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Detroit – International Brotherhood of Teamsters President James Hoffa promised United Auto Workers members gathered here for the 2018 Constitutional Convention that 1.4 million Teamsters members would support UAW members during upcoming contract negotiations with the Detroit Three.

"(We) will stand with you," Hoffa said to thunderous applause. "We will honor your picket lines. I hope there’s not a strike, but we will be with you all the way. We will be with you all the way. We will stand with you."

UAW members gathered at Cobo Center gave Hoffa a standing ovation. The UAW will begin contract negotiations with the Ford Motor Co., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and General Motors Co. in 2019.

The most recent negotiations – those that took place in 2015 and developed the current contracts with the automakers – have been tainted by the conspiracy between a now-deceased union vice president and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's top labor negotiator.

UAW President Dennis Williams on Monday used his final Constitutional Convention to distance the union from alleged corruption stemming from an ongoing federal investigation. Williams has said as much in the past.

Hoffa's seven-minute remarks Tuesday are the latest in a long history of cooperation between the Teamsters and the UAW. Hoffa, the only son of former Teamsters head James "Jimmy" Hoffa, who disappeared in 1975, applauded Michigan's organized labor, and officials' ability to organize and boost membership even as Michigan became a so-called right-to-work state.

"We stand as a beacon of hope for all working people in America," Hoffa said. "Organizing is the key to everything we're doing. That has to be our future."

The Teamsters boss pointed to U.S. factories without unions run by Toyota and Volkswagen as places that need the UAW. Hoffa also suggested Hollywood actors and actresses should join the UAW or the Teamsters if they're truly worried about equal pay.

"I was watching TV, and some of these movie stars were getting up and talking about 'Boy, we need equal pay for equal work,'" Hoffa said. "Well, why don't you join the Teamsters or the UAW? We've got that in our contracts. Where have they been? You want equal pay? Join a union. You want dignity on the job? Join a union. You want a bigger paycheck? Join a union."

The Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists is a labor union that represents roughly 160,000 members, including film and television actors and actresses. The union negotiates contracts for TV and movie stars.

Hoffa also said the North American Free Trade Agreement, which President Donald Trump has suggested replacing, has cost the UAW and Teamsters many jobs. Hoffa said he and Williams have "been to the White House" and "we're not going to stop until we bring those jobs back to the United States where they belong, and give them to people here who deserve those jobs."

That comment, too, received applause from UAW members gathered here.

ithibodeau@detroitnews.com    

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau

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