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Teamsters for a Democratic Union holds 43rd convention

By staff |
November 14, 2018
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Chicago, IL - Rank-and-file Teamster militants attended the 43rd annual Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) convention in Chicago November 2 through 4. TDU is a reform movement founded in 1980 with the goal of improving the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and making it a union that fights for the members.

The convention began on Friday, November 2. There were a number of workshops covering topics like how to win grievances and TDU’s plan for organizing in 2019. The dinner program featured speakers Jean Auguste of Rhode Island Local 251 and Fred Zuckerman, president of Louisville Local 89. Jean Auguste spoke on First Student bus drivers organizing, striking, and winning their first pension. Fred Zuckerman spoke on the state of the IBT, the UPS contract and the ‘Vote No’ movement.

"I have never seen anything as cowardly as the way the IBT handled the UPS contract. What the hell is wrong with these guys? We need to rid the union of this cancer! We need leaders with courage!” said Fred Zuckerman. “I am one pissed off Teamster, and I am going to do something about it. These bums need to go.”

The convention began Saturday with a general session that included speakers from Teamsters locals from around the country as well as guest speaker Nicole McCormick, president of Mercer County Education Association. She was a leader of the West Virginia teachers’ strike and discussed the events leading up to and the strategy of the strike.

The rest of the day included workshops as well as women’s, Black and Latino caucus meetings. The day ended with a banquet and program with guest speaker Barbara Madeloni, former president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association. She talked about her experience reforming her union.

The last day of the convention included a Chicago labor history tour, UPS Teamsters meetings and more workshops. The closing session featured Mae Williams of Rhode Island Local 251 who talked about her experience organizing the hospital she works at. The new International Steering Committee (ISC) was introduced and TDU officers were elected. The ISC sets TDU’s policy and supervises the staff of TDU in between conventions.

Emily Butt, a UPS worker from Local 222 in Lansing, Michigan, attended TDU for the first time, said, “I got to meet a bunch of labor activists who are motivated and committed to building a strong working class and it gives me hope for the future!”