Tuesday, August 19, 2008

When the streets ran red with blood

The Teamsters National Black Caucus is in town. I love it! Union activists are about as close to revolutionaries - actual, functioning, battling revolutionaries - as you can get these days in this country.

"In 1934 (when teamsters struck in Minneapolis), the streets were red with blood. Today, we are fighting state legislators and Congress. We’re at war."

That was C. Thomas Keegel, general secretary-treasurer of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which counts some 1.5 million members, speaking this morning in St. Louis.

I often bore my friends with this point, since my day job sucked me into power politics: If you don't think you're at war - right here, right now - that means you're not watching the political channel. You haven't been briefed on the battle plans.

All the folks in St. Louis who are missing the deluxe version of Democracy Now! on the new KDHX program schedule should get down to the Crowne Plaza Hotel and rub elbows with these business agents and rank-and-file Teamsters who get up and every day and do battle for the union movement in this country.

Yes, it is true that they mostly do battle for workers making a living off of the immolation of fossil fuels - pretty huge "carbon footprint" left by the Teamsters - but they didn't invent the game, they are just trying to see that the working people playing the game get paid fairly.

Real talk, down at the Black Teamsters conference. Check this out from Herbert Harris Jr., a black man who drives a high-speed train for Amtrack and who does political work for the Teamsters Rail Conference in Washington, D.C.

“My job is purely political. I hang out with the best and the worst crooks in the world, at both the federal and state levels.”

Well said!

The people will get Black Teamsters three ways in Thursday's St. Louis American: front-page news, political commentary, and editorial, with the news piece flashing up on the webpage in the morning as soon as we turn on the lights.


Image is of the streets getting ready to run red with blood in Minneapolis in 1934.

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