Local 856 members build power at Teamsters Women’s Conference

Sandra Bowman is a Teamsters 856 shop steward at Northwest Administrators. Last month, she and eight other members traveled to Orlando, Florida, to represent Local 856 at the 2018 Teamsters Women’s Conference. Read about Sandra’s first time attending the annual conference in the interview below.

From left to right: Local 856 Representative Corey Hallman, Sandra Bowman (Northwest Administrators), Debbie Krevi (Delta Dental), Maria Prado (Delta Dental), Marcela Esqueda (Northwest Administrators), Local 856 Representative Malia Vella, Roberta Patton (Northwest Administrators), Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa, Janine Jabin-Roach (Northwest Administrators), Johanna Taber (West Contra Costa Unified School District), Shaune Vaughn (Delta Dental), Keisha Clayton-Ford (Delta Dental)

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Why did you want to attend the conference?

I became a shop steward a couple years ago, and at work, my fellow shop stewards who have gone in the past have always talked about how much they learned. I thought it would be a good opportunity, and it was.

What were you looking forward to most?

There were lots of workshops I was interested in, and I was looking forward to learning more about my role as a shop steward. I also really wanted to meet other Teamsters who are also passionate about preserving our benefits and rights.

What was it like to meet Teamster women from around the country?

It was great to meet so many different people with different ideas and inspiring to see so many women standing up unafraid.

What did you learn in the conference workshops?

We’re in negotiations right now with Northwest Administrators. I learned a lot about bargaining and how to cost out a contract. In another workshop, I learned about current state and federal legislation and how it impacts members. And since I work in pensions, I went to the Social Security workshop to learn some basic information.

But the biggest thing for me is that nothing is intimidating to me now. To hear so many women speak up and tell their stories who were not afraid of anything has given me the confidence to stand up as well. I feel stronger and more powerful.

What moment throughout the conference impacted you most?

One of the workshops I attended was about the costing of contracts. The guy who led it was amazing to listen to and offered to help us if we need it.

During the closing session, a woman spoke about her battle with breast cancer. When she finished, the guy who led my class spoke about helping her raise money and said that if we raised $10,000, he would dye his beard pink. He said she was his Teamster sister and he would do anything to help her.

It was so moving and touching because that’s what being a Teamster is about: Helping each other wherever you are.

Why should other Local 856 members attend the Teamsters Women’s Conference?

I would highly recommend attending. Knowledge is power, and the more powerful and confident we feel, the better we are at fighting for our rights. Knowing that there are other women fighting for the same causes and helping each other is also powerful and makes you want to fight.

A special thank you to the following members who represented Local 856 at this year’s conference:

Sandra Bowman – Northwest Administrators
Keisha Clayton-Ford – Delta Dental
Marcela Esqueda – Northwest Administrators
Janine Jabin-Roach – Northwest Administrators
Debbie Krevi – Delta Dental
Roberta Patton – Northwest Administrators
Maria Prado – Delta Dental
Johanna Taber – West Contra Costa Unified School District
Shaune Vaughn – Delta Dental