Teamsters Shop Steward Goes Above and Beyond to Help Stranded Couple at Airport

There is going the extra the mile at your place of work and then there is what Teamsters Local 362 Shop Steward Pei-Ling Vanden Brink did last month.

Pei works at Garda Pre Board at the Edmonton Airport and has been there for 6 years. On May 14 while on shift she was asked to help a couple from China who only spoke Mandarin, and who had been through quite the ordeal.

While on a flight back from Dallas to Shanghai as part of a tour group, the flight had to be grounded in Edmonton due to a medical emergency on board. While EMS was on the plane dealing with the medical emergency of another, the gentleman who only spoke Mandarin complained of being nauseous. The EMS and tour guide said he should get off the plane and be treated.

It turned out he was fine, but when he and his wife tried to get back on the plane they were stopped. According to the flight records, he and his wife were still on the plane. They would not let them back on.

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They were stuck in Edmonton – not able to speak English and all of their luggage on board except for one small bag with their passports. No money, no food and no idea what to do.

That was when Pei was called at around 8:30 p.m.

“They kept telling me that they were fine when I asked if they needed anything, but I could tell that they were upset,” Pei said of her interactions with the couple.

She translated everything to the airline and was on the phone with the tour company for hours trying to find them a flight home. There were no direct flights to China from Edmonton, but she did find a flight from L.A.

Although she was supposed to be finished work at 10 p.m., she accompanied them to the airport hotel at nearly midnight. She bought them food and made sure they were comfortable, and explained that they needed to be at the counter at the airport at 6 a.m.

Even though Pei had the day off, she went and met them the next day at 5:30 a.m. with tea, a cell phone charger and medication for the woman who had mentioned having a headache.

And then she purchased the tickets for them to go to L.A. and get a direct flight home.

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“She is from Taiwan so she understood their culture,” explained Ernest Poetker, a fellow Shop Steward who has worked with Pei for six years. “When they arrived home a day and a half later, they called Pei and said they considered her their daughter.”

Pei said she has talked with both the family members and the couples since they have been home quiet a few times.

“She reminded me a lot of my mom,” said Pei, adding that she is happy they still keep in contact.

Pei’s kindness helped a couple who would have been in a lot of trouble without her and we couldn’t be prouder to have her as a member of Teamsters 362.

Get Out And Vote: Teamsters Talk About The Importance of Voting At Every Level (Authorized By Teamsters Local 362)

Authorized By Teamsters Local 362

The federal election is only a few weeks away, and casting a vote is one of the most important ways you can make your voice heard. Voting gives you a say in how you want your country to be run for the next four years.

With voter turnout in Canada hitting record lows, it is important for Canadians to become engaged and get out and vote this Oct. 19.

In this video, Teamsters 362 members talk about the importance of voting at every level, whether it is within the union, provincial or federal.

Boston Brings It: Teamsters 362 Women Feel Empowered After Attending Women's Conference

This August one of the oldest cities in America hosted a group who represent the future of women in workplaces across North America.

Boston was home to the 2015 Teamsters Women’s Conference, an event that brings together ‘Teamsters throughout North America in the spirit of sisterhood.’

“I didn’t know what to expect, but it opened my eyes,” said Trisha Hinds, a Teamsters Local 362 member who attended her first conference this year.

Laughs, tears and incredible stories are what she said she would remember most.

“I didn’t realize how strong these women are – fighting for what’s right and fighting for equality.”

Women’s pay equality in Canada is something that has been a hot topic since a report from the UN Human Rights Commission said that Canada needs to ‘make more of an effort to ensure that Canadian men and women – especially minority and indigenous women – are paid equally for work of equal value.’


But under a Teamster collective agreement pay equity among women and men in the workplace is not an issue. A recent Institute for Women’s Policy Research report showed that women in unions receive 'better pay, and greater access to employer-provided health insurance, paid sick leave and retirement, among other gains.'

Hinds recalled hearing a story from one woman at the conference from the United States who was single mother and consistently dealt with racism at her place of work.

“Stories like that really stuck out,” said Hinds. “To be part of that and experience that was incredible. There was so much to take in and listen to.”

Another Teamster 362 member who understands that feeling very well is Yvonne Bruyere, who this year attended her fifth conference.

Over the years she said she has made many friends at the events and stayed in contact with the ladies over the years.

Most of all though, she's said she enjoys seeing the different ages come together at the conference.

“It’s a big learning experience. You are learning something new every time you go and how the times have changed. You learn the changing of the generations. The new generation, it is totally different from when I started working,” she explained.

Bruyere said her biggest take away from the conference each year is empowerment, quoting Jimmy Hoffa to describe the feeling, who said 'you ladies are power.’

The key is in the exchanging of ideas of unity and solidarity, empowering all of the women together, according to Bruyere.

For Teamsters 362 member Shelly Crooks who attended the conference, the speakers were what stood out.

She recalled the speech Sean O’Brien, president of Teamsters Local 25 in Boston, who talked about the support the local teamsters provided to bombing victims in Boston and a speech from a Boston bombing victim named Heather Abbot, who told a ‘powerful story about the challenges she had overcome after losing a leg.’

The conference also included ‘an impressive program of speakers, dozens of educational workshops and union-building activities’ with in-depth workshops on everything from shop steward training to the history of the Teamsters Union.

