Building Solidarity Beyond Your Workplace or Local

Everyone agrees that union solidarity means union strength. But what does it actually take to build solidarity with other unions, workers or community organizations? How can TDU members and other Teamsters get involved in solidarity efforts while still building our own movement?

UPS Example

An excellent example for our own union is the 1997 UPS strike. Many other unions, groups and activists stepped in to show unity with the UPS strikers. The airline pilots and machinists were particularly active. Jesse Jackson and other civil rights leaders were involved. And Teamsters in many locals got support from unions and the community.

Why did solidarity come together so well in that strike? Boil it down and there are two overriding reasons:

Other workers saw that the UPS fight for good, full-time jobs was a fight that pretty much all workers had a stake in. A win at UPS would be a boost for everyone.

Long before the strike the International Union, many members and some locals had shown a willingness to back the efforts of other unions and community groups. We had backed them and now it was time for them to back us.

That’s the big picture. To get at the nuts and bolts of solidarity work Convoy Dispatch interviewed members who have been active in Jobs with Justice and other unity-building efforts.

Benefits of Solidarity Work

In addition to providing support to those who need it, TDU members and chapters find that solidarity work can be a boost to morale and organization.

It is also a way to gain experience in network building, strike support and community and media relations. It can be an important bridge that leads members to a better understanding of how the labor movement can work.

Some Basics of Getting Involved in Solidarity Activity

Show up at picket lines and rallies. You may find out about events through word of mouth, the newspaper, or, hopefully, because your local union makes the information available. You can also find out if there is a local chapter of Jobs with Justice and contact them for information.

Invite union members involved in struggles to a TDU chapter meeting. You may also want to raise a motion at a union meeting that the local invite speakers or otherwise support specific labor battles.

Find out if there is a local chapter of Jobs with Justice or a workers center in your area that is active in solidarity work. Some JwJ chapters are very active and open to participation by rank and file. Workers centers often do work around the rights of immigrant workers.

Create or push for your local to create a solidarity committee that can help organize members into solidarity work. For example, in Washington, D.C., members and the Central Labor Committee of the AFL/CIO created a Street Heat committee.

Read on and get some ideas you can use. And get active

See these related Articles:

LA TDU Solidarity

Vermont Workers’ Center

Street Heat in DC

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