Fight Back! News

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Sirlena Perry, long time trade unionist, speaks on IBT 743 victory

By staff

Sirlena Perry speaks at a rally on bullhorn

Chicago, IL – Sirlena Perry is a clerical worker and a trade unionist in Chicago. She has also been a supporter of the Teamsters 743 New Leadership Slate for many years. She gave a speech introducing members of the Slate when they were honored at this year’s People’s Thanksgiving in Chicago, an annual fundraiser for Fight Back! newspaper.

Perry stated, “30 years ago, I was a member of Local 743 at my first job at Aldens mail order company. I remember how proud I was to be part of that union. We had a good contract with decent wages. I remember especially Regina Polk. When Aldens went out of business, she made sure we received training, which is how I was able to get a job as a secretary at UIC.

“Local 743 also had a history of being involved in the civil rights movement. They were one of only two unions that sponsored Martin Luther King’s Freedom Summer in 1966. We were proud of Black union leaders like Bob Simpson and Chester Glanton.

“Sadly, later we saw them sell out their members, making sweetheart deals with companies and finally stealing elections. Then, as management got tougher in the 1980s, the union needed to mobilize its members to be able to stand up for them. Instead, they got in bed with management.

“The New Leadership Slate has brought together Black, Latino and white workers to fight for what we all need. I am honored to present them the William Jenkins award for Principled Commitment to the Cause of Trade Union Democracy.”

[William Jenkins was a member of the New Leadership Slate who died in 2001. He was also a Labor Beat reporter, film maker and a supporter of this newspaper.]

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