A message from IBT General President James P. Hoffa
Rail Labor uniting
From left: BLET National President Don Hahs, IBT General President Jim Hoffa and BMWE President Freddie Simpson at the Stanley Yard in Toledo, Ohio, on November 5, 2004.
While labor's candidate for President, John Kerry, did not win, we are proud that the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, along with the entire family of labor, united in an historic effort to fight for the interests of working families. And while President Bush was re-elected, we note that more than 55 million people cast their vote for a progressive agenda. We will continue the fight for that agenda in the next Congress and in state legislatures around the nation as we work hard to expand the base of support.
For the Teamsters, this election marks the largest member mobilization effort in the history of the union. With hundreds of rank and file Teamsters, including many BLET members, working full time on the campaign in the field, and with hundreds of thousands of leaflets and phone calls, hundreds of work site visits and dozens of rallies, the Teamster membership was never been more involved in a Presidential election. We are proud that the Teamster membership responded by turning out in overwhelming numbers for Senator Kerry and in support of our economic justice agenda.
November 2 was not the end of our fight to take back this country for working families. It was the beginning. This effort was never about one candidate, one political party, or a single election. It is about moving forward a pro-worker agenda at the national level. We will continue the fight for fair trade, universal health care, increased rail security, worker rights, pension reform and retirement security. And we will continue to work with everyone - Republican, Democrat and Independent - who shares our agenda.
One victory we can celebrate was the vote by BMWE members to merge with the IBT. This is an historic time for rail labor. The Teamsters now represent 42 percent of rail union members in North America. A Union with a proud history over 100 years in the making, our maintenance of way brothers and sisters add a vital component to our growing rail conference. The rail corporations' "business as usual" era is over and we look forward to negotiating improved wages, safer working conditions and stronger benefits for our members.
I realize that many of you work side by side with maintenance of way members in the rail yard. For too long, the rail corporations wanted us to remain divided even though the work performed along the rails is interconnected. But that tide has turned. Now you can consider members of the BMWE brothers and sisters since we are united under the Teamster banner.
James P. Hoffa
© 2004 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen