Teamsters from Locals 150, 439, 853 and 856 are disgusted by Coors Brewing Company and their tactics with distributor DBI. They let the company and the public know at the San Francisco Giants Home Opener on April 13 with a leaflet that castigates Coors for its "tasteless anti-gay views" and labor practices.
The Joint Council 7 truck was festooned with a giant banner proclaiming, "Tell Coors: Stop your hating. This is California." And, the Teamsters flew a banner over the park that read: "Coors Hates San Francisco."
"Coors has a long history of funding anti-gay rights and anti-immigrant organizations and politicians," Jim Tobin, President of Local 150 told the San Francisco Weekly. "Coors also funds groups that are anti-worker and promote laws that would suppress minority voting."
The Teamsters also accuse DBI Beverage Inc., Coors' distributor in Northern California, of worker abuse and anti-immigrant policies.
"The workers that distribute Coors products throughout Northern California are appealing to San Franciscans," said Sam Rosas, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 439 in Stockton. "We want our neighbors to know that in this devastated economy, DBI wants to destroy good jobs. All these loyal workers want is a contract that respects the work they do."
Congratulations to Business Agent Dee Arrowsmith who retired at the end of December with more than 35 years at the Local! She did it all -- from running the office to handling our "public sector" assignments as a BA. Dee was the expert on health and welfare issues and answered our members' retirement questions. Good luck and thank you, Dee!
Members at Coca-Cola Sales, Coca-Cola Service Techs and Sysco Foods have recently ratified very good contracts.
Local 137 is pleased to welcome our newest unit: the maintenance workers at the Shasta Family YMCA, who ratified their first contract with typical Teamster advantages such as seniority, job protection, grievance and arbitration, DRIVE, and more.
In May 2011, the drivers, dispatch and maintenance employees at MV Vallejo Runabout and Benicia Breeze voted unanimously to be represented by Local 315. In March, 2012, the 25 employees were finally able to ratify their first contract that guarantees what they wanted from the start -- the protections and job security of a Teamster contract.
"With such a decisive election victory, there was no question we had the solidarity and support of the members. That paid off at the bargaining table," said Secretary Treasurer Dale Robbins. The union was successful in achieving a number of improvements in wages, work rules, bidding, seniority, vacation, holidays, and health and welfare, which included the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Plan.
"This was truly a team effort, as rank and file negotiating team member Harold Boutte was very instrumental during the organizing campaign and Local 315 Business Agent Organizer Jim Sveum did an outstanding job in our negotiations and in keeping the unity active and informed," said Robbins. "We welcome these new members to Local 315."
To combat the exploitation of "independent" workers who do not have the same legal protections as employees, Secretary-Treasurer Bob Morales pushed to revise San Francisco's prevailing wage ordinance. The ordinance was passed by the City Council in January and signed into law by Mayor Ed Lee in February.
The new ordinance:
• Bars employers from using owner-operators and requires employers bidding on City contracts to use employees only.
• Requires employers who successfully bid to take over a City contract to retain the employees of the prior contractor for up to six months subject to discharge only for cause; and
• Expands the scope of the industries covered to reach nonprofits and other employers.
On April 7, Local 853 held its founding meeting of the Elite Task Force, and more than 150 stewards turned out. The purpose of the group is to have activists on call when the local needs to do informational picketing, support a strike, talk to a city hall, or get out the vote.
"2012 will be a tough, busy year for the Local," says Secretary-Treasurer Rome Aloise. "We've got several shops on the verge of striking, and lots of political work to accomplish. Our staff can't do it all -- especially as we're called on at several actions a week."
Stewards in attendance said they were pleased and proud to be recruited to support their union.
With nearly one in five members under the age of 35, the young workers of Local 856 are a formidable resource. That's why the Local decided create a forum for the new generation of Teamsters to assemble, network and develop strategies to keep the labor movement strong.
The 856 young workers group had its first meeting in the form of a mixer on March 1 at the Local's union hall, with members from the hotel, produce, freight, and car rental divisions in attendance. The workers discussed such topics as creating solidarity with fellow Teamsters, understanding their contract and trainings they would like to see in the future.
"It was a good starting point," Carcione's Fresh Produce Member Doris Garcia said of the first meeting. "I had never met anyone from the other divisions. It was definitely interesting to hear about their issues and what it's like in their industry. Usually I just meet members from the produce terminal," said the 27-year-old.
Avis/Budget Shop Steward Carlos Gutierrez agrees. "I think that the young workers' mixer was a great way to get in contact with members from other industries," he said.
Rich Oliver, a front desk clerk at the Fairmont San Francisco said that it's important for young people to get involved in their union. "The more you're involved, the more you're informed," the 30-year-old said. "Paying your dues is not just literal, it's metaphorical. If we don't become involved, we can lose what's already been bargained for and gained."
Local 856 Political Director Trish Suzuki, who was instrumental in the formation of the group, agrees. "The media has demonized unions, and the labor movement is rarely taught in schools so the ideas behind the movement have slowly begun to erode," she said. "If younger workers don't get involved, eventually our basic worker rights will disappear.
Local 856 Principal Officer Joe Lanthier thanked the members in attendance at the mixer. "You are the future of this union," he said. "Your participation is critical to ensure that the hard-won victories of previous generations are preserved and that the union continues to thrive."
Oliver, who even arranged a carpool to encourage his co-workers to attend, said he appreciated that the leadership is trying to connect young workers.
Garcia said she attended the mixer because she wanted to learn more about her union and how she could get involved. "Sometimes the first step is just showing up and listening to another person's ideas and thinking about how we affect each other, and how we can become more of a community," she said.
Suzuki said young workers bring new energy and ideas to the table. She said that times have changed and so has the means to reach out to the membership.
"We have an advantage when it comes to technology," said Garcia. "We can use email, Facebook and Twitter to get the word out that the union is there, and someone is there to help you and to represent you."
"My definition of success is happiness," said Oliver. "My union has everything to do with my happiness at work," he said.
The 856 young workers group plans to hold events monthly. Suzuki said she hopes the group will continue to grow and become a means to develop future leaders. "We can use this as a way to have quick mobilization of members, and also a place where young workers can bounce ideas off each other and be part of the larger movement," she said.
Gutierrez saw evidence of the larger labor movement firsthand when he attended the California Labor Federation's Joint Legislative Conference in Sacramento in March. "I came back with a new energy – this is a bigger movement than just my workplace. I'm just one person, but together we're a union. They have a big corporation behind them, but we have a big union," the 32-year-old said.
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.
Once again, it's time for Local 948, as part of the Cannery Council, to negotiate the CPI contract. The Council includes Locals 948, 601 and 890 and is chaired by Local 601 Secretary-Treasurer Ashley Alvarado. The Cannery Council represents about 20,000 members around Central California.
Numerous Local 948 members participated in the proposal meetings. "Del Monte Hanford proposal meetings had a large turnout and we were able to collect valuable information in those meetings," says Secretary-Treasurer Adam Ochoa. "Our members' participation and input is vital to the success of these negotiations."
Seneca has pulled out of the CPI negotiations which means that the Cannery Council will be negotiating that contract separately. Seneca proposal meetings are scheduled for April 28th at 10:00am and 3:00pm at the union hall in Modesto.
Patterson Vegetable Co. continues to insist that the concessions in their last proposal are necessary to avoid bankruptcy. "We are continuing to work with them on other alternatives to avoid this," adds Ochoa.