Dustin Ponder is a New York City activist, and member of Teamsters 804.
On Sept. 22, 2011 Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) announced the beginning of their campaign against a 15% tuition hike at the University of South Florida (USF). The students gathered outside the Marshall Student Center to kick off their campaign. Over the summer and then again in the fall, USF administrators hiked up tuition, increasing it from 8% up to 15%. Students are upset. As SDS member Dustin Ponder says, “This story is all too familiar across the nation. We in USF's SDS will not stand by and let such an injustice go unchallenged. In the past few weeks, SDS and other local activist organizations have been reaching out to the students of USF and are building support for an upcoming protest against attacks on our education.”
Corey Uhl, a member of SDS and a history major says, "The rising cost of tuition and diminishing financial aid is driving some students into debt and others out of school.” Michael Marchand another USF senior notes, "One unnecessary expenditure is the $35 million used to renovate the arena. Renovations include the addition of sky-boxes for the rich. SDS is demanding to know why these investments are not being used on the education of students during hard economic times."
With the kick off of the new SDS education rights campaign, students are confronting the USF administration. Dani Leppos, a USF junior is calling on all students and their organizations who oppose the attacks on education to, “Join the Oct. 4 rally for education rights organized by SDS. The student rally is taking place outside Cooper Hall. Participants will be marching to the administration building and demanding a meeting with USF president, Judy Genshaft.
"New Cold War"
New York City: What’s driving the new ‘Cold War’? Will It escalate? Can we stop it?
Teach-In: Saturday, May 10 2014 Riverside Church, Tower Room.
- NATO expansion and encirclement of Russia & China
- Why the U.S. wants a confrontation over Ukraine
- ‘Asia Pivot,’ AFRICOM & the ‘War on Terror’
- How Washington uses NGOs, fascist movements, mercenaries & drones to promote its agenda
- Why our real enemy is Wall Street – not Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Korea …
- Ramsey Clark, former U.S. attorney general, human rights lawyer
- Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report
- Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst, now antiwar activist
- Larry Holmes, People’s Power Assembly
- Sara Flounders, International Action Center
- Avin Dirki, Syrian American Forum
- Joe Lombardo, United National Antiwar Coalition
- Bill Dores, International League of People’s Struggle
- Bernard White, CPR Metro Radio
- Bernadette Ellorin, BAYAN USA
- Dustin Ponder, Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack!
- William Camacaro, Alberto Lovera Bolivarian Circle
- Bahman Azad, U.S. Peace Council, Veterans for Peace
Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee members handling the food and drinks station — with Rafael E. Peña Ortega, Persi D Lacan, Dustin Ponder and Joel Cabrera at Picture the Homeless July 2014 .
Standing in front of more than 100 Teamsters gathered in a Boston, Massachusetts park, May 29 2018, two Teamster leaders announced plans to run together for the leadership of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) in 2021.
Sean O’Brien, president of Teamsters Local 25 out of Boston, announced he will join the Teamsters United movement as candidate for general president. Fred Zuckerman, president of Teamsters Local 89 out of Louisville, Kentucky, will run with O’Brien for general secretary-treasurer.
“We supported Fred Zuckerman in 2016 because he ran on the Teamsters United platform of fighting for better contracts, opposing concessions, reviving the strike weapon, organizing in core industries and protecting our pensions,” said Dustin Ponder, a UPS shop steward in Teamsters Local 512 out of Jacksonville, Florida. “That platform is key to making a stronger union and winning a better life for our members. I hope O’Brien and Zuckerman take up the same platform in 2021.”
Ponder was part of the Teamsters United campaign in the Southern Region, which defeated the Hoffa-Hall ticket handily in 2016. Teamsters United won the south by a vote of 10,789 to 8227 in 2016, electing John Palmer and Kimberley Schultz as the new Southern Region Vice Presidents – a sharp reversal from the previous election, when Hoffa easily won against a divided opposition slate.
“The main fight right now is the battle for better contracts at UPS and UPS Freight,” said Gabriella Killpack, a UPS package car driver in Teamsters Local 222 out of Salt Lake City, Utah who campaigned heavily for Teamsters United in 2016.
Killpack refers to the ongoing contract negotiations between the Teamsters, UPS and UPS Freight, which began earlier this year. The union raised a set of contract proposals brought forward by members to address the problems they face on the job. These included an end to forced overtime for package car drivers, monetary penalties for harassment, protections from automation and driverless vehicles, and higher wages for part-timers, among many others.
Speaking to the news, Killpack said, “This announcement by two important Teamster leaders comes at a time when our members are mad as hell and ready to fight the company, up to and including a strike if necessary. O’Brien and Zuckerman have a real opportunity to help lead the fight for an end to forced overtime; $15 per hour starting wages and $5 per hour bump raises for part-timers, monetary penalties for harassment, and protecting our job standards at UPS. That’s what Teamsters want to see right now from our leaders.”
The news came as a surprise to Teamsters activists across the country, many of whom are working to turn out a strong ‘yes’ vote in the UPS and UPS Freight strike authorization poll currently underway. Members and activists flocked to social media, like the popular ‘Vote NO on the UPS Contract’ Facebook group, and discussed the announcement – and what it means moving forward.
“We want to support leaders who are willing to fight employers and not take concessions from corporate America,” said Jared Hamil, a UPS cover driver out of Teamsters Local 396 in Los Angeles, who is active in the Teamsters United movement. “That’s the problem with Hoffa’s leadership – there’s a rat line between the corruption at the top of the IBT and the sellout contracts that Teamsters get year after year.”
Corey Uhl, a UPS combo worker out of Teamsters Local 804 in New York, agreed, adding, “Teamsters United is a movement built by members who want to make our union fight – not sell us out to employers, like we’ve seen from Hoffa. We welcome leaders committed to the same platform.”
With the next international election more than three years away, Teamsters United has more immediate fights on its plate, like the UPS and UPS Freight contracts.
But continuing to build the Teamsters United coalition for the 2021 election remains crucial.
Recent Teamster history shows the importance of united action from union fighters and activists. In 2011, the opposition movement to Hoffa divided into two separate slates with different platforms. Hoffa easily defeated both and won re-election, allowing him and Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall to push deep concessions like the UPS contract of 2013.
“The Teamsters United movement succeeded in 2016 because it brought together fighters around a militant platform,” said Bob Kolstad, a shop steward in the Hennepin County Public Defender’s Office out of Teamsters Local 320 in Minneapolis. “As we campaigned across the country for Fred, we saw how the Teamsters United platform resonated with members who are tired of seeing our jobs and our lives get worse. We stood united, even with Teamsters we disagreed with, to make historic change. We’ll need to do that again to beat Hoffa in 2021, and we need that same militant Teamsters United platform to get it done.”
DSA Facebook group
Members of the California Democratic Socialists of America, statewide Facebook group, as of April, 27 2018 included Dustin Ponder.
- FightBack News, Tampa: SDS to Protest 15% Tuition IncreaseBy Marisol Marquez | September 28, 2011
- [http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/5/30/o-brien-zuckerman-announce-run-leadership-teamsters FB News, O’Brien, Zuckerman announce run for leadership of the Teamsters By Dave Schneider | May 30, 2018]