On Monday, January 15th, CUPE Ontario joins those around the world to honour and celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a trailblazer in the fight against racial segregation and a champion of non-violent means to address inequality in the United States and beyond.

Dr. King is well recognized for his work to fight anti-Black racism, and in addition must also be recognized as a formidable advocate for uniting working people to organize, build power, and improve their lives.  His legacy is an important one that also leaves an enduring impact on the labour movement.

His presence in Memphis, supporting striking sanitation workers when he was tragically assassinated, underscores the intersectionality of our struggles – the pursuit of workers’ rights and racial justice.

In Ontario, as we witness rising inflation rates, the escalating cost-of-living crisis disproportionately affects Black, racialized, and Indigenous people.  We know there are also differential impacts for all equity deserving communities and all those at the intersections of these identities. It’s clear from the ongoing and persistent pattern that the current conservative government values some lives over others.

Acknowledging the intrinsic ties between white supremacy and capitalism, Dr. King emphasized that genuine economic progress requires dismantling systemic inequalities. In alignment with his teachings, CUPE Ontario underscores the crucial need to address these interconnected issues, recognizing that our commitment to workers aligns with our dedication to eradicating racial injustice.

In his poignant words spoken just two and a half weeks before his death, Dr. King said, “Let me say to you tonight that whenever you are engaged in work that serves humanity… it has dignity and it has worth… All labour has dignity.” These words resonate deeply within the core of CUPE Ontario’s values, echoing our belief that every worker, regardless of their background or occupation, deserves respect, dignity, and fair treatment.

On this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, let us draw inspiration from his powerful words and continue the work he championed – building a world where the rights and dignity of workers are upheld, and the eradication of white supremacy is fundamental to achieving true economic progress within our communities and society at large. “No one is free until we are all free.”