Gregory Floyd, President, Teamsters Local 237 and Vice President at-large on the General Board of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (58516)
Gregory Floyd, President, Teamsters Local 237 and Vice President at-large on the General Board of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters

There was a time, not long ago, when the Democratic Party was considered the political party of the working class and the Republican Party was aligned with big business and the wealthy. Yet a recent New York Times/Siena poll––for the first time ever––revealed results that indicated a reversal. The Republican Party is trending toward a multi-racial working-class coalition, while the Democrats had a larger share of support among white college graduates. Many wonder what conclusions can be drawn. Do we now have an establishment progressive party and an anti-establishment conservative party? Making matters even more complicated are recent findings that many voters are not affiliated with either party, with polls indicating that 62% of Americans favor having a third party. 

All of this should make for a very interesting 2024 presidential election! Questions abound: What will the candidates look like? What will they need to espouse to get our vote? With so many of the usual guidelines and guardrails gone, what’s the pitch? And how will it be communicated? That has changed too. Stump speeches on the back of a railroad car are a relic of the past. Even huge, televised rallies have their limitations––great for optics, but mostly “preaching to the choir” without really picking up many new converts. Twitter and other social media platforms are the bumper stickers of today…less costly, no car needed, and having the ability to reach millions with one click of a cell phone by influencers who make adding followers into a game. And, with baby boomers, who now dominate the politically savvy voting population, starting to decline in number, this medium of choice will become a legitimate, powerful tool––a king or queen-maker. 

But with so much change—and so much of it, of questionable positive value––there is one change that offers some real hope for the future. After years of declining numbers, union membership is now on the rise. Currently, there are many examples of workers in industries throughout the nation previously thought to be un-organizable or showing little interest in the union movement––from Amazon to Starbucks to McDonalds––now signing-up members. And the union drive comes from within. Workers talking to their fellow workers. They know the problems. They see the solutions. And their co-workers listen. Talk about “influencers”!  

So, perhaps in this great time of change––this time of altered dictionary definitions and role reversals––labor unions, which have remained steadfast in what they represent, are now presented with a path from which they had lost their way, and a newly created vacuum they can fill. We span all the demographics, political ideologies and have the communications network and skills—new and old—to make an impact. As the old adage says: “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” When applied to labor unions, that says it all. We have endured the union bashers, the union busters, the unfavorable court rulings and anti-labor appointees, but workers instinctively know that we’re on their side. Our task ahead is to make all Americans know it too and that the current slogan: “Union strong” is one definition that will never change.

Gregory Floyd, is president, Teamsters Local 237 and vice president-at-large on the general board of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

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