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.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Yellow Transportation Inc., and YRC Inc. have settled for $11 million an EEOC suit alleging that the trucking companies permitted the racial harassment of black employees at a now-closed Chicago Ridge, Ill., facility, EEOC announced June 29 (EEOC v. Yellow Transp. Inc., N.D. Ill., No. 09 CV 7693, preliminary approval granted6/28/12).
Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois June 28 granted preliminary approval of a proposed consent decree that would settle EEOC's suit under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The court must grant final approval following a fairness hearing before the decree takes effect.
The proposed consent decree would settle both EEOC's suit and a private suit filed in 2008 by 14 black employees under the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (42 U.S.C. § 1981), which were consolidated for purposes of settlement.
Second Large Settlement With YRC
EEOC claimed that black employees at the Chicago Ridge facility, which closed in 2009, were subjected to multiple incidents of hangman's nooses and racist graffiti, comments, and cartoons. EEOC claimed that Yellow and YRC also subjected black employees to harsher discipline and closer scrutiny than their white counterparts and gave black employees more difficult and time-consuming work assignments. Although numerous black employees complained about these conditions, Yellow and YRC failed to act to correct the problems, EEOC alleged.
Yellow Freight operated the Chicago Ridge facility until its merger with Roadway Express, when the two companies combined to form YRC Inc. in October 2008, EEOC noted.
In 2010, EEOC and YRC had settled for $10 million a separate Title VII suit involving alleged racial harassment at two other company facilities in Chicago Heights and Elk Grove Village, Ill., which are still open (178 DLR A-13, 9/10/10).
“The company now has had to pay $21 million to resolve egregious racial harassment and discrimination at two of its facilities,” said John Hendrickson, EEOC regional attorney in Chicago. “Employers should not believe that because they are in an industry—like trucking—known for rough working conditions, they can ignore discrimination when it arises. A noose is not an acceptable symbol there or anywhere else—that's the law.”
A group of 14 black employees at YRC initially sued under Section 1981 in 2008 before EEOC filed its race discrimination suit the following year. In October 2006, 15 current and former black employees, including the 14 who had sued earlier, intervened as plaintiffs in EEOC's suit.
Yellow Freight and YRC Inc. admit none of EEOC's allegations by entering into the settlement, the decree provides.
Company Disputed EEOC's Claims
In a June 29 statement, YRC Freight in Overland Park, Kan., said it “vigorously disputed” EEOC's allegations but “amicably settled” the suits in order to avoid further legal fees and costs.
“We take any claim of harassment or discrimination very seriously,” said Kelly Walls, senior vice president of human resources for YRC Freight. “There may be isolated instances of improper conduct in any workplace, but the allegations in these cases did not reflect the real working environment at Chicago Ridge.”
The company said it had evidence “refuting the most scandalous allegations,” that the original lawsuit was filed by a small group of former employees, and that “many former employees declined to join” EEOC's subsequent lawsuit.
The company makes clear through its “Respect in the Workplace policy,” its training, and its internal communications that “respect for fellow employees is a fundamental component of being a part of the YRC Freight team,” Walls said in the statement.
YRC Freight, which has about 21,000 employees at nearly 280 U.S. locations, “actively recruits minorities, women, and veterans” for management, dock professional, and driver jobs, the company said.
Terms of Proposed Decree
The proposed decree will benefit as many as 324 African American employees who worked at Chicago Ridge as loading dock workers, hostlers, janitors, clericals, and supervisors from 2004 until the facility closed in September 2009, EEOC said.
Many black employees who formerly worked at Chicago Ridge currently work at YRC's Chicago Heights facility, where they are shielded from race discrimination or harassment under the terms of EEOC's 2010 consent decree with YRC covering that facility, EEOC said.
The proposed decree settles both the EEOC suit and the private plaintiffs' Section 1981 suit, which the district court in May 2011 certified as a class action. No member of the Section 1981 class opted out of the certified class, which covers current or former YRC employees who worked at the Chicago Ridge facility at any time between October 2004 and September 2009, according to the decree.
Class members covered by the decree will have an opportunity to object to its terms at a court fairness hearing, but will get no second chance to opt out of the Section 1981 certified class, the proposed decree provides.
Class counsel for the Section 1981 plaintiffs will receive $1.1 million representing attorneys' fees and costs, the proposed decree provides.
John C. Hendrickson, Gregory Gochanour, Richard J. Mrizek, and Ethan Cohen of EEOC in Chicago represented EEOC. Randall D. Schmidt of the University of Chicago Law School, Carol Coplan Babbitt in Chicago, and Catherine A. Caporusso in Chicago represented the private plaintiffs. Kevin W. Shaughnessy and Tracey L. Ellerson of Baker & Hostetler in Orlando, Fla., represented YRC Inc.