Teamsters Presidential Candidate Forum

Saturday, December 7, 2019 starting 2 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Cedar Rapids, IA.

6 CANDIDATES: Biden, Bullock, Booker, Buttigieg, Harris, Klobuchar, Sanders and Steyer.

Background:  This event is part of the Teamsters endorsement process.  According to the press release, "This forum is a prime opportunity for candidates to tell Teamsters directly why they are the leader who will effectively push for retirement security, stand up for union rights, and go toe-to toe with world leaders on advocating for fair trade policies."  Two candidates who had been scheduled to participate dropped out in recent days, Bullock on Dec. 2 and Harris on Dec. 3.  See also: Teamsters Vote 2020 fact sheets Protect Pensions and Strengthen Collective Bargaining Rights. [PDF]

Teamsters Presidential Forum
Program of Speakers


  • Jesse Case, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 238
  • Larry Yoswa, President of Teamsters Joint Council 32
  • James P. Hoffa, Teamsters General President
  • Vice President Joe Biden
  • Sen. Cory Booker
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar
  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Tom Steyer
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders

Teamsters Host Presidential Forum, Learn Candidates’ Vision

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Six leading U.S. presidential contenders shared their views with more than 700 Teamster members and retirees here on Saturday about pension reform, expanding collective bargaining rights and other top issues that matter most to hardworking Americans.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, investor and activist Tom Steyer and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont all participated in the Teamsters Vote 2020 Presidential Forum, which was co-sponsored by The Guardian and the Storm Lake (Iowa) Times newspapers. There, they argued why they would be the best choice for workers to become the nation’s next chief executive.

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said it is essential that candidates make it clear they are standing up for the middle class.

“We want to hear about the issues. We’re Teamsters, and we vote,” he said. “They’ve got to get our vote. That’s what this is about.”

Union members and retirees on hand for the forum said they came to the event because they wanted more clarity on the vision those seeking the presidency have to help working Americans.

Mark Nice, a retired member of Local 200 and a member of the Wisconsin Committee to Protect Pensions, rode a bus four hours from the Badger State with 25 others to hear what the candidates have to say about boosting pensions.

“We want to hear the candidates’ stances particularly on the pension issue,” he said. “We want to know where they are on the issues that affect us, and that goes for those still working as well. We want to know what their plan is for us.”

Local 104 Principal Officer Karla Schumann came all the way from Arizona to attend the forum. She said her members are most concerned about making sure their union rights are protected.

“What’s super important to us to hear from the candidates about the workers’ issues,” she said. “Our members want to know about the stances of the candidates on collective bargaining and strengthening unions, whether it’s health and safety or health care or workers’ rights on the job.”

Discussions about boosting pensions and improving collective bargaining were front-and-center at the event.

Biden, addressing the crowd, said he understands the importance of pensions because his own dad lost his pension. He said under a Biden administration, he’d order the U.S. Treasury Department to issue one percent loans for plans that are faltering.

“These multi-employer pensions is the only way that works for many unions, like the Teamsters,” he said. He told Teamsters, “When labor is strong, you keep the barbarians at the gate.”

Sen. Booker, asked about boosting pensions, noted he is a co-sponsor of the Teamsters-backed Butch Lewis Act. “We made a promise, he said. “It is something we should go to the mat for, and I will if elected president of the United States.”

Sen. Klobuchar noted the importance of unions in her family, as her grandfather was a former Teamster and her parents were both represented by unions. She said pensions are the backbone of those contracts and should be honored.

“I believe promises made should  be promises kept,” she said, noting she voted against a 2014 omnibus funding bill that included a provision that allowed pensions to be cut by as much as 70 percent. “We must ensure that people have their pensions, and that includes the Central States Pension Fund.”

Mayor Buttigieg said more has to be done to improve the lives of workers. Worker struggles, he said, are “the result of policy decisions, beginning in the Reagan era, that disempowered workers.” He recommended ending the Taft-Hartley Act and banning so-called right to work as a way to empower unions.

Steyer said there is a need to put a check on corporate power, and that is something strong unions will do.  “We need to fight back against this 40-year war on workers,” he said. “Corporations are not people. It’s ridiculous.”

And Sen. Sanders said increasing union density through legislation like he is offering would make a real difference. “For me, being pro-worker and pro-union is not a new idea. I didn’t poll test it. If elected, we will have a workers’ government in Washington, D.C.”

