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Teamsters Induct Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as Honorary Union Member


Union Vows to Continue Dr. King’s Struggle Following Memphis Sanitation Worker’s Tragic Death Last Week

(MEMPHIS) – Today, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Teamsters Human Rights and Diversity Commission, Teamsters Local 667, and the Teamsters Solid Waste and Recycling Division came together in Memphis to induct Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as an honorary Teamster member. In a ceremony held at Local 667, Teamsters marked the 55th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination in Memphis, where he had come to support striking sanitation workers in their struggle for dignity and respect on the job.

“The Teamsters Union commends the lifelong legacy of Dr. King for his contributions to the American labor movement and our country. We must remember that Dr. King spoke passionately and often about the value of hard work and the fact that, despite what the boss says, workers are always stronger in a union. On behalf of more than 1.2 million members, we are honored and humbled to welcome Dr. King into our powerful union,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien

The 1968 Memphis sanitation strike took place after two sanitation workers were killed on the job in an industrial accident. In a horrible reminder of how much work still needs to be done to fulfill Dr. King’s dream of justice and equality, another sanitation worker was killed on the job in Memphis just last week.

“The Teamsters marched alongside Dr. King in support of workers who were fighting for higher wages and better treatment, and that’s exactly what we are fighting for today. Thanks to those who came before us, we know that the best way to ensure a better future at our workplaces is to follow the example that Dr. King, the Teamsters of his generation, and the Memphis sanitation workers set by standing together and making our voices heard,” said Teamsters Human Rights and Diversity Commission Director Anthony Rosa.

“Last week, another sanitation worker was killed on the job right here in Memphis. That’s why it’s so important that we remember Dr. King’s struggle because sanitation companies like Republic and Waste Management are up to their old tricks,” said Teamsters Waste Division Director Chuck Stiles. “These companies put extraordinary resources into public relations campaigns to convince people that they’re the good guys, but workers still face grievous bodily harm on the job. Meanwhile, we have had to drag sanitation employers kicking and screaming for workers to get the day off on Martin Luther King Day and Juneteenth.”

“The reason the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers had those ‘I AM A MAN’ signs is because management point-blank refused to view them as human beings. It’s the same story at UPS in 2023. But thanks to Dr. King, we know how to fight for dignity and respect on the job. And we know how to take the fight to UPS to win a fair contract. We aren’t going to let up until we get a contract that recognizes that we are human beings, not disposable cogs in a machine,” said Teamsters Local 667 President James Jones.

Teamsters Local 667 represents workers in a wide variety of industries throughout Eastern Tennessee. For more information, go to http://teamsterslocal667.org/.