Teamsters Women's Conference 2014: Putting the 'GO' in Chicago
Chicago Hosts the Largest Turnout in Women's Conference History
The 2014 Teamsters Women’s Conference convened Thursday in Chicago, bringing together more than 1,000 Teamsters from throughout North America. The 14th annual gathering kicked off an exciting week of mobilization, solidarity and sisterhood.
“Teamster women are on the move,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa to the audience of Teamsters from the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. “You’ve got energy, drive, and direction, and I’m excited about that!”
Becky Strzechowski, Director of the Teamsters Women’s Conference, welcomed the crowd of Teamsters to her hometown, which she referred to as “a strong union town.”
“When Teamster women get together at this conference, we learn from each other, network, hear from magnificent speakers, attend workshops and rally to show our union pride and stand up for workers’ rights,” said Strzechowski, who is the first female president of Teamsters Local 700 in Chicago and an International Vice President. “I’m proud that under the General President’s leadership, we are fighting for equality for women and for all workers.”
The three-day conference is being hosted by Teamsters Joint Council 25, and is supported by the 27 local unions within the Joint Council, which represents more than 100,000 Teamster members.
“Your conference director, Becky Strzechowski, is a great example of what Teamster women do—they fight hard, work hard and succeed,” said John T. Coli, Teamsters Joint Council 25 President, International Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 727 in Chicago. “Teamsters work in every industry—driving trucks and making deliveries; enforcing the law; fighting fires; boosting tourism at our hotels, parking garages and convention centers. Teamster women are the face of Chicago.”
Coli noted that Teamster women have immense power and the full attention of politicians in Illinois, and that is why Friday, Sept. 5, will be proclaimed “Teamster Women’s Day” in the state of Illinois, Cook County and the city of Chicago.
Putting the ‘GO’ in Chicago
Strzechowski noted that all year long Teamsters are active, and that is why, “Teamster Women: Putting the ‘Go’ in Chicago,” was selected as the theme for this year’s conference.
“You put the ‘go’ in everything you do—you work a full day, are active in your locals, take care of families and you are showing your commitment by being at this conference,” she said.
Strzechowski said that while Teamsters have equal pay as a result of Teamster contracts, the union is fighting in support of legislation that will equalize pay for all workers and protect pregnant workers from discrimination. The union is also fighting against right-to-work in states across the country, including Illinois.
“Your vote matters in every state. We need to keep in office political leaders who support women workers and support unions,” Strzechowski said.
Hoffa emphasized the importance of voting in the all-important midterm elections this November, just 60 days away.
“We’ve got to step up and vote. When we’re out there fighting the billionaires like the Koch brothers, they have more money, but we have more energy, more drive and the people power to win,” Hoffa said. “We have to go to the polls like never before. Are you going to get it done?” he asked to a resounding “yes” response from the crowd.
Leslie Marshall, radio host of the syndicated Leslie Marshall Show, addressed the conference attendees about the importance of participation.
“More women are voting, holding office, working, and working in union jobs than ever before, but we need to keep that momentum going,” Marshall urged the Teamster audience. “We are the majority of the population and we have a privilege and responsibility to turn out and vote.”
In addition to getting out the vote, Hoffa, Strzechowski and Coli all stressed the importance of organizing to grow the union and improve conditions for workers.
A panel of women organizers featured activists from a number of industries—taxi, school bus, universities, airlines and the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Ferline Buie, International Vice President and President of Joint Council 55 and Teamsters Local 922 in Washington, D.C., talked about successful efforts to organize thousands of Washington, D.C. taxicab drivers into the Teamsters.
Hazel Robinson, a school bus driver and member of Teamsters Local 777 in Lyons, Ill., shared the story of how she and her co-workers came together as a strong group of volunteer organizers in the school bus industry.
“We are very active and truly committed,” Robinson said. “We’re supporting each other and organizing.”
Eymhy Guzman shared her story of immigrating to the U.S. from Mexico and working toward a better life, while fighting against the misclassification of port workers in California.
Veronica Diaz told of the struggles of Taylor Farms workers in California who are making a difference with the Teamsters, and still in the fight to organize to improve poor conditions for nonunion workers in the food processing industry.
The 2014 Teamsters Women’s Conference will continue Friday with a massive rally in downtown Chicago with General President Hoffa and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, a former Teamster. The conference continues through Saturday.
Follow up-to-the-minute coverage of the 2014 Teamsters Women’s Conference on www.teamster.org; “Teamsters” on Facebook; and @Teamsters on Twitter, #teamsterwomen.
To view the complete Teamsters Women's Conference photo gallery, CLICK HERE.
Original Article Provided by Teamster.org.
Friday, September 5, 2014