Newsletter Volume 56, Number 4
Organizing: In between contract negotiations and enforcement, the Local 386 staff has been busy organizing several major distribution centers in the Modesto area.
“After the workers at CVS voted to join the union, we trained our sights just across the street and next door,” says Local 386 Secretary-Treasurer Gaylord Phillips. Kohl’s Department store runs a distribution center across the street with approximately 300 employees. “When we were on the street in front of CVS, Kohl’s employees stopped us and asked us to help them organize,” says Phillips. “We have now been meeting with them for several months, doing house calls, inoculating and educating these folks. We will file for an election as soon as the time is right.”
Next door to CVS is W.W. Grainger. According to Phillips, Grainger has already begun conducting a fierce anti- Teamster campaign.
Politics: Even though it is an offyear for elections, Local 386 has been developing a plan to find pro-worker candidates among those who are looking to gain political office locally. “We cannot depend on politicians to keep their word,” says Phillips. “We need to cultivate leadership from our own ranks. The union is working with the North Valley Labor Federation to encourage our members to get involved at the local level, including running for office.”
Activism and fun: Not only did Teamsters Local 386 staff and members attend the UFW march held in Sacramento on September 4, they also helped with logistics, delivering water and encouraging the marchers leading up to the rally at the Capitol. “It was inspiring to see so many in support of farm workers,” says Phillips.
Teamsters Local 386’s first-ever BBQ was a huge success, with more than 1,000 in attendance. The Local thanks Joint Council 7 President Rome Aloise for coming out to speak, as well as Political Director Doug Bloch, the JC7 Executive Board, and “stunt driver” Doug Radonich, who brought Joint Council 7’s 53-foot tractor trailer down to the river on all 18 wheels. Phillips also thanks all the Local 386 members, staff and EBoard members who donated their time and culinary skills to make the event a success.
Local 439 members and the Local’s new truck showed up in Sacramento for the September 4 rally to support the United Farmworkers in their effort to gain card check organizing rights.
Local 439 thanks the 1,800 members and guests who participated in the 12th Annual Labor Day Picnic. The Local’s next annual event will be the Christmas Dinner. Be sure to check your Union Bulletin Board in November for more information.
Local 439 leadership is proud to announce that the members at Safeway and Martin Brower have secured industry- leading contracts. “This was no easy feat,” says Secretary-Treasurer Sam Rosas. “It took prudent decision-making and collective efforts from our membership to meet our goals.”.
Local 601 held its first Member Appreciation Picnic on June 12 at Woodward Park in Manteca. More than 1,500 members and their families attended and it was a great success.
I give credit to Principal Officer Ashley Alvarado who made sure that everything was well-organized. We had loads of fun with the face painting, bouncing houses for the kids and a lot of prizes. Even the JC 7 Teamsters big rig showed up. There was plenty of food, three live bands and dancing. It was excellent—really first-class.
I have been a member and Steward of Teamsters Local 601 for 15 years and have never experienced anything like this union picnic. I got to meet other stewards and members I had never met before. It was good stuff and I look forward to next year’s picnic being even bigger and better!
By Alan Tahran, Steward, Teamsters Local 601
Fifteen commercial tire technicians subcontracted at Bridgestone Mileage who work on public transit buses at San Francisco’s Muni yards and San Mateo County (SAMTRANS) have voted for representation by Teamsters Local 665.
The August 27 vote was the culmination of 14 months of work by Local 665 business agent Tom Martin. “NLRB elections are always difficult,” Martin says. “We lost the first election by one vote, a year ago. I told the guys to hang in there, and sure enough the techs won the new election in a 9-4 vote.”
The tire techs, who repair and replace all of the tires on public transit buses in San Mateo and San Francisco, keep the ride smooth for hundreds of thousands of commuters in the West Bay.
Local 665 is working with these new members in anticipation of difficult negotiations. “These guys stuck together during the past year. That solidarity should hold together as we gather for talks with Bridgestone,” Martin says.
