A message from Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa

Strengthening labor unions

For the past nine months the Teamsters Union has been proposing changes to the AFL-CIO's structure so that the Federation would concentrate more on organizing, the life-blood of unions, and less on politics. Unfortunately, the IBT and the AFL-CIO were not able to agree on these key issues and we disaffiliated on July 25, 2005.

The Teamster plans for reforming the AFL-CIO structure were widely known, and lauded as a fresh approach for the union movement. The plans were, and still are, available on our website. In addition, the Teamsters enthusiastically supported the formation of the Change to Win Coalition, a group of seven Unions (IBT, LIUNA, SEIU, UFCW, UNITE HERE, Carpenters and United Farm Workers). We believe that labor can grow if we leverage our existing resources and focus clearly on empowering workers.

The Coalition sponsored a package of amendments and resolutions to be presented at the AFL-CIO Convention that would have revitalized the Federation (1) be setting organizing as its first priority, (2) by insuring that organizing is aimed not simply at increasing membership but at bargaining strong contracts that improve the lives of working people, (3) by maintaining high standards both at the Federation and within its affiliates, and (4) by requiring the Federation to act firmly to prevent one affiliate from undermining the standards set by another.

The Teamsters are charting a new course for action. And, we will work with like-minded unions that are part of the Change to Win Coalition, pursue programs that will accelerate organizing, increase union density in our core industries, rebuild the labor movement and insure a better future for workers and their families.

The Teamsters Union is committed to cooperating with the AFL-CIO and its affiliates on actions and issues that vitally affect workers and families. We plan to support and cooperate in political and other actions that matter to working people. We will not allow our differences with the AFL-CIO to affect our fundamental commitment to trade unionism and to working people. We hope that the AFL-CIO will join with us in this pledge that our differences will not affect the interests of workers and their families.

James P. Hoffa
General President


© 2005 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen