Teamsters are known for having each other’s backs. That’s especially true of UPS members in Alabama who did something incredible for a struggling coworker.
At 19-years-old, Derrick Taylor is a prime example of a hardworking young man who puts others before himself. Since age 13 he has held jobs to support his family and his ailing mother.
The part-time package handler and member of Teamsters Local 612 in Birmingham started working at the UPS facility in Anniston, Ala. about a year ago and his coworkers immediately noticed how dedicated he was to his job and his family.
“He was a really good kid from the very start,” said Wade McClure, a full-time UPS driver of 32 years. “Derrick wanted to work even if he had to walk miles to get here.”
In fact Derrick often did walk the five-mile trek to get to work, unable to save money for a car as he was supporting his family. When he couldn’t bum a ride, he would wake up at 2 am or earlier, walking in the dark of night in order to make it in for his 3:30 am shift.
“J.D. Ward who’s a safety inspector here told me about Derrick’s situation and we started raising money to buy him a car,” McClure said.
When Derrick wasn’t working, McClure and Ward would solicit donations from their coworkers. The response was overwhelming. After raising more than $1,300 they found a used Jeep and got the vehicle detailed with the help of another handy UPS coworker.
A video was posted online capturing the moment when Derrick’s coworkers surprised him with the car, leaving Derrick stunned and moved to tears.
“This is a hardworking young man,” Ward said in the video. “He makes me emotional. This young man wants to work so bad, he walks to work from way out of town. The group here, we’ve got some good news for you. Everybody came together and you don’t have to walk no more. You’ve got your own ride.”
Derrick wasn’t the only one touched by the compassion of this coworkers. As McClure saw his fellow Teamsters smiling and drying their eyes, Derrick got on the phone to tell his sister. When he got home his mother hugged him and cried, overjoyed that her son would no longer have to walk miles in the dark to get to work.
And what a difference the new ride has made.
“A lot has changed for me personally since I have a car and can drive to work,” said Derrick. “Everyone else says they notice how much more positive and ecstatic I am working with such caring people.”
But Derrick says what happened at the facility is not really about him. It’s about his family at home and the generosity of his new family at work.
“Without them, my coworkers, none of this would have been possible. They made it happen and I just want to say thank you to all of them,” Derrick added.
“We’re very proud of what our members have done in Anniston. It’s what being a Teamster is all about. These brothers and sisters got together on their own and made it happen because Teamsters look out for one another,” said Donnie West, President of Local 612.
McClure agrees. He remembers when longtime driver and now Local 612 business agent Larry Gilchrist helped him out as a young worker at UPS.
“Teamsters helped me when I was just starting out and I feel it’s important to pass that support along to the next generation,” McClure said. “It’s people like Derrick, the hardworking employees, who built UPS into the company it is.”