery, dedication, and resilience to stand up to those who try to assert unjust power over us, but the likes of Walmart workers who won a wage increase this week, community supporters who helped make it happen, and civil rights activists from the 1960s to today show us time and time again that when we stand together, we are powerful.

This video clip provided by NC Policy Watch provides a glimpse into the many causes people turned out to fight for on the February 14th Moral March in Raleigh, N.C.

OUR Veterans Group Wins Victory After Delivering Petition to Walmart Asking for Fair Treatment of Military Families

This post was adapted from Making Change at Walmart

lisaThanks to supporters around the country, members of our OUR Walmart are successfully encouraging Walmart to respect its military families, one step at a time.

Recently, Lisa Austin and the Apple Valley, Minnesota community delivered the petition workers and supporters signed with more than 14,000 signatures calling on Walmart to help workers who have spouses in the military care for their families while loved ones are on leave.

Walmart felt the pressure.

A spokesperson from Walmart headquarters, Kory Lundberg, even showed up to the delivery, and told ABC News that Walmart “would work with [Lisa] if she needed to take time off in the future due to her husband’s military drills.” Click the photo below to see the full story.

lisa

You can also follow OUR Veterans (vets with OUR Walmart who are standing for change) on Facebook & Twitter to keep up with Lisa’s story. And share the petition with friends and family to tell Walmart to make this change the company’s policy and respect all military families and vets.

Let’s hold Walmart accountable to a national policy supporting its workers with loved ones in the military, so moms like Lisa can take care of themselves and their families.

Together, change is possible.

UFCW’s Making Change at Walmart Campaign Recognized at UNI World Congress

UNI-Meeting-300x225A delegation of UFCW and UFCW/RWDSU local union presidents along with local and International staff from the United States and Canada is attending the 4th UNI World Congress in Cape Town, South Africa from December 7-10.

The UFCW delegation, led by International President Joe Hansen, was recognized by the UNI World Congress for the leadership and commitment the UFCW has demonstrated in the fight to raise standards at the world’s largest retailer through the Making Change at Walmart campaign.

Alongside Walmart workers and unions from Argentina, Brazil, India, and South Africa in the Walmart Global Alliance, UFCW Executive Vice President and Director of Organizing Pat O’Neill, who is also the President of UNI Commerce, spoke about the achievements of Walmart workers worldwide, including the victories on hours, scheduling, and pregnancy policy won by OUR Walmart members in the United States.

The UNI World Congress, held every four years, is the most important forum for the UNI affiliates who represent more than 20 million workers worldwide. During the World Congress, UNI affiliates discuss the challenges faced by workers around the world and devise strategies to promote growth through breakthrough organizing models.

The UNI Women’s Conference was held on December 4-5 and preceded the 4th UNI World Congress. UFCW women delegates along with women hailing from unions across the globe participated in the Women’s Conference to discuss and propos resolutions on equal pay, violence against women, and women’s health among other issues.