Teamster Power Slate - Vairma 2021
Steve Vairma, Candidate for General President
Steve Vairma began his Teamster career in 1978 as an order selector at the Associated Grocers of Colorado, Inc. warehouse at age 18, becoming a steward two years later. In 1982, he was appointed Business Agent, representing members from King Soopers and Safeway, to Anhueser-Busch to Teamster cab drivers.
After serving as vice president and president, Vairma was elected Teamsters Local 455 Secretary-Treasurer in 1996, where he has focused on building a diverse local that reflects the faces of its more than 12,000 members, founding the Colorado Teamster Black and Hispanic caucuses; Teamster Horsemen chapter; and the Colorado Teamster Women’s Conference. He has led the Local to victories in labor disputes with national employers including Anheuser Busch, Supervalu, US Foods and most recently, Sysco.
Since 2007, Vairma has served as President of Joint Council 3 which represents members in eight states, and Trustee of the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust Fund. As Warehouse Division Director since 2012, he has worked with Teamsters Local Unions to successfully negotiate and ratify the Kroger National Contract; fought to protect jobs in broadline foodservice by opposing the merger of Sysco and US Foods; and actively engaged members in national campaigns at Sysco, US Foods, UNFI and others.
Vairma was elected Western Region International Vice President in 2011 and International Vice President At-Large in 2017.
Ron Herrera, Candidate for General Secretary-Treasurer
Ron Herrera has been a member of the Teamsters Union for over 45 years. Ron’s loyalty and dedication to the Labor Movement was a result of his Father’s example. Ron’s father was a staunch Union man who worked the Ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Oakland as a member of the Longshoremen’s Union. Ron’s Father taught him a deep and abiding respect for worker rights, social justice, and the critical role of Labor Unions in advancing these interests.
Ron started his Union career in 1975 as a UPS package car driver. Ron was one of a handful of Latino drivers employed by UPS at the time. Motivated by the teachings and legacy of his Father, Ron quickly volunteered to help the Union in his workplace.
During his 24 years as a rank and file Teamster member, Ron represented his fellow members as a UPS Shop Steward. In 2000, Ron was hired as a Teamsters Local 396 Business Representative and in 2001 he became the President of Local 396. In 2002, Ron was elected to the Local 396 Principal Officer position.
Ron was subsequently elected as an International Brotherhood of Teamsters Executive Board Trustee in 2011. In 2015, Ron was appointed to fill an open Teamsters Western Region Vice President position on the General Executive Board. His appointment was then confirmed by the membership in the 2016 International election.
In 2019, Ron was elected President of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. The LA Fed is the second largest labor council in the United States. It has over 300 affiliates that represent over 800,000 working men and women in the Los Angeles County area.
Ron also serves as the International Director of the Teamsters Port Division, Chairman of the UPS/Teamsters Article 43 National Committee, Executive Assistant to the Teamsters National Hispanic Caucus, and Teamsters Joint Council 42 Recording Secretary.
Ron believes in increasing the diversity in the leadership of the Teamsters and has dedicated his career to bettering the lives of workers through organizing. He has led many successful organizing campaigns and has successfully passed groundbreaking legislation at the city and state level that has helped sanitation workers to become members of the Teamsters Union and provide a better life for their families.
At-Large VP Candidate Marcus King
Marcus King is a second-generation Teamster. He became a Teamster member in 1983 and went on to become a shop steward, Trustee, Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 676 in New Jersey.
As a Teamster field representative he was assigned to assist Local 331 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. His success in bringing pride and success in Local 331 led to the members of that Local Union asking him to stay on as President. He has been successfully elected to that position for four terms.
King has served on the National Master Freight Supplement Panel and the UPS Supplement Negotiating committee for the Philadelphia Metro area.
He was appointed the Director of the Teamsters Human Rights and Diversity Commission in 2019 and has traveled the country to insure all Teamsters have a voice on the job and in their Union.
At-Large VP Candidate Bernadette McCulloch Kelly
A second generation Teamster and native New Yorker, Bernadette Kelly has been a fearless advocate for workers, families, women and immigrants for decades. She learned about unions at a young age from her father, a shop steward and 20-year member of Teamster Local 831.
While a student at Manhattan College, Bernadette conducted her first organizing campaign, helping the school’s security guards gain union representation. That experience, along with her studies, ignited a passion for social justice and set her on a lifetime path of advocacy in pursuit of affordable, accessible education for all. In the ensuing years, her passion has not abated; Bernadette conducts union trainings and serves on her local PTA board.
After graduation, Bernadette signed on as an organizer for Teamsters Local Union 840. In 1996, after successfully organizing warehouses and nursing homes, she was elected Recording Secretary. A few years later, she joined the staff of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters as an organizer, traveling the country to help apple pickers, public sector workers, and airline employees secure the benefits of union membership and the protections of a Teamster contract. She was later promoted to the position of International Representative.
