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Updated: April 5, 2014 6:14AM



Workers’ rights are part
of Dr. King’s dream

Now that we have witnessed the 2014 round of commemorations proclaiming America and Northwest Indiana firmly on the road to Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream, those who want to make the dream real must pursue his true activism.

Conditions in urban ghettos of Chicago and Watts pushed Dr. King to question persistent joblessness, disillusionment, and the indifference and hypocrisy of economic and political elites. In the spirit of Dr. King, we must continue to fight for a successful Community Benefits Agreement for living-wage jobs; job training and workforce development for unemployed and underemployed men and women in 14 of NWI’s most impoverished communities.

The Regional Development Authority still refuses to sign a Community Benefits Agreement that provides 30 percent of man-hours paid on publicly-funded projects.

Meanwhile, our local and regional public officials make public pretense for job creation, but routinely cut “public-private” deals that leave out real community benefits for real jobs and blatantly ignore public interest. The only guarantees are windfall benefits to private corporations and financiers, and ultimate burdening of citizens with more debt, when financiers bail-out.

Several decades of evidence indicate that the profiteering ways of “the market” have done little to end persistent joblessness and empower poor and working families in disparaged communities.

Considering the price paid by Dr. King and thousands who died in the civil rights struggle, it is unconscionable to continue to pursue economic justice, democracy, and environmental sustainability without questioning the present grave economic inequalities and links to political compromise and betrayals of the public interest.

We must embrace our human and civil rights to good jobs and a trained workforce that leads to good quality of life. Promoting and accepting anything less than a Regional Community Benefits Agreement for jobs and training will mean an immoral and corrupt betrayal for all those for who dream of Dr. King’s dream.

Thandabantu Iverson

Professor in Labor Studies

Indiana University-Northwest



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