Richard Blake

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Richard Blake is close to Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack! in Jacksonville Florida.

WFTU World Working Youth Congress meets Italy

Richard Blake addressing World Working Youth Congress in Rome

From FightBack! News in 2017:[1]

"Rome, Italy - The third World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) World Working Youth Congress opened here, Nov. 2. Delegates from Italy, Vietnam, Brazil, Denmark, Mexico and many other countries exchanged experiences on organizing young workers to fight for their rights and building class-struggle trade unionism.
"Among the speakers was a young Florida Teamster, Richard Blake, who was well received by the delegates.

Syria rally

Police launched reacted strongly to a “No war with Syria” rally in Jacksonville’s Hemming Park, April 7. 2017. At least four were arrested, and that one protester was "beaten so severely that he has been hospitalized".

About six Trump supporters attempted to disrupt the 50-person anti-war rally. A Trump supporter got behind the speakers with a pro Trump flag and hit a protester with it; at that point the cops launched their attack.
On demonstrator, Connell Crooms, was punched in the face and kidneys, while a taser was in his back. He was arrested and is now in the hospital. A member of Veterans for Peace, Will Haeger, was punched in the face by the cops. Rally emcee Dave Schneider was arrested across the street, where he was encouraging protesters to go to the jail to support those who had be detained.

“Police completely ignored the pro-Trump provocateurs, as they moved in to unleash merciless beatings. I have never seen this kind of brutality,” said Richard Blake, one of the protest organizers.[2]

WFTU delegate

Rome, Italy - The third World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) World Working Youth Congress opened here, Nov. 2. 2017.Delegates from Italy, Vietnam, Brazil, Denmark, Mexico and many other countries exchanged experiences on organizing young workers to fight for their rights and building class-struggle trade unionism.

Among the speakers was a young Florida Teamster, Richard Blake, who was well received by the delegates.[3]

Teamsters United victory

Dave Schneider and his comrades backed Fred Zuckerman, John Palmer & the Teamsters United slate in 2016 union elections.

Dave Schneider November 16, 2016 near Jacksonville, FL ·

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You wanna know how we won Florida? This amazing Team right here, plus countless others not in the picture all over the state and in Georgia who believe we need fighting unions, not collaboration with Corporate America. Big shouts out to DP Williams, Connell Crooms, Richard Blake, Fern Figueroa, Jacque Griffin, Greg Vinson, William Workinger and everyone else who made this possible. The future is bright! #512POWER #HowTheSouthWasWon #unionPOWER #MakeTheTeamstersFightAgain — with DW Ponder, Richard Blake and Fern Figueroa.

Teamster socialists

Dave Schneider October 2, 2016 near Chicago, IL ·

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We got to meet with Fred Zuckerman, candidate for General President of the Teamsters. I have no doubt that Fred, John Palmer and the rest of the Teamsters United slate are committed to rebuilding #unionPOWER. In Florida, we're going all-out to win in November. #MakeTheTeamstersFightAgain — with Richard Blake, Gabriella Killpack, Fred Zuckerman, DW Ponder and Kas Schwerdtfeger.

Teamsters United

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.”

Author Dave Schneider is a UPS Teamster shop steward out of Jacksonville, FL. Richard Blake provided research for the article.[4]

References