In a section of old Baton Rouge known as Beauregard Town, IAM members joined with thousands of marchers from across the country for the AFL-CIO’s annual march to commemorate the birth of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The parade capped off five days of events in Louisiana and was one of dozens of nationwide observances reaffirming the historic bond between labor and civil rights activists. Many of the speakers and events in the South focused on the ongoing struggle to bring relief to communities in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, where tens of thousands are still without basic services or utilities.
“It’s a national tragedy to see Americans still living in cars, tents and on the street more than 100 days after Hurricane Katrina hit,” said IAM Executive Assistant Diane Babineaux, who led a contingent of Machinists to Louisiana and visited New Orleans’ hardest hit neighborhoods. “The destruction is widespread and unlike anything we’ve seen before,” said Babineaux. “But our government’s response has been inadequate on an equally grand scale.”
Among the Machinists taking part in this year’s AFL-CIO activities in Louisiana were members from District 837 in St. Louis, MO and Local Lodge 709 in Marietta, GA, in addition to representatives from IAM headquarters.