Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

Teamsters union’s $45,000 RNC donation exposes divisions among members

By 37ci3 Feb24,2024

WASHINGTON — The teams’ political action committee broke decades of precedent last month when union leadership voted. To approve a donation of $45,000 To the congressional fund of the Republican National Committee.

In recent years, Teamsters donations have primarily gone to Democrats. This year’s donation to the RNC convention fund marked a shift in the union’s focus on large donations to both parties, although the vast majority of donations still flowed to liberals.

A vote to approve the donation in January is fueling frustration among some members, who made clear their disapproval of the move in interviews with NBC News: “Disgusting.” “Heartbreaker.” “Footplay.”

NBC News 11 spoke with a Teamsters member about the contribution, which highlights cracks in the membership about politics and former President Donald Trump in particular. While some are celebrating the move, others are considering ending their contributions to DRIVE, the Teamsters PAC. Critics of the donation say they’re refusing to donate if they’re going to support Republicans they think are against union goals.

According to a Teamsters spokesman, the last time the 1.3 million-member union attended a bipartisan convention was in 2000, when George W. Bush accepted his party’s nomination at a convention in Philadelphia. According to the association’s website, DRIVE is nonpartisan and stands for Democrat, Republican, Independent Voter Education.

Both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are fighting for strong union endorsements. The teams have endorsed Biden in 2020, but have yet to endorse a presidential candidate for the 2024 term.

“If I were a rank-and-file member and they continued to play toe-to-toe with a party that was trying to kill us, I would think so,” said Teamsters Vice President John Palmer. Several leading members of the RNC convention voted against the donation.

Palmer, an outspoken critic of Trump, ultimately decided to continue donating to DRIVE because his leadership position deals with issues related to the PAC. But other members make the leap.

Two Teamster members of Local 728 in Atlanta told NBC News they plan to stop donating to DRIVE because of the RNC convention donation.

“I know very well that there are Republicans in our union. But anyone can see his record,” said Evette Avery, referring to Trump. “It stands up for itself when it comes to unions and workers, and it’s never been convenient.”

His colleague, David Courtenay-Quirk, who worked with union organizers to encourage members to contribute to the PAC when he first joined the Teamsters, said, “To play with someone like Trump, in my opinion, is out of the question.”

Christophe Silvera, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 808 in New York City, went further and asked, “Why is the union giving money to an organization that is completely anti-union?”

“There’s something unholy about giving $45,000 together — I don’t call them Republicans anymore,” Silvera said. “It’s the Confederate party.”

Teamsters spokeswoman Kara Deniz said in a statement to NBC News that “the voices of all union members will be heard regardless of party.”

“This year, rank-and-file members will be on the ground and active at both conventions to make sure elected officials are aware of Teams’ issues and hear the challenges facing working people in this country,” Deniz said.

Trump is often at odds with labor unions and the two largest unions. United Auto Workers and the AFL-CIO has already endorsed Biden. AFL-CIO attacks former president on labor issues, is calling its record is “disastrous for workers”. Similarly, UAW President Shawn Fain blasted the former president in a speech supporting Biden, calling Trump an “itch” and adding, “Donald Trump is a billionaire and he represents.”

Biden has consistently expressed his support for unions speeches he is “proud to be the most pro-union president.” Last year, he made history at Michigan being the first president to walk the picket line.

Despite strong opposition to Trump from some union members, Teamsters President Sean M. O’Brien met privately A roundtable with the former president in early January, followed by another roundtable with O’Brien and other members later that month in Washington.

Deniz said the internal review and approval process for the Teamsters’ RNC donation began in December, and the official board vote took place on Jan. 10. He added that the process is “well underway” ahead of any meeting with Trump.

The Teamsters PAC donated the same amount to the Democratic National Committee’s congressional fund.

East Region Vice President Matthew Taibi said the RNC convention voted in favor of the donation when the issue was raised with leadership.

“It means a lot to be involved in the process, in any confirmation process, and to have our voice, the voice of our members, heard at all levels with all party affiliations,” Taibi said. Local 251 in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Jamarsae Brown, a member of Teamsters Local 162 in Portland, Oregon, is a Democrat, but argued that the RNC convention donation was a “good move.”

“We have voters from both sides.

An RNC official told NBC News that they have not yet received contributions to the convention fund.

Deniz, who said that the union goes through the internal verification and reporting process before sending contributions, added that it takes time.

The Teamsters endorsed Biden during the 2020 election cycle, but the union has yet to endorse for 2024. Trump met with Teamsters leaders at union headquarters last month. The time of the meeting with Biden has not yet been announced.

Richard Hooker, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 623 in Philadelphia, argued that Trump’s speech in the lobby of Teamsters headquarters “sent the wrong message.”

He argued that many union workers “know that the overwhelming majority of them, the Republican Party, and of course Donald Trump, do not care about the working man, the working woman, or the working family.”

Brown said he found the meeting “productive.”

“You have to engage and ask the questions,” he said.

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By 37ci3

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