Bernadette currently serves as the Recording Secretary of Teamsters Local 210 and works closely with Teamsters Joint Council 16 and its President, George Miranda. She has assisted countless Teamster locals with organizing drives, safety initiatives, strategic campaigns, and public policy strategies.
While her union work has involved diverse industries and struggles, she has always focused her efforts on a single objective: building up working families by empowering members and helping them take their union representation to a higher level. Among her proudest accomplishments are winning a new contract for locked-out Sotheby’s art handlers, spearheading a safety campaign at Coca Cola and working with the New York City Carriage drivers to defend their industry and livelihoods.
She is currently the point person for the Transform Don’t Trash campaign, a multi-year effort that is leading to the reform of New York City’s private sanitation industry.
Bernadette credits her commitment to the union to her family, including her husband Noel, a member of Theatrical Teamsters Local 817. They reside in Douglaston, Queens, where she is an active member of the Jefferson Democratic Club. She and Noel are proud parents to Thomas, Rowan and John.
At-Large VP Candidate Greg Nowak
Greg Nowak has been a proud Teamster member since 1973, when he began driving a Stroh’s Brewery truck as a senior in high school, a job he held for 12 and half years until the company’s closure. He was elected as a Shop Steward in the late 1977 before becoming an elected Officer of Teamsters Local 1038 in 1981.
In 1990, he was elected Teamsters Local 1038 Secretary-Treasurer, and shortly after engaged in a fight against five Michigan beer distributors found guilty of an illegal pact to drive down wages and benefits for beer distribution members by falsely declaring impasse and implementing weakened contracts. After taking the legal fight all the way to the Supreme Court, the union ultimately negotiated a $41 million settlement on behalf of 2,000 members, a career-defining moment for Nowak that demonstrated the unshakeable strength of trade unionism.
Nowak became President and Principal Officer of Local 1038 in 1995 and has since been re-elected through his current term. In 1998 he was elected to the Teamsters Joint Council 43 Executive Board, appointed President of the Joint Council in 2011 and re-elected to that position in 2014 and 2018 where he is most proud of the Joint Council’s mobilization of members to elect union-friendly state officials, including Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Nowak was appointed to the Brewery and Soft Drink Workers Conference in 1999 as an International Representative, joining in the fight to protect members as consolidation changed the industry landscape. Nowak became Assistant Director of the Conference in 2016. He was appointed Director and elected as Secretary-Treasurer of the Conference in 2018.
At-Large VP Candidate James Curbeam
James “Curb” Curbeam has been a proud member of Teamsters Local 480 in Nashville, TN since 1996, and now serves as the Chairman of the Teamsters National Black Caucus after being elected in August 2018.
Curbeam began his career at Trailer Conditioners Inc. (UPS), and then, went to work at Yellow Transportation (YRC) in 2002. Since 2003, “Curb” has been on a leave of absence from YRC to work for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Organizing Department. He has also served as a Steward, Trustee, and Recording Secretary for Teamsters Local 480.
In 2003, Curbeam became a Project Organizer with the IBT for the Dugan Freight Campaign. In 2005, he accepted a full-time International Organizer position with the IBT and in 2017 was promoted to become the IBT’s Southern Region Organizing Coordinator.
For more than 20 years, Curbeam has been a dedicated Teamster actively fighting for dignity, fairness and respect for all working people. Through his organizing efforts, including a national campaign to organize Red Cross employees, he has helped bring thousands of hard-working men and women into the labor movement as Teamsters, building Teamster Power.
AT-Large VP Candidate Dennis Pierce
Dennis R. Pierce has served as National President of the 57,000-member Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, a Division of the Teamsters Rail Conference, since July 1, 2010. He is the first BLET president to win election by direct vote of the membership since the Organization was founded in 1863, and was relected as President by acclimation in 2014 and 2018. President Pierce has also served as President of the Teamsters Rail Conference since June 24, 2010.
President Pierce began his railroad career as a Burlington Northern Maintenance of Way employee in 1977 in Lincoln, Nebraska. In 1979, he transferred to a clerical position with Burlington Northern. In 1980, he transferred again to the firemen’s craft and earned promotion to locomotive engineer in 1981.
President Pierce started as a union officer at the grassroots level, working his way up through all of the levels of the Organization. Brother Pierce joined BLET Division 98 in Lincoln, Nebraska, on April 1, 1981 and became Local Chairman of Division 98 in 1991. In 1995, he was elected as a full time Vice General Chairman for the largest Bargaining group on Burlington Northern, now BNSF Railway. He became the General Chairman and Principal Officer of that Bargaining Unit in 2001, which represents over 3500 members in 45 different Local Divisions, serving in that position until 2008 when he became an Officer of the BLET’s National Division.
As BLET National President, Pierce has led the Union’s National Negotiating team for two previous rounds of bargaining resulting in national freight agreements for BLET members in 2012 and 2017 that were each ratified by over 70% of the voting members in 2012 and 85% of the voting members in 2017.
Pierce is BLET’s lead negotiator in the current round of negotiations that began on January 1, 2020, and also serves as one of the spokesmen for the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition, a coalition representing over 80% of the railroad workers in national negotiations.
