Friday, November 8, 2013

In memory of our fallen brother, Gilberto Soto

Gilberto Soto and Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa.
Teamster Gilberto Soto, the former president of Teamsters Local 11, stepped out of the house during a visit to his mother and was instantly assassinated by a trio of hitmen who were never caught. It is no coincidence that he was in the middle of an intense organizing campaign,

He died in 2004.

Not 1904 or 1934, he was murdered in 2004. This isn't ancient history.

Soto's death wasn't the result of a robbery and he wasn't some random target. He was organizing an international campaign uniting port workers across the Americas when he was shot in the back the day before his 50th birthday.

Gilberto was a good, hardworking man who believed strongly in the power of solidarity. The American Prospect tells us about his life:
When Soto arrived in the United States in 1975, he got work as a garbage collector, a waiter, a cook, and a factory worker -- nothing like his career as a bank teller in El Salvador. Finally he landed a job in a factory in which the Teamsters had a contract. He became a shop steward and then president of Local 11; he was the first Latino to head a Teamster local in New Jersey. He put himself through community college, earned a bachelor's degree, and finally became a Teamsters organizer. Soto worked with port drivers around the country as they began to organize a national network, despite enormous legal obstacles.
Gilberto Soto died because he believed workers should have the chance to be paid fairly for a day's work. He's yet another casualty of the war on workers. We want to dedicate this day, the anniversary of his death, to his memory and the memory of others who died in the pursuit of justice for workers.