From Associated Press, via the Sacramento Bee
WASHINGTON — Labor unions at the heart of a burning national disagreement over the cost of public employees want to frame the debate as a civil rights issue, an effort that may draw more sympathy to public workers being blamed for busting state budgets with generous pensions.
As part of that strategy, unions are planning rallies across the country on April 4 – the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. Union officials want the observances in dozens of cities to remind Americans that King was supporting striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn., the night he was shot.
It’s also another signal that labor leaders are trying to broaden the coalition of groups speaking out against efforts to limit collective bargaining rights for public employee unions. Unions are coordinating the rallies with the NAACP, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and other civil rights, religious and progressive groups.
Labor leaders already have pledged to pour more than $30 million into a push to stop legislation in dozens of states that seeks to limit bargaining rights of public worker unions or otherwise curb union power. Union officials are also helping mobilize demonstrations in state capitols and spending money on recall campaigns against GOP officials who support efforts to curb union rights
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