From the streets of Queens’ tough neighborhoods to the heights of leading a union with 1.4 million members is an extraordinary journey. This has been the life of Gregory Floyd, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Mr. Floyd’s Local 237, with 24,000 public employee members, making it the largest teamster’s local in the nation, came to my attention when old friend Phyllis Shafran told me about working with this amazing man. I never knew that the union represents over 500 different title jobs from School Safety Agents and police officers at public hospitals to administrative attorneys to airport administrative assistants to auto claims adjustors to plasterers to plumbers to storekeepers to zoning inspectors — it literally goes from A to Z careers covering an enormous breadth of people. And Mr. Floyd is worried.
After his rise from the youngest hospital police captain at Queens Hospital Center, he was elected vice president of the group’s association. He was elected in 2007 as the union’s president, the fifth in its 55-year history.
His power and influence was recognized when he was appointed as a trustee to the Board of the N.Y.C. public pension fund, the employee retirement system, one of the largest public funds in the United States. It controls assets of $41 billion. It is a position from which he is advocating that the pension dollars should be used to help get the city through its fiscal crisis.
Although his position requires his attention seven days a week his family still takes his highest priority. The day we met he was off to watch his son play ball. He shared that whenever possible he doesn’t miss a game. He also doesn’t miss an opportunity to remind everyone of the accomplishments of the union movement.
“I think that people have forgotten the achievements labor has made over the last 100 years,” he said. “For example, the 40-hour work week is now standard for all workers, union or not, as are the eight-hour work day and decent wages and benefits.”
Mr. Floyd is a proud man who realizes he has his work cut out for him.
Although many battles have been won by labor there still seem many more are ahead. He seems the right man in these challenging times.
As a member of the Council for Unity, which promotes safety, unity and achievement in schools and communities, his experience seems appropriate for our times and never needed more.
Greg Floyd is a man and a name to remember!