In March, Teamsters 856 members, Mariko Davis, Elena Hernandez, and Joi Razon, traveled with Political Director Trish Blinstrub and Public Policy Coordinator Malia Vella to take part in the in the Next Up Young Worker Summit in Chicago. The four-day event brought together more than 1,000 union workers age 35 and under from across the country in an effort to build young power for economic and social justice.
856 Members Elena and Joi have provided the following reports on their experiences at the summit:
Elena Hernandez, Fairmont San Francisco: Going to the NextUp summit in Chicago was a rich and valuable experience. Just meeting with 1,000 young workers from all over the country and from so many different industries was quite inspiring in and of itself. Chicago was the perfect setting to rally young workers, as the city has a long and powerful history of supporting labor.
I had the pleasure of traveling with my Teamsters 856 sisters – it was wonderful getting to meet them and also learning about what’s important to them. This experience has created solidarity and a wonderful bond that will make us stronger as young workers and leaders.
The Fight for Fifteen morning rally in support of raising wages for fast food workers was the highlight of the conference for me. It was such an emotional and inspiring morning, the spirit of solidarity was alive and strong! I could almost feel the presence of all the people that fought for labor rights before us standing with us. As we chanted, sang, and waved our signs, I knew that at that very moment I was exactly where I should be.
Joi Razon, San Francisco Zoo: Listening to everyone’s speeches and stories from all over the country left me feeling inspired, lucky, and grateful to have been a part of the 2015 Next Up Young Worker Summit! It was an opportunity to do a different kind of work and then put that work into action by participating in the Fight for Fifteen rally. In meeting with other young workers and attending workshops throughout the weekend, I was able to take home more than I could have expected to at the beginning of the conference. The most helpful workshop from the weekend was titled, “Stewardship: To Learn What It Takes to Strengthen your Union”. In this workshop I learned about the right to information, the importance of respect, and to lean on the expertise of fellow union members. As an aspiring shop steward in my department, this workshop introduced me to the responsibilities and duties I will be taking on as I step into this role. I still have a lot of knowledge and experience to gain, but my greatest allies will be those that are or were stewards before me. There is a bounty of resources and training available to anyone who is interested in becoming a leader.
In the economics workshop, we were taught why it was important for younger members to be part of the labor movement and that we are not alone in living paycheck to paycheck, trying to make ends meet to support ourselves and our families. A recurring question throughout the conference was how to engage younger members to become more involved in their unions. There won’t be just one answer to that question, but I hope by showing up and bringing a co-worker to the next union action (who I hope will bring another co-worker) is a start in getting more members involved. I look forward to working with other members of our Local and coming up with ideas to continue to build our young worker program.
Visit www.Teamsters856.org/Young-Teamsters for more information on how to get involved in our young worker program.