Tonight in Detroit, where hundreds of activists are gathered for the annual AFL-CIO Martin Luther King Jr. Day Observance, participants will honor several individuals for their outstanding contributions to working people. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis will receive the top honor for her extraordinary dedication and commitment to improving the lives of workers throughout her lifetime. The At the River I Stand award is given to a national leader who has demonstrated an unyielding commitment to civil rights and workers’ rights.
Since her 2009 appointment as labor secretary, Solis has worked to end wage theft, improve job safety by holding employers accountable and spotlight abuses like sexual harassment, workplace violence and gender discrimination. She also has significantly broadened the department’s outreach by holding a series of webinars, parterning with Facebook to help people find jobs and launching an app to help workers track their hours and how much they should be paid.
The At the River I Stand Award is named in honor of the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers who stood at their “river” and made the decision to take a stand against degrading and unsafe working conditions and racial discrimination and for the freedom to form a union. Their struggle demonstrated the deep bonds between the civil rights and labor movements and those who receive the At the River I Stand Award exemplify the spirit of the Memphis sanitation workers in their lives and work.
Also tonight, four outstanding individuals will receive the Eyes on the Prize Awards. Tina Abbott, Michigan State AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer emeritus, will be honored for her role in the labor movement, and Regina Favors, Postal Workers Detroit District legislative director, for her role in community service.
The Eyes on the Prize government category award will go to the Hon. Brenda Jones, a member of the Detroit City Council, and the faith award to the Rev. David Alexander Bullock, pastor of Detroit’s Greater St. Matthews Baptist Church.