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Honor MLK by standing with Ferguson nursing home workers

St. Louis American - 1/9/2018

Next Monday, Americans from all corners of the country will pause to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. King personified what it meant to be a servant leader in this country, and ultimately gave his life in the fight for freedom and defense of workers' rights.

Our nation has made great strides in civil rights and economic justice because of King and countless others, but there is still more work to be done.

Last December, about 100 nursing home workers in my district organized a strike at Christian Care Home in Ferguson. The similarities between the Ferguson nursing home workers and the Memphis Sanitation Workers ? who King stood hand in hand with 50 years ago ? are striking.

All of the Ferguson nursing home workers I spoke with ? most of whom are African-American ? love their jobs, and the senior and disabled residents, at Christian Care Home, many of whom are African-American, too. They are just simply looking for a fair, living wage.

And like the Memphis sanitation workers 50 years ago, the Ferguson nursing home workers are striking in response to the unjust treatment they have received at the hands of the management, under the direction of the Christian Woman's Benevolent Association. The Christian Woman's Benevolent Association has allegedly violated several unfair labor practices since the strike began, including sending letters of termination to strikers just days before Christmas informing them that they had been permanently replaced.

Lastly, the Memphis sanitation workers strike was about dignity and respect. Now 50 years later, the Ferguson nursing home workers are marching on the picket line demanding the same thing.

In King's final public speech, he urged people in Memphis and throughout the country to stand with the sanitation workers. He invoked the Good Samaritan parable, stating, "The question is not, 'If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?' 'If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?' That's the question."

As thousands across the St. Louis area prepare to honor King, I ask you the same thing ? if you do not stop to help the Ferguson nursing home workers on strike, what will happen to them?

In the words of Dr. King, "You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together."

That is why I have joined the striking workers and concerned families in the community. We are calling for the Christian Women's Benevolent Association to do the right thing- support the men and women who are on strike or step aside and allow new leadership to step in who will.

I ask that you join me and stand with the Ferguson nursing home workers so that we all may be closer reaching Dr. King's dream.

Cora Faith Walker (D-Ferguson) represents District 74 in the Missouri House of Representatives.


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