Monday, January 27, 2014

Teamsters echo Martin Luther King's call for change

Joint Council 28 Black Teamsters United at the MLK Day march in Seattle
Dr. Martin Luther King is honored today for his leadership in the civil rights movement, but often overlooked was his fight for a fundamental change in America's economic system. In a 1967 speech at Riverside Baptist Church he said, 
But one day, we must ask the question of whether an edifice which produces beggars must not be restructured and refurbished.
Today it is increasingly obvious that our system is rigged for the wealthy and against everyone else. Unions are at the vanguard of the battle to restructure that edifice to benefit working men and women.

On Jan. 20, Teamsters all over the country echoed Dr. King's call for change. To give just two examples, Joint Council 28 Black Teamsters United marched, as they do every year, at the MLK Day rally and march in Seattle. And Teamsters from Local 728 marched in Atlanta's annual Martin Luther King Day parade.

Local 728 Teamsters march in Atlanta
Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, writing in Alternet, argue Dr. King would have embraced the fight against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (which of course the Teamsters are deeply engaged in):  
...the Trans-Pacific Partnership ... will destroy sovereignty, placing governments, even down to the local level, at the service of transnational corporations. Leaked Wikileaks documents from the TPP reveal that the US is the most extreme nation advocating for corporate power and neoliberal economies. 
This week, the EU announced that it will delay negotiation of a key section, the Investor State Dispute Settlement, of the Atlantic version of the TPP known as TAFTA. They are concerned that giving corporations the power to sue governments for loss of expected profits will undermine their laws to protect the health of people and the planet and are seeking greater public input. Contrast that with a case that is going forward in Mora County, NM in which Shell Oil is suing a community over its fracking ban. If Shell is able to sue a community for loss of expected profits, that community would never be able to afford that and would have to change its law; and other communities will be afraid to enact laws in the public interest or to protect the planet. 
Momentum is building to stop the TPP. Organizations from across the spectrum and across the continent are working together to stop the President from being given authority to Fast Track the TPP through Congress and to unite in a day of action. Visit to join the Ten Days of Action to Stop Fast Track which culminates in a day of protest on January 31.