(LAS VEGAS) – The 29th International Brotherhood of Teamsters Convention continued on its fourth day with the spirit of international cooperation to protect workers’ rights in the U.S. and Canada.
“The importance of solidarity has never been greater. We are not against trade, but we want fair trade that takes into consideration the interests of workers and not just corporations,” said Teamsters Canada President François Laporte, in reference to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
The quinquennial convention focused on campaigns to improve working conditions for workers in food processing, waste, rail and other industries.
A constitutional amendment was passed by delegates to the convention that will bolster payments to members out on strike. Strike benefits are now a minimum of $150 per week, up from $100 per week.
A resolution was passed by delegates in continued support of two-person crews, positive train controls and safety for all Teamster rail members.
A resolution in support of waste industry organizing also passed.
Delegates heard from Baxter Leach and Alvin Turner, waste workers who stood together during the historic 1968 Memphis sanitation workers’ strike. The delegates held signs that read, “I Am a Man,” the same message that the strikers held in iconic images from 48 years ago.
“The strike ended discrimination,” Turner said. “The jobs that were closed to me, I got one of them.”
“Sanitation work is one of the most dangerous jobs in the economy today. Organizing and strong contracts are a must,” said Ron Herrera, Director of the Teamsters Solid Waste and Recycling Division.
The struggle for justice at the country’s largest producer of fresh-cut produce, Taylor Farms in Tracy, Calif., was also highlighted during the convention, and a resolution was passed that commits to continued support for workers organizing with the Teamsters at Taylor Farms.
An additional resolution included a commitment to the human rights protection of a diverse membership.
The James R. Hoffa Memorial Scholarship Fund committed to raising more money in scholarship funding and expanding the program into trade and vocational education.
Special guest speakers included U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) and Jose Hernandez, an astronaut whose father was a cannery worker in Tracy, Calif.
Nominations took place today for the positions of General President and General Secretary-Treasurer.
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 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.