Teamsters Endorse OBAMA  

Well, really this is more about TeamsterPower. I've had the pleasure of meeting him and talking to him about union issues. He totally rocks. I try to keep up on anything he posts on all the diary based sites, but things do fall through the cracks. For instance, I missed his recent post on Dailykos which detailed why every union worker should vote for Obama.

He opens with

Two words: Replacement workers.

And it just gets even better after that...

Permanent replacements have been around since 1938 when the Supreme Court said in NLRB v. Mackay Radio & Telegraph Co. that a company does not have to reinstate "economic strikers" if it hired strikebreakers to continue the business. Now, for you business majors out there, that may sound well and good. Why should I rehire a worker who went on strike for a raise if I can find someone to do the job for less money? Why? Because it's fair. It's the right thing to do. Because many times, these workers have sacrificed to make your business a success and when it succeeds they should be rewarded, not treated like draft animals or machines.

Consider the workers at Diamond Walnut in Stockton, Calif. In 1985 Diamond was facing bankruptcy and turned to its workers for help. The workers, Teamsters from Local Union 601, agreed to take pay cuts of up to 40% to help the company weather the tough times.

By 1991 Diamond had reached the Fortune 500 and bragged of record profits. But instead of giving those profits back to its employees, the company demanded more concessions.

On Sept. 4, 1991, the workers went on strike -- a fight that would last 14 years only because Diamond was prepared. As soon as the strike was called the company began hiring replacement workers.

I hated Diamond, but I really loved how the workers on strike for 14 years were able to work with the scabs and bring both groups into the same union. More from TeamsterPower on Diamond Walnuts and supporting Obama.

But today, Barack Obama is the only presidential candidate left who supports a ban on permanent replacement workers. (Edwards also supported such a ban.)

If you value your union, if you value the right to collective bargaining, if you value the labor movement, then you will vote for Barack Obama. The Employee Free Choice Act is important. Renegotiating NAFTA and stopping other trade agreements that sell out working Americans is important. But if workers continue to be denied the right to strike, they lose the ability to fight for economic justice. Unions must organize more and more workers to exceed losses. And what value is solidarity if you're all unemployed?

The members of Local 601 are heroes. They took a stand on principal and through ingenuity and perseverance actually succeeded in a situation where most strikers fail.

After more than a year of crossing the picket line, the replacements realized they were Diamond's pawns. See, even "permanent" replacement workers can be fired at will without a union contract to protect them. They voted with the strikers for union representation with the Teamsters. The workers turned the tables on Diamond.

Having followed the Diamond strike (yep, I really am that girl, surprise surprise!!), I knew everything that he wrote about, but I couldn't put it so eloquently.

So, way to go TeamsterPower!

And, here's hoping today's voting reminds every union household out there who has always supported worker's rights (read UNITE-HERE's endorsement for more on that) through actions and not dissing workers by sitting on the board of Wal-Mart.


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