Teamsters Lead the Pack


On a warm early spring Sunday in Southern California, hundreds of Teamsters joined tens of thousands of NASCAR fans in taking in the sights and sounds at the Auto Club 400. It was an opportunity for union members to share in a day of excitement with their family, friends and co-workers as part of a pre-race union tribute.

Teamster Horsemen and big rigs kicked off the festivities by taking an opening lap around the track. Top Teamster officials like Randy Cammack, President of Joint Council 42 and an International Vice President, joined with union brothers and sisters in a day of enjoyment.

Once the actual race began, the first thing one notices is the burning rubber, acrid yet alluring in its own special way. It is faint, certainly, compared to the searing sound of some 40 stock cars circling the track. The sound violently pierces the air, especially for the uninitiated. And then there is the vibration, heavy on one’s chest as vehicles zoom by in excess of 150 miles per hour.

Many, like Hector Delgado, a Local 396 Teamster, praised the event as an opportunity to show union pride.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever experienced NASCAR live, and it’s a different experience,” he said. “There’s a lot of camaraderie here, I see a lot of Teamsters flying their Teamster colors, and it’s great to be out on a day like this.”

But many also reflected that it is a great time to be a Teamster in the Golden State, given the pro-union bent of the state government at this time. They said they relished the opportunity to get things done that will help workers not only in the state, but potentially across the country.

“There is a lot of organizing we are trying to do here in California,” said Hector Cerda, a shop steward for UPS with Local 63. “California is one of the biggest states that people look to, so when it comes to unions, it is good.”

The past year has been a hotbed of activity for the Teamsters in the state, from ports to warehouse workers. The union, for instance, won a huge victory in March when Pacific 9 Transportation agreed that its port truck drivers working at the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach are employees and have the right to join a union. The settlement followed a finding by the National Labor Relations Board that Pac 9 drivers had been misclassified as independent contractors.

Meanwhile, the Teamsters have also taken an active role in organizing those in the food industry. In April, US Foods warehouse workers in Corona called on the company to recognize Local 63 as its bargaining representative and to begin negotiating a first contract. Workers there are concerned about job security as Sysco is attempting to buy the company.

“It is imperative that we protect jobs that can sustain workers, their families and Southern California communities,” Cammack wrote to the company. “By standing together to form a union at US Foods, that’s exactly what these workers are doing.”

Whether at work or play, Teamsters are united in their support for one another. It is that attitude that others are drawn to, and why the successes of this union are only likely to grow in the years ahead.