This month, Americans everywhere salute the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
For members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), Dr. King's legacy has special meaning.
We take special pride that, in 1968, the RWDSU was the first union anywhere to negotiate a contract guaranteeing Dr. King's birthday as a paid holiday.
The RWDSU was among the earliest supporters of Dr. King's grassroots drive to challenge racial injustice in the South.
In Chicago during the 1960s, RWDSU provided an important forum for Dr. King to speak out against poverty in America's cities. Later, thousands of RWDSU members stood shoulder to shoulder with other Civil Rights Activists during the historic 1963 March on Washington.
Dr. King saw the Civil Rights struggle and the labor movement as closely linked. He was a constant ally of Union Activists and most have forgotten that Dr. King was in Tennessee to support a Living Wage for Sanitation Strikers on that terrible April day in 1968 when he was slain at the age of 39.
Dr. King spoke about the importance of the labor movement on many occasions, some of which you can read about below. In reflecting on the life and work of Dr. King, the RWDSU recognizes the fight he began is not over until equality for all is a reality, and it is up to our generation of RWDSU members to complete his mission. Below is our 2021 commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. (Click to enlarge)