Alexandra Bradbury

This article was updated November 19 to reflect the final election results.

A new administration will soon take the helm of the 1.3 million-member Teamsters union. The Teamsters United slate swept to victory in this week's vote count, beating out their rivals 2 to 1.

It’s the first time in almost a quarter-century that a coalition backed by Teamsters for a Democratic Union has taken the driver’s seat in the international union.

Once upon a time, a nip in the air and the crunch of leaves underfoot meant peak season for shipping—an annual onslaught of catalogs and Christmas cards and online shopping. Those were the old days; since Covid hit, peak season never stops.

This was a Teamsters convention like no other—and not just because it was held online, avoiding the usual Las Vegas spectacle where a few brave reformers run a gauntlet of booing red-vested delegates.

Even in person, the 2021 convention wouldn’t have gone down that way. The opposition slate didn’t just squeak past the 5 percent of delegates required to get on the ballot, as it often has before.

This time it pulled half the votes—reflecting a power shift in the union.

Employers Are Using the Crisis to Push Concessions They Don't Need


Employers never let a crisis go to waste. Like clockwork, after this awful year, here come the demands for concessions.

Steelworkers at Allegheny Technologies are on strike to defend their benefits. The company wants them to start paying more, though it’s flush with cash. If you ask why, you’re not thinking like an employer.

The mountain climber George Mallory, when asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, supposedly answered, “Because it’s there.”

“When Don first got his letter saying his pension was going to be cut 52 percent, it was one of those moments like when President Kennedy was killed and 9/11,” said Dana Vargo, spouse of a retired Teamster. “You remember exactly where you were.”

“My letter said, starting in a couple months, your pension will go from $3,000 a month down to $1,500,” said Greg Smith, who had put in 31 years as a freight Teamster. “When people got those, all of a sudden the phone started ringing.”

Viewpoint: A ‘Union’ That Pushes to Deport People Is the Labor Movement's Opponent


What if I told you an employer had agreed that it could no longer make any change to policies affecting members without “prior affirmative consent” from the union?

Wow, you might say—that’s what I call worker power! But hold your applause till you hear who the employer is: Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency that detains and deports immigrants.

Rest in Power, Anne Feeney (1951-2021)


This week the U.S. labor movement lost its best-known and best-loved troubadour: the great folksinger-songwriter Anne Feeney. She died of Covid on February 3, at age 69, with her children at her side. With her fantastic songs and feisty spirit, she made an incalculable contribution to the movement. She is irreplaceable, and gone too soon.

Every year, workers at the Postal Service and UPS expect to work long hours between Thanksgiving and Christmas. “This is like our Super Bowl,” said Kimberly Karol, president of the Iowa Postal Workers (APWU). “Employees really do rally together.”

But this year has been like no other. Workers were still catching their breath from last year’s holiday peak when the pandemic struck and online ordering ratcheted up. It was like Christmas all over again—and it never stopped.