With more than 200,000 members, the Teamsters Public Services Division is one of the largest in the union. After participating in workshops and trainings geared towards building Teamster power, the 250+ Teamsters who attended the Public Services Division Conference are poised to make it even larger.

“Our Teamster public service workers make our communities safer, healthier, better places to live, and they deserve fair treatment at work,” said Jason Rabinowitz, Public Services Division Director. “That’s why it is so important that we come together and develop strategies to build Teamster power in public service, organize thousands of workers and give our existing membership the best representation that they could possibly have.”

On the first day of the session, In the Public Interest (ITPI) Executive Director Donald Cohen led a workshop on fighting privatization and subcontracting. Cohen stressed that having a proactive and multifaceted approach that involved legislative advocacy, coalition building, and a well thought out communications strategy was essential to pushing back on austerity measures at the state and municipal level. During a discussion, Local 237 Housing Division Director Kevin Norman emphasized that monitoring “pilot programs” had been a successful tactic for unions fighting privatization in his hometown of New York City.

“What public officials are really saying with these ‘pilot programs’ is that they don’t want to hire more people to be in the union and have to pay the salaries or benefits,” Norman said. “You need to be aware of these small pilot programs which can be used to displace you later on down the road.”