Richard Berg

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Richard Berg


Richard Berg is the Past President of Teamsters Local 743 where he was an activist in the Teamster reform movement for more than 20 years before being elected president. He was a member and union steward for the Teamsters while working in the Department of Environmental Services at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

He has also worked as an Organizer for AFSCME, as a Business Agent for the Teamsters, as a Union Representative for SEIU Local 73 and a Staff Representative for AFSCME Council 31. He was also previously the Treasurer of the Chicago Area Labor Support Committee, Executive Board Member of the Chicago Chapter of the Labor Committee for Latin American Advancement, International Steering Committee Member of Teamsters for a Democratic Union, 30th Ward Coordinator for Harold Washington for Mayor in 1987, Staff for James Exum for 48th Ward Democratic Committeeman, Steering Committee Member of the Illinois Chapter of the Labor Party, Wisconsin Chair of the Midwest Coalition Against Registration and the Draft, Co-Chair of the Marquette University Coalition for Divestiture and President of the Marquette University Progressive Student Organization . Richard is currently working for the Chicago Teachers Union and serves on the Steering Committee for the Chicago Labor Speakers Club.[1]

Delegation to Venezuela

According to Orinoco Tribune:[2]

We are rank and file teachers and strike captains (Valeria Vargas, Fabiana Casas and Sarah Chambers) from the historic Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) charter strike in May. We are going on a teacher delegation to Venezuela with Maria Moreno, the Financial Secretary of the CTU, and Richard Berg, a CTU charter organizer.

Orinoco Tribune contacted Richard Berg in Chicago and he indicated that the CTU has taken a very straighforward posture about Venezuelan current events and in that sense their rank and file were very interested in learn first hand about labor movement in Venezuela and the efects of the US unilateral coercive sanctions.

“We are interested in show solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution and the Venezuelan people and at the same time we want to interact with Venezuelan labor union leaders with focus on teacher unions to learn from them how they have counter US sanctions and to inform them about our recent victories in the US, like the recent strike CTU organized in Chicago”, answer Berg to our request about the delegation.[3]

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CTU Organizer Richard Berg, Javier Castillo, Special Education Teacher Sarah Chambers, English Teacher Fabiana Casas and Math Teacher Valeria Vargas were part of a delegation of members from the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) arrived in Caracas, Venezuela mid-July 2019.

Their goals were to learn what they could from Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution, exchange views on effective education and to show solidarity with the students, teachers and social movements of Venezuela.
The trip falls on the heels of a union resolution that was passed by the CTU Executive Board and House of Delegates. The resolution calls for an end to U.S. intervention in Venezuela. Delegation member and CTU Area Vice President Sarah Chambers explains, “Through major economic hardships, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro never closed a single public school or a single health clinic. This stands in stark contrast to our experience in Chicago, where Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed 50 public schools and several mental health clinics in a single year.”

The teachers’ delegation met with leaders from the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Communes, Ministry of Education, Adult Education Teachers, and students, as well as on-the-ground activists.

One important meeting was when the delegation sat down with Vladimir Castillo, the Venezuelan Director of International Affairs. They learned that Chavez started to talk about socialism in 2005, at the World Social Forum in Brazil, and that a few years after 2007 and 2008, community councils emerged as a result.

Chicago DSA forum

In October, 2008 Chicago Democratic Socialists of America , with In These Times, sponsored a panel discussion featuring Bill Fletcher, Jr. (Solidarity Divided); Richard Berg, new president, Teamsters Local 743; David Moberg, senior editor, In These Times; and moderator Kim Bobo, executive director, Interfaith Worker Justice.[4]

Freedom Road event

The 22nd Annual People’s Thanksgiving Dinner, held in Chicago Dec. 8, honored her with the “Nelson Mandela Award: Opposing Israeli Apartheid is not a Crime.”

70 people gathered to recognize her and a number of other important activists. They met at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, despite an early blizzard that made getting to the church hazardous.

In presenting the award, Muhammad Sunkari of the U.S. Palestinian Community Network referred to the late leader of the national liberation movement in South Africa. “When Ted Koppel interviewed him after his release from prison, Mandela defended the ANC’s [African National Congress] ties to the Palestine Liberation Organization. He called the Palestinians, ‘comrades in arms.’ I would say that a great example of a comrade of Mandela is Rasmea Odeh.”

The event is held annually by Fight Back! news and Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack! . The dinner raised over $3000 for Odeh’s defense campaign, as well as $1000 to help continue the work of Fight Back! news.

Another emotional moment in the dinner was an award presented to Pete Camarata. Camarata was a co-founder of the Teamsters for a Democratic Union . His award, entitled the “Big Bill Haywood: Class Struggle Award” was presented to him by Richard Berg. Berg, a long time reformer in the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), has known Camarata for 25 years.

The framed award, reading, “For his lifelong dedication to the liberation of the working class,” was accepted by Camarata’s stepson, Jackson Potter. Potter is the staff coordinator of the Chicago Teachers Union. He explained that Camarata couldn’t attend the dinner because he is fighting cancer.

A statement from Camarata read in part, “I thank FRSO for the award, and I accept it with the knowledge that my activism belongs to the movement and the brave people who built TDU, the movement in this country and around the world.”

Awards were also presented to Sarah Simmons and Newland Smith, both activists in the Anti-War Committee-Chicago and to Michael Sampson, a Dream Defender from Tallahassee, Florida.[5]

'70s Anti-Apartheid network

Joe Iosbaker December 5, 2013 ·

This plaque is among my most treasured possessions. Remember Nelson Mandela! Continue the struggle against apartheid in Israel! Victory to the liberation struggles of oppressed nations!

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— with Dennis O'Neil, Lester Dragstedt, Lynne Adrian, Tracy Van Quaethem, Carol DeProsse, Richard Berg, Jim Potter, John A. Smith, Daniel Hughes, Mike Ascroft, Bob Hearst, Andrew Harvey, Josef Ignatious Fortier, Amy Kratz, Bob Cotter, Craig Perrin, Mike Price, Michael Turnure, Patrick Kearns, Kris Penniston, Stephanie Weiner, Judith Mentzer, Chris Iosbaker, Joe Burns, Bridgette Sheridan, Prexy Nesbitt, Tomas de Bourgha, Kit Bonson, Brenda Barton, Anne Evens, Juliet Holt Klinger, Michael Harvey, Saed Abu-Hijleh, Chip Young, John Stonebarger, Robin Potter, Barbara Ransby, Keith L. Perry, Mick Kelly, Tom Wilson, Beau Barry, Amy Smith, Lj Yanney, Richard Saks, Bruce Nestor, Hermalee Webb and Bethany McIvor.

References