The Teamsters’ presidential forum followed a commitment made by the union to get involved early in the 2020 election process. Members have volunteered for trainings and hit the campaign trail all across the country to get presidential contenders on the record about what they will do to fix pensions, strengthen collective bargaining and ensure fair trade.

The Teamsters have also gotten seven current presidential candidates thus far to sign a pledge promising to address those issues. And the union has built a website — — where people can go and get answers directly from the mouths of the candidates themselves.

Teamster members can’t be easily won. Their voices, and the voices of all American workers, must be heard. That is why the union has asked all of the candidates, Democrats and Republicans, to make several serious commitments to receive endorsement consideration.

Besides signing a pledge, the Teamsters are asking candidates to sit down for an interview to address supporting legislation that protects pensions and retirement security, strengthens the ability of workers to join a union and establishes a new trade policy that protects working people. Eight current Democratic presidential candidates have already done so.

It is not enough for candidates just to say that they stand with working people. The Teamsters have invited them to join the union in action fighting on the front lines. The union has asked all candidates to partner with us in support of workers, whether at a strike line, an organizing committee meeting or any other true show of solidarity.

Candidates who fulfill all the requirements will be eligible to receive the Teamsters’ support. Ahead of a union endorsement, the union leadership will poll membership and survey local union leadership. From there, the General Executive Board, at the recommendation of the general president will, or will not, make an endorsement.

November 21, 2019

Teamsters Announce Presidential Candidate Forum Focused on Worker Issues

Biden, Bullock, Buttigieg, Harris, Klobuchar and Sanders Confirmed to Participate

(WASHINGTON) -- As 2020 presidential hopefuls continue to vie to win working people’s votes, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), representing a diverse 1.4 million members nationwide, today announced the details of a presidential candidate forum focused on issues facing workers. The forum, organized in partnership with The Guardian and The Storm Lake Times, will take place on Saturday, December 7, at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Vice President Joe Biden, Gov. Steve Bullock, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Bernie Sanders are confirmed to participate. Presidential candidates who agreed to sign the union’s three-point pledge and participated in an on-camera interview with the IBT were invited to attend the forum.

“The Teamsters are proud to welcome candidates, our members, and friends of the union to our presidential candidate forum in Cedar Rapids,” said International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa. "Candidates know the importance of the Teamsters vote in any election, and our members are fully engaged and ready to make a difference in the 2020 election. This forum is a prime opportunity for candidates to tell Teamsters directly why they are the leader who will effectively push for retirement security, stand up for union rights, and go toe-to toe with world leaders on advocating for fair trade policies."

Candidates will appear individually on stage, where they will take questions from moderators Leslie Marshall and Art Cullen and Teamsters members from Iowa and other key 2020 states. Marshall is a political analyst and host of The Leslie Marshall Show, and Cullen is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and editor of The Storm Lake Times. The discussion at the forum will be focused on issues affecting Teamsters and their families.

“America faces a momentous political choice, against a backdrop of escalating inequality and the ongoing erosion of workers’ rights,” said Guardian US editor John Mulholland. “The fact that CEO compensation has risen by 940% over the last 40 years while workers’ pay has risen by 12% in the same period is an outrage. Workers are getting a terrible deal and this type of capitalism simply isn’t working for millions of workers. We are pleased to partner with the Teamsters union to host a special town hall event where workers' voices will be heard."

Christian Andrews, a member of Teamsters Local 238 and candidate for state legislature in Iowa House District 95, said: “Presidential hopefuls have been pleading their case as leaders to Iowans for almost a year now, but few have been specific about policies that matter to Teamsters the most: retirement security, work and career opportunity protections, and finally, will our kids and future generations have the opportunity to join a union like ours, Teamsters Local 238?"

The forum announcement comes after the IBT in October announced its 2020 presidential election program to engage with Teamsters members and outline its endorsement process. As the foundation of its 2020 program, the union asked its members to complete a survey in-person or online to provide insight on which issues matter most to working people. The union received more than 22,000 responses from members in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and American Samoa that revealed the top three issues on members’ minds to be protecting retirement security, collective bargaining and the right to join a union, and fair trade policies.

Presidential candidates looking to win the union’s support are required to sign the IBT’s three-point pledge on key member issues; participate in an on-camera interview; grant card-check neutrality if their campaign staff seeks to form a union; and partner with the union in support of specific organizing campaigns, strike efforts or contract negotiations.

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

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Josh Levitt
Phone: 646-517-1826