Political Power

“Walter Reuther defined power one day. He said, Power is the ability of a labor union like the UAW to make the most powerful corporation in the world, General Motors, say, ‘Yes’ when it wants to say ‘No.’ That’s power.”

 

When Joint Council President Rome Aloise hired me as Political Director, he made one thing clear: the top priority is to build Teamster political power to support contracts and new organizing campaigns.

We are one of the largest unions in Northern California with room to grow in almost every industry we represent. We have a political foundation built by Chuck Mack that spans almost four decades. Our members know that being a Teamster means being able to provide a better life for our families, but our pensions, health care, and our future are under attack. And what about all the hard-working men and women toiling every day in non- union work places that deserve the opportunity to organize with us? We need to fight to protect what we have, but if we don’t grow, we are sure to wither and die.

Politics are a part of every single thing we do as a union. But if we don’t get more involved, our children might think of unions as something in the history books.

This November’s election provides about as clear a contrast between candidates as we will ever see. On the one hand, the “Wall Street Wonders” (Whitman and Fiorina) are attempting a hostile takeover of the State of California by spending hundreds of millions of their own money to secure a seat in power. Meg Whitman spent a record $100 million to win the Republican primary, and right now, months before the traditional start of campaign season, she’s spending $500,000 each and every day.

Regardless of your party registration, this election calls on all of us to vote “Union” when we get to the polls. Whitman and Fiorina have built their platforms around busting unions; Brown and Boxer have stood with unions for more than 20 years. Whitman plans to lay off 40,000 state public employees if elected; Brown gave public employees and farm workers the right to collec- tively bargain. Whitman wants to roll back the 8-hour work day, guaranteed meal and rest breaks, overtime, prevailing wages, and Project Labor Agreements. She and Fiorina want to run the state like a business, but for them, running a business means contracting out jobs, and cutting services.

According to the Sacramento Bee, Meg Whitman became eligible to vote in 1974 and she didn’t even regis- ter until 2002. After she registered, she missed half the local, state and federal elections held until 2007. She did- n’t vote in the recall election that swept Schwarzenegger into office or the special election he called in 2005.

We can’t possibly hope to outspend Whitman and Fiorina, but we can beat them in the streets. In August, Rome and our political staff are hitting the road to let you know what the plan is. Here’s the schedule:

Political Action Meetings

August 14

At Local 853 from 9 a.m.-noon 2100 Merced Street, San Leandro For members of all Bay Area locals

August 21

At Local 439 from 9-11 a.m. 1531 E. Fremont Street, Stockton For members of Locals 439 and 601

At Local 150 from noon-2 p.m. 7120 East Parkway, Sacramento For members of Locals 150 and 137

August 28

At Local 431 from 9-11 am 1140 West Olive, Fresno For members of Locals 87, 431 and 517

At Local 386 from 1-3 pm 1225 Thirteenth Street, Modesto For members of Locals 386 and 948

We’ve seen our pensions, mortgages, home values, and our union battered by those who think that deregulation and letting business run the show are the answer to the nation’s ills. These business interests hate unions because we stand up and demand that they be accountable to workers. A vote for Whitman and Fiorina is a vote for big business. A vote for Brown and Boxer is for an economy that works for working families. On November 2, vote Teamster.

Doug Bloch was named to the newly-created position of Joint Council 7 Political Director in June. He’ll be coordinating Teamster political mobilizations, conducting trainings for local political directors, and promoting the DRIVE program. To get involved in the Teamsters’ political pro- gram, contact Doug at doug@teamjc7.org