Tell me about your work as a Teamster.
My name is Cheryl Miller. I am a classification counselor at Airway Heights Correction Center. I have been a Teamster for 11 years. I am a shop steward. The work that I do is helping inmates prepare for reentry. I identify and address inmates’ risk factors, so that while they’re in prison they use time to their advantage and can be successful in their communities when they are released.
What were you hoping to get out of the Convention?
It’s really about learning about the process. In our everyday work, we are in a capsule and we can forget to look beyond that. This is international. It allows me to look at the global effects of being a Teamster. I am reminded that I am something very big. I am just one person, but every little thing I do influences the labor movement. I see all the ways to fight back against people who say labor doesn’t matter. We are the backbone of America. Without us, we wouldn’t have any economy at all.
What has stood out to you so far?
The attack on public service. There is a huge attack on public service in America. There is a misconception that government workers are living off lamb. Some think we have the best of everything. We know that’s not true. Without government infrastructure communities don’t thrive. In the prisons, we do some of the most dangerous work in the country. Just yesterday one of our brothers out in the field was shot. People forget that. I am 60 years old and sometimes I am alone in a room with extremely dangerous people. The pay and benefits don’t reflect the work we do. When you are safe at home, it is because of my brothers and sisters who are doing this work.
Anything you plan to bring back to the membership?
I want them to understand that infrastructure is vital to the building of America. We need to invest in infrastructure. Corporations can build successful businesses, but only when we have good streets, prisons, public safety, schoolteachers, ports. Teamsters have their arms around every part of that. Together, we can be strong and help build the infrastructure of America.