Teamsters Hold Virtual Political Conference to Talk Policy, Election


Teamster political coordinators from across the country gathered virtually in late June to learn about the legislative and political priorities of the union in this important election year and how they can use their power to get results that help working people even in this coronavirus era.

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, more than 150 representatives from locals and Joint Councils in the U.S. participated in the meeting and received information on how to motivate members to lobby their lawmakers on important policy and get out and vote for candidates in November that will stand up and support measures that help hardworking Americans.

That came as the Teamsters were active in getting people out to the polls in June primary states like Colorado, Iowa, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

“We are out there. We are making a difference,” Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa told attendees. “We are keeping in contact. And with everyone working together, we can get this done.”

Teamsters heard from pro-worker lawmakers during the event who pledged their support to the union’s priorities and urged them on to take an active role both in pressing for legislation and getting people elected.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) told attendees they need to stay focused on what is important. “A lot is going to happen in the next four, five months…It is about the soul of our nation,” he said. “We need to have a thriving economy for all families. We need to rethink our infrastructure where I can’t find a child without access to broadband.”

Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Mich.), who has been a strong supporter of pension reform that protects the retirement of workers and retirees, said the Teamsters have proven time and again that they can formulate change. Now it is time to do so again, she said.

“We have been in choppy waters because of the pandemic, but also before the pandemic,” Stevens said. “Teamsters always rise. You rise when you are steady, and for sure you rise when times are tough.”

Getting Out the Vote

Looking forward, the Teamsters are focused on training its members to drive turnout. That begins by making sure people show up to vote, a task made more difficult by the continuing coronavirus crisis. That’s why the Teamsters want to build on primary election efforts to encourage votes by mail in an effort to empower the voice of workers at the ballot box.

During a workshop on voting rules, Teamster staff told political coordinators about changes to several state voting rules making it easier to vote by mail or absentee vote. California and Illinois, for example, are mailing ballots to all voters for the November election, while other states like Virginia, North Carolina and New Hampshire will have no-excuse absentee ballots this November.

“Election offices and the campaigns we work with are operating under unprecedented challenges,” said Tyler Longpine, the Teamsters Political Director. “Many feel they are on a runaway train running toward Election Day. That’s why voting early, this year more than ever, is a small act of public service so we can help administrative staff lengthen the election window.”

The effort to increase voter turnout could end up getting more pro-worker candidates elected, people like Nicole Galloway, the current Missouri state auditor who is running for governor. Galloway pledged to Teamsters that she would hold the line against so-called right to work in the state and advocate for government that respects the will of the people.

“We can win this race,” she said. “I’m offering a new way forward in Missouri. You will have a seat at my table in the governor’s office.”

Despite the meeting’s altered proceedings due to the coronavirus, those who participated said they got a lot from the event.

“The conference itself was fantastic,” said Jennifer Hancock, political coordinator for Local 322. “The guest speakers were interesting. The workshops were informative. The lobbying calls went well. Despite a couple of glitches, everyone adapted to the challenges successfully.”

Robert Seay, Local 667’s political coordinator and chaplain, said, “Under the conditions we were working through, it went very well.” He added, “I don’t know anything you could do to make it a better system than it was due to the circumstances.”

To find out more about the Teamsters’ efforts in the lead up to the November election, go to And sign up for alerts from the union by texting Vote2020 to 86466.