NASHUA, N.H. – Local 633 Teamster Chelsea Fleury was met with a big surprise when she returned to the First Student school bus lot after her morning shift. And it was one that ultimately would delight her grandmother.
Fleury, a school bus driver just four months on the job, came to clock out Monday morning, only to find former Vice President Joe Biden was in the break room greeting school bus drivers coming off the job. Biden regaled those in attendance with stories from the time he worked as a school bus driver during his summer breaks to make extra money while attending Syracuse University Law School. He also brought four dozen donuts.
Biden shook her hand, and Fleury told him that her grandmother Linda Persons was a big fan. “My grandmother is never going to believe I met you,” she said.
“So let’s call her,” Biden replied. Chuckles of delight came from the other end of the phone from Persons when she realized she was speaking with the former vice president.
And afterward, Fleury said she was blown away from the entire exchange. “I was a little star-struck,” Fleury admitted. That said, she was happy to hear of Biden’s past work history. “I was excited to learn that he was a school bus driver, so he understands,” she said.
Biden wasn’t the only candidate to stop by a Teamster workplace. Last week, California investor and activist Tom Steyer visited with UPS workers outside the company’s Manchester facility to hear about the biggest issues they were facing in their communities.
A UPS worker approached Steyer to ask the presidential candidate what he was going to do about the opiate crisis that has been ravaging the state. He said that he was a former addict who had been clean for five years, and that a local treatment center had recently been shut down.
“What are you going to do about this? It’s obviously an epidemic that hasn’t stopped,” the Local 633 member said. “I’ve had over a hundred friends die; I literally watched a best friend of mine pass away.”
Steyer noted that his best friend from childhood was an addict who passed away and that as president he would set aside $75 billion for drug addiction recovery. “This is a huge issue in the United States and we need to address it as a health issue,” he said. “We need to support people and help them to do what you’ve done.”
The union has not endorsed a presidential candidate, and instead has made a concerted effort to get all the candidates on the record on key Teamster priorities such as pension reform and collective bargaining rights. The union has extended the offer to any candidate who has signed our three-point pledge to meet Teamster members at their worksites. Learn more about the pledge and who has signed it at www.teamstersvote.com.
Teamsters handed out fliers and encouraged workers to get out and vote at nearly two dozen different worksites in the days leading up to the New Hampshire Primary.
On a cold and dank Monday morning before the primary, members of Local 633 were outside a Nashua UPS facility talking to workers about why they should vote the next day as package drivers and pre-loaders were coming on and off the clock, some of the 210 Teamsters who work for the company there.
Similar conditions met volunteers and workers at the Chelmsford, Mass. UPS facility, the biggest in New England with about 1,500 workers. About 40 percent of those who work there live in New Hampshire, so Local 25 members were on hand to make sure they would be turning out to vote.
“I’m not telling you who to vote for,” Local 25 member Jerry Leary, who works at the Boston Convention Center, told one person reporting for work. “I’m just telling you to vote.”
Local 633 volunteers, meanwhile, closed out the day at a First Student facility in North Hampton, where 59 bus drivers were showing up for the afternoon shift.
Dennis Caza, the local’s political coordinator and retired President, said getting out the vote is important, even in a primary where the union hasn’t endorsed a candidate.
“We’re trying to elect people who will do good work for the unions, and people in general,” he said. “We need to build up the middle class.”