The recipe for rebuilding the American middle class can be achieved through a strong, organized workforce that provides all workers, including immigrants, with a voice on the job. As Teamsters, our strength is in our solidarity and in our workplaces. Unfortunately, in the last few weeks, we have seen an increase of attacks on our immigrant sisters and brothers in the form of ICE raids at homes, job-sites, and schools. Our members, many of whom are immigrants, are standing strong. These raids harm our economy, destroy our communities, tear families apart, and do not embody the values that we hold as Teamsters.
The American Dream is rooted in the ethics and values that we have always held and fought for as Teamsters, such as the belief in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay for all workers. The workers that I represent in the waste and recycling industry are overwhelmingly Latina/o immigrants. They are on the frontlines, keeping our streets clean and protecting our environment by picking up and sorting waste and recyclable materials. When I look at my members, I know that our immigrant sisters and brothers make us stronger, not weaker. Sadly many in this industry are unorganized and do not have access to the benefits that our brotherhood provides. Rather than thinking of a good wage or pension, unorganized workers in this industry are simply asking for basic human rights. We cannot stand for this, and organizing new workers is more important now than anytime in recent memory. While some seek to harm immigrants, we as Teamsters must welcome them into our brotherhood.
Immigrant workers have historically played a prominent role in building the labor movement and strengthening our workplaces. At our best, labor unions bring workers of all races and ethnicities together to create a better future for everyone. Union workers raise standards for all of us, as history will remind us that a strong labor movement brought us the weekend, the 8-hour workday, and a guaranteed voice on the job. The Labor Movement has been the backbone to achieving the American Dream for generations of workers, and more often than not, immigrant workers have been at the forefront of this change.
As Secretary Treasurer of Teamsters Local 396, I encourage my Teamster brothers and sisters, regardless of your industry, status, or personal background, to stand with our sisters and brothers in the immigrant community, as they face an unprecedented attack on their basic rights and their ability to provide for themselves and their families. Our strongest defense against injustice has always been each other, and as proud Teamsters, now is the time to show the world what we’re made of. It’s time to stand together, fight back, and organize.
After all, an attack on one Teamster is an attack on all Teamsters.
Teamsters Local 396 represents UPS and Sanitation workers in Southern California. The Local Union also serves Members in other miscellaneous industries such as logistics, recycling and feed delivery services.