(LAS VEGAS) – The Teamsters’ 29th International Convention opened its second day with a focus on global solidarity and building worker power through organizing in key industries.
Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Britain’s largest union, Unite, and Tony Sheldon, National Secretary of Australia’s Transport Workers Union, delivered a message of unity to the thousands of Teamsters attending the convention.
“The Teamsters is the most iconic trade union on our planet and you should be proud,” McCluskey said.
McCluskey referenced successful partnerships with the Teamsters, including the fight to drive up standards for school bus and transit workers at multinational corporations.
“The Teamsters are one of the strongest, most successful forces for economic justice,” Sheldon said. “The Teamsters stood with us through fierce battles that we will never forget, and we stand with the Teamsters in the fight against global greed.”
In addition to the United Kingdom and Australia, unions from Belgium, Ireland, Italy, France, South Africa and Israel sent greetings to the Teamsters’ International Convention.
Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall reported that the union is able to do the work of representing members and take on key fights thanks to the union’s solid financial standing.
“I’m proud to report that our union’s finances are stronger than ever. Because of our union’s strong resources, we are able to win battles at Sysco, US Foods, XPO/Con-Way, FedEx Freight, the ports, at tech companies and at school bus companies,” Hall said.
Delegates on the second day of the convention covered a number of priorities for workers, including organizing campaigns in freight, warehousing, the ports, Silicon Valley and more.
“We never could take on these companies without the brave rank-and-file workers who took on the union busters,” said Steve Vairma, International Vice President and Director of the Warehouse Division, on efforts to organize and represent workers at Sysco and US Foods.
“With the Teamsters we are fighting back against misclassification and winning back millions from employer wage theft,” said Daniel Uaina, a port driver.
“Organizing at FedEx can be done. We’ve proved that,” said Bill Hamilton, International Vice President, referencing bargaining taking place with FedEx Freight in Philadelphia and Charlotte.
Leslie Marshall, host of The Leslie Marshall Show, a syndicated radio program featuring labor topics, gave a rousing address to the crowd.
“Corporations and billionaires want to divide and conquer, but no one can divide a union as strong as the Teamsters,” Marshall said. “If you stand strong for the long haul, they will cave. Workers need to rise up.”
Other guests included musicians The Swon Brothers, who are sons of Teamsters Local 516 Secretary-Treasurer Kelly Swon, and UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic.
Delegates passed resolutions today on executive pay/Capital Strategies; freight organizing; warehouse organizing; and port organizing.
Nominations took place for At Large Vice Presidents and Trustees.
The International Convention, held every five years, is the supreme policymaking body of the union with the power and authority to modify the Constitution, establish programs, address fiscal issues and set priorities.
This week, delegates will consider a number of constitutional measures and resolutions. Delegates will also nominate candidates for the International offices of General President, General Secretary-Treasurer, Vice Presidents and Trustees.
Founded in 1903, the Teamsters Union represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.