Teamsters from around the nation, including three from Local 117, converged on Boston in September to join in an effort to organize thousands of workers in the city’s parking industry.
Yohannes Weldemariam, a 16-year member with Diamond Parking, Jigsa Yohanis, a 6-year member with Diamond, and Business Representative Paul Dascher partnered with Teamsters from Washington D.C., New Jersey, Minnesota, New York, and Canada for what was known as the “Boston Blitz.”
The idea was to go after the entire industry in a major metropolitan area all at once, rather than focusing on a single company. Boston’s Local 25 and the IBT requested dozens of member organizers for the campaign.
They were looking for members with outstanding leadership qualities and a firm grasp of the industry.
Both Weldemariam and Yohanis fit the bill.
“It was quite an experience,” Weldemariam said. “We had an opportunity to meet with lots of attendants and valets and to hear their stories about the challenges they face at work. Many are eager to become Teamsters, but it’s tough – they are facing a lot of intimidation from their bosses.”
Despite the challenges, the Teamsters have seen some real successes in Boston’s parking industry, including a recent organizing win with VPNE Parking that brought 72 new members into the Union.
During the blitz, organizers were also able to negotiate a neutrality agreement with Icon Parking, which will aid in the effort to improve wages and working conditions for workers in the industry.
“The Boston trip really showed me how important it is to have a union,” Weldemariam said. “As a Teamster, if I have an issue with my boss, I can speak my mind, and I know that I’m protected. If you don’t have a union, that’s just not the case.”