Civil Rights history makes the movement into a fairytale: Once upon a time there was racism; Martin Luther King Jr. marched into town; and we all lived happily ever after. The End. Nearly every Civil Rights movie follows this basic script. It would be nice if this history were true, but just about all of it is false.
We must also ensure that there are low-cost training and continuing education opportunities for workers to transition from the fossil fuel industry into good, green-collar union jobs. We need a just and fair transition so that working people, their families and communities are protected and supported as we move toward a clean energy economy.
When a nonviolent offender spends a decade or more of their life behind bars because of mandatory minimum sentencing, no one benefits. When those who have paid their debt to society cannot find housing or a job, the entire economy suffers. When a generation of young Americans advance through our prison system instead of our school system, our nation is weaker for it.
Today is the 25th anniversary of "Justice for Janitors Day," which commemorates an event that sparked one the most successful underpaid-worker campaigns in recent history: Justice for Janitors. But perhaps the most important contribution by janitors to our country has been how they have shaped today's broad and growing workers' movement.
American sweatshops didn't begin to improve significantly until labor unions began representing their workers. Accordingly, if we truly wish to help Bangladeshi textile workers, it won't be by refusing to purchase the apparel they produce. All that will do is destroy their livelihoods. Rather, the goal should be to promote the Bangladeshi labor movement.