Last week, Teamster Organizers from across the country convened in Minneapolis to share effective campaign tactics, develop successful strategies for scoring decisive organizing victories and plan for the future.
“We really need to get everyone excited about organizing and spread the word; we’ve got an army here,” IBT General President James P. Hoffa said. “Everyone should be out there organizing right now because there’s so much opportunity out there to get this job done.”
Numerous workshops were both attended and taught by Teamster organizers and included “Organizing Worker Leaders Who Are in It for the Long Haul,” “Community Organizing,” “Strategic Targeting” and “Best Recon Practices.” The four-day bootcamp also included a number of classes geared towards online organizing, including “Texting in Organizing Campaigns,” “Effective Use of YouTube in Organizing Campaigns” and “Campaign Communications.” Plenary sessions focused on Teamster history epitomized by the militant 1934 strike in Minneapolis, our union’s role in the civil rights movement and the importance of diversity in reaching out to a multi-racial workforce.
Robert Blackburn just started as a Teamster organizer. He helped organize his co-workers at ITS Intermodal in Harvey, Ill., and he addressed the conference about his experience being an organizer in the shop.
“As a young black man, I started talking to the older guys, and they said “I don’t want to listen to this kid,” Blackburn said. “Then I started to the other young brothers about how we should come together, and they ‘okay, this guy’s a leader.’ I mention those things to say that when we get a chance finally to speak about some of the things we want to speak about, maybe people can sometimes relate, but sometimes they can’t. That’s why when I go out to speak people, I try to relate to them in the best way that I can, because I want to take advantage of every opportunity that I can.”
In addition to discussing pathways to victory for union organizing drives, Teamsters also discussed how they can continue to build political power for 2018 and beyond. On Thursday, August 9 they marched through the streets of downtown Minneapolis and rallied in front of City Hall where Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and U.S. Senator Tina Smith (DFL – Minn.) addressed the large crowd.
“Our voices are strong, but only if we use them,” Smith said. “Are you ready to use your voices? Are you ready to use your voices to organize workers all across this country?”