Jim [Cianciolo], for that kind introduction. You know, "Cinci," Greg
Lowran and Leon Cooper have provided outstanding leadership.
The members of Local Union 243 can be proud of their leaders and
officers. They work on your behalf. I must say, it's so good to be
back here in my home state of Michigan.
You know, when many of us met in Las Vegas last month, we talked
about the role of unity in the Teamsters Union. Unity is an
essential part of what we do. It's unity in action. It's unity in
collective bargaining. Unity in organizing. Unity in politics.
We've all learned the hard way that without unity, action is
impossible. With it, the possibilities are limitless.
Unity has brought us stronger contracts-and made us a stronger
When my administration took office, our union had deep divisions
that weakened its ability to serve our membership. It was brother
against brother, sister against sister, local union against local
union and joint council against joint council.
Employers, sensing blood in the water, started circling us with
an eye toward making a kill. But we set about healing the wounds and
moving forward. We refused to be shark bait.
We reached out to all segments of our union to achieve the unity
that is our lifeblood.
In that spirit, I appointed Greg Lowran to the national panel
looking into Worldwide Logistics after Local Union 243 filed a
grievance against UPS for outsourcing work. I also appointed Leon
Cooper to the Central Region, and former UPS steward John Swiantech
as a DRIVE representative.
Our united Teamsters today are winning better contracts,
receiving higher wages, getting stronger pensions, organizing new
Just look at what our united union has accomplished.
When we achieved total victory in the carhaul struggle-that was
When organized labor sponsored a rally on Capitol Hill to say
"NO" to PNTR for China, and more than 6,000 rank-and-file Teamsters,
on a work day, at their own expense-that was unity.
When we forced UPS to keep its promises and deliver thousands of
new full-time jobs-that was unity.
When after years of stalemate, we brought home a good contract
for the flight attendants at Northwest Airlines-that was unity.
When we faced down a lockout at AWG and restored dignity to our
members-that was unity.
When we stood by our brothers and sisters at the Detroit
News and Free Press-that was unity.
And today, when we stand by more than 1,800 brave men and women
fighting an epic battle at Overnite Transportation-that is
We must draw on our unity to mobilize for the coming election.
The Overnite struggle is a good example of why the stakes are so
Much has been made of the Republican ticket's ties to Big Oil.
Less well known is the fact the Dick Cheney is a director of Union
Pacific-the parent company of Overnite. What was George W. Bush
thinking? His running mate is part of an outlaw company that is one
of the worst labor law violators in American history.
Unfortunately, the Republican ticket has become captive to the
forces of reaction-those who want to turn the clock back to the
Only by winning the White House and taking back the Congress can
we stop efforts by Big Business to:
- Dismantle programs to increase workplace safety;
- Deny the right to organize and bargain collectively;
- Ignore dislocated workers;
- Block equal pay; and,
- Weaken pensions.
Al Gore is a long-time friend of working families. In seven years
as a U.S. senator, he voted with working families 88 percent of the
time. He stood with unions and their members to protect workplace
health and safety, community wage standards, Medicare and Social
Security. He helped to block attempts to bring back company unions
and destroy the 40-hour week.
Gore opposed "paycheck deception" initiatives that would have
silenced the political voice of working people. He steadfastly
defended the freedom of working people to join unions and have a
voice at work.
We cannot stand idly by while the forces of reaction try to roll
back the gains achieved over the past century.
That is why I ask you to volunteer your time and energy in the
next 16 days to our get-out-the-vote effort.
Stewards will be key to spreading the message to our members.
This year, you really do have the power to make a
difference-a powerful difference in people's lives.
Whether you man a phone bank, walk a precinct or put up lawn
signs, you will help educate your union brothers and sisters and
greatly improve our chances of victory.
There's one more thing I'd like to touch on.
Regardless of what happens on November 7, we have another
struggle on our hands-the upcoming bargaining for the 2002 UPS
I promise you tonight: This will be a strong, rank-and-file
driven effort. We are going to put together a dynamic, member-based
contract campaign, similar to what was done in the successful 1997
In the coming months, I will be traveling across the country,
talking to members and getting their input.
We will fight for increased wages, pensions and benefits. We will
close the loopholes that allow management to do our work. We will
monitor UPS for any signs of outsourcing and double-breasting. We
will fight to limit mandatory overtime, which prevents our members
from living normal lives.
To be successful, we will need the stewards to be the union's
eyes and ears. Communication must flow from the shop to the top-not
just the other way around.
That, too, will be a clear demonstration of our unity-all of us
working together, helping each other, moving forward as one mighty
With unity, everything is possible. UNITED WE WIN!