Its been a week since the vote count and the smoke has cleared some, so we can start to look at what we got from running in this election.
As we’ve said over and over, this was the first officer election in 20 years. The last election was in 1998 when a 695 business agent, Ruth Ann Stadola, ran the Stadola slate ran against incumbent officers. Teamsters Local 695 does not have a culture of engaging in the local, so not only did no one expect an election — most people didn’t even know we could have them! By running, we showed that members can fight for the direction of the union.
Second, we built connections across the local. When we started this campaign, we were mostly Teamsters at Madison Metro. That’s no secret. Local 695 has shops from outside Milwaukee to La Crosse — there are dozens of represented sites, but most of us only know Teamsters where we work. We went out to meet other Teamsters in Local 695, talked about the common issues we have and started to build the connections that we will need to rebuild this local.
Third, we educated about what is happening. We named out our issues: appointed stewards, secret contract bargaining, worse contracts, only 24 hours to read proposed contracts before we vote, union representatives too friendly with management. Wherever we went, we heard sister and brother Teamsters say, “I thought it was just us.” It ain’t. We exposed how Local 695 has continued to give themselves raises as our union membership declines and the quality of our representation gets worse.
Lastly, the results of the election clearly show that this isn’t “just a Metro thing” — just under half of our Local voted for Rebuild 695. Our message of democracy, member involvement and fighting for better conditions is something that resonates. The election administrator complimented us on a very competitive run, said we did extremely well for a first run.
The incumbents on the Schultz slate had all the advantages: more money, access to member information we could not have, access to the site lists, stewards who could push their message, knowledge of when we would make our mailings so they could make counter mailings, the ability to call craft meetings and tell people “remember to vote for us”. Any protests we made went to them as the sitting Executive Board to make determinations on — no justice there.
Even less than 100 days to assemble a slate and campaign, and with all of those advantages for the incumbents, we still took 47% of the vote. In 2016, only 475 members in Local 695 voted in the IBT General Presidential election; this election had 1097 votes, engaging the membership in a way that hadn’t been done in decades. We are damned proud.
We’re going to continue to be active in the local. We’ve received many questions about what to do next — we’ll be having a meeting in the coming weeks to regroup and to talk about what to do. Keep reading this website, we’ll post things as they come up. We also want to encourage Teamsters to submit news about what’s going on at your shop: firstname.lastname@example.org We have to give a big shout out to Teamsters for a Democratic Union, who helped give us advice and wrote the book on rank and file campaigning. If you haven’t already, JOIN TDU! This is a national organization of Teamster members fighting for the spirit of our union.