MTA turns out for Day of Action

About 300 union members and allies rallied in Boston on April 4 as part of a nationwide Day of Action to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr. Tracey Pratt, a special education teacher from Cambridge (pictured below with MTA President Paul Toner), addressed the rally. [Watch Tracey Pratt's speech on YouTube.] 

Tracey Pratt with Paul TonerI stand before you today because I believe in the power of collective bargaining. The voice of educators must be heard. We must be at the table when decisions about the future of our students and our schools are made. It is key to the future success of our education system.

We are assembled here today to demand an end to attacks on workers like us and our civil rights. As we stand here today, let us remember the voices of those who fell yesterday, fighting for some of these very rights.

We can never forget the past because if we do we are condemned to repeat it!

So never forget that exactly 100 years ago on March 25, 1911, the voices of Ida Pearl, Jennie Franco, Mary Goldstein and 143 other young garment workers were silenced as they burned or jumped to their deaths in New York’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. Although their voices were ignored prior to the tragedy, their cries from the grave caused unions like the International Ladies Garment Workers to organize in record numbers and engage women in politics and other union issues, forcing municipalities to set higher standards for working conditions and improve safety in factories.

Never forget February 1, 1968, the voices of Echol Cole and Robert Walker spoke no more as these two sanitation workers were crushed to death in the back of a trash truck while trying to escape a torrential downpour in Memphis, Tennessee.  Their deaths were the last straw for 1,300 black fellow sanitation workers in Memphis who tried to use their voices to get better working conditions and fair wages. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. heard the voices of the striking workers and not once, but twice tried to lead a peaceful demonstration to honor the fallen men and to help those on strike with their cause.

Rest assured that we will never forget 43 years ago today on April 4, 1968, at 6:01 p.m. a shot rang out at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, silencing the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King, the night before he was to march with the striking sanitation workers. They Killed the Dreamer…They Killed the Dreamer…But they couldn’t kill his dream and they couldn't silence his movement.

So today, we stand united as one voice to honor Dr. King and those workers who died on their jobs as a result of poor, unsafe working conditions.

We stand united as one voice in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin who are losing their right to bargain collectively  and with our neighbors in New Hampshire and Maine who are under constant attack by antiunion organizations.

Educators: We stand united as one voice in the belief that all children can learn and to let local, state and federal government know that they must include teachers in the decision making process with regard to education reform.

We stand united as one voice to serve notice on rightwing, antiunion politicians and their supporters: Your negative rhetoric will not silence our voices. You will not take away the collective bargaining rights of working men and women.  To quote Dr. King the night before he died, “We’re not worried about anything. …We’re not fearing anyone.”

Because We Stand United as One Voice!

Day of Action rallies were also held in Fall River, New Bedford, Springfield, Greenfield and North Adams.

More photos from the Boston rally are available on our Flickr page  and Boston and other locations on our Facebook page .

 If you didn't make it to a rally on April 4, you can still participate in the virtual rally to protect collective bargaining.

Also this week:

April 7, 7 p.m.
"Are Unions Good for Schools and the Community?" A forum sponsored by the Brookline Educators Union. [MORE]

April 14, 4 p.m.
“Mobilize to Restore the American Dream and a Fair Economy for Working Families.” This event will take place in the Boston Financial District; the exact location has yet to be announced. The rally is sponsored by the Greater Boston Labor Council, the MTA and many others. For information, contact Rich Rogers, GBLC, 617-723-2360 or

We are also asking all MTA members to sign on to NEA’s new member advocacy page, This website offers you detailed information about “We Are One” actions nationwide and other events and activities that NEA members can participate in to support our education agenda across the nation.

More information and tools for activists from NEA's Education Votes website 


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