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News ::
teamsters and cops - the most brutal of all
04 Oct 2000
teamsters allowed to reign free by the police
After attending last night's protest outside of the presidential debate, at UMass Boston, it has become clear to me that American law enforcement get away with, not only selective law enforcement, but selective Constitutional protection as well.

As soon as our large group entered the area, it was clear to many that the Gore/Lieberman supporters, out in full force from their own march to the debate site, were more than excited by our arrival, as were we.

What was disgraceful, was the amount of drunk, angry teamsters, almost all with gore/lieberman signs, that were physically and mentally berating our colorful and diverse group. I myself was a victim of a blow to the back, from an intoxicated teamster, because as he said, "your a loser, you look funnyand you should get a life." Cowardly and hypocritical.

By walking around the protest pen, one could find many empty beer cans and small liquor bottles. Apparantly the police were o.k. with the the "locals" getting wasted, outside of the University, at what everybody involved knew would be an emotional event.

If that treatment from some of the Gore supporting teamster wasn't enough, which the police were completely non-responsive too (as they would wait to respond to anything until we "freaks and job-less losers" arrived, as many of us were referred to by the police and teamsters tonight); the police began ordering us to dismantle our signs and banners as soon as we arrived. Many were taking apart or confiscated, and to our surprise the Gore and Bush supporters already in the pen, had their signs, fully intact, wood and all. We all want to know, is the first amendment, just for some people? On that note, how come anti-abortion activists can get very close to where they'd like to get, something like 15 feet from the abortion clinic, while at other events the police are aloud to set up a protest pen, at least 200 feet from the entrace?
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don't let them divide us!
04 Oct 2000
It's so disappointing to hear about the clashes between union folks and protesters in Boston. I'm a member of Teamsters Local 61 here in North Carolina, and some of us support Nader, while some support Gore for tactical reasons (and fear of G.W.) We all want the same thing though--we want workers' rights, human rights, and a sustainable future where power is in the hands of communities, not corporations. We MUST remember that infighting serves only to keep the powers that be in power! We know that the corporations and the powers that be are our opponents--NOT EACH OTHER!! During the Vietnam war, they sucessfully pitted unions against "hippies" -- don't let them do it again. Remember Seattle. Remember D.C. My affinity group, the Ecofeminist Teamsters, held an intersection at the IMF protests in D.C. with a beautifully diverse coalition ranging from witches to young anarchists to teamsters and some of us who fall under all 3 labels!

Unions have been one of the most powerful anti-corporate tools working people have had in this country. We (protesters) need to work with local unions in advance to make sure that the message is clear--they can be out there in the streets for Gore, or more accurately, against Bush, and we can be out there for Nader or for changing the whole rotten system, but let's not be out there against each other! My personal apologies as a Teamster for the behavior of those union members in Boston. They screwed up. Thank you to everyone who took to the streets to open the debates-you deserve the gratitude of union members across the country. The bosses have two parties. The workers need a voice.

Turtles and Teamsters united siempre,

~Beth Trigg
teamsters and greens
04 Oct 2000
Teamsters blocked Nader folks signs at the Gore rally in Seattle 3 weeks ago. Greens asked them, What about the WTO, what happened? It's clear these conflicts go way back to Wobblies & mainstream union people 80-90 years ago. The dominant culture will use ANY method to divide us ---- but what Nader calls "grievance politics" has worked better trhan almost anything --- i.e., what's in it for ME. In a culture based on competition, solidarity will always take second place. America is contradictions, which we have to expose over and over again. Gandhi might suggest showing up at Teamster functions to babysit or do volunteer work.........or, as Shakespeare says, "Question your desires." Yours from the campaign to make Peter Kropotkin's birthday a national holiday, Bob D.
Troubling Developments
04 Oct 2000
I was disturbed by the clashes with union members at O3. On S26 I was in Hartford supporting janitors who were fired by United Technologies Corporation -- supporting SEUI (Service Employees International Union) 531, and also HERE (Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees) local 217 who were engaged in negotiations with the Hilton. Then, exactly one week later, a steelworker has his hand around my neck in a choke-hold, and calling me a scab and my mother was a scab, and all us kids are pussies who don't know what it means to work. High-school style name calling. I was trying to cool things down where there was a scuffle and blows exchanged, and when this burly guy grabbed my neck, I yelled to him "We're all together here! We're all the people! I support unions!" Finally he let me go. I guess he thought I was one of the "ok" ones or something. Other students got sticks busted across their heads.

