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TNBC: Building Pathways

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The Teamsters National Black Caucus (TNBC) convened in Houston this year under the theme of “Building Pathways for the Next Generation.” The event was filled with speakers from the Teamsters Union, Houston officials, members of Congress and others.

Workshops for members, delegates and guests were held for educational purposes to provide them with information they could share with their communities, co-workers, friends and families.

This year’s goal for the TNBC was to encourage all those in attendance to build pathways for the next generation. The hope is to start a new wave of leaders with innovative styles in organizing and bargaining.

Speakers stressed that the youth are the future of the labor movement and the guidance of the elders is needed.

“I enjoy coming to the TNBC every year. It gives members the opportunity to connect, share ideas and address issues among the organization,” said Rose Biven, a Local 848 member in California. “This is the best place to problem solve with like-minded individuals.”

Women’s Day Luncheon

Red attire was worn on the 10th Annual Women’s Day, which is a day the TNBC uses to highlight all of the magnificent Teamster women that were trailblazers who paved the way for future Teamster women.

General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall opened the day with words of praise and gratitude for all the efforts put forth to continue this educational conference.

Hall gave the most recent update of the strike and defense fund and talked about the union’s role in defeating right-to-work legislation in West Virginia.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, Asian or Hispanic—we’re all Teamsters,” Hall said.

The keynote speaker of the morning was Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette, President and CEO of Huston-Tillotson University in Austin.

“We’re all on the same mission, to uplift the people. As you all know, your mission is to uphold the principals of the Teamsters movement and to foster the opportunity for all Teamsters to serve at leadership capacities through the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and its affiliates,” Dr. Burnette said.

The afternoon luncheon was filled with other impressive speakers, including U.S. Representative Shelia Jackson-Lee and Houston Independent School District (HISD) Board President Wanda Adams.

“If children see injustices today, what do they look like? We have to build pathways to help the youth overcome challenges that they face today,” Adams said.

Organizing, History, Pensions

On the third day, Teamsters Organizing Director Jeff Farmer gave a presentation on organizing efforts and victories. There was a history lesson given by Karin Jones of the Teamsters Training and Development Department. Jones urged all in attendance to research their own history and learn what wasn’t taught in school.

John F. Murphy, International Vice President, addressed attendees on the crisis facing union pension plans.

“I believe that workers of every color need to organize among themselves—to build strength, to protect our collective bargaining agreements—because if we’re organized nobody can beat us,” Murphy said. “I support the goals and mission of the Teamsters National Black Caucus because you are a force within this great union and you should keep up this great work.”

43rd Annual TNBC Banquet

National elections for TNBC leadership positions were also held at the conference.

James Curbeam, a Teamster Organizer, was elected the TNBC’s new Chairman; and Eric Tate, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 848, was elected the new Vice Chairman of the TNBC.

During the conference, TNBC members, delegates and guests gathered for a prayer breakfast featuring Rev. Preston J. Allen, Director for Nonprofits and Community Development at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in Houston.

Rep. Lee returned to be the keynote speaker of the evening, reminding everyone of the importance of the connection between membership and leadership.

“The only message of connectedness that will be vital is to take back the House and the Senate…To win a blue wave across America in 2018,” Rep. Lee said.