At a vigil led by Rev. Jesse Jackson in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination 43 years ago, the ICWJ Board posted its newly-passed 14 Theses for Wisconsin Worker Justice to the Wisconsin State Capitol door.
“The right to collective bargaining is a fundamental right, a human right and must not be abrogated by the Wisconsin legislature or governor,” said ICWJ board member Jonathan Rosenblum, who helped draft the theses. Rosenblum called for churches and civil rights groups throughout Wisconsin to adopt the ICWJ’s 14 Theses and to support constitutional protection of the right to collectively bargain by statewide referenda and legislative action.
After announcement of the theses at the Capitol candlelight vigil on April 4, members of the 1,000-strong crowd, one-by-one, posted the theses on the Capitol door. The theses were written on luminous extra large “Post-Its” and reinforced on the Capitol door with blue painters’ tape. (See text and photographs on this website.) The first thesis was a direct quote from the April 4, 1968 “Been to the Mountaintop” speech in which Dr. King declared that he was in Memphis because “The issue is injustice. The issue is the refusal of [the government] to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants.”
The ICWJ posted the right to collective bargaining as Thesis II. Dr. King himself referred to Martin Luther’s 95 theses in his “Mountaintop” speech, providing a historic reference point for the ICWJ’s action.
The ICWJ’s board ratified the 14 fundamental statements about worker rights in tribute to Dr. King’s work in demanding public sector collective bargaining rights for the sanitation workers of Memphis, TN in 1968—a mission that led both to his famous speech on April 3, 1968 and to his tragic assassination on April 4, 1968.
Legislation proposed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and passed by the Republican-controlled legislature has been frozen by Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi after she found that the legislature likely denied the public adequate notice of and participation in the chambers’ proceeding. Apparently fearing a return of mass rallies at the Capitol that have exceeded 100,000 protesters and overnight occupation of the Capitol Rotunda, legislators have declined to reintroduce the bills and are pursuing appeals that may go to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Speakers at the Candlelight Vigil included:
Rev. Dr. Jerry Folk of the ICWJ, and former Dir. of the WI Council of Churches.
Sadat Abiri, former ICWJ Board Member
Rev. Jesse Jackson of the Rainbow PUSH Coaltion.
Rabbi Jonathan Biatch of Temple Beth El.
Pastor Greg Armstrong of the S.S. Morris AME Church.
Pastor Pedro Suarez of Bethel Lutheran Church.
Rev. Everett Mitchell of the Madison Urban Ministry.
Bishop Tavis Grant of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
Download the 14 Theses for Wisconsin Worker Justice here!