Pierce was also recently elected by all Rail Union Principal Offices to serve as Chairman of the Cooperating Railway Labor Organization, a group responsible for the administration of the health care benefits for all railworkers covered by the Rail Unions’ National Health and Welfare plan.
Eastern Region VP Candidate Thomas “Tommy” Gesualdi
Thomas “Tommy” Gesualdi proudly joined Teamsters Local 282 in 1982. Tommy began his career in the New York City Highrise Industry working his way to the position of Teamster On-Site Steward where he represented the members on site as well as those delivering to and from the site. His experiences would lay the groundwork for his future as his duties included delivery logistics, contract and safety compliance for the members, the handling of grievances and serving as a liaison between the Union and the Contractor. As a third generation Teamster, Gesualdi has and always will be proud to serve the rank and file, and lead a Union that has literally helped build New York City from the ground up.
Gesualdi’s organizing skills were recognized when he along with some concerned rank and file members fought to reclaim Teamsters Local 282 from receivership and derailed the forces that were looking to undermine New York City’s strongest construction union. As a team, these dedicated members rebuilt the resources in the general fund to ensure the Local could take the employers on whenever necessary. He also vigorously bargained contracts to provide so many with excellent fringe benefits.
From the picket lines to political campaigns, Gesualdi puts members into motion holding politicians accountable and ensuring his members receive strong contracts. As a business agent, he has always worked to ensure that the contracts were lived up to and enforced. Tom negotiated multiple labor agreements and was elected to the position of Secretary-Treasurer in 2000. He was subsequently elected to the position of President / Principle Officer which he has held unopposed since first assuming in 2009.
Under Gesualdi’s direction, Teamsters Local 282 takes responsibility for its membership seriously by moving policy forward that raises the safety standards for all construction drivers. To this point, through these successful efforts even the nonunion driver has benefited from an increase in safety, a point that Gesualdi doesn’t hesitate to point out to them during organizing efforts as well as all the other benefits of what becoming part of a Union is all about. Organizing non-union drivers is a foundation to his Local’s mission and he is passionate about getting involved and helping the Teamsters Construction Trades Division with organizing efforts in redi-mix concrete, heavy and highway civil, bulk aggregate hauling and building material delivery industries. They provide excellent work opportunities to countless men and women throughout the Country and organizing is key to further building Teamster Power.
Gesualdi is co-chairman to the Local 282 Trust Funds. The Local 282 Scholarship Program which was his brainchild 10 years can attribute its success to a motivated membership committed to educating, celebrating and bettering the lives of the children of our Teamster members.
Gesualdi proudly sits on the Executive Board of Teamsters Joint Council 16. He is also a member of the New York Building Congress and the New York City Central Labor Council and Executive Board Member of both the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and of Nassau/Suffolk counties on Long Island
Finally, Gesualdi is involved with many charitable organizations including Outreach, Angels Guardian and Ronald McDonald House in efforts to continue to help people.
Gesualdi and his wife Renee have two children, Diana and Danielle, and he is a proud grandfather to Aiden and Alex.
Eastern Region VP Candidate Maria S. Perez
A second generation Teamster, Maria has a longstanding commitment to improving conditions and fighting for workers’ rights. She started her Teamster career in December 1972 working on the ground floor in a Chatham, New Jersey factory where she became actively involved in the Teamsters and served as Shop Steward for eight years. In May 1988 she was hired by Local 97 as a Titan Operator. In November 1996 she was appointed Business Agent, in 1998-2006 was elected Recording-Secretary and in 1999 became the Office Manager and Bookkeeper for the Local. In 2006 she was elected Secretary-Treasurer, a position she currently holds.
Maria is a native of Puerto Rico. She is as devoted to her family as she is to her Union members. She is the proud mother of Teddy Perez, Teamster Local 560 member and proud grandmother to future Teamsters Jordan, Justin and Teddy Junior, a.k.a. T.J.
In 2008 Maria’s efforts were recognized by the Teamsters Hispanic Caucus-NY Chapter. She received the award for Advancing and Promoting the Welfare of Workers throughout the Metropolitan area. In 2012 Maria was honored at the TNBC Northern NJ Chapter, in October 2014 by the TNHC-Florida Chapter and on February 27, 2016 by the TNHC-Puerto Rico Chapter.
Maria has been a Teamster activist for over 45 years and encourages today’s youth to follow a Teamster career for a bright and successful future.
In addition to her role at Local 97, Maria holds the President position at The Teamsters Hispanic Caucus NJ Chapter, the elected position of 1st Vice President at the Teamsters National Hispanic Caucus and serves as Trustee to the Local 97 Benefits Fund.
“I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me”. Philippians 4:13
Eastern Region Candidate Paul Markwitz
Paul Markwitz, President of Teamsters Local 118 began his Teamster career working at Spartan Beverage in 1983. Elected as Union Steward shortly after he was hired, Paul effectively represented his fellow members working in the Beer & Beverage industry during his ten years there.
