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Teamsters Local 743 Marches for Immigrant Rights

by staff |
May 28, 2008
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Teamsters Local 743 banner in immigrants rights march
Teamsters marching in May 1 immigrant rights protest. (Fight Back! News)
Teamsters Local 743 signs in immigrants rights march
Teamsters marching in May 1 immigrant rights protest.

At the May 1 march in Chicago, three busloads of workers and their families came to represent Teamsters Local 743. The union represents workers at hospitals, nursing homes and small manufacturing plants in the Chicago area. The factory workers include a large number of immigrants, mostly from Mexico and Central America.

Fight Back! interviewed Tony Caldera and Emma Moreno, representatives of the union.

Fight Back!: Why did so many of your members march?

Tony Caldera: They came to celebrate May 1, which is the workers’ holiday everywhere. They marched also for amnesty for all.

Emma Moreno
: The immigrant workers in the little workshops supported the march for equality for all in the U.S. And they marched for family reunification for those threatened by deportations of family members without papers. In addition, many know that Chicago was the place where the Haymarket Martyrs fell in the struggle for the eight-hour day.

Fight Back!: What are the concerns that the workers have?

Caldera
: They are threatened by the ‘no match letters’ from the Social Security Administration. The employers are using these as an excuse to wipe out seniority. We have examples where a worker is legal, but had worked with another name for some years. Companies are taking away the seniority for those earlier years. We are on the side of those immigrant workers - they earned the right to their seniority.

Fight Back!: Why is it important for Local 743 to be at the march?

Caldera: The old officers in Local 743 did not fight for immigrant workers. They went so far as to threaten them with deportation for complaining about bad representation. At many of the small factories, the wages were low, the work was dangerous and the union was in bed with the companies. This is why the Latino workers supported the New Leadership Slate for office.

We took office on January 1. When May 1 came, we called on the workers to march to show we can demand more power for all. The immigrants don’t have to be scared.

Moreno: The union is the voice of the workers. The immigrant workers, mostly Mexicans, need their union to fight for full equality. This includes legalization. Equality also means they have the right to representation at their workplace. The immigrant workers, whether Mexican or Polish, pay dues. However they told us in the past they only saw their representatives at contract time. The union never called on them to march on May 1. Now the workers are looking for a change.

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