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Union workers march on King death anniversary

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Organized labor marks the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. with demonstrations
  • King was in Memphis to support striking workers when he was killed
  • Unions are battling state governments over their rights
  • Wisconsin, a key battleground, will see more than a dozen union events Monday

(CNN) -- Union workers are set to march Monday, linking their fight for their rights to the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

King was killed in 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, which he was visiting in support of striking sanitation workers, unions pointed out Monday.

"He is often only remembered for opposition to racism in the United States, but he was a strong advocate for equality and justice in the workplace. Most notably, he openly supported sanitation workers in Memphis who went on strike for justice and better wages," the Communication Workers of America said in announcing a national demonstration in Washington on Monday.

Union workers are also planning to march in Memphis and in locations around Wisconsin, the scene of a fierce showdown between workers and the state government this year.

Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill last month to limit the collective bargaining power of some state workers as Wisconsin tries to balance its budget.

Public outrage over Walker's move practically shut down the Wisconsin state legislature for weeks.

Tens of thousands of protesters including union supporters and public employees descended upon the capital.

Democrats have filed a lawsuit challenging the validity of the law. A Wisconsin judge has imposed a restraining order on the law stopping it from being implemented until the judge can hear complaints about it.

More than a dozen union events are planned Monday around Wisconsin, including four in the capital Madison.

In Memphis itself, sanitation workers from 1968 will join civil rights activist Al Sharpton and union workers in a march honoring King.

"Workers' rights and civil rights are inseparable," said the secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, Lee Saunders, who plans to march in Memphis.