Thursday, March 24, 2011

Teamster scholarship winners explain why unions matter

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. Now that winners have been chosen and awards given, we felt these timeless messages about working families needed to be shared. 

Samantha Fornino is the daughter of a longtime member of Local 743 in Chicago, Ill. Fornino and her family have overcome major trials and tribulations thanks to support from the Teamsters. But it is Fornino’s words about solidarity that strike a chord.
My mom has been a Teamster member for over 26 years and has been lucky enough to have a good job that offers great benefits that helped secure a decent lifestyle. […] This is directly resulting from the Teamster contract her company has negotiated.
One of the things that my mom has taught me is that as a union member, you have to support other union members, whether they are Teamsters or not. She will not shop at Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club because of their strong anti-union beliefs. She has taught me that companies like this are out to ruin the union jobs of today and the future because of the low wages and poor benefits they pay.
I am very grateful for being the child of a proud Teamster member of 26 years, because the ideals and principles my mom has taught me will go with me wherever I go, whatever I do. I want to continue to use these beliefs and traditions throughout my lifetime.

As the daughter of a member of Local 337 in Detroit, Autumn Bennett has taken part in many Teamster events, including a food and clothing drive and Labor Day parade. Bennett hits the nail on the head when she explains that union families don’t just look out for each other—they look out for their communities. Were it not for union benefits like decent wages, time off and job security, workers in this country wouldn’t be able to share their time and talents with others. But we’ll let Autumn tell you that:
At the end of the parade, there remained a positive atmosphere as I gazed at the hundreds of Teamster members who were united as one to achieve a goal. Our involvement in the Labor Day Parade as well as the food and clothing drive has affected my family on a more positive note for many reasons. […]
My mother and I served food and assisted those who were less fortunate. It allowed us to give back to the community while volunteering our services for a good cause.
These events allowed me to focus on how much of an impact the Teamster organization has had and have on more lives than just its members. Whether it’s feeding and clothing the less fortunate or providing scholarships to the children and/or grandchildren of its members, I realized the Teamster organization is for the people.
Teamsters Local 337 is a very important contributor to my family’s way of living. Not only do they affect their members’ lives, but they also touch the lives of those who are not members.