I must be fair and say that non-union protestors also showed dismal behavior at times. I frankly don't blame some of the Gore-supporting union members for being upset, though the violence and blocking non-union protestors paths was uncalled for. I think we need to respect each other as human beings, and try to build solidarity across all oppressed peoples. The "Teamsters and Turtles" coalition is important but it's delicate, and trade unions in the U.S. are still behomeths and not really all that class-conscious.

Let me add that I'm a student, but I am also a carpenter and ran a roofing company for a year -- people aren't just 'workers' or 'students' or any such pigeon-holing. We have common enemies and thus share a common struggle.
Nader is addressing the Teamsters in Chicago
04 Oct 2000
I too hope the turtles and Teamsters can come together again. In Chicago next week, Ralph is addressing the Teamsters local right before the super rally across the street at the UIC pavilion. I'm encouraging some animal rights folks and enviros from Chicago to dress up as turtles, if only to remind everyone of historic coalitions formed in Seattle. Now let's see if the teamsters in official groups can do anything other than support the Gore (meal) ticket...
The last thing Sage said is very important...
04 Oct 2000
Defining fellow oppressed humans into separate, unrealistic categories divides them amongst themselves and also acts as a cage that never lets them escape that category.

Realistically, we're more than "workers," "students," "parents," "punks," "hippies," "activists," yet these titles are often used to categorize people into different groups that they can only be that and only are that.

For example, I work a minimum wage job 35 hours a week and go to college full time. Does it make since to say I'm a know-nothing lazy ass, anti-working class student just because I go to community college?

Does it makes sense for a non-working full time student to say I'm a know-nothing, skill-less, piece of shit worker just because I'm not making $60 an hour while I'm working?

I think there's more of a problem, unfortunately, with those whose lives are more dominated by hard-work against those who don't and students, than from the select few elitest, snotty students who think everyone who works at McDonalds or a steel factory should be making less than minimum wage and are "skill-less" morons who can never be anything else.

In a healthy society, people would be able to roam freely from doing tasks in their society and also learning among many other things. There would be no ridiculous divisions based on single functions of life...rather you'd participate in all fully.
Difficult times ahead
04 Oct 2000
I feel bad for those who were ruffed up by the rank and file yesterday. The majority of union folks did not act that way. Leave it up to a few jerks to cast a shadow on any event. I myself was hassled while walking in "solidarity" on a picket line a few years ago so I know that the expeerience is nasty.

However, the incident underscores something that needs to be said about "the movement", especially one open to "marxists"-theorists and otherwise (I myself am a working person who is a member of the Socialist Party).

Throw most of your books and theories about "workers", "the working class" and "unions" into the trash. The working class in America in the 21st century is unique.

There is no clear cut answer to when and why things like this will happen. But they WILL happen, again and again. One time the unions will be shutting down a city with you and the next the members will be hitting you over the head with a picket sign. At many of the events I've been to, like Millions for Mumia, A16, R2K, and others, Union people marched in solidarity. There was no violence.

Yes, theoretically, we SHOULD be uniting. But in REALITY, will people unite? That's the $50,000 question. The answer depends on a myriad of variables that make up a complex equation. Is the issue something people understand? Can people relate to the issue? Do they feel affected by it or do they feel its in their interest? Are there other circumstances involved? The list could go on and on.

However, I think the most important thing is that we (the movement) keep trying.

No one knows what it will take to finally bridge the gap between activists and students and working people. But we'll never know if we don't try.

Keep up the good work! Those who could not go owe a thanks to those who stood up for justice!

In Solidarity,

Rick VanWie
Socialist Party

Division kills a movement
04 Oct 2000
Some of the events described above are unfortunate for sure. But the coming together of labor and the environmental movement and other tendencies is real and it is so important that we all do our best to nuture this trend. People will make mistakes. Some will be misled and manipulated by "plants and spys." But we must always understand the necessity building and maintaining unity. With unity we will win! jamie
Illusions About Turtles and Teamsters
04 Oct 2000
You can count me as one of those who is skeptical about this so-called alliance between Turtles and Teamsters. It could more accurately be described ar a partnership between Turtles and rand anf file union members. Big labor was of little help in Seattle and they've been very unhelpful since Seattle. I'm not saying that individual union members and locals haven't been helpful. The problem is with the top and with a union movement that relies on hierarchical union structures. This argument against the "business unions" goes back for more than 70 years, but the validity of that critique has been proven time and time again in the past year.

The leadership of Big Labor has jumped on the Gore bandwagon. They don't give a shit about overturning the IMF or the WTO or even capitalism. If they were opposed to capitalism, why would they be endorsing the reform wing of the Corporate Party? It's because they walk in lockstep with the capitalist bosses.

In order for the anti-capitalist movement to embrace union members, they're going to have to be more involved in nto just reforming Big Labor, but changing the very structure of the labor movement. This is the *only* way that labor folks can win big. Waiting around for Gore cronies like Hoffa to support something is like waiting for Godot.

