For the past six years, Local 87 member Frank Mendiara and several of his fellow UPS drivers have participated in the Adopt a Child program, raising money to purchase gifts for families in need during the Christmas season. UPS donates the use of the company vehicle for the deliveries to the families.
When Centerline was awarded the sub-contractor agreement with the Toyota facility in San Ramon, the company informed the 30 truck drivers and dock workers, who had previously worked for TQPE, that if they wanted to keep their jobs, they’d be receiving a 30% reduction in wages and benefits.
A Teamster driver in touch with the employees contacted Local 315 Secretary-Treasurer Dale Robbins to say that he thought the workers were fed up and would be interested in gaining union representation.
Robbins passed the tip on to Local 315 Organizer Jim Sveum, who promptly followed up to schedule a meeting with the employees and form an organizing committee. Within a few weeks, Sveum received a strong showing of support from the employees and 80% signed Authorization for Union Representation cards. The employer eventually agreed to stipulate to an NLRB Election by mail ballot.
On January 6, 2012 the ballots were counted and the employees showed their solidarity and fortitude by voting unanimously (27-0) in favor of the union.
Centerline’s decision to cut benefits and wages was the driving force behind the employees’ quick embrace of the union. “The employees wanted the same type of protections and job security provisions of a Teamsters contract like the Teamster driver who gave me the organizing tip enjoyed and they responded with a potent and resounding message,” Robbins said.”
As a token of appreciation, the Local 315 member who gave the tip was given a nice black Teamster jacket.
The Officers and Staff of Teamsters Local 386 welcome our newest members: the staff of the North Valley Labor Federation and the sanitation drivers from Republic Services. Inc.
The North Valley Labor Federation was formed in 2010 to combine the political influence of the three Central Labor Councils in the central San Joaquin Valley. The top labor organizations located in the jurisdiction of the Merced-Mariposa CLC, the Stanislaus- Tuolumne CLC and the San Joaquin-Calaveras CLC, came together in the fall of 2010 and helped elect pro-union candidates throughout the state. In December of 2011 the three staff members requested to join Teamsters Local 386 and of course were welcomed. We are now working with the NVLF to plan our upcoming fights for the working people of California.
Republic Services employees from two locations voted unanimously for Teamster representation in a mail ballot conducted in early January 2012. Teamsters Local 386 will begin negotiating a contract for the sanitation truck drivers in the Los Banos and Atwater locations. Teamsters Local 386 currently represents sanitation workers at Winton Disposal, a Waste Management Inc. company also in Merced County. We are looking forward to working with our newest unit.
Local 431 has a very busy year of negotiations ahead with several contracts currently open; BMC West, PDM, Nutrius, Fresno Crane and several others that will be opening soon; Farmer Brothers Coffee, Quality Manpower, Sugar Transport, Scannavino Trucking, Levi’s, Sun-Maid Growers, Lion’s Packing, Blocklite, Western Building Materials, CEMEX and Bridgford Foods.
Local 431 President Darrell Pratt would like to welcome all of our new members at Allied Waste who were hired effective December 2011, after Allied Waste was awarded the City Franchise Agreement giving them half of the City of Fresno’s commercial waste.
On September 30, H.J. Heinz officials announced to its 124 employees and Teamsters Local 601 that they would be closing their Stockton plant on December 2, 2011. Although depressed by the announcement, the Teamsters at the plant accepted the news with courage and dignity.
After meeting with the members, Secretary- Treasurer Ashley Alvarado went into “effects bargaining” with the company. In the end, the union was able to achieve the following: one week of severance for every year worked from date of hire; cash out of vacation banks and unused sabbatical; a $700 incentive bonus; holiday pay for December; six months extended health and welfare coverage for most members; preferential hiring at a nearby Heinz-owned plant and a dispute procedure for unresolved issues.
“It is always difficult to see long-term, hard working members lose their jobs,” Alvarado says. “But it was our goal to get them the best possible severance they could get. The union cooperated with the company to have nearby companies that were hiring speak to the members. We also held meetings where the members could question the Employment Development Department, health and welfare officials, Western Conference of Teamsters pension representatives and legal counsel,” she adds. “Our main goal was to do as much as possible for these dedicated Teamsters.”
At the meeting to explain the results of the effects bargaining, the members seemed genuinely pleased and appreciative of all the efforts on their behalf. Roger Reyes, a 41-year employee said, “It’s a good package, especially being able to collect severance back to our date of hire and getting extended healthcare.”
“All of us at Local 601 consider it an honor and privilege to have represented these great Teamsters,” Alvarado says.
The holidays were a little sweeter for 14 Local 856 members working as Juvenile Hall Counselors in Marin County when they were awarded four years’ worth of holiday back pay in late November.
The award, totaling more than $47,000, was the result of the County’s miscalculation of holiday overtime pay. Shop Steward Kevin Coleman was one of several members who noticed the inaccuracy in their paychecks about a year ago and contacted Business Rep Matt Finnegan.
