Local 853 members carry banner in LA march

Teamsters Turn Out Strong

Los Angeles March to "Stop the War on Workers"

Local 853 members boarded a bus in San Leandro at 2:30 a.m. on March 26 so that they could be part of the march on Los Angeles to “stop the war on workers.” In the largest workers’ rights march outside of the midwest, they joined more than 30,000 union members and allies from across California to tell the nation, “We will not be bullied by out-of-control governors and legislatures in Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Florida or Maine. We will stand together to fight for collective bargaining rights and better-paying jobs.”

General President James Hoffa kicked off a Teamster gathering that preceded the downtown LA march. “We’re here today to tell Wall Street, (Wisconsin Gov.) Scott Walker, (Florida Gov.) Rick Scott, (Ohio Gov.) John Kasich and every other corporatebacked political puppet that workers in this country didn’t cause our economic woes and we sure as hell aren’t going to take the blame for them,” Hoffa told the group of about 15,000 cheering Teamsters.

Local 853 members at march

What’s the war about?

The first, and nastiest battle was launched in Wisconsin. Here, Governor Scott Walker and his Republican legislature passed $140 million in tax give-aways to corporations and the wealthy. Then they declared that there was a $137 million deficit that required solving through a “Budget Repair Bill.” That bill included two key components: first, cutting public workers’ wages and pension contributions, and second, ending the rights of public sector unions (except for firefighters and police) to collectively bargain on all but cost-of-living wage increases.

Over a five week period, the 14 Democratic Senators left the state to deny the Senate a quorum to vote on the bill and tens of thousands of Wisconsin workers took over the state Capitol building. Unfortunately, the Republicans did a work-around; they removed the budget parts of the bill and were able to vote just on gutting union rights.

Similar fights were also launched by Republicans in Ohio,Florida, Alaska, Indiana, Maine and Michigan. Ohio’s legislaturepassed a bill that enacts sweeping changes to the state'sexisting collective-bargaining law, allowing only “wages,hours, and terms and conditions” to be subject to collective bargaining,while health care benefits, pensions, and other issueswould not be.

They may have won the battle in Wisconsin and Ohio, but they have not won the war that they launched against workers who seek to join together in a union.

Wisconsin-style attacks on workers’ rights come to California

In Orange County, Costa Mesa City Councilman Jim Righeimer is using the budget as an excuse to go after public sector workers’ jobs, pensions and unions. His plan is to fire half of the City’s workers and outsource their jobs to private companies.

And in San Jose, Mayor Chuck Reed is pushing a “fiscal emergency” measure that would gut workers’ collective bargaining and sharply reduce retirement security. San Jose unions have come to the table to negotiate concessions with the mayor to help ease the city’s fiscal crisis, but the mayor has refused.

“These attacks aren’t about jobs or pensions. They’re about politicians trying to eliminate our basic right to have a union,” says California Labor Federation Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski.

“If the anti-worker forces succeed in stripping collective bargaining away in Costa Mesa and San Jose, you can be sure it won’t be long until they come to your town.”