July 21, 2009: The year was 1976. The Teamster president was Frank Fitzsimmons, who enjoyed golfing with President Nixon and trucking employers. It was a fateful year for reform in our union, as Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) was born.
It was also long before cell phones. Truck drivers had made CB radios part of the national culture, and the song “Convoy” became a #1 hit and by 1978 there was a movie of the same name.
The Teamsters who formed TDU, mostly at that time from the freight industry, called their new reform publication Convoy.
Another strand of Teamster reform was centered in Washington D.C., in the form of an organization called PROD. PROD was formed to promote drivers’ health and safety, but soon expanded its concerns to the democratic rights of Teamsters. They started a publication called The Dispatch.
The groups started to compete for members, but also started to learn from each other and work together. In November 1979, the groups merged together, and the Teamster reform publication took on the name Convoy Dispatch.
Over the years, the movement grew and helped bring the Teamsters Union into a modern era. TDU members took on corruption and fat cats, and stood up for good contracts and membership rights. Great victories were won. And Convoy Dispatch became the number one reliable source of information for concerned Teamsters.
TDU also expanded well beyond the truck drivers who formed it in the 1970s, to bring in Teamsters from every field. And so, the time has come to change the name of Convoy Dispatch.