Laporte Expected To Take Canadian Membership To ‘New Heights’ As President Of Teamsters Canada

TEAM1847_01_FLaporte11Just a month after 115,000 ballots were mailed out to Teamsters across the country – a new Teamsters President was officially announced on March 19.

François Laporte of Local Union 106 in Montreal has been elected President of Teamsters Canada, replacing Robert Bouvier who held the position for the last 15 years.

Richard Eichel, Secretary-Treasurer and Principal Officer with Teamsters Local 362, commented that ‘this is a great announcement that will take our Canadian membership to new heights.’

Laporte has been with the Teamsters for 30 years, starting out with Local 1999 and Joint Council 91 in 1985. Over the years he has held the position of Communication Specialist, Organizer, Director of Government Affairs and Union Representative.

Previous to his new role as President, he has held the position of Assistant to the President of Teamsters Canada since 2000.

“I look forward to taking up this new and exciting challenge,” said Laporte in a statement released from Teamsters Canada. He also added that the Teamsters Union is a ‘powerful organization that will continue to have a positive impact on its members and all Canadian workers.’

Teamster Experiences The True Meaning Of Unity In Selma

The Edmund Pettus Bridge is around 1,200 feet long and crosses the west flowing Alabama River. Upon first glance it seems like an average bridge, but in 1965 it became a powerful symbol for the civil rights movement.

Just over 50 years ago on March 7, the bridge was the site of what would become known as ‘Bloody Sunday’, where over 500 civil rights marchers, including Martin Luther King Jr., headed out to march from Selma to Montgomery for voting rights.

20150308_164345After crossing the bridge, they were met by deputies and state troopers who attacked the group with nightsticks and tear gas, leaving dozens injured.

“You really had to stop and take a moment and say, ‘wow. What they must have gone through,’” said Troy Wright, a Teamsters 362 executive board trustee who went down to Selma on behalf of the union to the 50th anniversary event.

Originally form California, Troy's parents are African American and he said knowing what they had to go through in the 50’s and 60’s, just to get the right to vote, really impacted him.

It is a right, as Troy pointed out, that we often take for granted today. He said what affected him most was visiting the museum in Selma, with so many pieces of history that told the story of these civil rights marches.

This brought up ‘deep feelings’ for him, viewing photos of water hoses and police dogs, seeing a ‘blacks only’ water fountain and a figure dressed up like a Klu Klux Klan member, hooded with a whip.

He described a jar of multicoloured jelly beans that was taped up and African Americans would have to guess how many were in the jar in order to vote, adding that they would never 'guess the right number.' “That was when it all came together was in the museum,” said Troy. “It really kicked in.”

image018 During his three days there he was also able to hear President Obama speak and march with thousands over the bridge, including over 70 Teamsters from around North America. Teamsters have a strong history of being tied to the civil rights movement, providing money and supplies to many civil rights groups and having a good working relationship with King.

But there is also a very tragic connection to Selma.

image019 Viola Liuzzo was the wife of a Teamster business agent and took part in a later march from Selma to Montgomery. She was driving some marchers in her car on March 25 and was attacked and killed by Klu Klux Klan members.

At her funeral King, James R. Hoffa and other Teamsters leaders were in attendance.

“That made me proud, to know in 1965 that we were part of something in the solidarity. That’s where it began and it still stands to this day,” he said.

And solidarity is one of the biggest lessons Troy said he took away from the experience.

“Unity I think is a perfect example of what I’ve learned,” he explained. “We use the term a lot – strength in numbers. The one thing I could say is that if you see a picket line, you may not be a part of that picket line, but go help. They are fighting for something, they are fighting for their rights.”

He said he is so thankful to Teamsters and secretary treasurer Rick Eichel for the opportunity to participate in the event.

Mandatory Episode 6: The Coworker Perspective

When Travis Baumgartner fatally shot three of his coworkers, and injured a fourth, it not only deeply impacted the victim’s families, but also the other employees at G4S.

In this episode of Mandatory, we hear from the coworkers’ perspective how they dealt with the tragedy that occurred on June 15, 2012, when Eddie Rejano, Brian Ilesic and Michelle Shegelski lost their lives and Matthew Schuman was injured.

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Teamsters Local 362 member, Trisha Hinds, explains that her initial thoughts were indescribable, her mind filled with so many questions of ‘why?’ Why did this happened and who would do something like this?

Another Local 362 member, Wayne Fleischauer, had hesitations about returning to work. Trisha feared working with any new employees while Local 362 member, Rob Harkness was not even comfortable with anyone standing behind him. These feelings were so strong that Rob explains that he needed to know where all of the exits were whenever he was out in public.

But these fears were difficult to talk about at first, for fear of scrutiny. As Trisha points out, in her mind mental illness is ‘one of those things that people don’t want to talk about.’

“There needs to be programs, not just in the armored industry but everywhere, every company,” she said.

After the incident Rob was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and faced scrutiny at work when he courageously shared his struggles but he still doesn’t regret talking about it and never will.

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“People can think what they want, but I definitely know that if I didn’t do this I would be a lot sadder in life and more depressed. Life is to short as we all know, as of June 15 that’s for sure,” he said.

You can take action today to make mental health support in the workplace a mandatory requirement. Together we can help raise awareness and reduce stigma associated with mental health. Help us take action so that we can support each other through these challenges. #Makeitmandatory

Teamsters Helping Teamsters

When people come together to support each other and stand strong, a lot can happen. This is especially true when that support involves a huge truck and trailer to back you up.

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Pulling in on site, laying on the horn and seeing the people on the picket lines give a thumbs up and start to cheer is something Teamster truck operator Stacy Tulp described as a great feeling.

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Stacy and other Teamsters offered that support this February when the Teamsters rail division went on strike for two days. They took out the truck with the Teamsters logo across the front to Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Moose Jaw. Joining the fellow Teamsters really lifted people’s spirits on the picket line according to Stacy.


“We are showing the public we are out here in full force and that all of the Teamsters are supporting one another,” he said.

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As union members, Teamsters are committed to helping other Teamsters – they are brothers and sisters that all have one thing in common said Stacy, so the support is always there.

Mandatory Episode 5: The Bigger Picture

Inside Kelley Fogarty's home is a stone with the word ‘Thankful’ engraved on it – a word that took on a whole new meaning for her on June 15, 2012.

On that day, an employee who worked with her son Jordan shot four fellow employees. Eddie Rejano, Brian Ilesic and Michelle Shegelski, lost their lives and Matthew Schuman was critically injured.

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Kelley said she couldn’t imagine losing one of her children and her heart breaks for those other families who did. She bought the stone the next day she said, because she couldn’t have been more thankful that her son was okay.

Raising awareness and support is key when dealing with mental health as pointed out by Kelley, who herself has dealt with it in her own life. As she explains an individual with a mental health issue may not ask for help, because they don’t understand exactly what they are asking help for.

If Jordan talking about what happened at his workplace helps just one person dealing with a mental illness, then he has made a difference according to Kelley.

Increasing awareness of the causes, symptoms and support available can help those who may be dealing with a mental illness and can assist in reducing the stigma associated with it.

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Statistics show that 20 per cent of Canadians will personally experience mental illness at some time in their life and all Canadians will experience it indirectly in some form, whether that is through a family member, friend or colleague. The time is now to start raising awareness about mental health.

Help us make mental health support in the workplace a mandatory requirement by raising awareness and reducing the stigma. Take action today so that others won’t have to suffer alone. #Makeitmandatory.