My father was a Teamster steward in the fifties and sixties. One day he stopped the boss from bringing in a couple of his neighbors to work instead of hiring from their hall. The boss was angry and word got back that he was going to fire my father. My father called the union office and this was resolved within the hour: The Business Agent called the boss and said: If you fire my shop steward out there I will ring your business with so many pickets you will be totally shut down. That was real union clout. No grievance, no arbitration, no EEOs. One phone call.
The union could do that because they were organized and tough. The members were proud of their union and when needed they were there. You didn’t get through their picket lines-they fought the scabs, not each other.
If we want more benefits and pay than what we get from an arbitrator we will have to fight for it. The right to strike will not be given to us, we will have to take it. Union leaders are only as strong as the members who back them. Yes, we’ve come a long way in 49 years but there’s still more to be done.
First Name: Juanita
Last Name: Boles
Union/Local: APWU – Oakland, CA
Office held if any: Legislative Director Retirees