via Teamster.org – LAS VEGAS, NV | Teamsters from Across North America met at the 2018 Unity conference to discuss building the union, political challenges and national organizing campaigns.
“Every election year they say, ‘this is the most important election in our lifetime,” said General President James P. Hoffa. “Well guess what: in regards to the upcoming midterms, it’s actually the truth. We’ve got to go to the polls and vote like never before.”
General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall delivered a report on the unions financials.
“Over the course of the past year, both our membership and our assets have increased – but we need to remain vigilant,” Hall said. “The spread of right-to-work, The Janus decision; these things can have a detrimental effect on all of us – at the Local, Joint Council and International level.” National campaigns included XPO, National Express, Gate Gourmet and many others.
Teamsters Local 455 Business Agent Vincent Shaw led a meeting on the upcoming negotiations with Gate Gourmet, a company that provides food services to commercial airlines.
Under the Railway Labor Act, the Teamsters share the contract with two other unions – UNITE HERE and Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers Union.
“We need to be working together and all on the same page when it comes to this contract, so staying in communication with one another is incredibly important,” Shaw said. “It’s an interesting dynamic. We speak with one voice and move as one, they need us and we need them.”
During the Passenger Transportation Division meeting, Director Rick Middleton led a discussion on the ongoing fight to organize workers at National Express (NEX) subsidiary Durham School Services.
The company has run nasty anti-union campaigns when workers at the company have expressed their desire to form their union with the Teamsters. “The company says that we need to get to know them better,” Middleton said. “I’ve known them for 15 years, I don’t need to get to know them. It took them ten minutes to blow their cover.”
Political topics discussed the midterm elections, trade policy and the upcoming Supreme Court decision Janus V. AFSCME.
“The middle class is under siege and that has to stop. The only thing that stands up for them is a strong labor movement,” said Teamsters Freight Division Director Ernie Soehl. “We need to stop corporate interests from buying influence towards elected officials. We need to focus on voting for government officials based on their views on labor, not on the issues that divide us.”
Hundreds of Teamsters took part in workshops that included “A History of Overcoming Challenges and Changes in the Workplace,” “Determining Company Profitability,” and “The War on Workers.”