Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Teamsters join LA Labor Day march for workers

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (center) met with Teamsters during picnic.
We're catching up with our Labor Day coverage. Here is a dispatch from California: 

About 250 Southern California Teamsters joined more than 2,000 of their union brothers and sisters Monday in Los Angeles to march for workers’ rights. The Labor Day parade and rally took place near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, where port truck drivers have been fighting for fair treatment and the right to organize.

Led by three 18-wheelers in front and about 100 motorcycles and classic cars in back, Teamsters from several different locals across the region chanted, cheered and revved their engines while traversing the mile-long parade route. They also delighted the hundreds of spectators taking in the event with their call-and-response cheers:
Rolling, rolling, rolling with the Teamsters! Who are we? Teamsters!
Anthony Balbastro, a Teamsters Local 63 member and a shop steward at United Stationers, said the Labor Day event filled him with pride:
Only in America can you stand next to other brothers and sisters and march.
Patrick Kelly, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 952, said the parade sends an important message to all workers:
It is an example of collective direct action where we can show the community who we are. It is important to reaffirm solidarity among working people.
And a group of retired Teamsters said they are concerned about the next generation of workers. Dan Salazar, a retired member of Teamsters Local 63, said:
We are here out of respect for the lifestyle we enjoy for our families. We want other people to enjoy what we had. The laws have changed, peoples’ culture has changed. They are starting to get left behind.
Teamsters marched for a better life for the middle class.
Salazar said he was encouraged by recent actions by low-wage workers. Last week, L.A. port truck drivers returned to work after a historic 24-hour strike ended against trucking company Green Fleet Systems. The drivers struck to protest unfair labor practices by Green Fleet’s management, including unlawful anti-union retaliation, harassment and intimidation.
The short, sudden port truck driver strike was followed by more job actions by low-wage workers around the country. Fast-food workers in more than 50 U.S. cities walked off the job on Thursday. Walmart workers are planning to strike in 15 cities tomorrow, their largest mobilization since Black Friday. 

After the parade, people thronged a local park for a barbecue and entertainment. Joining them were federal, state and local elected officials who pledged to work on behalf of workers for fairer wages.
Newly elected Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said now is the time to stand up for workers:
We will fight for a living wage. And better schools. And a greater Los Angeles.