For Teamsters 856 Stewards Kevin Bryant and Brandon Ransburg, attending Teamsters National Black Caucus Conference was a unique opportunity to experience the larger Teamster movement.
“It was great to connect with other Teamsters from all across the country and Canada – I didn’t even know there were Teamsters in Canada!” Ransburg said.
The Alameda Probation Officers and United Airlines Member Gene Durr traveled to Las Vegas to attend the Caucus’ annual conference earlier this month.
The Teamsters National Black Caucus is an organization of black Teamster men and women that works within the Union to address pressing issues confronting black workers. The Caucus was formed 44 years ago at the 20th National Teamsters Convention in Miami on the heels of the Civil Rights movement.
“It was really powerful to see this history of the Caucus, and the role the Teamsters played in the Civil Rights movement,” Ransburg said.
The most moving part of the conference for Ransburg was when Viola Liuzzo’s children addressed the attendees. Liuzzo, a civil rights activist and the wife of a Teamsters Business Agent, was murdered by the Klu Klux Klan in 1965 after traveling from her home in Detroit to Alabama to march with Martin Luther King, Jr.
The conference served as a reminder to Bryant that all workers are in the same struggle for equality and fairness on the job and how important it is to maintain unity. “We’re only as strong as our weakest member,” he said.
Since his return, Ransburg has encouraged his fellow Local 856 members to be more active in the Union, especially the younger generation. “At the conference mostly everyone was 50 or older,” he said. “It’s important that younger people get involved, especially in the political process, to protect what we have and continue to make progress.”