Retired AFSCME workers remembered at City Hall - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Ben Watson

Retired AFSCME workers remembered at City Hall

Thursday, Memphis city leaders honored the sanitation workers who protested with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 40 years ago.

Jesse Epps received praise from Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton in the same City Hall chambers where, 40 years ago, he was ridiculed by Mayor Henry Loeb in what started the historic sanitation workers strike that brought King to Memphis.

"He said to me, 'Jessie, you know what you are doing makes sense. I will look at my schedule, but you also has to help me convince my staff,'" Epps said.

Epps said King was eager to help AFSCME members protest working conditions they felt were inhumane.
"It was about a lot of things, but mostly it was dignity. We wanted to be treated like men. We wanted to have more say so about our working conditions," former AFSCME worker Taylor Rogers said.

At Thursday's city hall tribute, retired AFSCME workers were applauded and given awards for a time 40 years ago when they made the dangerous decision to buck the system.

Epps and other union members said it was worth it and they credit King with giving them the courage.

Many of those former and present AFSCME workers will take to the streets again tomorrow for a series of marches and other activities aimed at honoring King.

Click here to e-mail Ben Watson.

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