Women’s Conference, TNBC and Hispanic Conferences
The Teamsters Union is proud of the strength that it draws from its diverse membership. That strength was celebrated recently at three conferences: The annual Women’s Conference, the Teamsters National Black Caucus (TNBC) and the National Teamsters Hispanic Caucus (NTHC) conferences.
The 14th annual Teamsters Women’s Conference, the largest of the three Teamster gatherings, recently brought together more than 1,100 Teamsters from throughout North America to Chicago for an exciting week of mobilization, solidarity and sisterhood.
The three-day event was hosted by Joint Council 25 and its affiliated local unions, which represent more than 125,000 Teamster members. Becky Strzechowski, Director of the Teamsters Women’s Conference, welcomed the Teamsters to her hometown, a “strong union town.”
“When Teamster women get together at this conference, we learn from each other, network, hear from magnificent speakers, attend workshops and rally to show our union pride and stand up for workers’ rights,” said Strzechowski, who is the first female President of Local 700 in Chicago, first female Joint Council 25 Trustee and an International Vice President. “I’m proud that under the General President’s leadership, we are fighting for equality for women and for all workers.”
Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), an Iraq war veteran and Purple Heart recipient, thanked Teamster women for doing their part to create a better life for millions of working families.
“Without you standing there and defending our rights, they would have been eroded a long time ago,” Duckworth said. “Thank you for the work you do to ensure equal pay for equal work. You let women know anything is possible and we can try anything. We have to make sure we mentor young women and men to know that women are capable of doing everything.”
A panel of women organizers featured activists from a number of industries—taxi, school bus, universities, airlines and the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The panel highlighted the importance of organizing to grow the union and improve conditions for workers.
“This is my first women’s conference. When I heard about the conference last year, and how it empowers women and provides information, I started saving up that day for the trip to Chicago. I’m excited to meet other women, better myself and help my co-workers,” said Nora Anowey, a shop steward with Local 968 in Houston working at Avis.
Teamster delegates and members from around the country met in Denver in August for the 2014 Convention of the NTHC. This year’s event included two days of plenaries, workshops and speakers, including Colorado Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, Former U.S. Secretary of the Interior and Sen. Ken Salazar, and Colorado Rep. Crisanta Duran.
“As Latinos in the most powerful union in North America, it’s extremely important for us to come together and talk about the national issues that are impacting Hispanic workers throughout the country,” said NTHC President George Miranda, who is also an International Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer of Local 210 in New York.
Teamster leaders such as International Trustee Ron Herrera, Executive Director of the Caucus, and International Vice Presidents Steve Vairma and Rome Aloise also spoke to delegates, discussing important organizing efforts and political campaigns affecting Latino workers and Teamsters nationwide.
“This convention has been really inspiring. I liked the discussion about providing community services for Chicanos. It’s really great to see the Hispanic Caucus and the Teamsters taking an active role in the fight for immigrant rights and deferred action for undocumented students,” said John Valdez, a member of Local 2010 at the University of California.
“As Latina women, we have strong faith and pride. We come to this country with a suitcase full of dreams, with big hearts and courage,” said Maria Perez, First Vice President of the Hispanic Caucus. “When I became a Teamster, I didn’t know any Latinas in leadership positions, but I’ve seen the growth of Latina women and women in general in this great union.”
“There is a war on workers but there’s also a war on Latino workers. Each of us here are the Latino leaders of this union, so the resistance starts with us,” Herrera said.
The Teamsters National Black Caucus (TNBC) kicked off its educational conference and banquet in downtown Philadelphia in August with hundreds of Teamsters united to celebrate another year of accomplishments.
Daryl Clarke, president of the Philadelphia City Council, welcomed the TNBC on behalf of the mayor. Clarke showed gratitude to the Teamsters for maintaining a sustainable life in the city by presenting a token of the city’s appreciation, a replica of the Liberty Bell.
TNBC Chairman and International Vice President Al Mixon recognized the newly established Philadelphia & Vicinity Chapter of the TNBC for a job well done in hosting the conference. Mixon stressed the importance of participating in the Teamsters’ political action committee, DRIVE.
“Bad legislation is the realization of the devastation in our nation,” Mixon said. “Let’s get some democracy and put America back to work.”
There was a multitude of newcomers and they acknowledged how educational the conference had been for them and how confident they were to return to their local unions and communities to share what they had learned.
“I have a lot of faith in this group,” said TNBC Executive Director Antonio Christian expressing how proud he was of participants for making the week a success.
Donald Williams, a steward for Local 118 in Rochester, N.Y., was at the conference for the first time. He said his fellow members wanted to start a chapter in his area and is looking forward to getting more involved in the TNBC.
“This week, I’ve learned more about the Teamsters than I have in all the years I’ve been involved, just by coming to this conference,” Williams said.