Iowa Teamsters Local 238 has created an exciting new organizing group and are quickly reaching out statewide to partner with other progressive groups. In March they launched a Teamsters Community Action Network (TeamCAN), a 501(c)3 nonprofit which is separate from their traditional Teamsters labor union.
The first TeamCAN organizational meeting in Cedar Rapids in March drew over 200 progressive leaders and activists composed of labor union members, civil rights groups, environmentalists, progressive religious leaders and progressive organizers including the Indivisible group.
That initial organizational meeting led to TeamCAN partnering with the group Indivisible to jointly sponsor six regional training conferences for Iowa progressives. They are promoting these as “RiseUp Organize” training events. The agenda calls for coordinating resources, infrastructure, communication and strategy. They are conducting events across Iowa in April and May. The first is scheduled for this Saturday, April 29th in Southeast Iowa.
Iowa Teamsters Local 238 Secretary Treasurer, Jesse Case described the goals and focus of TeamCAN in a blog post in the Union Leader.
“We are focused on organizing in our communities to fight for Iowa’s working families in our neighborhoods and in our streets,” the Teamsters explain. “TeamCAN offers the power of organizing to those without access to traditional unions in their workplace … From now on, when a small group of activists in rural Iowa are wondering how best to build a local strategy, TeamCAN will be there to assist them with planning, leadership training, and link their efforts and needs with other progressive groups in the area.”
On the TeamCAN website, they describe their mission: “TeamCAN has been created to provide networking, infrastructure, training, and resources to projects at the grassroots level to build local power for Iowans within the TeamCAN network.”
Jim Romar, Teamsters State Political Coordinator, emphasized the unique skills and resources that the Iowa Teamsters Union can bring to organizing in Iowa. While TeamCAN is nonpartisan and separate from the Teamsters Union, it can draw on many of the union’s contacts around the state. The Teamsters Local 238 is the largest Teamster local headquartered in Iowa. It represents about 6,500 Iowans including both private and public workers. It includes law enforcement officers, teachers, UPS drivers, bus drivers, freight handlers and manufacturing workers.
TeamCAN and the group Indivisible have partnered to hold these organizing training meetings across the state beginning on April 29th. This event will be held at Lake Darling Lodge in Brighten, Iowa. They have scheduled additional trainings at five other sites across the state. On May 13 they will hold events in Council Bluffs and Indianola; on May 19 in Cherokee; and on May 20 in Mason City and Independence.
Ashley Anthony, the Indivisible media contact for these training events, described their joint goals of providing basic organizing information. She indicated the training agenda would include reviewing the recent Iowa legislative session, talking about issues and discussing how to work with other progressive groups.
Indivisible is experiencing phenomenal growth in Iowa. The Iowa Indivisible Facebook membership just passed 9,000. They have dominated the town halls and Legislative forums resisting the Trump/Republican agenda. Hopefully, this new partnership with TeamCAN will grow and expand that resistance.
by Rick Smith