As I write this, I have just returned from a grueling two weeks of committee meetings, convention reports and resolutions and politicking at our 29th International Brotherhood of Teamsters Convention. I was there early due to my responsibilities as Principal Officer of Local 853, Joint Council President, and of course, International Vice President At-Large.
Our Joint Council was proudly represented by more than 150 of your sisters and brothers who were asked to be there for a week as delegates and alternates, sitting through meetings from 9:00 a.m. until sometimes 5:30 p.m., and then voting later in the evening in the delegate nomination elections. You can rest assured that they worked their tails off and, I suspect, had a small degree of fun to boot.
All told, there were some 1,400 delegates from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Canada. Adding guests and alternates, the convention hall was packed with close to 5,000 people.
Many issue resolutions and a number of constitutional changes will be advantageous to you. The most important is that the strike benefits have been increased and the waiting time was shortened.
When the Hoffa administration took over in 1999, the strike fund was bankrupt, the former administration had squandered it to the point that the International had to borrow money from other unions just to pay the meager $50 per week that was mandated in those days.
I am proud to say that the current administration, of which I am a part, has paid off all of those loans, increased the benefits now over two conventions to a decent weekly amount, and has amassed more than $150,000,000 in the strike fund. This fund is used by our locals and has benefited our members over the years, and now it is even better. Details will be forthcoming, but this significant change will help us continue to negotiate the good contracts that you and your family deserve.
A number of resolutions and presentations were a direct result of the good work our Joint Council and our locals have done over the last few years. The Local 853 Tech Shuttle organizing was featured. Organizing in the public sector and the great successes that Locals 315 and 856 and 137 have had in this area, along with Local 2010’s successes with newly organized groups within the University of California system were also highlighted.
Most important, the Taylor Farms struggle was showcased; we had an opportunity to discuss the failure of the National Labor Relations Board to adequately protect the workers and to describe the establishment of a national boycott of Taylor Farms’ products by Local 601 and the Cannery Council.
All in all, our Joint Council accounted for a large percentage of the agenda at the convention. We should all be proud of the accomplishments of our members and their local leadership. Our strength and unity showed through to everyone on the convention floor.
Also, I want to thank all of you for your strong and continued support, as I was elected at the convention to the Western Region Vice President spot on the General Executive Board. Thank you all very much.
As promised, every article you see from me from now until the national election is going to beat up the Republican candidate for President of the United States.
While constantly saying that he wants to make America great again, Trump is not talking about workers like you and me. He means make it better for the rich so that they can continue to dodge taxes, take advantage of loopholes and use the government’s resources to enrich themselves, the giant corporations, and Wall Street. He is a proponent of anti-worker legislation that would hurt you in many, many ways including Right to Work (for Less), cutting Davis Bacon protections that provide prevailing wages to construction workers, cutting workers’ safety legislation in the name of streamlining regulations, and more. He routinely uses union-busters to prevent his own employees from gaining the protections and advantages of union representation, and as we go to press, workers at one of his hotels are on strike because the company is attempting to force them to pay for their healthcare.
As I have said over and over, as a worker you need to vote with your pocketbook and not be fooled by his lies and ranting and raving. While you may not like Hillary Clinton’s personality or some of the things that she and her husband have done, you can at least depend on the fact that what you have will be protected. She is not anti-union or anti-worker; she understands the plight of the working class, and can be persuaded to work with us, rather than trying to destroy us as her opponent would do.
It is imperative that working people—whether they be male or female, black, brown, white, yellow or purple, gay, straight or transgender—work to get out the vote against the Republican machine and this dangerous candidate.