By Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa
Published in the Detroit News, Jan. 5, 2022
As we turn the page on 2021, the Teamsters have much to celebrate. Years of hard work in Washington culminated with a multiemployer pension fix that will protect the hard-earned retirement nest eggs of more than 1 million Americans. The union also fought to make sure Congress passed a much-needed infrastructure bill that will ensure investments are made to keep our nation running.
But make no mistake, there are many priorities at all levels of government that remain undone. Unions cannot rest on their laurels, particularly in places where we have elected officials willing to work with us and push through an agenda that helps hardworking Americans. Legislative power can be fleeting, and labor allies must seize upon it when it’s in place to help workers.
Nationally, the Teamsters continue to be a champion of President Biden’s Build Back Better Act, which invests in working Americans by helping them to better support their families. The White House with the help of lawmakers carefully crafted this measure to raise up workers who have been left behind while big business fattened its wallets as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This bill will help restore economic fairness by expanding child care for working parents, the child tax credit, and paid family and medical leave among other things. Dollars would also be poured into creating new jobs that also preserve the environment, like increased spending for Amtrak.
Meanwhile, ensuring workers have the ability to join together and negotiate better wages, working conditions and benefits remains paramount. The Teamsters are strong advocates of the Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. Across the country, Teamster members have taken to the streets calling on lawmakers to act now to protect their constituents on the job and ensure they can support their families in return for the essential work they do each day.
The PRO Act would restore fairness to the economy at a time when income inequality has stifled the ability of far too many hardworking Americans to earn a decent wage that allows them to make ends meet. It will strengthen the 86-year-old National Labor Relations Act so that workers seeking to organize a union and negotiate higher wages and better benefits will be protected.
At the state level, the Teamsters remain ready to beat back attacks on working people, but also to pass proactive legislation to help families. Whether it be UPS drivers delivering vaccine, public service workers keeping our communities safe or warehouse employees working non-stop to make sure we have groceries and other essential items, elected officials cannot forget what working people and their families have sacrificed during this pandemic. This union and our allies will be there to challenge any elected official or organization who seeks to limit collective bargaining or other rights for workers.
In Michigan and elsewhere, the Teamsters will also continue to advocate for workers as these same billionaires move to automate jobs. We look forward to continuing to engage with our allies on these policies and fully expect elected officials to utilize our expertise in shaping the rules and regulations surrounding any employer automation of jobs as well as the potential pitfalls for workers and local economies.
Now is not the time to take our foot off the gas pedal. In fact, it is time to push harder.