The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t slowed down organizing efforts for many unions, especially the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, who continue to organize workers.
Teamsters Local 79 Business Agent John Sholtes discussed an ongoing organizing drive in Florida, how COVID-19 has affected the effort and what the future holds for organizing on America’s Work Force Union Podcast.
Organizing Cemex workers
Sholtes said Teamsters Local 79 has done well organizing amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, especially among Cemex truck drivers. The drivers transport a perishable material, meaning there are multiple plants within miles of each other to preserve it.
He said Local 79 has been successful in organizing three plants in Naples, Fla., one in Fort Myers and one in Port Charlotte, adding that there are more on the way.
While the company did things to hamper the efforts, the workers figured that they did not have much to lose and wanted to be union members. Shockingly, the company fired three employees. Since the firings, Local 79 has worked to reach settlements and ensure the workers are taken care of.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has made some organizing strategies more difficult, the workers were able to cast their union vote by mail, which Sholtes said is good for the workers and establishes a level of trust.
Going forward, Sholtes said it will be easier to organize workers and the climate will be better for the labor community now that President Biden is settling into office. He said the biggest difference has been the elimination of NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb.