Teamsters took part in a massive day of action on Monday, April 4th, in solidarity with workers in Wisconsin, Ohio and states across the country. Teamsters and our allies participated in more than 1,000 events in 50 states, including solidarity actions by our friends as far away as Paris, Mongolia and Afghanistan.
April 4th was chosen to honor the slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and to remind people that he died for collective bargaining rights. Dubbed 4.4.11, the day of action touched all corners of the United States with hundreds of thousands rallying to stop the war on workers.
Solidarity actions like these culminated this week with two successes in Wisconsin. A judge has again blocked implementation of Wisconsin’s anti-worker bill that would strip public workers of their collective bargaining rights. Also, our efforts to recall eight of the Republican senators who voted for this legislation are going strong, with an announcement Friday that a petition with enough signatures to trigger a recall election had been filed for Sen. Dan Kapanke (R-La Crosse). More are expected to follow. This was truly historic, as it was the fastest filing for recall of a senator in Wisconsin history.
Monday, April 4, saw Teamsters join 2,000 at a rally in front of Koch Industries headquarters in Washington, D.C. A signed petition was delivered to Charles and David Koch, demanding an end to union busting and fair treatment for workers everywhere.
Boston Teamsters from Local 25 joined other unions to rally in front of the state Republican Party headquarters to “stand in solidarity with workers in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, New Hampshire and other states fighting corporate politicians seeking to destroy collective bargaining.”
In Atlanta, Teamsters gathered for a “We Are One” rally at the King Center with Martin Luther King III. In New York City, Local 804 Teamsters rallied in front of the UPS terminal in Manhattan to support the “Stop the War on Workers” efforts. Teamsters turned out in force in Oklahoma City.
Teamsters Local 776 members showed up at Harrisburg, and other Teamsters rallied in Philadelphia. There were rallies all over Ohio, including a solidarity rally at Local 957 in Dayton and at the Greater Abyssinia Baptist Church in Cleveland, co-sponsored by Local 507. Minnesota Teamsters, many from Local 320 and Local 1145, were among the estimated 5,000 people who took part in the huge rally in front of the Statehouse. Many carried a sign reading, “From Memphis 1968 to Madison 2011. The struggle continues.”
Teamster members of Local 364 marched from the South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center in Indiana to a “Respect Our Rights” rally. Teamsters from Local 630 in Los Angeles joined union supporters at an IBEW Solidarity rally. That was just one of 20 solidarity rallies held in California in which hundreds of Teamsters participated.
In Colorado, Teamsters joined teachers, nurses, fire fighters and other public sector workers at a rally in Denver. Wisconsin Teamsters joined Rev. Jesse Jackson in energizing a crowd of thousands at their “Memphis to Madison” rally. Nevada Teamsters joined other union members, public-sector workers and supporters at a rally where their message was clear: stop the cuts to education and save collective bargaining.
In Syracuse, N.Y., Teamsters joined concerned citizens at 40 different intersections to talk to motorists in their cars about the war on workers. In Newburgh, N.Y., Local 445 held a rally at the intersection of Rte. 300 and Rte. 17K.
In Raleigh, N.C., a 15-minute silent protest was held across from the Statehouse. In Sioux City, Iowa, Teamsters rallied in front of City Hall, waving signs that said, “Solidarity” and “We Are One.”
Teamsters also got a jump start on the April 4 events with an international rally on Saturday, April 2, when Teamsters from the United States and Canada joined 2,000 other concerned citizens for a solidarity event at Peace Arch Park located between Blaine, Wash., and Surrey, B.C.
Thursday, March 31, saw Teamsters from Local 633 in Manchester, N.H. join 5,000 union supporters and community activists at a rally at the New Hampshire Statehouse to protest budget cuts and an end to collective bargaining for public employees. The protest was one of the largest in the state’s history.
Wednesday, March 30, saw hundreds of Teamsters, labor supporters and D.C.’s own resident rapper Head-Roc protest outside of the Food Marketing Institute’s (FMI) annual public policy meeting at the Hyatt Regency hotel to stop the war on grocery workers. Members from Locals 639, 730 and 922 in Washington, D.C. and Local 863 in New Jersey were joined by General President Hoffa and General Secretary-Treasurer Keegel.
Tuesday, March 29, Teamsters stayed vigilant even as Ohio Republicans passed SB5, which stripped government employees of their rights to collectively bargain. Teamsters joined other union members and public-sector employees in rallies outside of the Ohio Statehouse and helped push a statewide petition drive against the legislation. Now that SB5 has passed, Teamsters in Ohio are turning their attention to collecting signatures for a citizens’ veto of SB5.
This Saturday, April 9, will be the official kickoff for the referendum to repeal SB5, with a big event at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. Teamsters will be out in full force there, as well as at rallies in New York’s Times Square and Chicago.
To stay on top of our battle against corporate-backed politicians who are waging war on workers, go to www.stopthewaronworkers.org and www.teamster.org.