September 7, 2012: Through Teamsters Local 804, Mary Ellen King and I were able to attend the 2012 Teamster Women's Conference in San Francisco, Calif.
It was a great experience. You could feel the amount of energy these women generated during the gatherings.
Several of the opening statements touched upon our current political challenges. They reinforced how important it is to get out and speak to our members and educate them about the abundant anti-labor platforms and to prevent these candidates from getting into office.
The "Contract Enforcement Workshop" given by Sally Payne gave insight on how to determine which issues are grievances and how to better handle each scenario. We learned to exhaust other methods of initiating conversations to work towards our desired goals. We trained by holding mock grievances and using sample questions.
My favorite workshop was "Labor History: Women Workers in San Francisco." We explored the heroic women who created one of the strongest labor movements. After which Mary Ellen and I were able to go on sort of a labor movement site-seeing tour.
A great ship called the Balclutha provides a portrait of the various workers associated with the seafaring trades in the late 19th and 20th century. The original union halls where created in the nearby Bay Area. The Bay Area was instrumental in ship-building for the war. Women were the primary laborers in the war effort but were discriminated and removed from their jobs once the war was over, and through employer backing propaganda and were told going back to their domestic roles was the right thing to do.
It was an amazing history class which proves through unity we can have change. There is still a war on workers. I like to learn about where we came from so that we can think about where we’re going, because history repeats itself.
Another great thing about the conference was the change to network with our Teamster Sisters, to discuss our common concerns and applaud our accomplishments. I met so many women, and was invited all over the country, from Puerto Rico to Alaska. I met UPSers, truck drivers, nurses, bus drivers, clerical workers, and women in the field of education. I was also able to meet up with fellow TDU members, and we were able to talk and get to know each other better. I look forward to networking and working with these sisters in the future.
Dorothy Hanlon, UPS
Local 804, New York
Click here to contact the TDU Women's Caucus.