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Web Letter

Thanks for the fine article. During my years as a UPS worker, a Teamster representative, a local union officer and a member of Teamsters for A Democratic Union (TDU) and UPSurge (a national UPS rank and file reform caucus), I learned much about Ron Carey as a person and as a leader of Teamsters. He was bold and tenacious in both words and action. By example he demonstrated it is possible for workers to take on corporate bullies and fat cats and win. He helped us learn how to gain power and use it within our unions. He helped us understand we could democratically elect leadership in our union who would demand dignity and respect for workers. He was a labor leader, it is sad to say, unique among those of my era.

Goodbye, Ron! What an inspiration your life has been for so many!

Tom Bernard

Portland, OR

Dec 17 2008 - 11:27pm

Web Letter

I didn't know Ron Carey, but I followed his campaign and the wonderfully coordinated job action of the UPS Strike, attending a big rally in support of the striking workers in Boston. I think the authors are right that Carey will be remembered both for his courage in running for and winning the Teamster presidency, and for that successful strike, coming at a time when labor really needed a victory.

I am writing this letter not just about Carey, though, but to tell about another side of the Teamsters. When I was on the Hawaii Vietnam Moratorium Committee in 1969, Teamsters and Hotel Workers Local 5 President Art Rutledge let the Moratorium Committee have free office space at the local HQ and free use of a phone. Seven years later, when I and a friend had been fired for organizing Loomis Courier Service into the Teamsters Union in Honolulu, Local 5's business agent, Earl Kim, really went to bat for us. Kim very forcefully represented us before the company and the NLRB. We won reinstatement with back pay, minus unemployment benefits, and free airline tickets to fly to LA, where the company had fled to escape the union. I organized the couriers into the union again in LA, and was fired again. This time the company won. But my experiences with the Teamsters Union were positive, and I think it's because of officers like Rutledge and Kim, who at least in those instances were being true to union ideals and were forcefully carrying them out. Carey and the TDU also embodied that legacy, it seems to me. Carey will be sorely missed by those of us who want militant union leadership, but I'm confident others will rise from the ranks to take his place.

Greg King

West Roxbury, MA

Dec 17 2008 - 10:28am