Brothers and Sisters:
As your new Secretary-Treasurer, I am honored and humbled to serve this Union that I love. As we look ahead at the many challenges that working families face, I wanted to share with you some of my personal experiences and my vision for the future of the labor movement and for Teamsters Local 117.
I grew up in a working-class neighborhood on Tacoma's eastside where many families, including mine, struggled to get by. My mother struggled to raise two boys as a single mom until she got a Union job working in the mailroom at the City of Tacoma, while my father was a switchman for the Burlington Northern Railroad. Both of my parents served as Shop Stewards of their Unions.
My brother and I came to understand that for families like ours, the only way to achieve any kind of financial security was through Union employment.
I went to work as an Order Selector, first at SuperValu, and then at Food Services of America, and have been a member of Teamsters Local 117 for 23 years. My brother is a Teamster 117 member of 17 years. We both are raising our families in good, safe neighborhoods and teaching our children the importance of understanding their responsibilities to our community.
But my understanding of the power of the Union didn’t happen overnight - it took me several years and a few hard knocks to realize the true value of being a Teamster.
As a young single father with full custody of two girls, my oldest daughter was born with a chronic medical condition that required expensive, ongoing treatment. Nearly the entire cost of that treatment was covered, thanks to the health and welfare coverage in my Union contract. It was a contract that thousands of Local 117 members - proud, hardworking women and men who came before me - risked their livelihoods to achieve.
That understanding - that the power of the Union lies with the members - has stuck with me and shaped my vision for our Local and the labor movement as a whole.
That understanding - that the power of the Union lies with the members - has stuck with me and shaped my vision for our Local and the labor movement as a whole. To be strong, to achieve the kinds of fair wages and good benefits that we strive for, our Union cannot merely rely on a small group of committed staff who operate out of a building in Tukwila. To be strong, members must take the lead, get engaged in their Union, and stand up for working families.
Getting involved is not easy. It requires a commitment of time, energy, and passion. It means showing up to membership meetings, participating in Union events, giving back to the community, and standing alongside all workers - even those in other industries - who are struggling for dignity and respect.
But if we, as members of Teamsters 117, are able to rise up together and unite around a common purpose – that there is an inalienable right for people who work hard and play by the rules to a safe, prosperous, and secure life for themselves and their families - we can build a strong and vibrant labor movement and we will change the world....again!
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