Organizing is the Lifeblood of the Union


Year after year, media reports on the state of the American labor movement paint a gloomy picture of shrinking membership and dwindling power. With anti-worker lawmakers in Wisconsin forcing through right to work (for less) in yet another state, the mainstream trope about the supposed decline of America’s labor unions is unlikely to let up.

But there is another story about labor—the story of the thousands of new workers who are joining unions, especially the Teamsters.

In the last year alone, the Teamsters have made headlines with fresh organizing wins, including freight victories at FedEx and Conway, tech drivers in Silicon Valley, American Airlines passenger service agents, warehouse workers at America’s largest food distributors, and much more. New members in the waste and carhaul industries have joined our ranks, along with dairy workers in Wisconsin and drivers supplying major brands like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts.

More than 1,600 new school bus and transit workers have joined the Teamsters in the past year, adding to the 35,000 workers that have been organized since the inception of our national school bus campaign.

Our union is the most active organizing union in the country, and we continue to bring in new members from core industries.

We know that growing union density in these industries strengthens our collective power to negotiate stronger contracts for all our members. That’s why the duty to organize falls on all of us, including the rank and file.

“The more members we have, the stronger we are as a group,” says member organizer Jeffrey Cottrell, a US Foods Teamster in Philadelphia who helped his co-workers in Corona, Calif., become Teamsters last year. We need more member organizers like Brother Cottrell who understand the importance of bringing the benefits they enjoy under a Teamster contract to other workers across the country.

Organizing is the essence of who we are, and it’s not just about representation elections. Employers have been doing everything they can to hamper our ability to organize, from worker misclassification schemes to multi-layered contracting.

Teamsters are facing these challenges head on with our commitment to long-term battles at the ports, in food processing and beyond.

Like our brothers and sisters fighting for justice at Walmart and fast food chains nationwide, we are using new tactics, legal efforts and strikes to adapt and organize in a changing economy. With our allies in other living wage movements, we are putting income inequality at the center of the national conversation.

There’s no denying the setbacks the labor movement has been facing. But in the words of labor icon Mother Jones, “Don’t mourn, organize!” Through aggressive organizing, the Teamsters continue to do what we do best: raising workers into the middle class.