A lot of politicians pay lip service to the middle class and to the labor movement. But when a candidate is actually from the middle class and a part of the labor movement, it’s a different story.
Dale Varney has drive. The 33-year-old member of Local 483 in Boise, Idaho, is running for a seat in the Idaho House of Representatives. Varney has been a feeder driver at UPS since 2005. He is also an organizer and vice president of the Magic Valley Central Labor Council, all while raising a daughter as a single parent.
“If it wasn’t for the Teamsters Union, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I have a living wage, health insurance and a pension. I’m able to support myself and my daughter. I want others to have that same opportunity,” Varney said.
Despite Clarkson, N.Y., being a predominately Republican town, Tom Trapp, a member of GCC Local 503, is determined to bring a Democrat’s perspective to town decisions and budgets.
“I’m going to ask the right questions and hold the rest of the town council accountable,” Trapp said. “I want to be an advocate for all the residents of Clarkson in order to give them a voice.”
Trapp worked for the Case-Hoyt corporation’s pressroom for 23 years before he became Secretary-Treasurer, and he is now also the organizer with his local union.
Dan Oliver, a maintenance technician for Hernando County, Fla., is also a Teamster steward and involved in organizing with Local 79 in Tampa, Fla. He has worked for Hernando County for 24 years.
“We brought the union into Hernando County for a reason; the way they treated people. I helped start the drive to bring the union in. It took us a while, but we succeeded, and it’s going great. We get great support from the local, from Ken Wood (International Vice President and President of Local 79) and everyone else at the local,” Oliver said.
Oregon State Rep. Rob Nosse (D-Portland) has fought for working people his entire career.
“Fighting for working families is what I've dedicated my career too,” said Nosse, a labor representative with the Oregon Nurses Association and 10-year Teamster with Local 223.
Rep. Nosse has fought to defend workers’ rights with SEIU and ONA after serving as Executive Director of both the Ohio and Oregon Student Associations, where he worked to make college more accessible for middle class students.
Jim Nichols is a former high school dropout who returned years later to get a degree from Georgia State University. He’s had his share of challenges, but they’ve opened new opportunities for him. Now he’s a UPS truck loader, an active member of Teamsters Local 728 in Atlanta and a candidate for Georgia state representative.
Terry Lesinski, a recently retired Teamster, is running for a House seat as a Democrat in District 104, a suburban area in St. Charles County, Missouri. Lesinski was a freight Teamster working as a driver for YRC before he retired.
“The Republican that’s in office now is not our friend,” said Lesinski, a member of Local 600 in Maryland Heights, MO. “Being a Teamster has taught me what it means to belong to a powerful, united group of people who are committed to improving lives. That’s what I hope to do as a state legislator.”
A 23-year member and former officer of the Teamsters Union, Stan Johnson knows the challenges working families face in Idaho.
“I have dedicated my life to fighting to improve the lives of men and women in our state,” Johnson said. “As a union representative for most of my career at Consolidated Freightways, I saw firsthand what can be accomplished when we work together for change.”