With only a little bit of hesitation, I will say that I am happy this year is finally coming to an end. For all of us, 2020 has been quite a hardship—with new and constant threats to our members and your families.
We do have something good to look forward to in the New Year—a new President will be sworn in on January 20, 2021. I must say, from a union standpoint, this gives me hope. The current President has decimated the NLRB, changed interpretations and rules that have been in place for decades—all to the detriment of workers looking to protect themselves by gaining union representation. While the Democrats have not done enough to improve the laws protecting workers (and we know they need to be improved!), they haven’t really hurt us. But this President has intentionally gone out of his way to hurt workers and reward his corporate buddies. That will end. I expect the new administration will do all it can to get legislation that will help all workers protect themselves by making it easier to join a union. Hope springs eternal!
As I write this article, we are again entering into another Covid-19 shutdown. We know this will hurt many of our members whose jobs will be cut back, hours reduced or eliminated, and who will be subjected to the stress and strain of not having an income or benefits. It is a horrible thing to have to face, but hopefully, these next few weeks will enable us to turn the corner, to slow down the positive tests, and to start distributing the vaccines that will begin to kill this virus and start the long road back to what used to be normal.
We have worked with a number of our employers to make sure that our laid-off members maintain recall rights to their jobs when things pick up again, and our agents have continued to handle problems for those of our members who, as essential workers, are taking care of all of us. Clearly, this has been a trying time: many of our members who are working are upset about getting exposed to others while at work, and those who are not working are upset that they are having a hard time supporting their families. We look forward to a time when we can all be working safely, and joining together to make sure we always support each other and stay unified.
Appreciating our members
Our Membership Appreciation “First Annual Drive-Through” was a great success, as was our virtual zoom “State of Our Union” address the next morning. Hundreds of members showed up to get their backpacks on Saturday; it was great to say hello to everyone and see so many familiar faces. Our meeting the next morning was attended by many members, and we were still able to hold our raffle for prizes. It wasn’t as good as all being together, seeing our sisters and brothers in person and celebrating our strength and unity, but as a substitute, it wasn’t bad!
Changes at the IBT
This next year holds the possibility of many changes in the Teamsters union. We will all have the opportunity to choose a new General President of our International Union, as President Hoffa will be retiring at the end of his term. I have proudly served on the General Executive Board for many years now, working to bring our union back from devastating ruin and I was glad to be part of that effort.
Many of you have asked when my campaign for international office will begin. While I appreciate the willingness to help with my campaign again, I will not be running for International office this time. It is time to step aside and allow for others to take over. It has been an honor to be elected nationally for more than two terms and it would have never been possible if not for you, the members of Local 853, who supported me for these many years.
Happy holidays to all of you and your families, and here’s hoping for a much different and better 2021!