Sanitation Workers Fight for MLK Holiday
Martin Luther King Jr. died while standing up for sanitation workers’ rights — but many still have to work on his holiday.
Civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. was killed while supporting a sanitation workers’ strike — and 48 years later, those same workers don’t get his holiday off.
Trash collectors from several private companies that serve the city told the Daily News they’re tired of having Martin Luther King’s holiday treated like any other day.
“I’ve never been given MLK day as a paid holiday, it’s just like a normal day here,” said Jordy Lopez, 22, of Brooklyn.
He works for Sims Municipal Recycling in Sunset Park, which has a contract with the city’s Department of Sanitation to process its recycling. Representatives from Sims did not return calls for comment.
“As a Latino and Dominican, I feel King was fighting for me too,” said Lopez. “I think my company should understand how important this day is for people of color.”
“I’ve taken my son to the Lorraine Motel, we’ve talked about King and how he paid with his life to help sanitation workers,” said Sean Campbell, president of Teamsters Local 831, which represents many of New York’s private sanitation workers.
Martin Luther King Day falls on the slain leader’s birthday and was declared a federal holiday in 1983.
But while employers routinely recognize major holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving and federal celebrations like Memorial Day and Labor Day, they’re not as quick to honor MLK Day, Campbell said.
“As an African-American, which many of us are, it’s a really important day, and it’s one that in contract negotiations the employers always want us to give up,” Campbell said.