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From 1963 to 2008: Chicago Teamsters March Again, This Time on the RNC

By staff

Teamsters from Local 743 in front of the White House, Aug. 28, 1963. Their sign

Chicago, IL – Members of Teamsters Local 743 are preparing to join the massive national march on Sept. 1 in Saint Paul, Minnesota to protest at the Republican National Convention. They see this march as part of the effort to defeat the Republicans this fall. This march will be the first time in 45 years that Local 743 is joining a national mobilization.

“There are a number of issues important to us in this year’s presidential election,” said Local 743 Vice President Larry Davis. He listed five in particular:

Employee Free Choice Act

This is a bill that would, among other things, stop employers from using attacks against pro-union workers to keep unions out. “All workers should have the right to join a union,” explained Davis.

Health Care for Everyone

“The United States is a very rich country and everyone in America should have health care.”

Fair Trade

“Globalization has pitted workers in the United States against workers in third world countries. Rather then drive down the standard of living of American workers, we should have trade policies that will bring up the standard of living in third world countries, as well as in America.”

Full Equality for Everyone

“All workers in America should be treated fairly regardless to race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or where they were born. We believe in affirmative action. The next president needs to support affirmative action as well as enact an affirmative action program.”

End the War

“The human cost and the cost to America’s economy are far too great,” Davis concluded.

In 1963, the local was one of the unions that dared to stand for civil rights. They joined the March on Washington on Aug. 28 that year, where Martin Luther King gave his I Have a Dream speech. Then in 1966 and 1967, they were among very few unions that supported King and the civil rights movement in challenging racism in the city of Chicago.

In the later years, the local became a corrupt organization in which all workers – Black, Latino and white – were sold out to employers. But in 2007, the workers voted out the criminals that ran the union for many years. Now the union is reclaiming the proud tradition of marching with the movement for peace, justice and equality.

Local 743 Vice President Larry Davis stands next to historical photos of members

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