The Teamsters Union is mourning the death of Alvin Turner, who participated in the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers' strike and who has stood with the Teamsters over the years to help raise standards for workers in the waste industry.
Turner, along with Baxter Leach, participated in numerous rallies and events for the Teamsters over the years. Both men delivered stirring speeches at the Teamsters 29th International Convention in 2016.
"On behalf of the 1.4-million-member Teamsters Union, I express condolences to the family and friends of Alvin Turner," Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said. "Nearly a half century ago, Turner and other sanitation workers had the courage to stand up for justice and respect for all waste workers. They held signs that read, "I Am a Man," and those iconic images will live on in our memories and hearts forever."
"Alvin Turner was a great friend of the Teamsters, helping to lift up countless workers in the solid waste industry," said Ron Herrera, Director of the Teamsters Solid Waste, Recycling and Related Industries Division. "He will be missed but never forgotten."
In an interview in 2016 with the Teamsters, Turner said he started working for the city of Memphis at age 16 and often held two jobs to get by.
"I still have a scar that reminds me of being clubbed by a Memphis police officer during the 1968 strike," Turner said. "Seeing how workers, especially those in the waste industry, get mistreated brings me back to 1968."
In recent years, Turner helped Teamster waste workers, including helping Waste Management workers in Memphis organize their union.
"We need to honor the sacrifices we made and the sacrifices of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., who stood with us and lost his life fighting for us," Turner said in 2016. "We cannot go backward. We must move forward!"