Security will be tight on Day Five 5 of the 28th International Brotherhood of Teamsters Convention as Vice President Biden caps off an exciting five days in Las Vegas.
Biden is one speaker who resonated with Teamsters at our last Convention. Back then he was a senator from Delaware, where he was a key ally for organized labor. As vice president of the United States, he still has a strong rapport with people in the labor movement. And he’s an ardent supporter of passenger rail and Amtrak.
Before Biden speaks, Teamsters will finish up the important business of the union. They’ll decide on the final resolutions, meet the James R. Hoffa Scholarship recipients and learn about the Highway Watch program.
Delegates, their families and their guests will leave Vegas mindful of the words of Danny DeVito: “What happens in Vegas won’t stay in Vegas.” The director of the 1992 film “Hoffa” brought the crowd to its feet on Thursday with a broadside against corporate greed and reactionaries who want to roll back progressive reforms.
“These bozos want to turn back the clock to when the fat cats paid the workers pennies and took dollars for themselves,” he said. “Should we go back to slavery? Take the vote away from women? Go back to child labor? Give raises to CEOs?”
“I got an idea, how about outsourcing the CEOs and bringing the jobs back to the U.S.A.,” he said, to thunderous applause.
Another diminutive person brought the crowd to its feet – and some to tears. Ten-year-old Christopher Duffley, born autistic and blind, sang the “Star-Spangled Banner” a capella for the opening ceremonies. Hours later, he sang “Stand By Me” as an homage to General Secretary-Treasurer Tom Keegel, who is retiring.
Keegel’s emotional farewell speech was another high point of the convention’s fourth day. Keegel, introduced as a man who never forgot where he came from, recounted his early days in what is now Local 120 in Minneapolis. There, he said, he was inspired by veterans of the 1934 Truckers’ Strike.
“It has been a fantastic trip. I’m so proud to be a Teamster,” he said.
Micky Ward, the welterweight boxing champion, graciously signed autographs and had his pictures taken with Teamsters after speaking to the gathering.
“When people ask me what I do,” he said, “My proudest thing is that I’m a Teamster for Local 25.”