My name is Mike Smith and I have been a proud Teamster member for almost twenty years. In 1995 I got a job walking on a strike line to support a small group of workers that were fighting for their livelihood. At the time I didn’t really know what a Teamster was or even a strike line for that matter. All I knew is I was looking for some direction in my life, and I found it.
The strike line was supposed to be temporary work but it ended up lasting for a year and a half. During that time I learned the true meaning of a Union. The men that walked alongside me became my brothers and their fight became mine as well. We spent countless hours together stopping trucks, yelling at scabs and doing all we could to fight for what we knew was right.
When we won the strike I was both happy and sad. Although I was thrilled that the men could return to their jobs, I didn’t know what I would do next and wasn’t ready to leave the Union. I started working with Organizer Nelson Silva and within a couple of years we organized hundreds of workers into the Union. One of our biggest accomplishments was a shop in Hackensack that had sixty employees. Today that shop has over two hundred Teamster workers and both management and the employees agree that our Union made their growth possible.
In 1998 our Union merged with Local 875. During that time Nelson Silva and I were given the responsibility of delegating shops in NJ and organizing throughout the tri-state area. We were sent to various schools and conferences to educate us about collective bargaining and negotiating contracts. For the past seventeen years we have worked side-by-side fighting to preserve benefits at the negotiation table as well as bringing in new Union members. Nelson is my Union brother, best friend and proudly elected Vice-President.
Our Local Union is STRONGER than it’s been in over ten years. We finally stopped losing members and grew by almost 50% this year alone. Our Pension and Health Funds are excelling in the top 5% in investment return. Although we are not out of the woods yet with our pensions and the War on Workers is far from over, our Union is standing tall. I’m proud to be your President and promise to continue to use all my energies in support of Labor. I will continue to fight for all the hard working Teamster members in this great Union and never give up.