Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Teamsters arrested to show solidarity with Walmart workers

Refusing to be moved in front of the Chinatown Walmart in LA.
Our Teamster brother Gilbert Castillo recently got arrested on purpose: to send a message to Teamsters to stand up to Walmart this Black Friday.

A massive wave of protests is expected to engulf the giant retailer on the day after Thanksgiving, and Teamsters are encouraged to represent. Walmart workers and supporters are expected to engage in peaceful civil disobedience like the kind that got Castillo arrested in Los Angeles earlier this month. The Los Angeles protest resulted in 54 arrests, the largest civil disobedience action against Walmart so far.
Brother Gilbert Castillo, Business Agent,
Teamsters Local 396.

"They're downsizing the economy, and it's affecting us all," said Brother Castillo, a business agent with Teamsters Local 396 in Covina, Calif. "Teamsters need to show some kind of solidarity."

"I'm willing to get arrested so I can send a message to my union brothers. I'm not going to stand for Walmart's bullshit," he said.

Castillo, president of Teamsters Horsemen Chapter 42, was joined in jail by Brother Juan Gutierrez, a UPS shop steward and Horseman, and Brother Ruben Tiscareno, also a UPS shop steward and secretary-treasurer of the Horsemen. Teamsters Local 396 Secretary-Treasurer Ron Herrera was a big motivator in encouraging them to take action, Castillo said.

Witnesses say they were wowed by the sight of the three Horsemen arriving on their bikes and wearing their Teamster gear. They parked their motorcycles and sat down on the pavement. When the permit for the demonstration expired at 6 pm, they refused to budget. Castillo was arrested at 6:12 pm, along with longshoremen, a priest and UFCW members. As he was taken away in plastic handcuffs, a girl from AFSCME shouted, "Teamsters don't cry."

"We got inside at 9:30," Castillo said. "The Labor Fed posted bail, and we got out at 2 a.m."
Brothers Gutierrez, Tiscareno, Castillo

Here's how the Huffington Post described the scene:
Surrounded by about 100 police officers in riot gear and a helicopter circling above, more than 50 Walmart workers and supporters were arrested in downtown Los Angeles Thursday night as they sat in the street protesting what they called the retailer's "poverty wages." 
...The 54 arrestees, with about 500 protesting Walmart workers, clergy and supporters, demonstrated outside LA's Chinatown Walmart. Those who refused police orders to clear the street after their permit expired were arrested without incident.
A series of strikes and demonstrations followed the action in Los Angeles. Walmart workers have walked off the job in Seattle, Dayton, Ohio, Cincinnati, Ohio, Pittsburgh, Pa., Chicago, the Twin Cities, Miami and Dallas. They have been joined by port truck drivers in a Teamsters-supported strike at companies that move and store Walmart products.

Today, Walmart workers walked off the job at three stores in the Washington, D.C., area. Politicus USA reports,
Workers in Washington, DC are hitting Walmart where it hurts by walking off the job in protest of illegal treatment and low wages just days before the Thanksgiving holiday. 
Gilbert Castillo, surrounded by the police.
According to Our Walmart, “Walmart workers walked off the job at three Washington DC area stores today, calling on Walmart to end its illegal retaliation against workers calling for better wages and full-time work. Many earning less than $25,000 a year at the country’s largest employer, these workers are risking their livelihoods by striking against an employer that aggressively, and illegally, fires and disciplines workers for speaking out for better jobs.”
One of the Walmart workers explained why she walked off the job today:
The way they treated us was so unfair, it was very disrespectful....They treated us like dirt underneath their shoes. They treated us like we were nothing. They are so unfair to anybody, they don't care about anything except what goes in their pockets, they break the law and they don't care. It's inhuman what they do.
Listen to Brother Castillo. Listen to the Walmart workers. And click here to find a Black Friday protest near you.