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Teamsters endorse President Obama

(Source: International Brotherhood of Teamsters press release, May 7, 2012)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Teamsters Union today endorsed President Barack Obama for re-election with the enthusiastic support of the 2,000 Teamsters gathered at the 2012 Unity Conference.

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa asked the crowd, “Do we want to endorse Barack Obama for President?” The response was a resounding “yes” and a standing ovation.

The General Executive Board gave Hoffa the authority to endorse Obama at a meeting last night, after months of surveying Teamster members. Several International Vice Presidents spoke from the floor to express their support of the endorsement.

Obama called in live during the conference to thank the Teamsters for their endorsement.

“Congratulations to James Hoffa on his re-election, and you could not have a better leader at the helm along with you than General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall. Thank you to every Teamster for your endorsement,” Obama said.

Obama thanked the Teamsters for keeping up the fight for working men and women. He called the November election a make-or-break moment for America. He listed his accomplishments, including saving the auto industry, and said his administration is fighting back against the war on workers.

“We have a common vision for where we want to take this country, one where everyone has a fair shot. I could not be prouder for your endorsement,” Obama said. “Let’s get to work. Let’s move this country forward.”

The room erupted into applause, as thousands of Teamsters rose to their feet.

Fighting the Good Fight

“We need your help in 2012 and we need you to energize the members,” said Ken Hall, Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer. “We’ve made gains and we cannot go backwards. We need your help in electing the right people. Let’s fight together with one voice.”

Hall spoke about the war on workers taking place right now at Hostess, where management has squandered Teamster concessions and gave executives 30-240 percent pay raises right before filing for bankruptcy.

Hall explained that the International Union has launched a campaign to bring justice to Hostess Teamsters, and is taking the Teamster message to Hostess and its Wall Street financiers.

Conference participants were asked to sign a pledge, volunteering to attend a Hostess action in support of the 7,000 Teamsters who are standing up for justice and fairness at Hostess.

They were also asked to take action in support of the school bus workers with National Express who are fighting for justice and dignity in their workplace. Conference attendees signed cards calling on National Express CEO David Duke to stop violating the human, legal and civil rights of National Express workers.

The audience also got an update on a number of organizing campaigns, hearing from Teamster leaders and workers at the ports, in the waste and recycling industry, at parking facilities and in the school bus industry.

Annette Hill, a driver with Durham School Services, the U.S. subsidiary of U.K.-based National Express, told the crowd about her recent organizing win. Hill and her co-workers in Summerville, S.C., voted last month to join Teamsters Local 509 in Cayce, S.C., in the face of strong resistance by the company.

“I got my job threatened, as well as written up, being a union supporter. We were forced to attend mandatory meetings by the company. But we stood strong and prevailed,” Hill said. “As I stand here today I can truly say the wheels on my bus go union now!”

More than 35,000 school bus workers have joined the Teamsters since the Drive Up Standards campaign to improve working conditions in the school bus industry began in 2006. The union is now looking to organize National Express workers, the second-largest school bus company operating in the United States, after First Student.

Karla Campos, a worker at American Reclamation, a waste company in Los Angeles, told the crowd how she was fired for supporting the effort to organize at her facility. She is continuing the fight for justice and urges other workers to stand strong together.

“All across the waste and recycling industry, workers like us need a union for safety, for a voice and for respect,” Campos said.

The Teamsters Union is working in concert with the L.A. County Federation of Labor, LAANE, Sierra Club and a number of other environmental, labor and coalition partners to transform the waste industry to protect worker rights.

The 2012 Teamsters Unity Conference continues Monday afternoon with a number of breakout sessions and meetings for divisions and campaigns.

Friday, May 25, 2012

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