Maurice Spivey, a Memphis sanitation worker and member of AFSCME Local 1733, takes pride in serving his community. Every day, he and his co-workers give back to their neighbors and to the city they call home.
Just as important, Spivey says, “We’re holding up Dr. King’s blood-soaked banner.”
He’s referring to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s role in the 1968 Memphis, Tennessee, Sanitation Workers’ Strike, and the 1,300 sanitation workers of AFSCME Local 1733 – Spivey’s forebears – whose historic strike for better pay, better treatment and above all, for dignity, forced the city of Memphis to meet the union’s long-ignored demands. It was in Memphis that Dr. King fought in solidarity with the workers and where, on April 4, 1968, he gave his life for their cause.
Despite the pride of serving their communities, sanitation work is one of the most dangerous and thankless jobs in America.
Though things are better than in 1968, the working conditions for sanitation workers in Memphis remain tough and many items on the strikers’ wish list remains unfulfilled. One reason for this is a push to privatize sanitation workers, which AFSCME is fighting.