TNBC Sergeant-at-arms Keep Peace, Hold Honor
Planning for and preparing a convention—for any group—is a lot of hard work. There are behind-the-scenes items to take care of, presenters to line up, registration to get through, and then the event itself.
That’s where the sergeant-at-arms come in.
Not Teamster officials but not exactly rank-and-file members, sergeant-at-arms help when and where they can. Donning bright yellow vests and warm smiles, it is their job to escort people to open seats, hold open doors, or, in the event of emergencies, help convention participants to safety.
Mostly, though, sergeant-at-arms help keep peace—a job John Hogue does with statuesque sincerity.
“For the most part, we’re door keepers and we keep the order,” said Hogue, a member of Teamsters Local 853 in San Leandro, Calif. who served as a sergeant-at-arms at the 2010 Teamsters National Black Caucus convention in Washington, D.C. “I have never once experienced disorderly conduct at these conventions, which is a huge compliment to the type of people we have in the Teamsters.”
A shop steward, Hogue said he has always been extremely active within his local union and was looking for ways to increase his participation. So when his business agent suggested he participate as a sergeant-at-arms, Hogue jumped at the opportunity.
Hogue became a sergeant-at-arms two years ago and said the volunteer position has allowed him experiences and opportunities he wouldn’t otherwise receive.
“Being a sergeant-at-arms really allowed me the opportunity to participate on a different level. Through conferences like the TNBC, I’m able to interact with different people and local unions from around the country,” Hogue said, adding that this year’s TNBC convention theme, building relationships and establishing resources, was a message he took to heart.
“I think relationships and resources are a great focus. Developing networking and people skills are going to help me as a union member, shop steward and individual,” Hogue said. “I’m really going to make an effort to build and grow.”
Hogue encourages other eager Teamsters to inquire about volunteer positions like sergeant-at-arms, as well as educational opportunities that can benefit themselves and those around them.
“I’m really committed to being the best steward I can be,” Hogue said. “By taking on positions that give me access to information and education, I’ll be able to use what I learn to help others.”