The following is an interview with Bill Gibson, the President of Local 96 in Washington, D.C.
Why is it important for your local to be involved in this activity?
Basically to help out other locals that are having problems with employers. In turn we expect their help when we have problems. We do that through the Washington metro Central Labor Council (CLC), AFL-CIO and through other community agencies such as the Gray Panthers, ACORN and Jobs with Justice (JwJ). We help them out with their fights and then eventually they’ll help us out if we have problems.
What are examples of your own solidarity work?
What the CLC has here is what they call a street heat. They picket employers who are unwilling to let us organize workers for different locals. The Teamster joint council also does picketing. Another program through the CLC and JwJ is the freedom ride for immigrants. Two years ago our local received a golden picket award from the CLC for the most participation in street heats. I’m pretty proud of that.
What basic suggestions would you have for other Teamsters who are interested in getting involved in their areas?
If they have an active CLC in their area to participate in, do that. And if they look around they will find plenty of groups that are trying to work in the community to improve it. Organizations like ACORN and JwJ are nationwide. Even if your local refuses to get active, you may be able to go around the local and work with groups directly.
See these related Articles:
Building Solidarity Beyond Your Work Place or Local
LA TDU Solidarity
Vermont Workers’ Center