Letter from Jason & Catherine: Celebrate Black History Month

Black and white workers together at the 1905 Teamsters International Convention in Philadelphia

Greetings Teamsters:

This month our country and our labor movement celebrate Black History Month, and the leadership, ideas, and actions taken by Black Americans who have contributed to the greater good of America and Labor. Our Union is strongest when we are united, and so we rededicate ourselves to stand together for equality for all people and against racism and division. We also take this opportunity to thank our African American members, stewards, activists and Union staff.

The impact African Americans have had on America is imprinted indelibly upon our collective consciousness. African American workers have been a fundamental part of the Teamsters Union, taking an active role in every aspect of our organization.  We are proud that, from the beginning, the Teamsters Union called for “no color line” in our organization and actively organized African American men and women. African American team drivers attended the first Teamsters Convention in 1903.

Our Union supported the civil rights movement, with thousands of Teamsters marching and organizing against discrimination. One of them was Viola Liuzzo, the wife of a Teamsters Business Agent, who was murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama while organizing in support of the historic march to Montgomery. In her honor, Teamsters President James R. Hoffa handed Martin Luther King a donation check of $50,000 to support the civil rights movement. Today, Teamsters continue to fight for equal rights, marching in more recent Black Lives Matter and Kingdom Day rallies.

James R. Hoffa and Martin Luther King Jr.

Since African American workers still face institutional and cultural racism, we urge all workers to become members to take full advantage of the protection and benefits Teamsters Local 2010 affords. A Union contract creates equality because it requires everyone to be treated fairly and equally. Black workers are Union members at higher rates than the general population. Black workers who are Union members are paid significantly higher wages than those who are non-Union, and are more likely to receive pension and health benefits. Research also consistently finds that racial wage gaps are smaller among Union members than among non-Union members.

As Martin Luther King said, “The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress.”

In Solidarity,

Jason Rabinowitz, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 2010

Catherine Cobb, President of Teamsters Local 2020

Members of Local 810 joined fellow Teamsters from around the country at the civil rights March on Washington in 1963.