As you prepare for the holiday season, help your audiences get ready for effective and meaningful family conversations about racial justice and economic opportunity. Refer to values of equity, voice, and community.
On this day in 1965, Larry Itliong and the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee led 1,000 Filipino workers to strike against Delano, California grape growers. They demanded the federal minimum wage and the right to form a union. When the farmers hired Mexican workers rather than give in to the strikers demands, Itliong partnered with Cezar Chavez’s National Farm Workers to come up with a plan that benefited both groups. Itliong and Chavez combined their organizations to form the United Farm Workers Union. Cite the values of Equality, Voice, and Economic Security when discussing this anniversary.
Labor Day honors the contributions of American workers and the labor movement (the people who brought you the weekend, the eight-hour work day and improved working conditions). Use this holiday to highlight the importance of worker rights, including the right to organize and join a union.
On this day in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Adamson Act, which established an eight-hour workday, with additional pay for overtime work for railroad workers. The Act was the culmination of organizing by railroad workers and the first federal law to regulate the hours of workers in private companies. Discuss the importance of unions and worker rights on this anniversary, and cite the values of Economic Security, Voice, and Community.
On this day in 1925, A. Philip Randolph and colleagues launched the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP). The union was the first labor organization led by African Americans to receive a charter in the American Federation of Labor and played a vital role in U.S. labor and civil rights movements. Discuss this anniversary by citing the values of voice and economic opportunity.
On this day in 2019, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents conducted one of the largest workplace raids in United States’ history, arresting as many as 680 immigrant workers across seven chicken processing plants in Mississippi. Traumatic family separations leave lasting emotional and physical impacts on children and families, in addition to economic hardship. Use this anniversary to talk about the need for permanent solutions that create opportunity for immigrant families and safety in our communities.
On this day in 1891, folklorist, anthropologist, and author Zora Neale Hurston was born. Hurston is best known for her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. In her work for the Works Project Administration (WPA), she also documented songs and life histories of interesting, everyday people, including labor conditions. Discuss Hurston’s birthday by citing the values of Voice, Equality, and Community.
January is Poverty Awareness Month, when the Catholic community urges Americans to “take up Pope Francis’ challenge to live in solidarity with the poor.” Use this month to discuss poverty with your audiences and cite the values of community and economic opportunity.
On this day in 1968, African American sanitation workers went on strike in Memphis, Tennessee for better pay and safer working conditions. The strikers would create the iconic image with their “I Am a Man” posters. During the strike, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. traveled to Memphis, where he was assassinated. Discuss this anniversary by citing the values of voice, opportunity, and community.
On this day in 1993, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) which requires most employers to provide job-protected and unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons to their employees. The law was an important step for worker rights but today advocates are pushing for paid family and medical leave for all workers. Cite the values of opportunity and equity when discussing this anniversary.