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A message for Labor's dignity on MLK day

Jan 18, 2011 6:47 am
Danny Donohue, president of the 300,000 member CSEA, New York’s leading union, posted an editorial that a number of the state's newspapers ran yesterday, tying Martin Luther King back to his undying support for the nation's labor movement. "The recent horrific events in Tuscon have saddened us all. However, from every tragedy lessons can be learned and the attention given by many to the contribution of violent rhetoric as cause for the shootings may be just the opening to bring civility back to our public discourse," Donovan wrote, setting the stage for a call back to civility from all those who have taken to attacking public employees in the last year. He goes on to talk about how basically un-historic, and un-American, it is to vilify a portion of our working populace for the jobs they take, and the rights they ask for as workers.

"I am further bolstered by the genuine joy expressed by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in her account of the awakening of her friend and colleague Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords during a visit to the shooting victim’s hospital room.

Add to this the eloquent and poignant comments of Congresswoman Giffords’ intern Daniel Hernandez who is credited with saving her life and being called a hero. He said, “We must reject the title of ‘hero’ and reserve it for those who deserve it, and those who deserve it are the first responders and the public servants and the people who have made sure they have dedicated their lives to helping others.”

What a stark contrast to those who have vilified public servants. It’s time to bring honor back to those who choose to dedicate their working lives to bringing service to others. The school bus driver, the nurse, the caseworker and the sanitation worker and all who toil every day deserve our respect for committing to helping bring quality to our lives and communities.

On this Martin Luther King day let’s all take a moment to reflect on what is truly important and pledge to treat each other with courtesy and consideration even when we disagree. We owe that much to the real meaning of this holiday and those who have suffered so greatly in Tuscon.

Danny Donohue is the president of the 300,000 member CSEA – New York’s leading union.