The following article was submitted by Adam Westerbur, a Shop Steward who works at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla:
MY EXPERIENCE AT UNITY
Teamsters is not just a Union, it is a family of people who believe in fighting for their rights, living wages, and fair benefits.
This family convened for the 2015 Teamsters Unity conference in Las Vegas and it was a privilege to attend as a member of Local 117.
I went to the Unity conference really not knowing what to expect. I have never been to Las Vegas, and I had never been to a Teamsters Conference - What a life changing experience!
The solidarity overflows in a passion that only Teamsters can produce. I gained invaluable knowledge about Teamster history, organizing, member engagement, and even how much thought and work goes into preparing for contract proposals.
Many do not see the “behind the scenes” work that our Local 117 Union staff undergoes as they are constantly fighting for our rights, whether it is through organizing, labor-management meetings, grievance meetings, resolution panels, arbitrations, and much more.
Contracts are constantly being proposed, negotiated and protected by our Union staff and our Stewards throughout every different shop not only in our state, but across the nation.
The war on workers is being fought on many different fronts.
I attended a rally at the SLS Hotel in Las Vegas where the management of SLS has harassed employees, interrogated employees and even fired 3 employees all because they support Teamsters and want to organize themselves.
Something that every Teamster must realize is that there is an all-out war against the middle class and our way of life through our hard earned wages.
The right to work (for less) movement by organizations such as the American Legislative Exchange Commission (ALEC) and the Washington State Freedom Foundation are leading the attacks against Unions and middle class workers.
Now more than ever is the time to stand up, let our voices be heard, and to fight back! Not only for us and our families, but for our brothers, sisters and every other hard working middle class worker! As middle class workers we are the Union!
The most important lesson that I took from the Unity conference was the importance of solidarity. As individuals our voices can be heard, in solidarity our voices will cause movements!
As Teamsters: When we fight, we win!