As the country honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we remember his often ignored contributions to the labor movement. Dr. King understood the ties between labor rights and civil rights. He gave his life while supporting striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee. He spoke firmly against right-to-work laws, saying that “in our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights.”Read more
Michael Savwoir has fought for democracy, racial justice and a stronger Teamsters Union for well over 30 years, and he’s still going strong. Teamsters—especially TDU members—salute his unwavering commitment, as he steps down from the TDU Steering Committee, on which he has served for nearly 20 years.Read more
(Reprinted from The New York Times,Feb. 9, 2018) Fifty years after the Memphis strike, workers continue to risk their lives across the United States to handle garbage and recycling. The solution in 1968 was collective bargaining, and it is the solution today as well.Read more
As our nation celebrates the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr, it is important to recall that Dr. King gave his life in Memphis in a battle for justice for striking workers.
By Ginger Adams Otis, New York Daily News
A part-time UPS worker from Brooklyn is hoping to send his Teamsters union leadership a message on Nov. 15: “You’re out!”
Trinidadian-born Dave Loobie, 40, is the first part-time worker to ever run for a union position at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters — one of the largest and most well-known labor organizations in the world.Read more
By Greg Kocher, Lexington Herald Leader
A Fayette Circuit Court jury awarded $5.3 million in damages to eight black men who had filed a 2014 lawsuit alleging a hostile work environment at UPS in Lexington.
“The verdict of the jury maybe will change things at UPS, because they really need change,” said UPS tractor-trailer driver William Barber, 54, a plaintiff who continues to be employed by the company. “...We hope UPS sees this and addresses the situation.”Read more
January 22, 2015: Since last year’s Congressional elections, lawmakers in at least nine states have signaled that they intend to introduce “right-to-work” legislation.
Wisconsin, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Ohio and Missouri will be battlegrounds over the misnamed legislation, with bills being introduced in early 2015. Efforts to pass RTW laws are also expected in Colorado, Kentucky, Montana and Pennsylvania.
“Right to Work” laws mandate unions to represent workers who don’t pay any dues or fees to support the union. Numerous studies demonstrate there is a connection between weaker union power in RTW states and lower wages, worse benefits, poor health coverage and even higher mortality rates.
Click here to read more on the new push expand RTW laws.
August 28, 2013: Today marks the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The hidden history of the march may surprise you—and it shows why we need to keep marching today.
Hidden History: The March on Washington was not organized by Martin Luther King.
The march is best remembered for Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech which continues to inspire millions of Americans.
But Dr. King was not the main organizer of the March on Washington—a labor leader was. The March on Washington was the brainchild of A. Philip Randolph, the 74-year-old leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first primarily Black labor union.
Randolph first called for a march on Washington to protest employment discrimination in 1941. That never happened, but he relaunched the project in 1963 and reached out to King and other civil rights and labor groups. The rest is history.
Hidden History: Marchers Demanded Jobs and Economic Justice
Dr. King’s speech is mostly remembered as a call for racial understanding and his dream that one day his children “will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
The marchers demanded comprehensive Civil Rights legislation: the Right to Vote, the desegregation of all public schools, and an end to housing discrimination.
But that was not all. Marchers also demanded a minimum wage high enough to lift a family out of poverty, and “give all Americans a decent standard of living.” They demanded “meaningful and dignified jobs at decent wages.”
These demands for economic justice tend to be forgotten—and are still unmet.
Hidden History: Wages and Income Inequality are Worse Today Than in 1963
The federal minimum wage today is less than it was at the time of the March on Washington. The $1.15-per-hour minimum in August 1963 translates into an inflation-adjusted wage of about $8.80 today. The current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
Marchers demanded an 85¢ increase in the minimum wage to $2.00. Adjusting for inflation, that wage would be more than $13.00 an hour today.
We Need to Keep Marching
Fifty years later, the March on Washington continues to inspire and shows the power that labor and civil rights organizers can have when we work together.
The March on Washington helped win the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act which made racial and gender discrimination illegal in the workplace. Our country is a much better place for the March and the Civil Rights Movement.
But the lack of “meaningful and dignified jobs at decent wages” and growing economic inequality are the March’s unfinished business. We need to keep marching today.
September 6, 2013: A Local 802 Teamster celebrates her 15th year as a groundbreaking Teamster and "troublemaker" for fairness.
The first Teamster woman at her grocery warehouse, Arlena Dean filed a grievance to force her employer to create a locker room for women employees only to be told that she was forbidden to use it.
Management at her Bronx-based grocery warehouse banned Arlena, who considers herself a "proud African-American lesbian Teamster," from using the women's locker room. The bosses ordered Arlena to change in a broom closet across the hall from the men's bathroom instead.
Dean filed a discrimination grievance and launched a support petition. More than 100 co-workers signed in solidarity.
Dean's persistence and solidarity paid off. The company built a new union locker room for all Teamster women employees—gay and straight.
"I've never lived my life in the closet and I wasn't about to change in one," Dean said. "I've put up with a lot of harassment and discrimination. I wasn't going to stop until I got justice."
September marks Dean's 15th year as a proud Teamster.
"I've proven I can do my job as well as anyone else and I just want to be treated equal to everyone else too," Dean said.