Black New Orleans City Waste Workers Build Power Against a Crisis

The Most Revolutionary Act

All photos from the City Waste Union Facebook page.


When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. met with sanitation workers in 1968 in Memphis, they told him that Black workers were essential to keeping the city running—but were treated as if their work and their humanity were disposable. “All labor has dignity,” King thundered in a speech to the workers in Memphis and to the nation, just two weeks before he was assassinated. Today, Black sanitation workers in New Orleans are holding on to King’s message, and the resolve of the Memphis sanitation workers—who went on strike for over two months, until they won.

Sanitation workers in New Orleans have been out on strike for over a month now. On May 5, a group of sanitation workers, also known as “hoppers” (because they hop on and off the trucks to empty trash cans), walked off the job after frustrations…

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