DRIVE: Fighting big business and protecting workers

In the last few months, over 200 Teamsters 856 members have made or increased their commitment to build power together through the Union’s DRIVE program. DRIVE or Democrat, Republican, Independent Voter Education is the International Brotherhood of Teamster’s political action committee.

DRIVE is non-partisan and provides support for policies and politicians that stand with working families and against anti-worker tactics. It is how Teamsters 856 members are able to combat the millions of dollars spent by big businesses to push their anti-worker agenda.

When Teamsters 856 members register to vote, it is because voting for pro-worker candidates and policies is a way to exercise collective, political power as workers. Likewise, DRIVE gives members the power to protect worker interests federally, statewide, and locally.

Because union dues cannot be used to fund political activities, members can opt to contribute a portion of their paychecks to the DRIVE program. The contributions are used to help elect Teamster friendly candidates.

“This is how the union is able to work in politics to protect your hours, wages, benefits, and working conditions,” said Teamsters DRIVE Representative Jeanette Barnes.

Jeanette and fellow DRIVE Rep, Kevin Currie visited Teamsters 856 members at Mount Diablo Unified School District, City of Pittsburg, United Airlines, Alameda Probation, and Contra Costa County to answer questions about the DRIVE program and encourage members to sign up. They say that contributing as little as $1 per week to DRIVE can go a long way.

David Kukhta has worked in customer service at Delta Dental for three years

“If you’re in for a penny, you’re in for a pound,” said Kevin. He explained that members can’t afford not to contribute to DRIVE, because it’s important to protect the contracts won at the bargaining table from politicians and policies that would try to weaken them.

In a recent DRIVE event at Delta Dental, 65 members signed up, bringing the total number of DRIVE contributors there to 160.

David Kukhta has worked in customer service at Delta Dental for three years. He signed up for DRIVE, and believes more members should do the same. “There’s always potential for our work to be impacted,” he said. “This fund is to protect us. Start with a dollar – it’s not much – and then go from there.”

Kathy Newell is a Shop Steward and audit review clerk at Delta Dental

David joins the over 700 Teamsters 856 members who are DRIVE contributors, including Kathy Newell.

Kathy, a Delta Dental audit review clerk and Teamsters 856 Shop Steward, renewed her DRIVE membership at the event.

“We need to be proactive and get the right politicians in office,” she said. “We’re facing issues where people would like to get rid of unions, but our workforce is built on our unions. We all need to sign up, so we can continue to strengthen our union.”

New and longtime DRIVE contributors at United Airlines made it clear that DRIVE isn’t about political party, it’s about union power.

John Laurin, a 27-year mechanic increased his DRIVE contribution this year. “The party doesn’t matter, the issues do,” he said. “Just sitting around doing the same old stuff is not going to work. Somebody else isn’t going to take care of us, we have to take care of ourselves.”

Teamsters 856 Political Director Trish Suzuki Blinstrub expressed gratitude for the new and veteran DRIVE contributors. “It’s always great to see our members getting politically active,” said Trish. “None of us can be in Washington each day personally holding politicians accountable, but DRIVE allows us to fight alongside Teamsters throughout the country to protect our wages, our benefits, and our ability to negotiate good contracts.”

Email Trish at to sign up for DRIVE today.