A Winning Recipe for Change

Alpha Baking Teamsters used a strike threat to win a strong contract and organize the unorganized.

Alpha Baking steward and TDU member Alona "AJ" Hinds.


When We Fight, We Win

“People are becoming more involved, coming to me, not waiting for me to come to them. We never had everyone stick together as one before this contract.”

AJ Hinds
Local 135, Indianapolis


Alpha Baking driver steward and TDU member Alona “AJ” Hinds helped organize a winning contract campaign. But the Teamster victory at Alpha Baking didn’t stop there.

When she first took a Teamsters Local 135 driver job at Alpha Baking three years ago, Hinds was only interested in coming to work, doing her job, and keeping her head down. As a single mother balancing career and family, getting active in the union was not on her radar.

But it didn’t take long for her coworkers to notice she cared about making their workplace better. She was asked to become an alternate steward three times before finally agreeing.

In October 2023, AJ went into negotiations. The contract was set to expire at the end of the month.

“Management wanted to keep our pay the same and increase our insurance cost. I told the other drivers when I got involved that we all had to stick together and they had to back me up, and they did. I was nervous going into negotiations, but we stood our ground.”

“Every single driver put a sign on our windshield, ‘Will Strike If Provoked,’” said AJ. “Drivers kept up on progress in negotiations so they knew where we were at. It took us till 10 p.m. the night before expiration, but we got everything we asked for.”

Organizing the Unorganized 

There are 18 Teamster drivers at Alpha Baking in Zionsville, IN. Their product is sorted and separated by ten shippers, who, until recently, were nonunion.

“After we all put the signs in our windshields, two shippers came to me because management had fired another shipper for no reason. They asked, ‘How do we become union?’ Within one day we had nine out of ten shippers sign union cards.”

While the shippers got ready for their election, drivers showed them support and encouraged them to vote yes. Faced with management harassment and no contract or representation yet, shippers began acting like a union to take on issues with the help of a Teamster steward.

“We filed a grievance against management violating their company handbook to get them to back off,” said AJ.

The shippers won their election with nine out of ten yes votes, and are preparing to bargain as we go to press.

Educate, Empower, Organize

Just after winning a contract and an organizing drive at Alpha Baking, AJ attended her first TDU Convention this year.

“I left a lot more equipped to be a steward,” said AJ. Since the contract campaign, members have become more interested in the union.

“I get more questions than ever before. People are becoming more involved, coming to me, not waiting for me to come to them. We had never had everyone stick together as one before this contract.”

 

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