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With Reformers Victorious, It’s a New Day for the Teamsters

The rank-and-file reform slate Teamsters United has secured victory in the union’s internal election. Its agenda is modest: bargain hard against UPS, organize Amazon, push the PRO Act, and revitalize the labor movement.

The Teamsters for a Democratic Union slate, headed by Sean O'Brien and Fred Zuckerman, have been elected to lead the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. , Teamsters for a Democratic Union

The Teamsters United reform slate secured victory this morning in an election for new leadership in one of the nation’s largest unions. With 1.4 million members, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) election results have implications not just for the massive upcoming United Parcel Service (UPS) contract, but for organizing Amazon and pushing labor-friendly legislation like the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.

The election marks the first time that a coalition backed by Teamsters for a Democratic Union, a rank-and-file reform caucus, will head the union since former IBT president Ron Carey was removed from office on false corruption charges in 1997.

Incoming president Sean O’Brien and general secretary-treasurer Fred Zuckerman will be heading into negotiations for a new UPS contract — the largest private collective bargaining agreement in the United States — when they take office in March.

“This has been a long time coming,” says Anthony Rosario, a UPS returns clerk and shop steward with Local 804 in New York. Rosario had been working for the company for three years when Carey led a fifteen-day strike against UPS that saw 185,000 workers withhold their labor and bring the world’s largest package delivery company to a standstill. Under Carey’s leadership, the union saw wage increases and greater job security.

Ratification of the last UPS contract was pushed through despite the majority of the union’s members voting it down. “That was the last straw for a lot of people,” Rosario says.

The Teamsters United slate won 67 percent of the vote against their incumbent-backed opponents. At Local 804, 96 percent of members voted in favor of the Teamsters United slate.