The Teamsters will be reaffirming its support of racial and economic justice on Friday when union members participate in the 57th anniversary of the original March on Washington.
The event, called the Commitment March this year, will bring thousands of Americans together to urge Congress to take action to empower people of color so they can fully participate in this democracy. Highlighted among the issues are changes to policing as well as voting rights. The Teamsters are a co-sponsor of the event being hosted by the National Action Network.
“We need action,” said Marcus King, Director of the Teamsters Human Rights and Diversity Commission. “The Teamsters demand that those in power listen to their constituents and the thousands of people who will gather later this week and are sick of unnecessary bloodshed in our streets, unsafe workplaces lacking PPE, unfair pay and the disenfranchisement of people of color at the ballot box.”
This union has a long history of standing up not only for members, but for those Americans who have been discriminated against and overlooked. The Teamsters were at the forefront of organizing African-American workers more than 100 years ago and refused to create segregated locals sought by some workplaces in the South through the mid-20th century.
Later, the Teamsters lent financial support and participated in civil rights actions throughout the 1960s, including for the first March on Washington and registering Black voters. But while there has been some progress since the first time a quarter million people joined the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Washington, it has not been enough.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic, combined with the fight for racial justice at a time when too many Black lives are being taken by those charged with protecting them, have only heightened existing inequality issues that have simmered in our society for years.
While Teamster members, no matter their gender, race, religion or sexual orientation, earn the same pay for the same work under their contracts, that is not the case for too many on the job. Black workers earn 26.5% less than their white counterparts on average according to the Economic Policy Institute, a number that has grown during the past 20 years.
So what can the Teamsters do to change it? They have to vote! Members can’t let unjust voting rules or slow mail delivery cool our burning desire for a democracy that keeps us safe and supports all of us.
And if you can make it, join your fellow Teamsters beginning at 8:30 a.m. Friday at Parking Lot C near the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, where we will convene before walking over the Lincoln Memorial at 10 a.m. (Just FYI, you will need to park elsewhere. Metered street parking on Ohio Drive SW is available).
America is depending on us!