After exhaustive economic review, as well as extensive work by Local 665 and Joint Council 7 and support from Local 287 and the South Bay Labor Council, the staff of the City of San Jose agreed that anyone making a bid to run the parking concession at San Jose Mineta Airport must agree to pay their employees the prevailing wage, also known as the Airport Living Wage Ordinance (ALWO).
With tight budgets, some politicians advocated eliminating the prevailing wage, but the staff determined that “there would be insufficient potential savings to merit a revision to the prevailing wage policy.” This decision puts unionized contractors on a level playing field with their non-union competitors in bidding for the concession, and ultimately doesn’t cost the city any more.
In recent months Local 856 has won four separate arbitrations surrounding issues of wrongful termination, seniority, past practice, wage differentials and disparate treatment of members.
A 10-year employee at Delta Dental in Rancho Cordova was awarded her job back and nearly two years of retroactive pay and benefits when an arbitrator sided with the Union’s contention that she was a victim of disparate treatment when it came to the employer’s attendance policy.
The member had been terminated in late 2009 when the employer claimed that she had exhibited “excessive absenteeism.” However, the Union was able to show that Delta’s “no-fault attendance policy,” which the company claimed was created to maximize objectivity, was anything but objective and applied extremely unevenly.
“Attendance cases are difficult, but this case was important for our membership at Delta,” said Business Representative Rudy Gonzalez. “It proved to the employer that it’s not just our members who have to follow company policy – management must play by the rules as well,” he said.
Local 856 also prevailed in an arbitration that affected phlebotomists at Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley. Phlebotomists, the lab technicians who take patients’ blood and perform other vital patient care services, suffered monetarily because of their employer’s unilateral decision to disregard past practice and the collective bargaining agreement by not calculating wage differentials as agreed to at the bargaining table.
Phlebotomists who attain a special certification are entitled to a wage differential. However, after the last contract was ratified, the hospital failed to properly apply the differential when calculating overtime, shift differentials and paid time off resulting in a loss of hard-earned wages.
“The parties met on several occasions in order to try and settle the dispute,” said Business Representative Matthew Mullany. “However, we were unable to resolve this matter and so the Union was forced to file for arbitration.” The arbitrator agreed with the Union, ruling that the hospital had violated the long-standing past practice of using the certification differential in the calculation of shift differentials, overtime and paid time off. The arbitrator’s award prescribed that the members were to receive all monies owed to them retroactively and that the hospital abide by the past practice in future calculations of the technicians’ pay.
Local 856 successfully restored a member to work at the Golden Bridge Highway and Transportation District when her employer unfairly scrutinized her use of the Family Medical Leave Act. The 12-year employee was terminated last year after the employer decided to use its own standards to determine her medical condition and treatment rather than relying on evidence presented by boardcertified physicians. The arbitrator ruled with Local 856 in deciding that the employer did not use just cause in its determination to terminate the member.
Local 856 is currently negotiating the terms of her return to work.
The next arbitration dealt with the issue of seniority at the San Francisco Zoo. Several animal keepers’ rights were violated when the Zoo unilaterally decided to manipulate scheduling to avoid paying members for holidays to which they were entitled. The matter was resolved at arbitration when the union was able to show that the Zoo had violated past practice and members’ seniority rights by denying a member her rightfully-owed holiday pay.
“While the majority of grievances can be resolved at earlier stages in the grievance procedure, sometimes it’s necessary to take the fight all the way to arbitration,” said Local 856 Principal Officer Joe Lanthier.
“These victories send a message that whether grievances affect whole bargaining units or a single person, Local 856 will vigorously defend and protect the rights of its members. These cases demonstrate that employers cannot violate rights of our members and expect the union to lie down,” he said.
This August, the Dole salad plant workers in Soledad, CA voted to ratify their new contract. General labor workers are now making $9.31 an hour, and packing machine operators make up to $16.09, plus pension, and health insurance for only $35 per month. These workers will also receive periodic raises under their agreement, putting them far ahead of their non-union counterparts at other salad plants.