The coronavirus outbreak has shifted the focus of many away from the upcoming 2020 elections. But the Teamsters are still planning to be a significant player in the November vote, and that takes money.
In response, Teamster members are stepping up to the plate. Contributions to DRIVE (Democrat, Republican Independent Voter Education), the Teamsters’ political action committee (PAC), are on the upswing. DRIVE is non-partisan and it works to get pro-Teamster candidates elected to public office up and down the ballot.
“Teamsters understand that dollars go a long way towards helping pro-worker candidates succeed at the ballot box,” said Ed Baptiste, deputy director of the union’s Department of Political and Legislative Action. “We are encouraged by our members’ generosity.”
This year, 69 locals are being recognized for getting a high rate of members to become DRIVE contributors. At the top level, 19 locals reached platinum status (up from 14 last year), which means at least 30 percent of members donated to the Teamsters’ PAC. Meanwhile, 20 locals reached gold status, which is 20 percent of membership giving to DRIVE, while 30 were recognized with a silver status, which means 15 percent of its members donated.
Local 886 in Oklahoma City registered the highest percentage of its membership who belong to DRIVE – 47.9 percent. Tom Ritter, its president and business manager, thanked DRIVE representative Grady Tatum for his hard work in signing up new members to the PAC, saying they are proud to be fully contributing to the union.
“We made it a priority, and we made it a challenge to our stewards,” Ritter said. “I said we are so much smaller, but we can do it. And we did.” He said Local 886 holds cook outs to encourage membership.
Meanwhile, Local 396 in Covina, Calif. reached the platinum level for the first time. Secretary-Treasurer Ron Herrera said the Local 396 business representatives worked with Teamster DRIVE representative Andrew Dominguez to visit multiple facilities in its jurisdiction to sign up members for DRIVE, and registered more than 1,000 new members.
“It is crucial to have an active membership that understands the importance of becoming politically active, supporting legislation, and electing representatives that support working families,” Herrera said. “Teamster DRIVE is incredibly important, especially in the sanitation industry, where our members work depends on the preservation of contracts that their employers hold with cities throughout Southern California. The stronger political presence that we have, the more job protection our members enjoy."
The following locals reached platinum status for 2020:
- Local 6, St. Louis, Mo.
- Local 41, Kansas City, Mo.
- Local 79, Tampa, Fla.
- Local 245, Springfield, Mo.
- Local 267, Fort Collins, Co.
- Local 344, Milwaukee, Wisc.
- Local 350, Daly City, Calif.
- Local 396, Covina, Calif.
- Local 483, Boise, Idaho
- Local 568, Shreveport, La.
- Local 577, Amarillo, Texas
- Local 600, Maryland Heights, Mo.
- Local 633, Manchester, N.H.
- Local 745, Dallas, Texas
- Local 767, Forest Hill, Texas
- Local 886, Oklahoma City, Okla.
- Local 919, Houston, Texas
- Local 947, Jacksonville, Fla.
- Local 988, Houston, Texas