Industrial Workers of the World
Washington, DC
See also:
Um Lets remember
04 Oct 2000
Lets remember how earlier this summer the Teamsters and the UAW were holding out on the Dems and making airs at courting ol' Ralphy boy.

It seems like this act is neither "top down" nor representative of the rank and files overwhelming antithapy for us anarcho-whatevers.

They were probably a bunch of guys hanging out and having a good time in there own unique way. Much like many of the folks on the other side of the line.

More then anything, it seems like some of you folks in bean-town need to be doing better outreach and communication between the cultural devisions that devide us.
As an anarchist who has been employed with some real knucklehead New York electricians, I know its hard to get some true understanding between the cultural devides that seperate us.
Not only were they drunk....
04 Oct 2000
they left sooooo much trash!!! Shame on them for not respecting their own freedom of expression by leaving all their homogenous, unoriginal local # and union signs behind for us to flip over and reuse.
Boston Teamsters AREN'T Representative
04 Oct 2000
Please don't judge the Teamsters, let alone unionfolk in general, by the actions of the Boston group. The Boston local has been known for years as a loud, violent embarrassment to the national organization, and hopefully there'll be some major changes soon.
Continue Building
04 Oct 2000
On s26 in Hartford, when hundreds of students and anti-capitalists shut down downtown Hartford in solidarity with two local unions, we began the process of unity. The union vs. student clashes in Boston on O3 (granted a mis characterization, as Sage points out, as a lot of us are workers ) are ditrurbing. We must be careful not be consumed by and let the actions of a few drunk idiots define our movement. Get to know workers struggling for justice in your community,

We must intensify our efforts to localize our movement. Getting to know rank and file union members by meeting them on the street, fighting corporate power will go a long way to building a united front.
I believe we need another s26 type action to take place all over the nation and across the world. In cities where people held S26, we should begin contacting workers and asking them where we can lend our assitance again.

Instead of waiting for the international capitalists pick our days with there meetings, we should be be proactive and pick a day and thus set the agenda.

I propose that next day of action be N30. The one year anniversary of the WTO shutdown. A day that reminds of us of our power, a day that we will remeber as it is made to be remebered, In the Street.
This will give us enough time to plan some great actions, and a common focal point that an international movement requires.

So... contact some local wokers... ask them what assitance can be provided on N30. Organize them to
schedule a rally of sorts.. and get in the street!

In solidarity,

S26 saw Teamsters & Trees in Western Mass
04 Oct 2000
We stood and marched in solidarity w/Teamsters here in western Mass at an S26 action at WalMart. The union even sent a semi out from Boston w/a stage & sound system. It was one big diverse happy family.
Not so last night. Some of my fellow workers (i'm not a Teamster, but i sure as hell am a worker) got fucked up and nasty. I call on all Massachusetts Teamsters (and Teamsters everywhere) of goodwill to set their brothers and sisters straight, on record. Their offensive acts are actually anti-union, anti-solidarity and should not be tolerated.
Why the hostility occurred--stupid behavior
05 Oct 2000
I witnessed some of the drunken attacks later in the evening, and yeah, that was horrible and disgusting, but here's two of the main reasons for the hostility that most of the commentators don't see to know about:

1) A number of Nader supporters teased and taunted the teamsters as they walked past one another. How dumb was that? How DUMB do you have to be to taunt thousands of teamers and think nothing will happen?
Forget about moral high grounds--any idiot knows that if you taunt a big group, let alone a big group of beefy guys with crew cuts, it's likely that conflict will arise. (And it's probably not the people who yell the insults, but
others, who will get hurt. That seems to be what happen last night.) Dialogue about common issues might
have produced some positive results, but instead I saw a few morons yelling things like " Al Gore is a corporate whore". Was it surprising that the unionists responded with comments like "Nader's a fag"? The unions had leaders to try to prevent conflicts from breaking out, holding back the assholes who wanted to throw punches, and for the most part they did. The Nader supporters were not intelligent enough to silence the brainless yappers among them.

2) Roni Krouzman of Boston Mobe is personally responsible for helping create a hostile climate. In what was supposed to be a positive discussion with union leaders, he yelled at an AFL-CIO leader, and, I believe, stormed out. This is not someone who should be in a leadership role.

So some stupid behavior by a few people helped get a few other people hurt, get others threatened, and promoted general hostility on both sides. Nice going--ever hear of "unity"?

What is needed is rational discourse with labor, in particular labor leaders. In my experience, union leaders tend to be very open to discussions about alliances and the like, but you have to actually BE rational.