Letter from a Teamster

A concerned Teamster’s plea to his union leaders

by Dave Verret

The following is an actual letter, sent to the national office of the Teamsters, as well as the office of local 996. The remarks are the sole property of Dave Verret, contributing writer to the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.

I am a Teamster, a 22-year veteran of OTS, Inc. (TheBus), who is VERY ANGRY at recent national events, specifically, the Teamsters Convention in Las Vegas, and Mr. Hoffa’s speech on Labor Day. I take strong objection to what was said in the presence of Teamsters, and that no response to the contrary was offered.

Unions do some good. In terms of relationships WITHIN the work force and workplace and the workplace to company management dynamic, I believe that Unions have played a pivotal role in make our workplaces safer and our benefits enviable. But, when Unions get involved in the political arena, and the “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” expectation; with the anticipation of getting something in return from a political candidate, this is organized bribery. It eliminates a vital link in the chain, called competition. This I oppose.

I have attended two of the T.E.A. Party rallies. I believe in what it stands for, and applaud what it has accomplished thus far. We are Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, etc., who want a smaller and thus less expensive government, accountability within that government, and a return to the Constitution. I will GLADLY contribute anything I can to the T.E.A. Party. I believe in this organization, regardless of what V.P. Joe Biden, and Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa say about it. Further, given the hateful rhetoric coming from these people and others, I would much rather be identified as a member of the T.E.A. Party than a Teamster. I hope this letter is the beginning of changing that.

I will be addressing four specific complaints in this letter.

First, there is no better illustration of the “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” syndrome than union support of this President. The White House claims the Stimulus Bill “created or saved” 2.4 million jobs. Joe Biden, in the Summer of 2010, said “welcome to the Summer of Recovery,” followed closely by Tim Geithner, who said, “welcome to the recovery.” The Stimulus Bill cost us $878b. Thus, we paid $278,000 for EVERY job created. This comes from the Council of Economic Advisors – a board appointed, and then mostly ignored by our President. Included in that was a huge thank you in terms of payback for the UAW.

For a President who wants to “create jobs,” I challenge his eliminating over 30,000 jobs from coastal Gulf States due to one BP oil rig, only later to give our tax money and drilling rights to Brazil to drill in those same area.

Finally, does the Constitution say that the Federal government can tell me where I can build my product or set up my business? If Boeing wants to build part of a new airliner in South Carolina where production costs are less, so be it. This will likely be tied up in the courts for years. Meanwhile, airlines need new airplanes. They will get them….from Airbus.

Geoffrey Emelt of GE, a Chief Economic Advisor has done a great job in creating jobs….in China. And after “card check” failed miserably in Congress, it’s now being done through the back door.

Second, Joe Biden. In the ’08 campaign, wasn’t it he who told us that “Barack Obama lacks the qualifications to be President?” Once Biden was selected as the VP nominee, how did that make Obama suddenly more qualified? One would expect such rhetoric during a campaign, I cannot excuse it AFTER. At the most recent Teamsters Convention in Las Vegas he said, “this isn’t supposed to be political but if you vote for somebody else, don’t ask me to help you Jack!” Shame on the Teamsters for applauding such an ignorant statement. Shame on VP Biden for making it.

Third, Jimmy Hoffa’s comments this past labor day. “President Obama, this is your Army. (Speaking of the TEA Party)… let’s take these sons of bitches out….” The President of my union called me a son of a bitch. “Violent rhetoric” is applauded if you support this administration.

Last, Union thuggery in general. There was a SEIU beat-down of a person attending a health-care town hall meeting. What about the Longshoremen recently in Long Beach? And, who should be a guest of honor at the most recent speech before Congress? AFL-CIO union chief Richard Trumpka.

These specifics illustrate my point. Unions do their most good in the worker, workplace to company management dynamic. But, Unions have stepped out of that role.

I may be threatened or harmed by saying these things. The greater harm would come by NOT saying them. In WWII Germany, people ignored the step by step warnings of what their country was becoming. Later, while the trains went by carrying Jews and others to the camps, German Christians simply sang louder, thinking that if they somehow ignored the sound, they would be absolved of what they were intimidated to allow. The alliance between Big Labor and politicians is a bully-pulpit, one where if arguments are not accepted on the playing field of ideas, are then forced upon others.

Many workplace improvements have come because of Unions. The Teamsters have done many good things locally, especially in the way of scholarships for students and in helping other needy people. The smile that was inside my heart because of those things has been removed and replaced with shame and disgust. I hope this letter is the first step in making the Teamsters something I can be proud of. Let’s not remain silent as the trains go by.

Dave Verret is a contributing writer for the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.

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