Day Three: Fighting for our Communities, Our Jobs and Our Future


Teamsters who suffered tragedies in the past year – their loved ones murdered in Hartford, their homes lost in the Joplin tornado – will receive donations from their brothers and sisters from the passing of the hat at the 28th Convention on Wednesday.

International Vice President Gordon Sweeton is from Joplin, Mo., where on May 22, at 5:41pm a F-5 tornado destroyed over half the city. The tornado was three-quarters of a mile wide and stayed on the ground for thirteen miles. The tornado went directly through the center of Joplin leaving a death toll of 159 people in its wake. Our Teamster sister, Heather Leigh Terry, was one of the victims.

Politics will be a feature of Day Three, as Teamsters recount their involvement in some of our successes over the past five years. Ed Slater, a member of Local 107 in Pennsylvania, plans to discuss the Teamsters Working Class Convoy for Change, which helped elect President Obama in 2008. Steve Vairma, principal officer of Local 455 in Colorado, will talk about the successful campaign to defeat a right-to-work ballot measure to destroy unions.

Kevin Moore, principal officer of Local 299 in Detroit, will describe how Teamsters from across the country stood together to save carhaul jobs. The Teamsters long fight to stand up to Wall Street and save 30,000 jobs at YRC will be discussed by Ernie Soehl, Eastern Region Coordinator of the Freight Division, and Carl Barelli, chief steward at USF Holland and a 30-year member of Local 41 in Kansas City.

Frank Sevilla, business agent of Teamsters Local 952, will tell the assembled crowd about the importance of capital strategies to protecting jobs and contract standards for Teamster members at Coca-Cola. Dave Laughton, director of the Beverage Division, will describe how Teamsters fight beverage companies’ war on their workers with good strong contracts.

Dave LaBorde, a Teamsters international representative, will discuss how the Building Material and Construction Trade Division has helped locals organize workers in thousands of good-paying pipeline jobs.

Teamsters will also hear about how the union turns low-wage jobs in parking and sanitation into good middle-class jobs.