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Teamster Organizers Hone Their Craft at Conference


Teamster organizers from local unions, Joint Councils and the International Union shared ideas and strategies about building Teamster Power during an organizing conference this week.

“We fight everyday to keep our membership numbers up,” Hoffa said today. “There’s power in numbers.”

The conference opened Wednesday to coincide with the annual Unity conference, and concluded today. This year’s theme was “Building a Better Local Union: Powerhouse Targeting.”

Attendees learned an overview of the key elements necessary for building a strong local union organizing program, how to pick organizing targets that maximize success and building local union power. They also learned about building local union organizing capacity and heard stories about what local unions are doing, including a successful volunteer organizing program at Local 777 in the Chicago area.

“We do a lot of local union organizing already but it was valuable to hear all the examples that were discussed and seeing if we can use some of these strategies,” said Catherine Cobb, President of Local 2010 in California. “It’s also helpful to learn about all the national campaigns the Teamsters are working on now.”

“I will take much of this information back to our members,” said Jackie Spears, Local 2010 Trustee who began as a steward like Cobb. “All these anecdotes about successful organizing really shows that we can all work together for the members.”

Sami Gabriel, President of Local 320 in Minnesota that represents public employees, talked about the importance of internal organizing.

About 18 months ago, the local began a campaign that asked public employee members to recommit to their membership. As a result, the number of full-membership public employees has increased from 78 percent to 86 percent as the union prepares for the Janus court decision.

“Internal organizing is just as important as external organizing,” she said.

Hoffa talked about the important of getting younger people involved with organizing.

“We need that energy and we need to train the next generation,” Hoffa said.