The 1968 Sanitation Workers Strike
After a slightly heated conversation and an attempt by one council member to postpone the vote, on Tuesday the Memphis City Council voted 13 to 0 in favor of providing 1968 Sanitation Workers with financial assistance.
Council member Martavius Jones advised the Council to hold the vote until they had more information, while chairman Berlin Boyd told Jones and colleagues that he thinks they cannot afford to wait any longer, as it has already been put off long enough.
"We can never make up the sacrifices that these individuals made financially because they went above the call of duty to do things that risks their lives for a greater cause," Boyd said. "The $50,000 is just a grant saying 'hey we appreciate the sacrifices that you guys made.'"
The Council agreed and unanimously approved to grant 14 surviving 1968 sanitation workers $50,000 each. Four of the recipients are still working and 10 are retirees.
However, Public Works director Robert Knecht told the Council that the number of surviving sanitation workers from 1968, might actually be more than 14 and could increase by six or seven people. Therefore, he says more research has to be done.
Knecht says the City must "clarify and verify" they have not missed any surviving workers. If other survivors are identified, he says the Council might have to approve another 50 percent of the original amount for the additional survivors.
Additionally, the Council approved a 401(a) retirement plan for current sanitation workers, in which the City, depending on length of employment, will contribute between 50 cents and $1.50 to the employee's Social Security contributions and deferred compensation.
The funds for both the grants, which equals $900,000 and the retirement plan, equaling $450,000, will come from the City's reserves.