Rhode Island Hospital worker Nick Williams was so angry that his new supervisor was his union business agent’s brother that he came home from work and Googled “Teamsters 251 sucks.” And that was the turning point that led to rank-and-file Teamsters taking over the local that covers all of Rhode Island.

Williams had found the Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) website run by two 251 rank-and-filers. On October 31 all 10 candidates on their slate, United Action, were elected, with about 53 percent of the vote. They won despite an entrenched leadership group that had been in office since 1993—and despite threats by a Teamsters International vice president who said on YouTube, “They need to be punished.”

The 5,200 members of Local 251 work at dozens of employers, but more than 2,000 of them are the non-nursing staff at Rhode Island Hospital. At the local’s second-largest employer, UPS, two drivers had toiled for years, opposing bad contracts, organizing members to turn down excessive overtime, and running, unsuccessfully, a partial slate in 2007.

But the two drivers, Matt Taibi and Matt Maini, hadn't cracked the hospital. Until Williams joined their team.
Rank-and-File Reformers Oust 'In Bed' Rhode Island Teamsters | Teamsters for a Democratic Union