Brotherhood on Display

Teamsters have a long history of giving back. But on the third day of the 29th International Convention, that generosity was raised to a whole new level when locals pledged more than $1.4 million as part of an effort to combat the scourge of opioid addiction.

Local 24 President Travis Bornstein, along with his wife Shelly, started a charity called Breaking Barriers – Hope is Alive, in order to help families struggling with addiction. Their involvement in the issue is based on their own heartbreak. The Bornsteins lost their son Tyler to a heroin overdose in 2014 after doctor-prescribed medication for an injury led to full-blown addiction.

Bornstein addressed the Convention because he wanted Teamsters to know that the misuse of painkillers is a real concern for workers and their families. And in a spontaneous and often emotional fashion, the union responded. Members gave him multiple standing ovations. They shared their own stories of suffering with drug and alcohol issues.

But maybe most remarkably, for more than an hour after Bornstein’s speech ended, Teamster leaders, regardless of politics, geography or any other differences, lined up hundreds deep and pledged money to the charity on behalf of locals, Joint Councils, Conferences and union clubs. They also donated personally.

The money will fund a drug treatment facility Breaking Barriers hoped to build in Tyler Bornstein’s honor. The plan is to build it on the current vacant lot in Akron, Ohio where Tyler was left to die in September 2014.

“Listen, brothers and sisters, I’ve never had a moment like this in my life,” an overwhelmed Bornstein said after taking in the response of his fellow Teamsters. “Thanks to you, we are going to make a difference. We’re going to stand up and fight, and we aren’t going to let you down.”

The Teamsters, recognizing the importance of the issue, also approved a resolution on the opiate painkiller epidemic that, among other things, called on government at every level to take prescription medication addiction more seriously.

For more information or to donate, visit