In 1993, Paul went to work for The Genesee Brewing Company with Teamsters Local 791. His background within the Beverage industry coupled with his representational skills naturally resulted in his election as a Union Steward and a member of the negotiating committee at the Brewery. During his early years with Local 791 he used his organizing and representational abilities to help lead the Local towards a new vision of building Teamster power and growth within the Rochester area. In recognition of his hard work and dedication to the Union, he was appointed a Trustee with Local 791 in 1996 and began working full-time for the Union in 1997. Ultimately, Paul was elected President and Principal Officer of Local 791.
As President of Local 791 Paul organized over 750 workers at the Greece Central School District. This unprecedented growth elevated the presence of the Teamsters organization in the Rochester area. In addition, Paul was the point person on behalf of five other labor unions reaching an agreement that ultimately saved the Genesee Brewery from closing their doors.
In early 2005 Paul worked to unite the entire Rochester area under one Local, and in September of that year, the reality of that vision came full circle. As part of the newly merged Local 118, Paul held the positions of Trustee, Recording Secretary, Vice-President and in 2013 was elected President and Principal Officer of the Local.
As President/Principal Officer and Business Agent of Local Union 118, Paul continues to work tirelessly for the advancement of the membership and all working men and women in the Rochester area. Paul has or is sitting on a number of area pension, health & welfare and 401(k) funds as well as several credit union and area labor councils.
Paul and his wife Yvette have a daughter Jenna who is an Assistant District Attorney with Monroe County and son Daniel who is now a second generation Teamster.
Southern Region VP Candidate Robert Mele
Robert Mele began driving for UPS in September 1981 and soon after started serving as a Teamsters Local 988 Union Steward. As a Steward and member, he served as an elected officer on the Boards of two Credit Unions that serviced the local’s members: Teamster Local 988 Credit Union and the Houston Teamster Federal Credit Union. Mele remained a driver and a UPS Steward until December 2003 when he became a Local 988 Business Representative.
After assisting and advising other 988 Business Representatives in organizing, negotiations, arbitration and representation matters, as well as Local operational issues, Mele was overwhelmingly elected President of Local 988 in 2006 – the first President of Local 988 to be elected out of the UPS bargaining unit. Mele served on the Teamster Southern Region UPS Supplement Negotiating Committee, the Teamster National Master Negotiating Committee, currently on the National UPS Safety and Health Committee.
Mele also became the Treasurer of the Teamster Local 988 DRIVE PAC fund in 2007. Under his leadership, Teamster Local 988 has held the highest participation in DRIVE of any Teamster Local Union in America for 2010 – 2017 and thereafter has maintained the highest status of platinum in the IBT’s new recognition system. Mele has been the Local Union Political Coordinator and the Joint Council Political Coordinator. He is a staunch supporter of the Butch Lewis Act and has lobbied on critical Teamster issues at the local, state and federal levels.
Mele was appointed to Joint Council 58 in 2008 and quickly rose to President in 2010, where he continues to serve today. Mele built a diverse Joint Council Executive Board and with their help has increased the assets of the Joint Council tenfold. Mele has served as chairman on the Houston Area Teamsters Pension Fund and currently holds a board of director position. He serves as a Vice President on the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation, is a member of the TXGCALF Constitution Committee and has served on the IBT Constitution Committee. Robert participates in COPE screenings and is a delegate to the Harris County Labor Assembly.
Mele received the 2015 MLK Community Trailblazer Award at the inaugural MLK Honorary Banquet of the TNBC’s Houston Chapter along with Texas State House Representative and two-term Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. He received the Pioneer Leadership Award at the 2018 National TNBC Conference.
Local 988 and Mele received proclamations from local, state and federal officials recognizing the selflessness and compassion to victims of Hurricane Harvey by declaring December 14, 2017 as “TEAMSTER LOCAL 988 Day” in Houston Texas or “leading the way” and their active involvement during the City of Houston’s Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. Robert previously worked with the Teamster Disaster Relief fund to bring relief to Local 988 members during Hurricane Ike in 2008 and help to develop disaster response techniques and collaborations that were utilized to help Local members effected during Hurricane Harvey.
Southern Region Candidate Josh Zivalich
Josh Zivalich was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1969 and is proud to be a second generation Teamster. Zivalich has been a member of Teamsters Local Union No. 769 since 1990. He worked at United Parcel Service in Deerfield Beach, Florida as a preloader while attending Florida Atlantic University. He majored in and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Florida Atlantic University in 1992.
While working at UPS, Zivalich became active in the Local Union and served as a Shop Steward for Local 769 on behalf of his co-workers. As a Steward, actively recruited new members, assisting the local in organizing new groups, and in the Local’s Political Action Activities as a member of the Broward County Young Democrats. He was also engaged with their Homelessness Action Committee.
In 1993, Zivalich was hired as a part-time Assistant Business Representative with Teamsters Local Union 769, where his responsibilities included recruiting new members and coordinating information during the 1993 IBT/UPS negotiations. Later in that same year, he was hired as a fulltime Business Representative with Local 769.
