Teamsters kicked off the 2019 Teamsters National Hispanic Caucus (TNHC) Convention in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Attendees heard from TNHC President and International Vice President George Miranda, from Joint Council 16 New York Teamsters, as well as San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz who thanked the 117 Teamsters who came to the island to assist relief efforts after Hurricane Maria. (See more photos here.)
"You opened the roads, tended to our wounds, gave us food and water - you stood by us when others wouldn't. For that, as the mayor and a Puerto Rican, I will forever be grateful to you," Mayor Cruz said.
Members also heard updates about growing Teamsters power in public services in the wake of the anti-union Janus decision as well as national organizing campaigns under way across the country. There were discussions on women in leadership, Teamster history and immigrant rights in the workplace.
Several Teamsters, returning to Puerto Rico for the first time since taking part in union-led relief efforts after Hurricane Maria, were emotional as they recalled harrowing experiences while volunteering after the storm.
Convention attendees heard from Teamsters Local 396 Secretary-Treasurer, International Vice President and newly-elected President of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO Ron Herrera. Herrera spoke about the need for more Latino Teamster leaders and how the union is fighting for immigrant rights.
"Power is not given. We have to fight for it. We need more progressive young leaders," he said.
Attendees also heard from Teamsters Local 238 Secretary-Treasurer Jesse Case about how the local is fighting back against anti-worker attacks in Iowa by building community power among non-union workers - and fighting for civil rights and economic justice through TeamCAN, the community action arm of the local.
"They cannot legislate our movement out of existence. We have to evolve as an organization, not just be a grievance factory...We don't need anyone's permission to fight for working families," Case said.
Sessions included discussions on building worker power at Amazon, Teamsters Local 237's oral history project on Puerto Rican workers, and how increasing automation is affecting the workplace and truck driving. The Convention closed with the reelection of the Executive Board.
"Teamsters are who we are because of our diversity - it's what makes us strong as a union," Miranda said.