AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders to Lay Wreath Commemorating Sanitation Workers Strike

Union’s first African American president to pay to tribute to two slain Memphis sanitation workers, nearly five decades after 1968 Memphis strike

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MEMPHIS, Tenn – American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees President Lee Saunders will attend a wreath-laying ceremony commemorating two sanitation workers, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, whose gruesome deaths on the job led Memphis sanitation workers to strike for better work conditions, economic and civil justice, and recognition of their union, AFSCME Local 1733. It was their struggle that drew the support of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. bringing him to Memphis where he was assassinated for his beliefs and activism.

“The sanitation strike is one of American history’s most powerful examples of the unbreakable link between civil rights and labor rights,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders. “What was true in 1968 is true today: There can be no racial justice without economic justice, and there can be no economic justice without racial justice.”

President Saunders will be joined by retired AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Bill Lucy – who worked closely with Dr. King during the sanitation strike and helped to negotiate the recognition of the sanitation workers’ union – and the son of memorialized sanitation worker Robert Walker. Attendees will conduct a short march from the site of the tragic deaths to the site of the memorial, flanked by Memphis sanitation trucks and a police escort.

WHO: AFSCME President Lee Saunders, former AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Bill Lucy, the son of slain sanitation worker Robert Walker, AFSCME Local 1733 President Mike Ford and Vice President Keith Johnson, both sanitation workers

WHEN: Tuesday, April 4, 2017 at 12:00 PM

WHERE: Short march beginning at 4762 Verne Road (corner of Verne and Colonial),

Wreath-laying to occur at corner of Colonial Road and Sea Isle, directly across the street from 1405 Colonial Road
VISUALS: Sanitation trucks with escort, marchers, wreath-laying at memorial
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