WASHINGTON — Teamsters joined the 2020 March on Washington Friday to confront the systemic racism that plagues the United States and to demand widespread change. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters co-sponsored the historic demonstration, and the union’s Human Rights and Diversity Commission Director Marcus King delivered remarks to the crowd of thousands about the importance of confronting systemic racism and economic exploitation by demanding solutions from the government and corporations. The union is fighting to dismantle racist corporate and government policies and advocating that the Senate prioritize the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 (H.R.7120).
“We need action,” said Marcus King, Director of the Teamsters Human Rights and Diversity Commission, and President of Teamsters Local 331. “The Teamsters demand that those in power listen to their constituents and the thousands of people gathered here today who are tired of unnecessary bloodshed in our streets, who are tired of the disenfranchisement of people of color at the ballot box.”
The union is urging the Senate to pass crucial legislation to address racist policing practices and to protect Americans’ civil rights, including the House policing reform bill and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act (H.R. 4).
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 (H.R.7120) passed by the House on June 25 provides key reforms like the elimination of racial, religious and discriminatory profiling by federal, state and local law enforcement, prohibition of excessive force practices like chokeholds and carotid holds, and the establishment of strong, enforceable criminal and civil penalties for police misconduct. The legislation was introduced by Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), House Judiciary Committee chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA).
“We support comprehensive reform that protects the rights of people of color to equal justice under the law,” said Jason Rabinowitz, Director of the Teamsters Public Services Division. “However, any legislation must also protect the men and women who do their jobs enforcing the law the right way, every day.”
The Teamsters have long been involved in the civil rights movement, supporting the organizing efforts of African-American workers more than 100 years ago. As a financial supporter of the March on Washington in 1963, the union had a good working relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and refused to create segregated locals sought by some workplaces in the South through the mid-20th century.
Teamsters members reject social injustice and economic exploitation that has divided and eroded our nation and stand side by side with other members to fight and destroy systemic racism.
“As a Teamsters member for more than 30 years, and a business agent and trustee at Local 202 for the last 20 years, I take great pride in building up hard-working New Yorkers and making sure that all members are given a level playing field,” said Anthony Rosa, Business Agent and Trustee for Teamsters Local 202 in New York. “The union has given me the chance to not only fight for the rights of workers in their workplaces but also an opportunity to speak to workers about the grave consequences of racial injustice and how each worker can influence real change for all.”
“When I started working for UPS in the ‘80s, I had no idea that I was a union member or the vast impact that the Teamsters have on workers of all races, religions and ways of life,” said Abimael Ortiz, Business Agent and Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 331 in New Jersey. “As I grew alongside the union and saw the persistence behind the Teamsters advocating for every worker, and pushing the envelope on civil rights, it has made me proud to wear the Teamsters logo and even more proud to be a member.”
“Being a Teamster is an amazing privilege that has allowed me to fight and advocate for my Teamsters brothers and sisters, whether that’s in the workplace, in the community or the legislative halls,” said Payton Corbett, Business Agent and Trustee for Teamsters Local 122 in Massachusetts. “From my colleagues at Anheuser Busch to workers who aren’t members of our union, the Teamsters have the backs of all working people and demand racial and social justice for all Americans. I find it remarkably empowering to be part of a union that impacts millions of people from all walks of life.”
“I’m grateful knowing that as a Teamsters member, my union fights for justice, respect and fairness,” said Lynne Millard, Principal Leadership Coach for Philadelphia’s School District and a member of Teamsters Local 502 in Pennsylvania. “I’m incredibly proud that even during this extremely divided time in our nation’s history, that I can join alongside other Teamsters in the fight for equality for all Americans.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.