Black History Month gives us an opportunity to not only appreciate the role black Teamsters have played in the foundation and growth of our union, but to also take on present-day challenges such as voter suppression laws and other racist policies.
For more than 100 years, the Teamsters Union has been at the forefront of the struggle for workers’ rights in North America. The Teamsters early on believed in “no color line” and would not hold with the practice of separate unions for black members.
BLET member Carlyle Smith, an Amtrak locomotive engineer and member of Division 482 in Washington, D.C., is featured in this Black History Month story on the rail industry.
In 2010, the Teamsters Union published “Life in the Teamsters: The Civil Rights Movement” as part of the Teamster History Collection. The book details how the labor and civil rights movements worked together to achieve dignity for working families.
In August 2014, it will have been 112 years since a joint convention of the Team Drivers’ International Union and the Teamsters’ National Union was held in Niagara Falls, NY. At that convention in 1903, history was made for a number of reasons. That year these two unions united and the beginning of the Teamsters Union as we know it was initiated. Between August 3 and 13, numerous executive board members and delegates, including T.A.
The contributions of black members to the success of the Teamsters Union are numerous, varied and as old as the union itself. Black team drivers attended the first Convention in 1903 and were active in all aspects of the union from the beginning. That commitment remains strong today.
The contributions of black members to the success of the Teamsters Union are numerous, varied and as old as the union itself. This month, the Teamsters Union spotlights some of those contributions.