Baltimore Teamsters Build a Force for Change

Last spring, Baltimore Teamsters had their pensions cut to zero. Now they are building a force for change.

Local 355 pension trustees had left members in the dark for years about how their fund was doing. And local president Denis Taylor refused to tell members how long the cuts would last, or what his plan was to improve benefits.

Members were angry. Some were ready to give up on their union. But a few started to get organized.

“Our officials kept us in the dark about our benefits, and they refused to tell members their plan to make improvements,” said Kenny Walker, a UPS package car driver in the local. “But we started getting organized. We held meetings and passed out petitions. We told members that we could make a difference in our union.”

Members started holding monthly TDU meetings, set up a website, and launched a campaign to win a Pension Bill of Rights that would guarantee members the right to have a say when changes are made in their benefits.

Over 600 members signed a petition in favor of the Pension Bill of Rights. Members started demanded regular updates about the status of the pension fund at local union meetings—and officials agreed.

Now Maryland Teamsters are organizing a TDU chapter, and they’re going to hold regular meetings in 2009, plus educational workshops.

“We still have a long way to go. We need to hold our officials to their word that we will get regular updates from our fund,” said Walker. “We’re now a force for change in our union.”

Teamsters for a Democratic Union is running a series of stories about Teamster members who made a difference in 2008. Click here to read more stories in our series.

You can help make a positive difference in our union in 2009. Click here to join Teamsters for a Democratic Union and become a part of our movement.

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