January 30, 2006: On June 26-30 some 1,700 delegates will meet in Las Vegas to chart the future of the Teamsters Union. They have the power to change our union for the better, or to maintain the status quo.
The convention, which is held every five years, can rewrite our Teamster Constitution to make our union more democratic and accountable. Or, they can rewrite it to make it controlled from the top. They can nominate the Tom Leedham Strong Contracts, Good Pensions Slate, or they can rubber stamp the
Hoffa administration’s plan to give members only one choice (Hoffa) in the November Teamster election. They can work hard for Teamsters. Or they can party in Vegas with members’ dues. Which Will it Be? Many locals are holding elections for delegate in February. Members can send rubber stamps, or they can send independent delegates who will stand up for the members.
History is our guide. In 2001, most delegates never even opened their Constitution Report once, all week. They simply voted as they were told by the Hoffa “whips”. But a courageous minority were the ones who made history. They successfully nominated a reform slate, so members would have a choice in the one-member-one-vote election. They stood up to the hecklers, and called for an end to the waste of dues money; a membership bill of rights; and for a membership vote on Hoffa’s dues hike.
In 1991, 1996 and 2001 it was the independent, reform delegates who made history. They won us the right to vote: the right to vote on delegates, the right to vote on contract supplements, majority rule on our contract votes and the right to vote on mergers. They nominated reform candidates to give Teamster members a choice.
What will happen at the 2006 Convention? In part, that’s up to us. Choose wisely when you cast your vote for Convention Delegate in your local.