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MLK III, Electeds to Make Major Living Wage Push Today
The New York Observer
David Freedlander

April 4, 2011
View the Original Article


Today is the 43rd anniversary of the assassination Martin Luther King, Jr., and his son, Martin Luther King III, is out today with a statement urging the city to pass a living wage law for workers in government subsidized developments.

"This extreme income disparity is the result of misguided public policy, and that's why a movement has come together around getting better policy implemented: the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act would ensure that tax dollars create living wage jobs," King says. "We need the living wage movement to succeed and spread to other parts of the country."

King joined the fight, according to a source, after some serious lobbying from the RWDSU, who are leading the charge in the living wage effort.

A number of elected officials and faith leaders are holding rallies in Brooklyn and the Bronx today in order to bring attention to the measure. So far, Mayor Bloomberg has come out against the bill, and Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is relying on the support of the business community for her expected 2013 mayoral effort but doesn't want to antagonize labor, remains undecided.

In other King anniversary/ labor news, advocates and labor unions are planning a major rally on "Workers Rights" at City Hall today, led by Public Advocate Bill deBlasio and City Comptroller John Liu.

Full King III statement below:

Every year, on the anniversary of my father's death, people pay tribute to his life and legacy-to the ideals and principles he worked so hard to achieve, not simply for the people of his time but ultimately for the many generations that would come after him.

But exactly what he was doing the day he was killed is often forgotten. On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was fighting for the creation of living wage jobs. In his view, it was both a moral necessity and a civil right that every working American should earn enough to live a decent life and not worry about basic survival. More than forty years later, we continue to fall woefully short of his vision. Far too many working people in our communities and neighborhoods across this great country still earn poverty wages instead of living wages. This is a collective failure, and we must address it together as one nation.

New York City offers a national roadmap for continuing my father's unfinished work of economic justice. Tonight elected officials, religious leaders, labor leaders, and local community members are gathering in Brooklyn and Bronx churches for mass meetings to build the next phase of the largest citywide living wage movement in the country. In recent months, the Living Wage NYC Coalition has quickly organized and mobilized thousands of residents to push for passage of the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act. A majority of City Council members back the legislation. Now I urge the rest to embrace it.

People see something very wrong happening: Corporations getting richer from tax subsidies offered in the name of economic development yet making people poorer with low-wage jobs. This extreme income disparity is the result of misguided public policy, and that's why a movement has come together around getting better policy implemented: the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act would ensure that tax dollars create living wage jobs.

We need the living wage movement to succeed and spread to other parts of the country. Countless stories of the working poor today are about people making impossible choices: food or rent, clothing or electricity. When we pause over those stories, and understand their painful significance, we grasp something fundamental about a country as wealthy as ours: no working person should have to settle for surviving over living. It's that simple.

Martin Luther King III
President and CEO, The King Center
Board Member, Drum Major Institute for Public Policy