The International Teamster Women’s Caucus

The International Teamster Women’s Caucus was an idea developed at the 1991 Constitutional Convention. Teamster women expressed many of their issues, concerns and needs to Arlene Mordasini, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 911.

In the fall of 1991, a group of Teamster women from across the United States and Canada met in Boston to plan the International Teamster Women’s Caucus.

They didn’t have all the answers about how to form a caucus of this type, and there certainly was a diversity of opinions. The one common link was a need for such a caucus to address Teamster women’s involvement and recognition at all levels of the organization. The union needed an advocacy group to educate and communicate with its women. Over the course of several meetings, the group established an executive board, bylaws and goals.

In 1995, at the one and only convention of the ITWC, Cheryl Johnson from Local 20 was elected to the position of President to replace Mordasini, who was retiring. Johnson and the executive board met quarterly and collected funds from locals and Joint Councils. With their goals and ideals in place the group persisted under the direction of General President Jim Hoffa and was successful in organizing the annual Women’s Conference, which is an important function for all Teamster women. The Women’s Conference allows women the opportunity to network, learn, and get help with issues facing them today, not only in the workplace but in everyday life as well.

Through the years, Johnson has been instrumental in promoting women’s issues, bringing inequalities to the forefront to be dealt with, and in mentoring other women so they could advance. When the Women’s Conference became such a popular annual event, the Women’s Caucus decided to blend its efforts with that event. The two organizations worked in unison as an avenue of communication among women.

In order to re-establish the ITWC as an independent organization, Johnson and the board of the ITWC decided it was time to turn over the reigns. At the 2008 Women’s Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the remaining members of the ITWC became our mentors as they passed the torch to a new crew of women to head the ITWC. The bylaws were rewritten and a smaller executive board was elected.

We are a seven-member board from across the U.S. and Canada. Our officers are: Diane Helf, President (Local 20); Rachel McKibbin, Secretary-Treasurer (Local 231); Margie Brignoni, Recording Secretary (Local 63); Mary Bronson, First Vice President (Local 745); Brigitte Sottile, Second Vice President (Local 804); Vivian Garcia, Trustee (Local 986); and Betty Rose Fischer, Trustee (Local 538).

As we re-organize the ITWC, our goals and ideals are the same as they were in the beginning. The new ITWC board is currently working on membership, web site, funding and becoming “information central” to the working women of the Teamsters Union. We hope to grow and continue the great work of the past leadership of ITWC. To check us out, look for our booth at the Women’s Conference or www.itwc.info.