Feb. 22, 2018

News Release

Contacts: Joe Hamill, AFSCME, (720) 206-4378 or
Ed Sills, Texas AFL-CIO Communications
Director, (512) 477-6195


Houston Community to Come Together  On Working People's Day of Action to Defend Freedoms

  As part of a nationwide Working People’s Day of Action, a coalition of community leaders will hold a news conference in Houston to sound the alarm on and demand an end to the rigged system that undermines freedoms of working people at the behest of certain billionaires and allied corporate interests.

  The event – versions of which will take place across the nation – is set for 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24 in front of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, 500 Clay St., in Houston. Religious leaders and others will join advocates for women’s, immigrant and civil rights, labor unions and environmental justice. Confirmed speakers include U.S. Reps. Al Green and Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston.

  “Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. joined striking sanitation workers in Memphis who sought economic justice through the mechanism of a labor union,” said Jere Talley, who has worked as a Senior Human Resources Specialist with the Houston Police Department for 25 years and serves as the Vice President for the Houston Organization of Public Employees AFSCME Local 123.

 “Dr. King was assassinated during this mission, but his advocacy for the freedom of working people to speak up together lives on, unfortunately still in crisis. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, a case that has the potential to fulfill a long-sought right-wing quest to stifle the ability of public employees across the nation to organize for better working conditions.”

  John Bland, among the first in Houston to sit in at lunch counters at the dawn of the modern civil rights era and an international officer for the Transport Workers Union, said, “The Janus case is no accident. It is part of a carefully crafted attack on the freedom of working people. In Memphis, Martin Luther King Jr. fought and died for the right of working people to speak up and negotiate for a better deal. And Dr. King fought as well against rigging the rules to diminish health care access, immigrant workers, our public educational institutions and other resources that reduce economic inequality. Our voices at work, in our communities, at the ballot box and on the streets are needed to fight Janus and other attacks on progress in our communities.”

  “A leadership that stands against immigrants, fights to hold wages down, suppresses the right to the ballot box, places a discriminatory ‘bathroom bill’ near the top of its agenda and starves our schools and universities requires resistance and action,” said Raymond Brakens, a call center employee and member of the Texas Organizing Project. “Across the nation, communities today are calling for a recommitment to freedom – freedom from want, freedom from hate, freedom to vote and freedom to join together and speak up in the workplace.”

  “The undermining of freedom for many Texans begins and ends with a lack of access to health care,” Ana Gonzalez of the Workers Defense Project said.

  “Working families in Texas are the backbone of our state’s economy, but too many workers struggle when access to basic health care is limited by politicians, immigration status, and workplaces that do not provide paid sick days. Last week, Austin became the first city in Texas to pass a paid sick leave ordinance. We hope this policy will start a conversation across the state about what kind of Texas we want to be. While some seek to undermine this progress, we will continue to stand up and fight for policies to build power for working families.” 

  Organizations set to attend the news conference include: the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, the Communications Workers of America, the Service Employees International Union, the Texas Organizing Project, the NAACP, the Workers Defense Project, the Transport Workers Union, the Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation and the Texas AFL-CIO.

  Other Working People’s Day of Action events are set to take place in San Diego, Memphis, Washington, D.C., Miami, Chicago, Detroit, St. Paul, New York City, Columbus, Philadelphia and other locations.