Four Organizing Stewards represented IBEW 1245 at the AFL-CIO’s 20th annual Martin Luther King Jr conference, which took place in Houston, TX in mid-January.
The conference brings together members from over 500 trade unions to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King and examine current civil and human rights issues. The delegates had the opportunity to participate in workshops, hear from dynamic speakers, volunteer in the community, and take action in the streets.
“This conference was uplifting, educational and inspiring,” said Local 1245 Organizing Steward Kurene Turner. “I not only met great union members from all over the country, but also got to attend three great workshops … and we had lots of great speakers, including Congressman Al Green, Rev. William Barber and many more.”
“What impacted me the most was hearing from workers that work with Mark Janus [the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that seeks to make Right to Work the law of the land in the public sector],” said Organizing Steward Arnaldo Lizarraga. “It left me thinking that any union member could turn against us, even the one that works next to us, which is why we need to constantly educate and organize our members at all times. We need to listen to their grievances, because if we don’t, we could have a Mark Janus in our union.”
The conference concluded with a massive march and rally through downtown Houston in honor of MLK and the fight for civil and human rights. Estimates put the crowd at over 2,000.
“I can’t begin to explain the feeling I had when I looked out to the sea of united people for one cause,” said Organizing Steward Cynthia Lopez. “I have never seen so much unity in one place with so many people. It really brought tears to my eyes. It spoke volumes as to why we do what we do.”