Since then, Zivalich has handled thousands of grievances, organized new groups, and negotiated contracts in industries including small package (UPS), propane & natural gas, medical transportation, food service, concrete, janitorial, and public sector. He regularly serves on the Southern Region Area Parcel Grievance Committee. He was appointed by General President Hoffa to serve on the IBT Southern Region Negotiating Committee for the 2002 UPS contract, and also served on the IBT National Negotiating Committee for the UPS Contract in 2018.
Throughout his career, Zivalich has been active in issues important to working people and was a member of the Broward County Living Wage Coalition (2002). He has been very involved in numerous political campaigns and issue-oriented campaigns in Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties and remains active in the Central Labor Councils of those areas. Zivalich currently serves on the Executive Board of the South Florida AFL-CIO.
From October 2003 to December 2017, Zivalich served as Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 769 then in January 2018 he became the President and Principal Officer of the Local.
Zivalich has also served as Labor Co-Chair for the United Way Donation Campaign of Miami Dade County. In 2012, he was honored to be named to the Board of the United Way of Miami Dade County. He also serves as the Political Coordinator for Teamsters Local 769.
Zivalich is married to Lety Ramirez and has two children, Nina Rose and Anthony.
Central Region VP Candidate Nina Bugbee
Nina Bugbee, President of Teamsters Local 332, received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from Olivet Nazarene University and has been a licensed registered nurse for 35 years. She first became involved with the Teamsters as a union steward in 1988 while she worked at Flint Osteopathic Hospital and served as a member on the negotiation team for the first time in 1990.
In 1993, Bugbee became chief union steward and from there advanced through the ranks and was elected Vice President/Business Agent in 1996. As a business agent, Bugbee became chief negotiator for Genesys Regional Medical Center registered nurses and technical health care employees. In 2000,
Bugbee was elected Teamsters Local 332 President in 2000. In 2007, she was elected Principal Officer of the Local where she has held an executive and administrative position of leadership for representation of approximately 3,000 union members.
In addition to her Principal Officer duties, Bugbee was appointed to the Michigan Teamsters Joint Council 43 Executive Board in 2013 as the Healthcare Advisor and was subsequently appointed as a Trustee on the board in 2015. In 2014, Nina was appointed as the Central Region Director of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Public Service Division.
Bugbee’s background as a nurse caring for the sick and vulnerable created a passion for serving and representing Teamster members, building strategic campaigns to ensure workers receive strong contracts, and working to elected officials at all levels of government responsive to Teamsters and our labor issues.
Bugbee led a member mobilization effort to fight collectively for those whose lives were threatened by the Flint Water Crisis. Bugbee and members stood together to expose the political causes that led to a city’s water system to poison children, families and the community at large as well as elect officials who would protect working families in the region. She continues to educate members on the importance of their votes.
In April 2016, Bugbee was named the Executive Board Chair for the IBT American Red Cross Coalition of Unions. In January 2019, Nina was appointed to serve as Director of the IBT Health Care Division and Women’s Conference.
Central Region VP Candidate Brian Aldes
A 31-year Teamster, Local 320 Secretary-Treasurer Brian Aldes began his service to Local 320’s membership as a steward protecting workers’ rights on the shop floor at the Hennepin County Juvenile Corrections Facility. Defending members and bargaining that contract created a passion to do more for the Teamsters and the labor movement.
Aldes has served Teamsters Local 320 and its 11,000 members for 21 years as an organizer, business agent, and currently as its Secretary-Treasurer. As an organizer, Aldes brought Minnesota’s public defenders together under Teamster representation, traveling 286,708 miles of road to organize public defenders in all 87 of Minnesota’s counties.
As a business agent, he has represented public employees in all crafts from police officers, corrections officers, social workers to public works maintenance workers.
As Secretary-Treasurer and principal officer, Local 320 has trained strong leaders, built its own organizing program and established an unparalleled political program to elect union-responsive candidates into office.
Aldes serves as Teamsters Joint Council 32 Executive Board Vice President and is an International Representative to the Public Services Division where he assists Teamster Locals around the country with steward training and specializes in contract negotiations.
Central Region VP Candidate Jesse Case
Jesse Case, Secretary-Treasurer and Principal Officer of Teamsters Local 238 in Iowa, began his union career at age 19 when he was fired while trying to organize the slaughterhouse where he worked – an event that set the stage for a career spent organizing thousands of workers and negotiating hundreds of contracts across multiple industries.
As a labor and community organizer, Case has more than 30 years’ experience leading public and private sector organizing campaigns across more than 20 states, Local 238 has had recent success in organizing the campaigns of US Presidential candidates including the staffs of Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and the staff of the presumptive nominee, Joe Biden, making Local 238 the first union in history to represent a nominee of a major political party. In addition to Local Union Organizer, Case served as a National Campaign Coordinator for the IBT.
