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Public Services Division Holds Virtual Conference

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Over 500 Teamster members from across the country spent two days together recently for the first-ever Public Services Division conference to be held completely online. The COVID-19 pandemic made the virtual program a necessity, but proved to be a novel way of connecting and inspiring those who participated.

The challenges faced by members in the division since the pandemic started have been great, and Jason Rabinowitz, Director of the Public Services Division, was determined to hold the conference so that members would have the opportunity to hear about the union’s programs, learn from leaders of the union and connect with fellow rank-and-file members.

“I sincerely appreciate the efforts of everyone involved with the development of the first virtual conference. Attendance, energy, enthusiasm, context, and varied structure was great which kept the entire program current, informative, and very interesting,” wrote one participant after the conference, with another writing, “It was a complete success! It’s hard to believed that this was the first virtual conference conducted.”

The conference began with a plenary session, headed by General President Jim Hoffa.

“We are fully committed to protecting our members during the pandemic,” Hoffa said. “Our public services members have really stepped up during this crisis. We are proud of the work that we have done to make sure that they are protected at work with paid leave and hazard pay and having the PPE they need. We have made it a top priority that our government protects our members. Our members deserve nothing less than the full support of our president and congress.”

Ken Hall, General Secretary-Treasurer, also headlining the plenary, said, “Public Service Teamsters have always been critical in supporting our communities. And during the pandemic they have worked even harder. This year our members have risked and sacrificed so much for their families and the public at large. That is why it is unacceptable for any Teamster to face the loss of their job. The Teamsters Union stands unequivocally against layoffs. I am proud to report that our membership remains strong. We are doing all we can to keep our members engaged. Stay safe and stay connected.”

Rabinowitz, reflecting on the last year and preparing for 2021, said, “Over the past year, we have been successful in carrying out our strategic plan. Our members have been working around the clock in the U.S. and Canada to keep communities running. And throughout it all our union has been protecting our jobs, our livelihood and our safety during this crisis. This conference is an important step for us. We have all the content here that we would have for an in-person conference. This is the first time we have held a conference like this and I hope it’s an example for our union for future meetings until the COVID-19 crisis has passed.”

Below is a listing of the plenary sessions and workshops that took place. The name of the program is first, followed by the link to the video and followed by the names of the program speakers.

December 2

Opening Plenary Welcome to the Conference Plenary, First Day

James P. Hoffa, General President

Ken Hall, General Secretary-Treasurer

James Curbeam, Chairman, Teamsters National Black Caucus

Nina Bugbee, Director, Teamsters Women’s Conference

Karen Jones, Teamster Historian

Report on our Strategic Plan

(Jason Rabinowitz, Director, Public Services Division; Anne Dietz, Deputy Director, Public Services Division; Ben Woods, National Coordinator, Public Services Division)

Workshop: Building and Maintaining Membership Workshop Building & Maintaining Membership – YouTube

(Tanya Akel, Field Director, Teamsters Local 2010; Michelle Woodrow, President, Teamsters Local 117; Josh Zivalich, President, Teamsters Local 769)

Workshop: Community Partnerships for Power Workshop Community Partnerships for Power – YouTube

(Jesse Case, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 238; Randy Korgan, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 1932; Leonard Smith, Co-Director of Organizing, Teamsters Local 117)

Workshop: Organizing Workers in the Age of the Pandemic Workshop Organizing Workers in the Age of the Pandemic – YouTube

(Kim Keller, Deputy Director, Teamsters Organizing Department; Jarrod Skelton, Central Region Coordinator, Teamsters Organizing Department; Felicia Walker, International Organizer, Teamsters Organizing Department)

Workshop: New Employee Orientations Workshop New Employee Orientations – YouTube

(Sally Payne, Associate Director, Teamsters Training and Development Department; Rocio Richards, Union Representative, Teamsters Local 2010)

Workshop: Understanding Public Budgeting Workshop Understanding Public Budgeting – YouTube

(Sarah Hinkel, Senior Research Analyst, Teamsters Economics and Contracts Department; Jim Kimball, Director, Teamsters Economics and Contracts Department)

Workshop: COVID-19 in Public Services: What Have We Learned? Workshop Safety and Health in the Future – YouTube

(Azita Mashayekhi, Staff Industrial Hygienist, Teamsters Safety and Health Department)

December 3

Plenary Opening Remarks Second Day Plenary December 3 – YouTube

(Ron Herrera, Executive Director, Teamsters National Hispanic Caucus; Greg Floyd, President, Teamsters Local 237)

Overview of the 2020 Elections (included in Plenary)

(Christy Bailey, Director, Teamsters Political and Legislative Action Department)

Workshop: Roundtable on Evolving Leadership in Labor Workshop Roundtable on Evolving Leadership in Labor – YouTube

(Jason Rabinowitz, Director, Teamsters Public Services Division; Dennis Reardon, Special Assistant, Teamsters Public Services Division; Ruben Torres, Vice President, Teamsters Local 237; Michelle Woodrow, President, Teamsters Local 117)

Workshop: Bargaining for the Common Good: Building Community and Worker Power Through Public Sector Bargaining Workshop Bargaining for the Common Good – YouTube

(K.B. Brower, Director, Bargaining for the Common Good; Catherine Cobb, President, Teamsters Local 2010; Cassandra Ogren, Research Director, Teamsters Strategic Research and Campaigns Department)

Workshop: Bargaining in a Recession Environment Workshop Bargaining in a Recession Environment – YouTube

(Brian Aldes, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 320; Carl Bailey, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 205; Anne Dietz, Deputy Director, Public Services Division; Ray Whitmer, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 911)

Workshop: Fighting Layoffs Workshop Fighting Layoffs – YouTube

(Tanya Akel, Field Director, Teamsters Local 2010; Ruben Torres, Vice President, Teamsters Local 237)

Workshop: Technology for Reaching Members Workshop Technology for Reaching Members – YouTube

(Edward Baptiste, Assistant Director, Teamsters Political and Legislative Action Department; Melissa Munio, Chief of Staff, Teamsters Local 2010; Rebecca Stein, Director, Teamsters Membership and Analytics Department)