The 44th Annual Teamsters National Black Caucus (TNBC) Conference was held in Louisville, Ky. with the theme, “A New Time, A New Vision.”
The three-day conference was filled with speakers, classes, educational opportunities, panel discussions and other events. Members came from all over the U.S. and Canada for the event.
“Make sure you get to the educational classes and take advantage of each class,” said Mac Moore, President of the TNBC Louisville Chapter, who welcomed more than 400 members, guests and delegates to the city.
TNBC Chairman James ‘Curb’ Curbeam took the stage chanting, “Who are we?” with a response from the audience, “Teamsters!”
“This is very humbling to me. Twenty years ago I was introduced to the Teamsters National Black Caucus in New Orleans, and today I stand here as the caucus chairman,” Curbeam said.
Curbeam highlighted what it means to be a Teamster and addressed the political landscape the union is faced with today, encouraging all to continue to stand strong and be ready for the fight.
Hoffa and Hall
General President James P. Hoffa addressed the attendees and touched on a number of topics, including pension legislation, the Cadillac tax and recent presidential debates. The Teamsters, he said, will be very involved in the next presidential race.
“They won’t get our vote unless they are talking about what we’re talking about,” Hoffa said.
He also spoke about the union’s organizing success and the organizing training provided to locals and Joint Councils.
General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall gave an update on the union’s financial status, right-to-work legislation and what the Teamsters Union is doing about the opioid crisis.
Speakers and Workshops
Panels and workshops were held on a variety of topics, including: Building Teamster power in the public sector; “Teamsters Vote 2020”; black electoral empowerment; criminal justice reform and more.
Education on health, well-being and self-care was a big focus at this year’s conference. Keynote speaker, Dr. Brenda Boyd-Bell, CEO of Chrysallis Empowerment and Transformation, gave a speech on how important it is to have humility and love for others.
A panel called “Understanding Implicit Bias and Overcoming Challenges” was led by Catherine Cobb, President of Local 2010; Dr. Robin Cooper, President of Local 502; and Margo Storsteen, President of the Teamsters LGBTQ+ Caucus.
Dr. Elaine Ferguson spoke from the heart on the importance of taking care of not only our bodies, but our minds and spirit. Ferguson is the child of a Teamster family. Her father was a Local 337 member and she shared how beneficial his membership was to her family.
Other speakers included Louisville Mayor Gregory E. Fischer and Gerald Anthony Neal, a state senator in Kentucky. There were panels held on migrant rights, automation and the future of work, and staff from the International Union were there to give updates on their departments.
Curbeam encouraged everyone in attendance to take what they learned back to their communities, coworkers and families.
“We want you to go back home and engage your members, counterparts and communities, because if we don’t talk about what we have done here, it’s all for nothing,” Curbeam said. “We want to make sure that you enjoy yourself, but most of all educate yourself.”
Marcus King Appointed to Lead Human Rights and Diversity Commission
Marcus W. King, President of Local 331 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, has been appointed as the Director of the Teamsters Human Rights and Diversity Commission. A second-generation Teamster, King has been a member since 1983.
“I’m honored to be selected to serve in this position,” King said.
King has several goals as director of the commission, including streamlining the group’s operations, doing educational sessions and workshops to talk about differences, inclusion and equity among Teamster members.
“The world is changing. It’s getting smaller. We need to have a place to have a conversation openly, not just based on the color of our skin or our religion,” King said. “We either have to make history as the largest union in the country or we will be history.”