“Amazing and awesome” are the words 17-year Local 856 member Ed Braun uses to describe the 29th International Brotherhood of Teamsters Convention, which he attended as part of the Teamsters 856 delegation last month.
Nearly 6,000 Teamster delegates, retirees and guests were present for the five-day convention, which was held in Las Vegas June 27 through July 1. The event takes place every five years to consider and vote on amendments to the I.B.T. Constitution, pass resolutions, and nominate candidates for the Teamsters International Executive Board.
“It was quite remarkable to see the solidarity from such a wide variety of fields our union represents,” Braun said. “It really brought home what Teamsters do across the country and Canada to fight for working families.”
Braun, a shop steward at the Alameda Probation Department, served as a Local 856 delegate with fellow rank and file members Lisa Chin (Delta Dental), Paola Gleeson (City of Millbrae), Judy Rodrigues (St. Rose Hospital), Kathleen Romero (Park Central Hotel), Mark Gabriel (United Airlines) and John Johnson (United Airlines). Mike Albertin and John Laurin from United Airlines attended as alternate delegates. Teamsters 856 Secretary-Treasurer Peter Finn, President Mike Lagomarsino, and Vice President Rudy Gonzalez were also delegates on behalf of Local 856.
Attendees heard about various ongoing Teamster organizing and contract campaigns, although perhaps the most moving of these reports came from Baxter Leach and Alvin Turner, waste workers who were part of the historic 1968 Memphis sanitation strike. Leach and Turner spoke of their struggle to gain union recognition and lent their support for today’s sanitation workers’ fight for fairness and safety on the job.
Delegate and Steward Kathleen Romero was especially impressed with the international alliances that Teamsters have formed with other unions all over the world. “In this age of globalization and dangerous trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership, it’s great to know that our union is crossing borders to forge partnerships so that we can raise the standards for working people everywhere.” she said.
Delegates unanimously approved increasing strike fund benefits, and passed other important resolutions including those on transportation safety, getting UPS out of the anti-worker American Legislative Exchange Council organization, and the union’s “Let’s Get America Working Campaign”.
On day four of the Convention, $1.4 million was raised for “Breaking Barriers – Hope is Alive”, a non-profit aimed at bringing awareness, education, and treatment to people suffering with addiction issues. The organization was started by Teamsters Local 24 President Travis Bornstein and his family after the tragic death of his son from a drug overdose. After hearing Bornstein speak, Teamsters lined up for more than an hour to tell their own stories of how addiction has affected their lives and to pledge financial support to fight the disease.
“My experience at the convention was profoundly inspiring, and has motivated me even further in my role as a steward and bargaining team member to fight my Teamster brothers and sisters at home,” said Braun. “It was truly an honor to participate.”