Jerry first got involved with the Teamsters Union when he started working with Canadian Freightways back in 1974, where he was a Dock Man and Fork Lift Operator. At first, working on the freight lines, he was making 3.25 an hour. Then he found a union job where he made 8.25 an hour. Regarding the raise in pay, Jerry states – “When I got that first paycheck from my Union job I felt like I had won the lotto!”
For 20 years he worked the afternoon shift, loading outbound trailers going to Vancouver and Kamloops, then he went to the morning shift and stripped the inbound trailers coming from St. John, Grand Prairie and Vancouver. “We used to have about 400 carts on the dock. It was a lot of hard work.” Claims Jerry. Today 90% of the palettes are shrink wrapped and ready to go. In Jerry’s words, “You try to explain what it used to be like to these new fellows over a coffee break and they just look at you like ‘what are you talking about?’… they can’t really visualize it.”
When Jerry was on the executive board, he got to attend the Teamster Convention in Philadelphia in 1996. “That was awesome!” he recalls, “It was a big turning point for the Union. That’s when Jimmy Hoffa Jr. was running for the first time against Ron Carey.” For those that don’t know, Jimmy Hoffa Jr. won that election and successfully turned international around, rescuing the union from an incompetent Carey administration that almost destroyed it. “Jimmy Hoffa Jr. must be on his third term as General President” say’s Jerry with a sense of pride.
And then there was the UPS strike [in 1997]. The Canadian’s pitched in a lot to help out the American brothers and sisters. Jerry says he felt a very strong bond with the Teamster’s Union during that experience.
“I retired just before Good Friday this year, after 40 years of service. I have a gold Teamster’s ring that’s on order and a silver watch from Canadian Freightways with 10 diamonds in it. Now, I’m redoing my yard, golfing a bit and just enjoying my time.” And so you should Jerry. You’ve earned it.