LAS VEGAS, June 27, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The International Brotherhood of Teamsters opened their 28th International Convention today with plenty of noise and a new resolve to stand up for the American Dream.
Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa announced the Teamsters had organized 135,000 new members in the past five years since their last convention – more than any other labor union in North America. Hours later, he announced that more than 3,000 Republic Airways pilots had just voted to join or remain with the Teamsters by a margin of 2-to-1.
“This is how we fight back – we organize,” Hoffa said.
Teamsters International General Secretary-Treasurer Tom Keegel also set the tone early in the day with a vow: “There’s no way they’re going to bust us or take us down because it ain’t gonna happen.”
The convention opened in grand style, living up to its theme of “Vision, Solidarity, Action.” Delegates and guests were treated to a raucous tribute to the union that included images and video that were both current and historic. Members celebrated their role in the fight for workers’ rights as drummers, dancers and Harley Davidson motorcycles revved up the opening ceremony.
International Vice President At Large and President of Joint Council 42 Randy Cammack gaveled the convention to order and starting the first day of the 28th International Convention. The theme of the convention’s first day was, “Stop the War on Workers,” from attacks by extremist politicians, bad trade deals and policies that undermine the middle class.
Delegates passed resolutions to support public workers, to oppose job-killing trade deals, to keep the border closed to dangerous Mexican trucks; to fight against right-to-work bills to destroy unions; and to stop the war on workers.
Teamster delegates unanimously resolved, “that the Teamsters Union will take the opportunity of this 28th International Convention to strengthen the unity and solidarity within our ranks and with all those who are committed to fighting and defeating the War on Workers, as the only effective way to victory.”
The Teamsters, their families and their guests heard from some of the central players in the battleground states over the past six months. Indiana Assembly Minority Leader Patrick Bauer thanked the Teamsters for organizing five weeks of protests in Indianapolis.
Retired Teamster Dave Hansen, fighting for his state Senate seat in Wisconsin, said in a video greeting that the war against workers wasn’t just about unions. “This is truly about the middle class,” Hansen said.
Tom Morello, guitarist for “Rage Against the Machine” who also tours solo as “The Nightwatchman,” led the crowd in “This Land is Your Land.” Morello is a true trade unionist and has shown his unwavering support at protests in Wisconsin and Los Angeles this past year. “It’s up to us to turn the tide, not just to stop a few bad pieces of legislation,” Morello said.
Charlie Andrew, member and PAC Chairman for Teamsters Local 407 in Cleveland, said the Teamsters and their allies would kill SB 5, a new Ohio law that strips collective bargaining rights for government workers, in a November referendum.
“The public understands that unions are the only shot the middle class has,” Andrew said.
According to the Teamster Constitution, the International Convention, which is held every five years, is the supreme policy-making body of the union with the power and authority to modify the Constitution, establish programs, address fiscal issues and set priorities. This week, delegates will consider a number of constitutional measures and resolutions. Delegates also have the important task of nominating candidates for the International offices of General President, General Secretary-Treasurer, Vice President and Trustees.