In partnership with NH clergy and faith leaders, SEA/ SEIU Local 1984 held a rally at the lobby of the NH Legislative Office Building (LOB) on Wednesday, April 4th in recognition of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s significant legacy of championing workers’ rights and to call for a fair state employees’ contract. Rev. Gail Kinney, who worked tirelessly to make the event possible, ushered the group of about 50 attendees to march from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church to the LOB. In unison, President Richard Gulla and Rev. Eric Jackson led the demonstrators into the LOB symbolizing the historic relationship between faith and labor groups.
Speakers included Rev. Gail Kinney, Rev. Eric Jackson, Professor Annelise Orleck and President Richard Gulla. John Corrigan led the crowd in singing Solidarity Forever.
President Gulla spoke to the crowd and said “Today we reflect on the life of an extraordinary leader who led by example like all great leaders do. Dr. King’s last moments were dedicated to supporting city sanitation employees in Memphis who were striking. They were striking for better working conditions and decent pay.”
A letter signed by faith leaders and those of moral consciousness was presented to the governor’s office urging him to negotiate a fair contract with state employees.
“We draw on their grit. They never gave up and ultimately won,” continued Gulla. “We too aren’t giving up on getting a fair state contract for NH state employees. We’re not going to allow Governor Sununu to forget about the thousands of workers who keep our state running. “
The LOB gathering was preceded by a 90-minute gathering at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Concord that underscored the relationship between faith and labor in NH coming together to carry on the legacy of Dr. King. Dartmouth History Professor Annelise Orleck, a prolific writer on worker rights and human rights and author of, We Are All Fast-Food Workers, Now — The Global Uprising Against Poverty Wages, was the keynote speaker of the church event.