Penske Teamsters with Local 135 Assist Member in Need


Teamsters have a bond with each other. When a Teamster is in need, union brothers and sisters help out any way they can. In the age of COVID-19, members and their local unions are stepping up more and more.

Local 135 Teamsters at Penske Logistics in Shelbyville, Ind. recently raised thousands of dollars for a co-worker, Eladio Martinez, who caught the coronavirus and spent more than six weeks on a ventilator.

“This is a solid group of Teamsters and obviously raising this amount of money is no easy task,” said Danny L. Barton, President of Local 135. “These members are showing what it looks like when Teamsters have each other’s backs and step up together.”

These members, who work in a refrigerated warehouse run by Penske Logistics for Kroger, have been Local 135 Teamsters in Indianapolis for 22 years.

“The company was keeping us informed of how many people got the virus and this one came to my attention because he’s well known in the warehouse,” said Vince Wilkes, chief Teamster steward at Penske. “He’s been here for 15 years and always goes out of his way to help. He’s a hard worker, good co-worker and a good Teamster.”

Wilkes got in touch with the Martinez family and was told he was in bad shape and on a ventilator. Martinez’s Teamster co-workers decided to take up a donation for his family and Penske agreed to match whatever was donated.

“When we were taking donations he had already been in the hospital for six weeks. At that point, in all honesty, I thought we’d be passing the donation along to his wife and not him,” Wilkes said. “He had been on a ventilator for weeks then and we were all worried he wasn’t going to make it. But we all still wanted his family to be taken care of.”

When all the donations came in—totaling more than $5,000—Martinez had recently been let out of the hospital and was able accept the donations himself.

“The whole ordeal has put a lot of strain on his family and the donations helped during a hard time. He was very grateful that his co-workers came together for him,” said Robert Doolin, a Local 135 business agent.

“COVID has created a lot of headaches but it has also shown people what’s really important, and that’s standing shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters who need assistance,” Doolin said.

Martinez is now back at work.