Teamsters from across the country gathered to celebrate the 40th annual conference of the Teamsters National Black Caucus (TNBC) in August. This group of delegates and members of the Teamsters Union has always been dedicated to education, outreach, empowerment and equality.
“This is the largest crowd I have ever seen,” said Ferline Buie, International Vice President and President of Local 922 and Joint Council 55. “Every year the conference grows and becomes better.”
This year’s conference focused on workers’ right and civil rights. As in years past, those in attendance return to their communities and share the information they learned. This year, more than 700 Teamsters attended.
There were two sessions of workshops to educate members and delegates, with a variety of topics, including: organizing, member orientation, how the union can help impaired workers, diversity, social media organizing, financial issues, how to plan a conference and others.
Attendees heard about the importance of getting active and working collaboratively, as well as the need to educate the younger generation about the importance of unions.
Legislative victories were also discussed, such as new laws on misclassification.
“We must get the youth involved with the labor movement to continue the fight for workers’ rights and civil rights. The young people are the future of the Teamsters Union,” said Natalie Kohn, a member of Local 947 in Jacksonville, Fla.
George Miranda, President of the Teamsters National Hispanic Caucus, spoke about the important role of the TNBC, along with the Hispanic Caucus, the Women’s Caucus and the LGBT Caucus.
“You do the work both in society and within the Teamsters to ensure the gains of workers. Our union is strong because of this diversity,” Miranda said. “We need to stand with and speak for all workers if we want them to join our movement.”
A highlight of the conference for many was the opportunity to hear from the family of Viola Liuzzo. Liuzzo was the wife of Anthony Liuzzo, a business agent with Local 247 in Detroit. She took part in civil rights actions in Alabama, including Selma-to-Montgomery marches.
While shuttling people to and from events in 1965, she was murdered by members of the KKK for her involvement in the civil rights struggle. Two of her children shared stories of their lives before and after her death at the TNBC conference.
The last day of the TNBC Conference began with an inspirational sermon by Dr. D. Edward Chaney, Pastor of Second Baptist Church.
Pastor Chaney encouraged the hundreds of Teamsters in attendance to not get tired. No matter what they may be going through on the job or in life, to just keep going, and to not give up.
“Teamsters right now, we need to sow good seeds, we need to learn how to sow into each other,” Chaney said.
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