New York Film & TV Workers Protest During MLK Day With Rev. Al Sharpton & Top Empire State Pols

She had the formidable challenge of making her case before a packed meeting room in East Harlem after a power posse of the state’s top politicians joined the Rev. Al Sharpton to celebrate the slain Civil Rights leader. The holiday this year marked the 50th anniversary of King’s murder in Memphis, TN, where he was speaking in support of striking sanitation workers.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate Letitia James and others summoned the inclusive King and denounced what they called the divisive and racist policies of President Donald Trump, several times bringing the audience at the headquarters of Sharpton’s National Action Network to its feet.

But if any of the speakers captured the spirit of Dr. King the most, it might well have been Holmes Rollins, speaking on behalf of those on the lowest rung of New York’s thriving entertainment industry.

“We make it possible so that you can go see the Golden Globe winner, we worked on that show,” Rollins began, “and earned less than $11 an hour.

“Anytime we clear a street, we put our lives on the line,” she continued. “At 3 o’clock in the morning when me or one of my brothers or sisters walk up to a car, we don’t know what we’re walking into. Many times, we are assaulted and spit on; cars try to run us over while we just do our jobs. We’re asking for what Martin Luther King was fighting for those sanitation workers. What they were fighting for years ago, we are still fighting for today: a living wage and our right to be treated like humanity.”

The parking production assistants, who number about 1,000 mostly African-American and Latino workers in New York, were given approval by the National Labor Relations Board to vote on whether they wish to be represented in labor negotiations by the Communications Workers of America. Ballots are expected to go out this week. A spokesman for the group said the workers get no medical or other benefits, earn minimum wages and typically work 12-hour shifts through the night to secure locations for filming.

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