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Teamsters mobilize at 2014 Unity Conference

(Source: International Brotherhood of Teamsters press release, May 5, 2014)

LAS VEGAS — The 2014 Teamsters Unity Conference continued on Monday, with 1,400 Teamsters coming together in solidarity to reenergize and mobilize for the coming year.

The Teamster leaders, officers and members gathered to strategize about protecting the interests of current Teamster members and organizing more workers.

Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall reported on the state of our union.

“We are strong, we are healthy and we have the resources to continue organizing and bargaining, to take care of the members we have now, and to grow our union,” Hall said.

Supporters and allies from other unions, the media and political worlds spoke before the conference.

Leslie Marshall, host of the syndicated The Leslie Marshall radio show, got the crowd pumped with a rousing speech about her union roots and admiration of the Teamsters.

“You can win if you fight like hell, don’t give up, use your voices and your power,” Marshall told the crowd. “You have a union that has your back and you have your power to vote.”

Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) welcomed Teamsters to Las Vegas, part of her district.

“Thank you for the things you do to provide good jobs and good benefits. If there were not unions, we would not be nearly as successful as we are. Las Vegas owes you that,” Titus said.

Teamsters Canada President Robert Bouvier urged Teamsters throughout the United States and Canada to work together on the common goal of improving workers’ livelihoods. He directed attendees to use “your fire in your belly” to win the challenges ahead.

“When we work together, we get to grow together,” said D. Taylor, President of UNITE Here. Taylor noted that Teamsters, UNITE Here and the Operating Engineers are currently organizing workers together at casinos around the country.

“We have to organize more members, organize aggressively and take risks,” Taylor said.

Getting Organized

The Teamsters Union is currently embarking on major organizing campaigns in a number of key industries, said Jeff Farmer, Director of the Teamsters Organizing department.

From school bus drivers to port truck drivers to parking workers and taxi cab drivers, workers across the United States and Canada are coming together to join the Teamsters.

“We are going to make the parking industry 100 percent Teamsters,” said John Coli, International Vice President for the Central Region and Director of the newly formed Teamsters Parking Division.

Rome Aloise, International Vice President for the Western Region, talked about Taylor Farms and the fight for justice for food processing and farm workers in California’s Central Valley.

Susie Serna, a quality control technician at Taylor Farms, said that without a Teamster contract she and her co-workers will have nothing.

“Every day I go to work I am intimidated and harassed by supervisors. We need a union. Si se puede! It’s wonderful to see your support for us here,” Serna said.

Unity attendees donated more than $6,000 to support the Taylor Farms workers’ fight to organize.

International Vice President At Large George Miranda reported on the successful fight against worker misclassification in New York.

“Misclassification is a criminal offense now in New York, thanks to the Fair Play Act, which is the first of its kind in this nation. Tens of thousands of commercial drivers in New York will benefit from this law,” Miranda said. “Misclassified workers deserve the dignity of a union contract.”

Steve Vairma, International Vice President and Director of the Warehouse Division, talked about the Sysco – US Foodservice merger, and how the union is fighting to protect existing jobs and organize new workers at the soon-to-be merged company.

The Unity Conference continues Tuesday with dozens of educational workshops and division meetings.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

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