DAVENPORT, Iowa – Teamsters across the Hawkeye State played an active role in the Iowa Caucus this week, educating workers at a UPS facility in Davenport about where the presidential candidates stand on Teamster issues. The Teamsters played a direct role in the process with local leaders overseeing precinct caucus sites in what at times was a chaotic process.
Teamster volunteers from Local 710 were on the ground in Davenport the Friday before the caucus, talking to members at every shift change -- including the midnight shift. And they were back as caucus day dawned Monday handing out fliers despite the frigid conditions outside. They chatted with some 70 UPS package car drivers as they showed up for work and the pre-load workers as they came off, encouraging them to caucus later that night. With nearly 500 workers at that facility, these visits went a long way in educating and mobilizing our members to caucus on Teamster issues like pensions, collective bargaining and fair trade.
Mike Sanchez, a UPS shop steward and Local 710 trustee, said workers there seemed interested in the process.
“We are just out here trying to inform everyone that it’s important to get out there and caucus, and more importantly, make sure you get out and vote this November,” he said. “We want everyone to be informed. A lot of them were informed already, but had questions and were interested in what the Teamsters are looking for.”
Jennifer Gott, a 24-year Teamster steward who works as a pre-loader at the Davenport UPS facility, was also out front handing out fliers and talking to her co-workers. She said she got involved because she wants to elect a candidate that will protect pensions like her own.
“I went to the Teamsters’ forum for the candidates [on Dec. 7 in Cedar Rapids] and came away with some good information for our members to tell them about the candidates,” she said.
Gott said her co-workers want to participate in the political process. “I was pleasantly surprised to find out how interested they are, especially the young people,” Gott added.
Later in the day, Local 238 Secretary-Treasurer Jesse Case served as caucus chairman for Precinct 22 in Iowa City, overseeing the proceedings at a lecture hall on the University of Iowa campus that was bursting at the seams. While the room fit 378 people, 521 turned out to participate.
Case deftly balanced the concerns of all the candidates’ supporters with the need to run a fair and transparent caucus.
“Not everyone is going to agree with how this caucus plays out, and you don’t have to,” he told those gathered at the precinct. “We just have to get through it.”
In the end, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts each received three delegates, with former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind. and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota each receiving one delegate. Final results for the entire Iowa Caucus were still not available as of Wednesday afternoon.
Iowa may now be in the rearview mirror, but the Teamsters’ involvement in the 2020 is not. Volunteers are already on the ground in New Hampshire talking with members at worksites and will continue to encourage members to vote right up to the Feb. 11 primary in the Granite State. Teamster local unions in other states across the country are preparing to do the same because they understand how important it is for our members be informed and active in this election.
That is what Teamster Power is all about.