Case has served in multiple roles including Business Agent, Trustee, Recording Secretary and State Political Director at Teamsters Local 238, Iowa’s largest local union with 5,000 members, before being elected Secretary-Treasurer and Principal Officer in 2016.
Case is founder of the Teamsters Community Action Network (TeamCAN), a social justice network providing infrastructure, training and resources to support community campaigns. He is cofounder of the Teamsters Law Enforcement League, cofounder of the Center for Worker Justice, and is a Vice-President of the Iowa Federation of Labor.
Case is the recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. award from the Black Voices Project and recently won a Human Rights Award from the Iowa City Human Rights Commission for his work passing local ordinances to raise the minimum wage, sponsoring an annual civil rights bus tour for underprivileged high school students and coordinating affordable housing campaigns, primarily in LatinX communities.
Western Region VP Candidate Eric Tate
Eric Tate, Teamsters Local 848 Secretary-Treasurer lives by his career-long motto: Honesty, integrity, education, and hard work lead to success.
Tate’s career as a Teamster began in 1992 when he was hired by Laidlaw Transit as a bus driver. After a year as a driver, he gained the trust of his co-workers and was elected Shop Steward. After two more years driving his daily bus route and volunteering as Shop Steward, Tate was named Local 848’s Shop Steward of the Year.
Tate became a Business Representative and Political Coordinator for Teamster Local 848 in 2000. As Business Representative, Eric Tate negotiated increased wages for Union bus drivers from the $8 per hour he earned to today’s rate of more than $27 per hour and increased the number of bus drivers within Local 848 from 350 drivers to more than 2000 today. The contracts he has negotiated with the bus companies have not only increased income, but now pay 100% of the drivers’ medical premiums for members and their families and as-much-as $3 per hour towards the Teamsters Pension Plan.
As a Political Coordinator, Tate spearheaded Senate Bill 158 with the help of the Teamster’s state lobbyist, legislation which protects privatized bus drivers’ jobs when new bus companies take over the service within any city in the state of California. Today that bill is known as Labor Code 1070 – 1074.
All this was accomplished while Tate attended night school, graduating Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science Degree and is a member of The International Honor Society in Business Management and Administration (Sigma Beta Delta).
In October 2009 Eric Tate became Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 848, the first African-American in the Western Region to attain this goal. The members of Teamsters Local 848 have shown their confidence in Tate by re-electing him to office four times, twice via white ballot.
Eric has been married for more than 30 years and has two adult children, a daughter and member of Teamsters Local 848 working at Sealogix; and his son who is a special needs adult who has overcome life threatening health, mental and physical challenges.
Western Region VP Candidate Jason Rabinowitz
Jason Rabinowitz is the Principal Officer of Teamsters Local 2010, and Public Services Director for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with decades of experience and activism in protecting workers’ rights. Rabinowitz became Executive Director of Teamsters Local 2010 in 2013 and was elected Secretary-Treasurer and Principal Officer in 2014.
Rabinowitz has led the charge to transform Local 2010 into a powerhouse for workers’ rights in California, increasing membership from 29 percent to more than 80 percent for the first time in the Local’s history. Under his leadership, Local 2010 created an effective Union Steward program, conducted powerful contract campaigns including successful strikes, won strong contracts with guaranteed raises for members, and organized more than 2,500 new members. Teamsters Local 2010, a diverse, progressive and active Local Union, represents nearly 14,000 clerical and skilled trades employees at the University of California and California State University.
Rabinowitz was appointed Director of the 200,000-member IBT Public Services Division in January 2019. He led the effort to implement a strategic plan to defend and build Teamster power in the public sector in the face of anti-Union attacks on public workers: Teamster membership in the public sector is higher today than on the date of the anti-worker Janus decision.
Before coming to Local 2010, Rabinowitz served as a Teamster lawyer for 16 years, and served as a Professor of Labor Law at UC Davis Law School for four years.
Raised in a Union household, Rabinowitz dedicated himself to the cause of labor and justice at an early age. His mother was a public service worker and Union leader in her Union. Some of his
earliest memories are walking the picket line and attending Union rallies with his family. In high school, Rabinowitz organized students to protest apartheid, including civil disobedience at the South African Consulate, where he was arrested alongside civil rights and labor leaders
In college, Rabinowitz was a student leader active in pro-labor causes. When members of the
electrical Union at a nearby factory went on strike, he organized students to join the picket
line. When mine workers in Virginia took the historic strike against the Pittston Company, Rabinowitz organized hundreds of students in a “Caravan to the Coalfields” in support of the miners. When black students were attacked on campus, He was a primary organizer of mass rallies against racism, including “Hands Across Campus – Against Racism,” in which more than 4,000 students and workers joined hands in an unprecedented show of unity.
Rabinowitz, lives in Oakland, California, with his wife, two daughters, and newborn son, but on most days he can be found somewhere in the state of California, or across the United States and Canada, meeting with members and fighting for workers’ rights.
Western Region VP Candidate Karla Schumann
Karla Schumann is a 30-year member of Teamsters Local 104 who began her career at UPS. She’s served as a Business Agent for the past 18 years, amassing a vast array of experience in the labor field, including years of contract negotiations, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services, arbitrations and various panel systems.
