Dozens of principal officers and business agents from Teamster locals around the country are meeting this week in San Diego for the annual conference and seminar of the Teamsters Dairy Conference and Food Processing Division. Led by International Vice President Rome Aloise, the yearly gathering includes reports and presentations from locals and experts covering various issues affecting Teamster members in the industry, including pensions, immigration reform, organizing, and trade policy.
Aloise, Director of the Dairy Conference and the Food Processing Division, said the conference is an opportunity for Teamster locals to learn from each other and strengthen the union’s collective power across the industry.
“The dairy industry is a big source of our membership – we have over 30,000 Teamsters in the dairy industry,” said Aloise. “These conferences are important because they allow locals around the country to get to know each other, learn who has contracts with the same employers they do, and figure out where we have leverage. It’s educational and that’s very important for our locals so they can better represent their members.”
Other leaders at the event include General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall, International Vice Presidents Ferline Buie, Randy Cammack, Rick Middleton and George Tedeschi, and International Trustee Kevin Moore.
Political action is a big topic at this year’s gathering. Locals will learn from IBT experts about the impact of the recent mid-term elections and the ongoing fight against bad trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement. Recent political and legislative successes in California, including the passage of a new law protecting temp workers, will also be discussed. Breakout meetings are being held on the recent dairy organizing victory at Saputo cheese, organizing campaigns including Taylor Farms, and communications.
On Monday, representatives from dairy and food processing locals shared reports on contract negotiations and other issues with various employers. They also heard from experts on pension plans and a panel on immigrant organizing which covered immigration law, legislative reform efforts, and community organizing.