After sixty years in the union, Donald “Duke” Snyder has seen a thing or two. The one thing he’s appreciated through the years more than anything is the solidarity with his coworkers.
“We very seldom had any problems at our shop,” Snyder said. “Everyone stuck together at our place, and we had a good relationship with the company.”
Duke Snyder first got his start with Teamsters in 1957 when he got a job as a driver at Shafer Beer, which became Warren Distributors. Eventually, he was elected shop steward. Snyder served in that role for a number of years in addition to being elected to Local 125’s executive board. In these roles, he took an integral role in negotiations for Local 125’s brewery contracts.
“He’s the guy who paved the way for every other beer contract that we have,” said Tony Petillo, President of Local 125. “He’s the benchmark, and continued to be the benchmark for sixty years. Local 125 wouldn’t be where it is today were it not for his dedication. We continue to have great contracts because of guys like him.”
One of the toughest challenges Snyder endured was the summer of 1987. That summer, his company hired a team of union-busting consultants from the west coast in an attempt to force concessions from his bargaining unit. Snyder stood strong, though – he was part of a team of workers that picketed the facility for more than three months. Eventually, the company went back to the bargaining table and the workers were able to negotiate a fair contract.
“We couldn’t understand what the deal was with these negotiators – they didn’t want to hear any of the workers’ demands,” Snyder said. “Our guys stood strong, though. I guess they were sick of seeing us standing out there on the street.”
At 82 years of age, Snyder continues on the tradition of Teamster solidarity, and he shows no sign of giving up the fight for workers at Local 125.
“We all treat each other like brothers,” Snyder said. “And that’s what the union is for.”