Day 3 – Teamster Women Speak Up


Teamsters are having an action packed weekend in New York City, where the 2011 Teamsters Women’s Conference is taking place. As Hurricane Irene rolled through the area late Saturday into Sunday, hundreds of Teamster women continued their conference undeterred by the weather. View more photos from the event.

“We’re indoors right now, but we rallied Saturday to support the Teamster brothers and sisters locked out at Sotheby’s. We were there to stand in solidarity. It was an emotional experience for them because they were so happy to have our support,” said Margarita Rangel-Sumano, an eight-year Teamster with Local 315 in Martinez, Calif.

“Fighting the war on workers also means fighting the war against women. There is a strong attack on public sector unions and the majority of these workers are women,” said Diane Ersbo, a UPS member with Local 638 in Minneapolis. “We can never sit down and rest. We need to be involved.”

Dozens of workshops were offered at the conference on topics ranging from managing workplace stress, preparing for grievances and arbitrations, organizing for power, using social media and more.

“I went to the workshop on organizing and I’m learning a lot. Being in the union means strength and solidarity and we need to build on this by organizing,” said Kim Rogers-Maynard, a member of Local 175 in Charleston, W.Va.

Sister Solidarity

For some women, this was the first Teamsters Women’s Conference they had attended, while for others, it was a return visit.

“I love being a Teamster. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I’m excited this is my first women’s conference,” said Debra Cantello, a DHL Express shop steward with Local 295 in Valley Stream, N.Y.

“This is my second women’s conference and it inspires and motivates me to help lead the new people,” said Lajuna White, a member of Local 848 in Covina, Calif. and a driver at MV Transportation.

Teamster sisters traveled from far and wide to attend the conference. Lena Phenix, a shop steward with Local 879 in Hamilton, Ontario, was one of the many participants from Canada.

“This conference is a great opportunity for us to network, learn from each other and get involved,” Phenix said.

“Teamster women are strong and gaining power in the work force. I am very grateful and appreciative to have the opportunity to be here with all my fellow Teamsters,” said Nikko Hashimoto, a shop steward with Local 848 and a forklift driver.

“It’s great to come here to learn and feel the support that I can take home to get the women and men fired up,” said Katherine Bostic, a nuclear power plant worker and member of Local 579 in Knoxville, Tenn. “There ain’t no hurricane that’s going to run off a bunch of Teamster women.