(LAS VEGAS) – The International Brotherhood of Teamsters’ 29th International Convention kicked off today at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas with excitement and resolve to continue the fight for workers.
More than 1,600 delegates and 4,000 retirees and guests from across the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico have gathered this week to reflect on the union’s successes since the last convention in 2011 and chart the course for the future.
Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa announced that the union had organized more than 300,000 workers in the past decade, including recent victories for 13,500 San Bernardino County, Calif. public employees; 2,000 parking workers in Boston; and 1,700 nurses in San Diego, among others.
“Everybody wants to be a Teamster! We’re proud of the progress we’ve made, but our journey is never done, so let’s pledge together to fight the good fight for workers,” Hoffa said.
Under the banner of “Teamster Strong,” the convention opened to a powerful musical performance and a spectacular display of Teamster solidarity as members flooded into the room, carrying signs that said, “Teamster Power” and “Organize”.
Randy Cammack, Teamsters International Vice President and President of Joint Council 42, gaveled the convention to order. Joint Council 42 is the Teamster affiliate hosting the convention.
“On behalf of all brothers and sisters in the West, we welcome you to the 29th Convention of the greatest union in the world!” Cammack said.
Tom Morello, guitarist for “Rage Against the Machine” and the newly formed band “Prophets of Rage,” rocked the crowd with a live performance.
Hoffa presented Morello with the Teamsters President’s Award, which recognizes the recipient’s courage, character and leadership in commitment and dedication to working families.
“The music is the message and the message is solidarity,” Morello said. “I’m honored to be here with the mighty Teamsters Union today. I will never shut up about workers’ rights. We will work together, sing together and fight together.”
A number of key topics were covered during the first day of the convention, including the importance of organizing and protecting public employees.
Teamster public employees with San Bernardino County, as well as the University of California system spoke about how they brought Teamster power to their workplaces.
Ken Hall, Teamsters General-Secretary Treasurer, stressed the importance of political participation and fighting to protect workers from anti-union forces.
“Right to work is a euphemism to hide anti-worker attacks. It doesn’t create jobs, and it sure doesn’t create good jobs. We have to keep fighting and telling the truth about so-called right to work,” Hall said.
Delegates passed a number of resolutions in support of workers today, including a resolution that supports building power in the public sector; a resolution committed to ensuring the voices of Teamster members will continue to be heard in the political arena through DRIVE; and a resolution opposing job-killing trade deals.
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.
A delegation of union leaders from around the world will join other activists and guests speaking at the convention this week.
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.