People rally for MLK and workers' rights - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

People rally for MLK and workers' rights

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Monday afternoon, the Dubuque Federation of Labor held a "We Are One" rally. It's a part of a nationwide series of rallies sponsored by AFL-CIO and it's allies. The group spent two hours picketing on the corner of 16th and Kerper Blvd. The rally followed, and organizers say it was intended to commemorate the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But much of the rallies focus was on the working class. Organizers say there is a connection between the two.

A windy afternoon in Dubuque brought dozens out to support one thing.

"Dr. King above all stood for the fight for justice and he stood for the fight for working people," Dubuque Federation of Labor President Bruce Clark said.

They all took part in a nationwide rally called "We Are One", designed to commemorate the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's assassination.

"Martin Luther King was in Memphis fighting for the public sector workers at that time, 43 years ago they were fighting for a penny an hour raise and he gave us life for that fight," Teamster Local 120 Dave Baker said.

Organizers say their goal was to rally together support for today's working class, who they want the right to organize and bargain collectively. With a message from Wisconsin senator Kathleen Vinhout and two union reps, the crowd was hoping to inspire each other.

"Bringing all the walks of labor together. It felt like we were coming together on Dr. King's anniversary of his death. Knowing that he died on this day helping some workers organize in Memphis," Teacher Union President Tammy Duehr said.

Though not everyone agrees that this rally is remembering Dr. King. In an e-mail to KWWL, Republican Steve Lukan said, "Dr. King was a tremendous American and his vision of a world without discrimination is a noble one. I am confused by the efforts to co-opt his message in defense of unions. He wanted his words and actions to be used to break down the walls of intolerance. This day should be used to mark those words and deeds alone."

Back at the rally, Union supports say that's exactly what they are doing.

"And we need to remember that it's our words and actions that are gonna make a difference," Duehr said.

A similar event, put on by AFSCME Iowa Council 61 members, took place in Des Moines Monday night.

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