December 2014 / January 2015
Newsletter Volume 59, Number 5

The good, the bad, and the ugly of the 2014 elections

Another election is behind us. This year, Joint Council 7 was more engaged in local races—school boards, city councils, county boards—than ever before. The saying “all politics are local” is true, so we stepped it up. We knocked on more doors, made more phone calls, and contributed more money to local races than ever before. These people make decisions that impact our jobs and our communities. And the people who get elected on the local level go on to represent us in Sacramento and Washington D.C. So, it’s important we start at the bottom and make people work their way up the ladder with us.

In the last newsletter, I reported on our successful campaign to get AB 1897 passed through the California legislature and sent to the Governor’s desk. In case you don’t remember, AB 1897 will hold employers accountable when the temp agency they use violates major California labor laws such as overtime, worker’s comp, and health and safety regulations. The use of temp agencies are surging in every one of our major industries, such as warehousing and distribution, food processing, and solid waste/recycling. We can’t compete at the bargaining table when our non-union competition uses minimum wage temp workers, and the use of temp agencies makes it very hard for us to deliver real benefits to workers who want to organize with us.

This story became very obvious to the legislature through our campaign at Taylor Farms, where workers traveled to Sacramento and told horrifying stories of being injured on the job and sent back-and-forth like a ping pong ball between Taylor Farms and the temp agency because nobody wanted to take responsibility for their worker’s compensation claim.

Well, after January 1, 2015, that won’t be the case because the Governor signed AB 1897 into law!

Everybody told us that we couldn’t get this bill passed. It was #1 on the Chamber of Commerce’s “job killer” list, and the only bill from that list that Governor Brown has ever signed into law in his four years in office.

Our success is a testament to the Joint Council 7 local unions that are politically involved, the coalition we built with the California Labor Federation, and most importantly the Taylor Farms workers themselves.

Now on to the election results:

The Good

In Alameda County, we helped win passage of Measure BB, a plan that will bring hundreds of millions of dollars towards thousands of Teamster jobs. Under this plan, our ready-mix drivers will be busy for decades, as major transportation infrastructure is built around the County. Our BLET and BMWED members will benefit from improvements to the Capitol Corridor line. Paratransit drivers at AC Transit will be able to take advantage of a doubling of the agency’s budget, along with more money for AC Transit to continue purchasing Teamster-made buses from Gillig. Money to the Oakland Army Base project will bring new Teamster jobs in rail and warehousing. Finally, every Teamster who drives a truck in Alameda County will enjoy major street and road repairs.

In Oakland we had a clean sweep! We won the mayor’s race, both city council races, and all three school board races. Locals 70, 2010 and 853 stepped up big time and phone banked and house called every Teamster in the City. Local 70 alone had hundreds of volunteers through the Local’s picket duty program. The work paid off. It will help Teamsters in the solid waste/recycling industry, 150 newly organized bus drivers at Oakland schools, billboard posters, ready-mix drivers, parking lot attendants, port drivers, and more.

Up in Sonoma County, Local 665 and 856 swept all of their local races, including all three Santa Rosa city council seats, the Petaluma mayor’s race, and the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors race.

collage of photos of Local 856 phonebank operation in Contra Costa County on Oct. 29: Left side from top: Business Rep Javier Lectora and City of Concord Steward Liz De La Campa; Vice President Rudy Gonzalez. Right side, from top: Bill Gallagher (City of Concord), David Clark (City of Concord), and Don Stevens (United Airlines)

Mark Williams, whose dad is a retired Local 853 member, sailed to re-election at AC Transit. As previously stated, Mark was part of the leadership that pushed AC Transit to buy buses from Gillig, home to about 500 Teamsters.

Finally, one small highlight is in the Armona Community Services District, where Candi Vanegas, a former leader in the campaign to organize the Marquez Brothers dairy processing plant in Hanford, won her election with 193 votes. Candi credits our union with her inspiration to run for this board that deals with water issues in rural Kings County. The primarily Latino community pays huge sums for drinking water, as their wells are tainted with arsenic from agricultural run-off. Teamsters 948 and 517 lost-timers contacted our members and other voters in Armona to help deliver the votes for Candi.

The Bad

The Republicans took control of the Senate and the Governor’s chair in many states. Expect more gridlock in Washington D.C. and right-to-work laws coming from more states.

Here in California, Democrats failed to regain the super-majority in the State Senate and lost some seats in the Assembly. This will make it harder for us to recreate our legislative successes of the last few years.

The Ugly

In San Jose, Dave Cortese lost his race for Mayor by roughly 2,000 votes. Locals 287, 350, and 665 put a lot of work into this race but we came up short. Local 350 has a very big fight against Republic Services in San Jose for cheating their sub-contracted workers of roughly $7/ hour under the City’s Living Wage ordinance. We hope the City stays in that fight. In the meantime, we should expect San Jose to continue its fight against their public employees around pension issues. The war on workers is here in California, too.

Teamsters 315 ran phone banks out of their hall for several local elections, including the Vacaville mayor’s race. That was a bitter loss. But the Local did help pass a school bond measure in Vacaville.

In the Dublin area, Tim Sbranti lost his race in the 16th Assembly District. Although Republicans make up roughly 30% of the district, the Republican won, flipping the seat from the incumbent Democrat. The Chamber of Commerce blasted Tim as a union leader in the California Teacher’s Association, making it one of the costliest races in the state. Locals 70, 315, 665, 853, 856, and 2010 all worked on this campaign.

In Lemoore, Locals 517 and 948 sought to elect Holly Blair to the City Council. Lemoore is home to several union and non-union dairy and food processing plants, and Holly would have been a strong ally. Sadly, Holly fell short.

Finally, in Tracy, Locals 439, 601, 2010, 70, 665 and 287 worked to elect Ray Morelos to be the first Latino mayor in the City’s history. Ray came out on the lines to support our fight at Taylor Farms, and workers volunteered on his campaign. Although we didn’t win this fight, we did help re-elect Robert Rickman to the City Council. We can expect his