May 4, 2011: Members of Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) are proud that the IBT is honoring Victor G. Reuther by hosting his induction ceremony to Labor’s International Hall of Fame on May 17.
Reuther was a tireless fighter for labor and social justice, starting out at age 24 as a key organizer of Flint sit-down strikes in 1936-7 that helped found the United Auto Workers and led to the unionization of millions of American workers, including Teamsters.
Reuther came out of retirement in the 1980’s to join the battle for union democracy. He linked up with rank-and-file unionists—including Teamsters for a Democratic Union—who were organizing to rebuild union power on the job and denounce their officials’ lavish salaries and cozy relationship with management.
“The age of one party states is coming to an end,” Reuther wrote of the Teamster reform movement. “The future is with the rank and file.”
Reuther addressed the TDU Convention in 1991 on the eve of the election of reformer Ron Carey as the first democratically elected president of the Teamsters, and remained a friend and advisor to Teamster reformers.
The stakes in the battle for union democracy are greater than ever. As another election for IBT president nears and as we honor the legacy of a giant in the union movement, let’s ask ourselves a question: Who would Victor Reuther like to see lead the Teamsters union today?