Sanitation workers' union fights for pension plan - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Sanitation workers' union fights for pension plan

40 years after Memphis sanitation workers picketed for better wages and working conditions, the workers' union is now fighting for a pension plan.
AFSCME leaders want the city to give union members pensions or face the kind of protest that Dr. King led during the 1960's.

Members of SCLC, Rainbow Push and the Ministerial Alliance stood in protest with AFSCME in front of city hall Thursday morning.

"We are going to finish the business that Dr. King was about here in Memphis 40 years ago," said Rev. Dwight Montgomery of the SCLC.

Union leaders claim their pension dispute with the city started after Dr. Martin Luther King Junior's death, when city negotiators told them that they would have to choose between a pension or social security.  

"So we are going back to the bargaining table, if necessary, back to the streets to march, protest, demonstrate until these men and women get a pension plan from the city of Memphis," said Rainbow Push President Rev. Lisimba Gray.

According to Gray, 19 AFSCME workers who marched with Dr. King are still living and in desperate need of financial help. Gray's New Sardis Baptist Church has adopted one of the 19 workers and he is encouraging other churches to do the same.

AFSCME's Bruce Jett claims his union consulted Harvard experts who maintain there are no legal reasons why workers cannot be granted pensions.

According to Jett, city officials are refusing to discuss the issue with union members.

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