Schumann became Teamsters Local 104 Vice-President in 2008, serving in that role until March 2017 when she was unanimously endorsed by the Executive Board to serve as Secretary-Treasurer of the statewide Arizona Local Union. In November 2017, Schumann was elected by the membership as Secretary-Treasurer. After just a year, in 2018, she was named Arizona Labor Leader of the Year.
Schumann has served on the IBT/UPS National Negotiating Committee for 2002, 2007, 2012, and 2017, as well as the Western Region Supplemental Negotiating Committee, Southwest Package and Sort Rider Negotiating Committee. She is a Trustee on the Teamsters Joint Council No. 3 Executive Board, Trustee on the AZ-AFL-CIO Executive Council and serves as a Trustee on the Western Region 177 Healthcare Fund. She also is a Trustee on the Arizona Laborers/Teamsters Trust Fund.
Karla is dedicated to the members of Local 104 and serves them tirelessly. She is proud of building a Local Union dedicated to internal and external organizing and creating a strong financial foundation. Her commitment is her strength and she is known for being a tenacious and strong force at the bargaining table.
Western Region VP Candidate John Scearcy
John Scearcy has been a member of the Teamsters Union for 28 years. He began his career as an order selector at Supervalu in Tacoma, WA, and worked 13 years on night shift at Food Services of America, where he was quickly recognized by his co-workers as a natural leader in his workplace and a fierce defender of workers’ rights.
After serving as a Shop Steward for several years, John became a Union Representative with Teamsters Local 117 in Seattle in 2006. Four years later, he was appointed to the President position by unanimous vote of the Local 117 Executive Board. In 2015, John became the principal officer and Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117 and was re-elected to the position by a vote of the membership in 2016 and elected again by white ballot in 2019.
Under John’s leadership, Local 117 has grown to become one of the largest Local Unions in the Teamsters Union. In 2019, Teamsters 117 increased its overall membership to 17,000 members by organizing over 1,700 workers in Washington State’s gaming industry. In 2020, the Local helped pass groundbreaking legislation in the City of Seattle that provides a first-in-the-nation grievance procedure and the highest wage in the nation to the city’s 30,000 Uber and Lyft drivers.
John was recognized for his outstanding leadership by the Martin Luther King Central Labor Council receiving the ‘Best Principal Officer’ award in 2017 along with another award for ‘Best Organizing Campaign’. In 2019, the Washington State Labor Council awarded John the ‘Power to the People’ award for his leadership and commitment to organizing and political action.
John currently serves as a Vice President of the Washington State Labor Council and is Chair of the Race and Labor committee. He is known as a fierce advocate for all working people, always holding management accountable and has negotiated some of the strongest Teamster contracts in the country while maintaining focus on member mobilization, organizing, political action, and social justice.
International Trustee Candidate Peter Núñez
When I began my career as a UPS employee in 1981, I would have never dreamed where it would take me. Back then, over 40 years ago, I was concerned more about raising a family and buying a home than going to a Membership Meeting. As a part time employee, it was easier to let others get involved than to do so myself. As a full-time package driver, it was clear to me that my job, while important, had greater value because I was a Union Member. I appreciated the pride of being a Teamster and understood that being a Teamster Member meant something special. I encouraged my co-workers to take an active part in our Local Union and so we began attending meetings and got involved with our Union, and as a Shop Steward it was all about representing the Members.
Today, more than ever, it’s still all about representing the Members. Our Union is still the strongest Labor Union in North America. Yet, despite this fact, many in our Union work to undermine our strength and encourage division instead of Unity. I’ve had the privilege and honor to represent the Members of Teamsters Local 431 for the past twenty years as a Business Agent, Secretary-Treasurer and now as President. Throughout my tenure at Local 431, I have remained committed to the concept that together we can accomplish a lot if we do not care who gets the credit. Working for the Membership has provided the greatest sense of accomplishment and personal satisfaction I could have ever known.
I am humbled and honored to have been asked to join the Vairma – Herrera Teamster Power Slate and run as an International Trustee. Over the last 20 years, I have had the opportunity to meet some of the brightest and committed Union Officers and Members within our organization. There are no Teamsters better suited or more dedicated than Steve Vairma and Ron Herrera to lead our great Union as General President and General Secretary
Treasurer. The pool of talented Teamsters all over this Country is as diverse as our Membership. The Vairma Herrera Teamster Power Slate recognizes the importance of diversity and has sought to reflect that diversity in the people they have asked to join with them on this mission of representation, integrity, and inclusion.
Diversity is significant, but along with that must come experience and dedication. I would not have accepted the invitation to run alongside these two great leaders if I did not feel my qualifications justified my being asked to join this slate. As a Trustee, I will continue to commit and ensure that the wellbeing of our International Union is upheld. That the trust and faith our Members expect, is honored to the highest degree. I have spoken to many of the people I have met in my 4o years, who embody the same principles that I respect and try to emulate. I have been encouraged by my Local Membership, my peers on the various Committees on which I serve, and by respected Leaders of our Organization, that it is time to accept this challenge and add my voice. Our Membership is hungry for leadership that will be strong in representation, committed to growing our Union and protecting all our Crafts that make up our International Brotherhood and Sisterhood of Teamsters.
