July 15, 2011: Sandy Pope officially accepted nomination for General President in a speech to the Teamster Convention on July 1. Teamster Voice brings you excerpts below.
I am the president of Local 805 in New York City. We’re a small local—but we fight big. And we defend Teamster jobs.
When corporate real estate developers and the mayor announced they were going to close the Red Hook Piers in Brooklyn, I led a three-year campaign to save Teamster jobs. We mobilized. We built alliances with unions and community groups. And we won!
We beat City Hall. We kept the piers open. And we saved hundreds of union jobs.
This is just one example. But it drives home a bigger point. If we’re going to win the War on Workers, it’s going to take more than one-time rallies and photo ops.
When I’m General President, members will not be used as props for the Teamster Magazine. Members will be mobilized to win.
Hoffa doesn’t have a plan for Teamster Power at our largest, most profitable employer. UPS is on track to make record profits this year. But Teamster members at UPS are getting hammered.
Excessive overtime is out of control. Clerk, air driver and full-time jobs are being eliminated. Production harassment is RELENTLESS.
Hoffa is letting UPS walk all over the contract. The grievance panels are broken.
Saying YES to Teamster Power starts with saying NO to contract violations.
Protecting Teamster Pensions
Good pensions are the foundation of Teamster power. It’s the General President’s job to protect this foundation through good times and bad.
Hoffa has failed this critical test. Worse, Hoffa has mortgaged our future by letting employers walk away from the Central States Fund.
In this economy, Teamsters don’t expect pension miracles. They want and deserve a plan to protect their retirement.
Under my leadership, Local 805 won 25 & Out for the first time. When times got tough, I didn’t let employers walk away from our funds. I negotiated record increases in employer contributions.
When stock market losses forced us to temporarily suspend early retirement benefits, I won protections to guarantee 25 & Out for every member within five years of retirement.
Teamsters in the Central States and Freight Teamsters everywhere wish Hoffa had won these protections.
Sandy Pope: Teamster Bio
I joined the Teamsters Union 33 years ago. Early on, I experienced Teamster power in action that changed my life.
I was in Canton, Ohio when Teamster steelhaulers voted to strike rather than accept a substandard contract. Waves of Teamsters poured out of their union hall to hit the pavement, stop every steelhaul truck and shut the industry down.
I spent the next month working in their strike headquarters. When the dust was settled, Teamster steelhaulers had won a record contract.
That was Teamster power! It wasn’t declared in a press release. It was built by Teamster members standing shoulder to shoulder.
After the strike, I went to work in the freight industry. My handle was Troublemaker—and I earned it. I cut my teeth on picket lines and in organizing drives. Later, I came off the truck to organize full-time for Local 407.
In the 1990s I served our union as an International Representative—helping locals bargain contracts and take on the nonunion competition.
I’ve been through many campaigns since I joined the Teamsters in 1978. But I have never forgotten the lesson taught to me by those steelhaulers and freight Teamsters in Cleveland—that Teamster power comes from members in action.
Hoffa: A Career Union Politician
Hoffa doesn’t get it. He says, “The Hoffa name means power.” That’s a campaign slogan—NOT a strategy. Hoffa didn’t come up through the ranks. He’s a career union politician who rode into office on his father’s last name and on the shoulders of other Teamster leaders.
And that’s why Hoffa is so threatened by Teamster members and by local officers who have their own ideas.
Where I see Teamsters, I see leadership and power. Hoffa sees a threat to his job.
Organizing the Nonunion Competition
We need to organize the nonunion competition to protect our existing contracts.
I will increase funding to local unions that have a strategic plan for organizing. I will put more IBT organizers in the field assigned to help locals.
I will take the politics out of organizing. The per capita paid to the IBT is the members’ money. It should not be dangled as a political carrot—or used as a stick.
Rebuilding Teamster Power in Freight
When I started, freight was the heart and soul of Teamster Power. Hoffa has driven our union over a cliff in the freight industry.
Rebuilding the National Master Freight Agreement won’t be easy. It will take a long-term action plan and long-term commitment.
That has to start today with enforcing our standards—and fighting for real union standards at UPS Freight.
When freight Teamsters believe in our union again, then we’ll be able to organize.
Political Action that Works
It’s a tough political climate for organizing—and for the labor movement.
Politicians from both parties have let us down on the Employee Free Choice Act. The right of FedEx workers to organize. Pension protection. Fair Trade. The list goes on.
As General President, I will stop writing blank checks to corporate politicians who forget all about us as soon as the ballots are counted.
We will use Teamster political action funds to educate and mobilize members and our allies to elect pro-labor politicians—and to hold them accountable.
How We’ll Win this Election
If you want new leadership and a new direction in the Teamsters, I need more than your vote. I need you to get involved.
We’re going to win this election the same way we’re going to rebuild our union’s power—by organizing Teamster to Teamster.
I will go to Teamster shops day and night across North America. I need you to reach out to Teamsters where you live.
Get the tools you need from our website. Share the information. talk to other Teamsters. Contact my campaign.
The future is ours to win. Let's do it together.