Saturday, April 9, 2011

Teamster scholarship essays: 'the union is a clear advantage'

Each year, the Teamsters Union awards thousands of dollars to deserving students through scholarships. Among other prizes, awards totaling $1,000 are given to students who answer a specific question through essays. Last year, applicants were asked to write about how their parents’ or grandparent’s involvement in the Teamsters has influenced their lives. Winners were decided and awards were given before the war on workers was declared, but we felt these students’ messages about working families are timeless.

For Imelda Larios, daughter of Local 630 member Daniel Larios, union membership is about more than building a strong middle class. For Larios, union membership exemplifies everything positive about being an American, from a chance at a dream to the values of democracy.

The Teamsters work hard to educate all of their members so that they will be better prepared for any kind of situation in the workplace. All the Teamsters are like one big family and I know that no matter what happens my father’s voice will be heard through the Teamsters.

My father’s membership has taught me the importance of a democratic society in which people can organize and fight for fair treatment. Through the Teamsters I have come to see that being a part of the union is a clear advantage. The Teamsters negotiations with employers allow for a higher pay, better health care and overall, a less stressful career.

The Teamsters are important to be because they allow me to stay informed through my father. As I start to enter the workplace, I am more aware of my rights and am better prepared to defend myself should I be mistreated in the workplace.
Rolland Gyorfi is the son of a Yellow Roadway driver and proud member of Local 17 in Colorado. Gyorfi eloquently sums up why unions are important and practical in America, while touching on the empowerment he has received by simply being the son of a union member:

Over the years my dad has spread the word to countless drivers about the benefits of having union representation. He supported the unions’ efforts to keep American roads safe and preserve United States jobs. He endorsed the employee paycheck and benefit cuts at Yellow Roadway Corporation in order to save the company. Although this presented a significant burden on our family my dad knew the union has put a tremendous amount of time and work into finding feasible solutions to rescue the company and safeguard thousands of jobs. Despite having to make difficult decisions, my parents were very grateful for finding stability and hope even in challenging economic times.

As I was growing up I have developed a deep appreciation for the successful, far-reaching endeavors of the union. I learned the word Teamsters is synonymous with leadership, ethics, responsibility and upholding strong commitment to protect the rights of the middle class. Exposure to these traits taught me to never give up, stand up for myself and speak up for the values I firmly believe in. My dad being a Teamster had a great impact on my family’s life and opened many opportunities for us: to be able to buy a home, put food on the table enjoy unparalleled benefits compared to non-union families, and to make it possible for me—the first in my family—to attend college.

My father’s pride as a Teamster and the compassion and loyalty of the union to its members bestowed on me important lessons that shaped my views and gave me a new perspective on what is truly important for working families everywhere.