More than 25 participants recently attended a four-day Teamsters Leadership Academy (TLA) titled, “Strategic Research for Organizers,” a joint effort between the International Union’s Strategic Research and Campaigns Department and the Training and Development Department. Participants attending the program came from Teamster local unions from across the country, including locals in California, Washington, North Carolina, New York and Georgia.
The TLA, held July 20-23, prepared participants to conduct in-depth research on corporations, from corporate structure and leadership to legal issues and union density, and to use this information in organizing and bargaining campaigns.
"As employers become more sophisticated in their efforts to undermine workers' rights, so is our union getting better prepared to fight back and win,” said Ben Speight, organizer with Teamsters Local Union 728 in Atlanta. “The Strategic Research for Organizers TLA was exceptionally helpful in giving on-the-ground organizers like me the newest techniques we need to uncover the facts behind our corporate targets and arm ourselves with the research and communication tools we need to succeed against unscrupulous employers.”
During the program, TLA participants worked in small groups to do hands-on research on the very companies where they face organizing and bargaining challenges. The companies studied encompassed a wide range of industries, from airline and warehouse to soft drink and waste. Participants compiled key information about the companies and created campaign materials such as leaflets and fact sheets.
“What an opportunity it was to interact with brothers and sisters from across the nation who are like-minded in the idea that organizing is the lifeblood of the labor movement,” said Darrin Ziemba, organizer with Teamsters Local 264 in Cheektowaga, New York.
At the International Union Department Resources Panel, participants heard from Ed Baptiste, Assistant Director of the Department of Field Action; Bradley Raymond, International Union General Counsel; Jim Kimball, Director of the Economics and Contracts Department; and Carin Zelenko, Director of the Capital Strategies Department. Teamsters Director of Organizing Jeff Farmer also presented on the Teamsters organizing model and recent organizing victories.
“This was an eye-opening course on how to find and use power to leverage victories, not just in organizing, but also in contract campaigns,” said Leonard Smith, Organizing Director at Teamsters Local 117 in Tukwila, Washington. “The tools we collected over this intense three-and-a-half-day program will without a doubt make our external and internal organizing campaigns at Local 117 more effective. Thank you to every staff member and department who made this program a huge success. I hope that we continue to see more like it.”