We need leadership that recognizes that UNITY is not just a word, but a goal and an expectation for longevity. Without unity we cannot expect to face the challenges that workers across this Country must deal with daily. Our commitment must be to challenge those that seek to divide us, to find a way to build on the truth, and to accomplish both by encouraging all Teamsters pull in the same direction. My commitment today is what it was 40 years ago when I became a Teamster: honesty, integrity and always in the service of the Membership. I commit to my dedicated Local 431 Members and to all Members of the Teamsters Union, that I will be there with you on the front lines, in the trenches or wherever I can be of service, ensuring that we move forward as Teamsters, always forward.
Teamster Career Experience & Highlights
- Hired at UPS as Seasonal UPS Peak Season Part Time Employee in 1979
- Hired as a permanent Part Time UPS Employee in 1981
- Hired as a Full Time UPS Package Driver in 1984
- Elected Package Driver Shop Steward in 1987-2000
- Appointed Picket Captain during the 1997 UPS Strike
- Successfully qualified as a Full Time UPS Feeder Driver in 1997
- Appointed as Business Agent of Teamsters Local 431 April 2000
- Appointed to serve on the UPS NorCal Negotiating Committee 2002 to present
- Appointed as Secretary-Treasurer in 2003 and Elected Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 431 from 2004-2015
- Elected as a Trustee on the Fresno County Coalition of Organized Labor (C.O.O.L.) 2012 to present
- Elected as a trustee on the Fresno-Madera-Kings and Tulare Counties Building Trades Executive Board 2013-2015
- Appointed President in 2015 and Elected President of Teamsters Local 431 from 2016 to present.
- Appointed to the Teamsters Joint Council 7 Executive Board as a Trustee in 2016 to present
- Appointed to the Northern California General Teamsters Security Fund (N.C.G T.S.F.) in 2015 to present
- Appointed to the Northern California Teamsters Apprentice Training (N.C.T.A.T) Trust 2015
- Appointed as Chairman of the Teamsters Northern California UPS Committee from 2017 to present
- Served on the Nor Cal Teamsters National 2018 UPS Contract Negotiations Committee from 2017 to present
- Appointed by James R. Hoffa to serve as a Representative for the I.B.T. Package Division 2019 to present
- Appointed to serve as a Trustee on the Pacific Coast Benefits Trust Fund 2019 to present
Chris Tongay, Candidate for Trustee
Chris Tongay started his career in 1986 as a part-time package handler at UPS. He began serving as a Teamsters Local 688 Union Steward in 1989 for his part-time sort until he became a package car driver in 1996. Local 688 asked Chris to become a full-time steward for his package center and then made him a picket captain for the 1997 UPS Strike.
Chris became a Business Representative for Local 688 in 2002. For the first several years of his career, he serviced contracts from many industries including warehouse, vending, maintenance workers and soft drink production. These duties included negotiating a variety of contracts, hearing grievances, and working with Local 688’s legal team in arbitration cases. He was also involved in organizing and negotiated several first contracts for the Local.
In 2006, he returned to his UPS roots and was named the Union Co-Chair of the Teamsters/UPS Missouri-Kansas-Nebraska Joint Area Grievance Committee. Chris has also served as the Chairperson for the 688 Local Rider Negotiating committee in 2008, 2013 and 2018, as a member of the UPS Central Region Negotiating Committee in 2008 and 2013 and as a member of the UPS National Negotiating Committee in 2018. He spent ten years as the lead Business Representative for Local 688’s over 3,000 UPS members.
Chris has served on Local 688’s Executive Board since 2015, first as Vice President, then taking the helm as Secretary-Treasurer and Principal Officer in 2016. He and his team just won election to a new three-year term. He also serves as a Trustee for Teamsters Joint Council 13 and the Missouri-Kansas-Nebraska Conference of Teamsters. Chris is on the Finance Committee for the Ohio Teamsters Strike Fund and has eleven years of experience as a Union Trustee on Local 688’s multi-employer pension fund, Teamsters Negotiated Pension Plan, as well as serving as a Union Trustee for the St. Louis Labor Health Network.
Right-to Work was on the ballot Missouri in 2017 as a referendum called Prop A. Chris was part of the statewide organized labor team that defeated it. From his position as a Vice President of the St. Louis Labor Council and well as the Teamster leadership positions he holds, he was able to coordinate member efforts throughout the state to educate voters on working family’s issues.
Charitable causes are part of the mission that is important to Chris. He currently serves as a volunteer member of the Board of Directors of the United Way of Greater St. Louis and has forged relationships between Local 688 and many charities throughout the St. Louis area.
*All references to official IBT or Local Union titles are for identification purposes only.*