Several times a year, the Teamster magazine arrives in every member’s mailbox. It has been a staple of being a Teamster member since the union was founded in 1903. In fact, then-General President Dan Tobin would always have a column in the magazine (he was president for 45 years), just as General President Jim Hoffa does today.
“Our magazine is the primary means of direct communication we have with our members,” Hoffa said. “My father, James R. Hoffa, also made it a point to contribute a column. Through the years, of course, we have developed additional means of communicating with members, especially in the last five, when the web and Facebook have connected us and member-to-member communication is working at an outstanding pace. Yet, the magazine remains our main method of communication.”
Recently, the printing operation of the magazine was awarded to a company near Milwaukee, the Arandell Corporation. Arandell employs hundreds of employees at their facility, many of whom are members of the IBT’s Graphic Communications Conference Local 577m. Quality workmanship is what Arandell is known for and the Teamsters Union has already received compliments on the improvement in the colors of the photos seen since the magazine began being published in Wisconsin.
“The central location of the printer means that the mailing process is more efficient, too, since mail deposited in the center of the U.S. more easily travels to the East and West Coasts,” said Ken Hall, General Secretary-Treasurer. “We were fortunate to find a union printer, too, that can handle our large print run.”
To date, the Teamster magazine is by far the largest union publication currently being printed by any labor union in the U.S.
Employees Dedicated To Quality
The dedicated employees of Arandell shepherd the magazine through the lengthy printing process, which includes checking for color, print quality, paper quality and the binding.
Mike Smith, an employee in the pre-press department, has had 16-years of experience, training his eye on countless publications that now include the Teamster magazine.
“I take pride in what we do,” Smith said.
Because the Teamster magazine includes many images of members at rallies, meetings, organizing drives and more, there is a high degree of care that goes into the review of each and every photograph.
Once the print files are uploaded to the presses, the images are checked again by press room staff, including Aaron Strebe, an assistant supervisor who has been working at Arandell for the past 27 years.
“Seeing our magazine on the press is a nice change of pace,” Strebe said. “A bonus for us is that we get to read it ahead of time. I am very pleased to be working on the Teamster magazine in our shop.”
Huge rolls of paper, some weighing 4,000 pounds apiece, are utilized in the printing process. Henry Greer, an employee for the past 22 years, is one of the employees who feeds paper into the giant presses required for the magazine production.
“It is great to see our magazine printed at our shop – a union shop!” Greer said.
The printing of the magazine takes a few days and then the process of binding (cutting the magazine into pages and putting it together) begins. There a dozen or more machines all working at once that are synchronized to achieve maximum output. Working in this area is Gei Rud, a six-year employee.
“I was surprised to see the Teamster magazine come into the shop. It is beautiful!” she said.
Prior to working at Arandell, Rud had no previous experience in the printing industry. Other union members helped train her and now she is an assistant operator in this section.
After being printed and cut into pages and stapled together, the magazines are bound in bundles and packaged in lots for postal shipping. Overseeing this work in Ron Santora, a five-year employee who works to make sure that the process with labeling the stacks of magazines is correct. His work helps to save the union thousands of dollars in postal expenses.
“I was glad to see the magazine being produced here. It’s a big job and in order to get it out to members in a timely way we had the postage process working on multiple machines which only took us about 4-5 days to complete, then it went into the mail,” Santora said.
Union Spirit Motivates Printer
The improved quality of the printing of the magazine is all due to the dedication of the union employees, Teamsters with the Graphic Communications Conference at Arandell.
“We have some dedicated members who are so pleased to be part of the Teamster magazine publishing experience at Arandell,” said George Tedeschi, President of the Graphic Communications Conference. “Through their experience on the job and pride in being Teamster members, they are ensuring that the Teamster magazine will continue to be not only the largest, and longest-running union publication in America, but also the best.”
“We collaborate here,” Strebe said. “Every job here is an apprenticeship and I have learned a lot over the years.”
Strebe, like all the other GCC members at Arandell, remarked about how proud they were to see the Teamster magazine delivered to their homes, knowing that they were responsible for its printing.
You could say that a special spirit runs through the Arandell Printing facility. Some might call it a solid work ethic, but it’s more than that. It’s a unique drive that the union employees have—part of being a Teamster member—learning from one another and making sure that the job is well done.