Chicago Teamsters Revitalize Commitment To Organizing
Nearly 45 organizers from the local affiliates of Teamsters Joint Council 25 met June 23-24 in Mokena, Ill., to fortify the union’s campaign to bring Teamster Power to more workers in the Chicago area.
The organizing summit hosted by Teamsters Local 710 arrived at a time when Joint Council 25 is winning rights and securing contracts for workers in a wider range of diverse industries than ever before. In the first six months of 2012, organizers in Illinois and northwest Indiana have brought representation to valet and shuttle bus drivers, produce workers, school bus operators, manufacturers, truck drivers, distribution and warehouse employees and construction workers.
Local 710 alone recently marked its 29th consecutive organizing victory since 2006 in the highway distribution and packinghouse industries earlier this year.
“In our struggling economy, more men and women are realizing the importance of a union contract, but that doesn’t mean we can sit on our hands and watch as workers struggle to keep their jobs and live without representation,” said John T. Coli, President of Joint Council 25. “We have to effectively communicate to workers in and around Chicago: ‘Without a Teamster contract, you are an at-risk employee. In this day and age, that’s a reality none of us can afford.’”
Bob Maldunas of the Teamsters’ International Training and Development Department was on-hand to introduce local organizers to a variety of tools and campaign strategies during the two-day seminar. Local 710 staff organizers Tom Coffey, Matt Flynn, Bill Messina and Organizing Director Mike Rossow also shared new approaches to organizing with participants, which included representatives from Teamsters Local 179, Teamsters Local 727, Teamsters Local 777 and Teamsters Local 786.
On Saturday, organizers shared experiences from recent campaigns on how best to impart the benefits of a Teamster contract to working families during house calls and worksite visits. James T. Glimco, Joint Council 25 Trustee and Local 777 President, has seen more than 250 drivers with Illinois Central School Bus vote yes for Teamster representation in just the last two months. Sharing the commitment of such a large group of new members, Glimco said, can positively reinforce the protections available to future Teamsters in similar industries.
“Time and again, we meet workers who are hesitant to join the union because they’re terrified of retribution and assault from their bosses,” Glimco said. “That fact makes our commitment to organizing so important. When more workers come together and understand they really do have strength in numbers, the clearer our message becomes.
“When you join the union, you’re not just standing up for yourself. You’re joining an army of Teamsters who will stand with you and fight for you.”
Local 777 and Local 179 encouraged participating organizers on Sunday to step out of the meeting hall and assist with ongoing organizing campaigns in suburban Chicago. More than 30 Teamster representatives concluded the weekend training by meeting with school bus drivers and attendants at their homes and discussing the true value of Teamster Power.
“This is our collective pledge, to welcome more workers into the Teamsters and to protect good-paying American jobs,” said Patrick Flynn, Local 710 President. “Seminars like these hit the heart of what we need to do to grow our great union and rebuild the middle class. There is no more pressing time to organize than now.”
“Joint Council 25 commends Local 710 and its organizing team for setting a positive example for unions around the country,” added Coli. “The Chicago Teamsters will not back down and will not slow down when it comes to protecting people at work. It’s full speed ahead. Greedy employers beware.”
In 2012, Local 710, Local 179 and Local 727 have each added new organizers to their full-time staff. To learn more about joining the Teamsters, contact the Joint Council 25 Organizing Department at (847) 292-1225.
Teamsters Joint Council 25 represents more than 100,000 hardworking men and women throughout Illinois and northwest Indiana.