For Crooks, seeing all of these women from all different locations, backgrounds and walks of life come together and empower each other was what left her feeling ‘like a different person’ after the conference.

Being part of the Teamsters union is something Crooks said she felt extremely proud of and she said helps to pave the way for the rights of women in the workplace.

“More women need to be able to speak their minds in a comfortable environment where we’re all on the same page,” she said. “When you hear everyone’s stories, it seems like there is a lot that can be discussed. People feel better when they can discuss their issues.”

Shop Steward Is Always Ready To Help Out A Fellow Teamster

Teamster Jeff McConnell was nominated to be a shop steward by his fellow workers, and it has been a role he has enjoyed ever since.

He said he has become someone that they know they can come to with any problems – they have always stood by him the workplace, and now he is there to make sure their voices are heard.

And having Teamsters to back him up when he brings forward concerns, is something he said he takes pride in.

"When you have big brother like Teamsters, you are getting that equality and the fairness that everyone deserves," he said.

Hear more about his story in our latest Lives of 362 video.

Teamster Takes Pride In Sense Of Togetherness

Jim has been with the Teamsters for nearly a decade, and over those years he has developed a good relationship with his business agent – something he said is important as an active member.

He said by staying in contact with his business agent, he always feels in touch with the union, keeping up on important dates and any contract changes.

Besides the excellent wage, health benefits and pension that comes along with being a Teamster, Jim said it is the sense of unity that he takes pride in.

“You have someone on your side,” explained Jim. “It is nice to have a sense of togetherness and brotherhood."

Lawrence Jacques: Taking Pride In His Role As A Business Agent

The responsibilities of a business agent in the Teamsters union is multifaceted.

From selecting strong shop stewards to processing grievances to running meetings – business agents have a lot of roles to fill, and Lawrence Jacques takes pride in all of them.

Jacques started out as a shop steward with Teamsters and was happy to transition into the role of business agent – a role he said really gives strength to the members.

"They know there is someone standing there, removed from the company, who is acting 100 per cent of the time in their best interest," he said.

In this video we learn more about Jaques and what it takes to be a business agent for Teamsters.

The Life Of A Business Agent

The role of the business agent is one that is so much more than dealing with a grievance.

Working their way up from employee to shop steward to finally, a business agent, is a rewarding journey – described by several of Local 362’s business agents as ‘the ultimate.’

They are strong advocates for members’ rights, have an important relationship with the shop steward and are someone you know you can call if you have any issues.

Whether it is dropping in to check on worksites, answering members' questions about benefits or even acting as a mentor to others within the union – those who take on the role are extremely passionate about what they do.

Teamsters 362 will be profiling some of our business agents and the journey they have each experienced. In this trailer, you will get a glimpse into the life of a business agent and the esteem each one has for their role in the union.

Knowing You're Never Alone: Teamster Talks About Benefits Of Being A Member

When it comes to dealing with health issues of a loved one, worrying about the cost of medical services is the last thing you want to think about.

This is something Sandra, an administrator with Jacobs and Teamster member of 6 years, knows about all too well.

“You have too many things to worry about. You don’t want to think about 'where am I going to get the money for his medication or the ambulance,'” she said.

With the Teamsters health benefits, Sandra explained that she doesn’t have to worry about medical costs.

She said one of the biggest benefits of being with the Teamsters is knowing that you have people standing behind you.

“I have thousands of brothers and sisters behind me and that really means something to me,” said Sandra. “You're never alone with your family, same thing at work – I’m never alone.”

Shop Steward Douglas Bantu Takes Pride In Role

For Teamsters member Douglas Bantu, being a shop steward in Fort McMurray comes down to one thing – passion.

As a driver for five years at Diversified Transportation Ltd., Douglas said he didn’t originally set out to be a steward, but was asked by several employees to take on the role.

His parents were both teachers, so Douglas said he understood the importance of a union and decided that he should take on the position of a steward.

“You have to have interpersonal skills for sure. You have to be able to communicate and like people,” he explained. “At the end of the day, you are driven by your passion.”

Douglas said that passion he has is to help people.  He pointed out that the role of the steward has changed over the years and isn’t just dealing with grievances – it has become much more.

Being able to do a bit of investigating has become another aspect of the role for Douglas. He described a time when a driver was almost fired because of damage done to one of the busses he was driving.

The driver had parked the bus and the mechanic who picked it up and transferred it told the company that there was damage done to the vehicle.

He said the driver was going to be terminated – the pink slips were ready and already signed. Douglas requested that he be allowed to look into it a bit further.

After ‘eight hours of running around’ he found out that certain policies had not been followed and it was actually not the driver who had caused the damage at all. He presented the evidence and the driver kept his job.

“It takes a lot of hard work sometimes and you have to have the drive to help people. It is a good feeling. I don’t think you can find a better feeling,” said Douglas of helping the employee.

He said that the power of that collective voice is important, and as part of a union, it is easier to be heard.

Douglas said he plans on continuing to help employees have their voices heard as a steward.

“When you are passionate about making a difference, you just keep going.”

Rob Parmiter: Family Values

With 3 generations of Teamsters in his family, Rob Parmiter knows all about the security and benefits of being a union member. You are only as strong as your membership and with guy's like Rob in our corner, we're very proud to say we're one of the strongest around.

Rob Parmiter Lives of 362

"Every day... Every day is a proud moment to be a Teamster"
-Rob Parmiter 362 Pipeline/Construction Member