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Teamsters for a Democratic Union convention looks forward to defeat of old guard

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Chicago, IL – Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) held its annual convention from October 1-3 in Chicago. Rank-and-file union activists from around the country traveled there to plan out the next steps for the upcoming international union election. TDU is supporting the reformer O’Brien-Zuckerman slate against the other slate, which is backed by the Hoffa old guard within the Teamsters union.

The O’Brien-Zuckerman slate, also known as the OZ Teamsters United slate, has gained a lot of momentum since announcing their intent to run. Ballots for the international union election are being mailed out on October 4 and will be counted November 15.

The TDU convention saw one of the highest levels of turnout since the formation of TDU in 1976. Many union activists were happy to see old friends who they had not seen in person for some time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a lot of excitement and anticipation Friday evening as speakers from around the country welcomed participants to the TDU convention. The crowd watched as Sean O’Brien took the stage, the man many believe will win the upcoming election and become the new general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

O’Brien began his speech by thanking TDU for welcoming him to the convention and got straight to business. During his speech, O’Brien acknowledged that while he had not always been supportive of TDU, he recognized that he would not be in the position he is today without the valuable contributions of TDU. In particular, O’Brien credited TDU with winning the right for Teamsters to directly elect national officers. This is a democratic method of electing leadership that Teamsters enjoy, but most unions in the United States still lack. O’Brien also promised to continue working with TDU after the election.

Saturday and Sunday saw different workshops and meetings. UPS Teamsters discussed the upcoming 2023 contract negotiations and how to fight for a stronger contract. Newer members of TDU learned fundamental organizing principles. Teamsters networked and made new contacts and friends throughout the convention, especially during meal breaks. TDU raised a substantial amount of money during their fundraising talk. Members were happy to contribute because of the excellent work TDU has accomplished over the years. Members also helped update the TDU constitution to by making a few modern changes during the convention. The 2021 elections for TDU steering committee went smoothly.

First time TDU convention attendee William Blake from Tampa, Florida had this to say about the convention: “As a new Teamster, it was incredibly inspiring to see so many experienced labor organizers. The convention taught me that it’s possible to build a fighting Teamsters International again, and that moment is right here and now.”

As they left the convention, members of TDU promised to go back to their home locals and do everything in their power to help the O’Brien-Zuckerman, Teamsters United slate win the election.


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