When I first became a Teamster at West Coast Grocery (SuperValu) 25 years ago, I never could have imagined one day I'd lead one of the largest Teamsters Locals in the country. Having been raised in poverty, my first contract gave me the one item I had always lacked - certainty. It gave me the ability to plan a better life for my family.
Today, little has changed. A strong union provides working people the dignity they deserve at work. A contract provides you the same guarantees that allowed me to plan for my future.
I am proud to say that over the past year we have intensified our fight for family wages and better working conditions for all members of Teamsters Local 117. We have brought in hundreds of new members through our organizing victories. We also continue to give a voice to thousands of taxi and Uber drivers in Seattle who lack collective bargaining rights.
"A strong union provides working people the dignity they deserve at work."
Behind each of these numbers is a hardworking member of our community who is doing everything he/she can to put food on the table for their family. Even with a union contract, it is becoming harder to make ends meet. Union membership is at the lowest level in nearly 80 years. It’s my view that unless unions put the power back into the hands of the members, we will continue to see our livelihoods slipping away.
As I reflect on my first year as the Secretary-Treasurer of our Union, I see the power of an engaged union membership. My vision is to bring the Union back into the shops. Through an unrelenting focus on listening to members, I want to forge a new chapter in our Union’s history.
At a time when the future of organized labor may seem more uncertain than ever, I am dedicating my life to giving future generations the same promise that I had when I was handed my first union contract.
Thank you for everything you do and, as always, thank you for being a member of Teamsters Local 117.