Teamsters need resources, training and ideas to help us have a strong union and fight effectively. Rebuild 695 is our slate for Teamsters Local 695, but we’ve learned from others who’ve worked for democratic, fighting unions.
There are a few different Teamster locals in Wisconsin, organized through Teamster Joint Council 39.
Union workers in 695 should know about two labor boards that have an impact on our union and contracts. The first is the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) — the federal government’s labor agency. The NLRB only governs private sector workers, but it sets the general standard. NLRB policy affects the rights of stewards to enforce the contract, determining the work rules that are legal according to the National Labor Relations Act (the federal law that recognizes the right to form a union and collective action), and it mediates complaints between unions and employers.
Unions (and individual union workers) can file “unfair labor practice” complaints, alleging that the employer is violating labor law, which the board investigates. Stewards especially should sign up to get the NLRB’s briefs.
Wisconsin also has its own state labor board, the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC). Public sector union rights are determined by state law. The WERC is the state’s labor agency that does similar things to the NLRB but for public employees. It also is frequently used in the private sector for arbitration — so private sector workers should know who’s there and the developments in the WERC.
We’re not the first ones who’ve ever wanted to reform our union. TDU is a membership organization for Teamsters started in the 1970’s fighting corruption in the Teamsters union. They have worked on Teamster elections and contract fights across the country, and they’ve put together some great resources on how to organize, run for office, how to be active on the shop floor and be an effective steward.
Labor Notes is a monthly newsletter for rank and file union activists about what is happening in the labor movement, including nuts and bolts explanations of how to organize everything from a union meeting to a strike. They have some great books that have been super helpful for us.
Their guide on “Rebuilding Power in Open Shop America” is a must for union activists in Right to Work states like Wisconsin.
“The Association for Union Democracy (AUD) is the only national, pro-labor, non-profit organization dedicated solely to advancing the principles and practices of democratic trade unionism in the North American labor movement. It is the premise of AUD that internal democracy makes unions stronger and better able to fight for the rights and interests of working people.” They have all kinds of resources available about the rights of union members and ways to ensure the union is democratic.