29th International Convention Wrap-up


The 29th International Teamsters Convention was filled with many memorable moments and a clear path for the success of our Union was drawn into the future. Numerous resolutions were passed during the week as updates on many of the battles we are engaged in were discussed.

13494918_767662503370558_3425513640611630491_n - EditedOn Monday, Teamsters Local 769 President and Principal Officer Mike Scott spoke about the IBT plan “Let’s Get America Working” which our local union fully supports. “For far too long our government infrastructure investment has taken a back seat to corporate tax breaks”, said Mike.

That’s why the Teamsters rolled out the Let’s Get America Working platform last year. By investing in our infrastructure we’re investing in our workers and our economy. These are jobs that can’t be outsourced.

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa delivered his Five Year Report on Monday as well. In it he touched on many issues that the union has dealt with during the previous five years. He discussed the growth of our union and the battles we have won and asked convention attendees to “pledge together to fight the good fight, to win the war on workers and to look in the mirror five years from now and say I did my part!”

13558843_768270029976472_7627840777680882206_oOn Tuesday, Teamsters Local 769 and Joint Council 75 was again part of the Convention as workers from Sysco Foods took the stage and reported on their struggles to unionize workplaces in the South. “We never could take on these companies without the brave rank-and-file workers who took on the union busters,” said Steve Vairma, International Vice President and Director of the Warehouse Division, who spoke on efforts to organize and represent workers at Sysco and US Foods. He then introduced Kipling Cortez from Sysco Foods Atlanta and Tom Baldwin of Sysco Foods in West Palm Beach, FL to tell the delegates first hand how hard fought their battles were.

“I’m proud to say we are the first group of workers as a major food company to go Union in the state of Florida for a very long time.”, said Tom Balwdin.

On Wednesday, Local 24 President Travis Bornstein addressed the Convention about the overdose of his son Tyler in 2014. His family created the non-profit Breaking Barriers to help combat addiction. Upon concluding his presentation, the response of the union was overwhelming, and more than $1.4 million in donations were pledged to help the fledgling group build a facility on the vacant Akron, Ohio lot were his son’s body was found. As part of the resolution, “the Teamsters call for greater education and outreach related to prescription drug addiction.”

13528718_768700293266779_2078935580504480781_nSome other issues highlighted in resolutions during the week:

  • Finance Reform
  • Get UPS Out of ALEC
  • NYC Horse Carriage Campaign
  • Teamster Organizing Model
  • Transportation Safety
  • UC Local 2010 Contract Campaign
  • XPO Logistics Organizing

13567274_10153612290036674_2082570775799597702_nOn Thursday, after a parade of Teamster trucks rolled down Las Vegas Boulevard, International VP Ron Herrera and Chuck Stiles of the Waste Division spoke to delegates about waste industry organizing and were joined by two veterans of the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike who inspired attendees with their stories of struggle. Baxter Leach and Alvin Turner spoke about how efforts which culminated in the 1968 sanitation strike began as early as 1960 when only 33 workers walked out. The eight year struggle to organize finally paid off.

Said Baxter Leach,”…police run us like dogs, tear gas, eyes bloody. Still it didn’t stop us. We stood up to be a man. We just kept on running until we got a victory.”

“After a while, after Dr. King had came,”, said Alvin Turner, “and he said that he was–“I’m going to be with you until you win it.” And I felt good. A few days after that, then they killed him. And that was hard–it hurted me again. It really did something to me.”

A report and resolution on human rights and inclusion was passed to work toward more diversity in the union. In order to maintain a strong foundation, we must continue to be inclusive and protect the rights of members from all walks of life, and to bring awareness to issues affecting those who face persistent inequality and adversity resulting from discrimination, social stigma and stereotypes.

After lunch, delegates reconvened and heard from Jose Hernandez, a former Teamster and astronaut. Starting from working in the fields of California, Hernandez worked in a cannery as a Teamster to afford school and eventually reach his dream of becoming a NASA astronaut.

On Friday, the final day of the convention, attendees at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters’ 29th International Convention approved a slate of resolutions that clarify the union’s policy stances on everything from airline organizing to worker misclassification. More than 30 resolutions were passed en masse this morning, many focused in the organizing or political realm. This brought an end to another successful convention.

For more information and details on the 29th International Convention which also included performances by Tom Morello, the Swon Brothers and more, click here.