The collective bargaining agreement states that members who work on holidays are to be paid at time and one half for every hour worked. However Coleman and Finnegan learned at a Labor- Management meeting that the County’s payroll system did not have a way of correctly calculating holiday pay. “It took the county about six months before they finally acknowledged their error,” Finnegan said. The county offered one year of back pay as a result.
After doing some research, Finnegan learned that the county could go back four years. “The County was upset that we couldn’t strike a deal, but we were rightfully owed this money,” Coleman said.
Coleman says that without the union, he thinks that the issue would have been explained away by the County and the members wouldn’t have received their money.
Coleman said he became a steward to give his fellow members a voice. “I always had ideas and thoughts, so when the previous steward left, I stepped up,” he said.
“I figured if I’m angry about something, I can do something about it. With the union, I don’t have to be the ‘Lone Ranger’,” he said.
Coleman said that members need to trust their gut. “If you have an inkling that something may not be right, explore that feeling. Once you get clarity one way or the other, you’re better off,” he said.
Finnegan agrees. “Always double check your paycheck, and if you have any questions, ask your business representative. If a member had never said anything, I wouldn’t have known. I don’t see members’ paychecks, so it’s important to relay that information.”
Each of the 14 members received between $2,000 and $4,800 depending on how many holidays they had worked.
“It was money we didn’t know we were getting. Everyone had a nice Christmas because of it.” said Coleman.
After a seven-month organizing drive and by a vote of 190-138, the 366 warehousing, manufacturing and packaging workers at Threshold Enterprises in Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley voted in November to join Teamsters Local 912.
“We’re excited. We’re happy about this successful vote and to be able to change the lives of more than 360 people,” said Secretary-Treasurer Brad Sebring.
“They did a lot of work to organize because they want to see changes,” said Local 912 President Santos Lerma. “They need job security. The workers haven’t had a wage increase in a few years. Their health and welfare is costly to them. They want respect on the job.”
Victor Martinez has worked at Threshold’s manufacturing department in Scotts Valley for five years and is excited about being a Teamster.
“We feel like we’ve achieved something big and that we have a professional union behind us,” Martinez said. “Respect and fairness is what we need, and we are glad to have the union to protect us.”
Lerma wanted to especially thank his organizing partner, Frank Harms from Local 853, who did a lot of the organizing. “Frank and I worked hard, but the credit goes to the people. They all came together and worked together as a team and that’s what made this possible,” Lerma says.
For the administrative employees at the University of California, getting a new contract was a very long roller coaster ride. Between September, 2008 when their last contract expired and December 2011, when 95% of the members finally ratified a new contract , they faced decertification of their independent union, had numerous retirements of bargaining committee members, affiliated with the Teamsters, and stepped up the support actions at campuses and Regents meetings across the state.
“None of us would have foreseen so many twists and turns in this round of negotiations, nor the many directions from which opposition would be hurled at our efforts to gain a fair and equitable agreement,” says Amatullah Alaji-Sabrie, chief negotiator for the 14,000-member unit at UC’s 11 campuses and labs.
The affiliation with the Teamsters provided the emergence of a stronger union with resources and support from the International via General President Hoffa, Public Services Division Director Michael Filler and International Vice-Presidents and Joint Council Presidents Randy Cammack and Rome Aloise. “The support of our Teamster sisters and brothers from other locals at meetings of the Regents, donors and alumni, chancellors and union coalition actions across the state was invaluable,” says Alaji-Sabrie. “I have no doubts or qualms in saying without the affiliation the negotiations would have yielded a significantly different result.”
The new contract includes a 3% across-the-board wage increase, significant step increases, and raises in the minimum salary rate. Perhaps the most significant aspect of all the wage increases is the University will no longer link wage increases to state funding, but has pledged to provide the funding for the increases from its other sources of income. And, raises will take place in July instead of October, a long-time union goal.
Health premium increases will be capped at 20% in a year. Contributions to the defined benefit plan (UCRP) will be restarted and increased each year. The university wants to institute a new tier for pension eligibility starting in 2013; the union is committed to finding alternatives to this proposal.
The contract also addressed union concerns about bullying and reclassification.
“We wouldn’t have gotten this contract without the tireless effort of the bargaining team members, state wide executive board members, legal team and International and Joint Council leaders,” says Alaji- Sabrie. Members of the bargaining team included: Stephanie Dorton, UC Berkeley; Robert Dawa, UC Davis; Linda Michelle Weinberger and Dianna Sahhar, UC Irvine; Evelyn (Lyn) Kelly, UCLA; Eve Kent, UC Riverside; Dorthea Stewart and Tom Williams, UC San Diego; Mary Higgins and Alice Guillory, UC San Francisco; Kristi Rank, UC Santa Barbara; Samantha Sokolowski, UC Santa Cruz; Helen Jefferson and Anytra Henderson, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL); Peter Donohue, Economist; Kathleen Hurley, Classification-Compensation Consultant; Robert Bonsall and Jason Rabinowitz, Legal Counsel; and Amatullah Alaji-Sabrie, Chief Negotiator.