In 2007, Clyde McIntyre, a member of Local 287, was fired by Granite Rock Ready-Mix in San Jose for reasons that Business Agent George Netto considered flimsy. Netto filed a grievance, which in due course was submitted to arbitration. In 2008, the Arbitrator ordered McIntyre reinstated and made whole loss of wages and benefits. But, that was just the beginning. Granite Rock fought back, causing one delay after another, holding multiple hearings, and resorting to tactics that made an early conclusion of the case impossible. Finally, in late 2012, the arbitrator issued an award with a specific amount of damages to McIntyre and found that Local 287 was the prevailing party. Importantly, the arbitrator also stipulated that Granite Rock was to reimburse Local 287 for its attorneys’ fees and costs of the long-lasting arbitration proceeding.
About 20 employees at CleanScapes in the City of San Francisco voted to be represented by Local 350. Reps Larry Daugherty and James Furgas negotiated a contract that provided for wage and benefit increases that the employees ratified unanimously. “We’re pleased to welcome these new members to Local 350,” says Secretary-Treasurer Bob Morales, “and we look forward to serving them well.”
It had been a long battle for Teamsters Local 533 member Sonja Lopez, but “the victory was well worth the wait,” she says.
Since she was hired in May, 2011, Sonja had an impeccable employee record as a coach operator for First Transit at RTC Access Para-transit in Reno, Nevada. But on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2012, she found herself in an off-duty situation that jeopardized her job. Following company rules, she notified First Transit immediately after the incident occurred. The company decided to place her on administrative leave without compensation, claiming that she no longer met the criteria for being a coach operator.
Teamsters Local 533 Business Agent Michael Sealy attempted to mitigate their decision until Sonja’s case was heard in court. She remained ready, willing and able to resume her position as coach operator during the entire time awaiting her court date. The union filed a grievance for punitive damages due to her lost wages and benefits for the company’s initial disciplinary action of taking her off payroll.
The grievance was promptly denied; and, as a result, a Board of Adjustment was convened. When the Board deadlocked, the case was escalated to arbitration, which took place on September 17.
The union was confident that Sonja’s case was solid, as the company had failed to adhere to the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement relative to progressive discipline and just cause. The Arbitrator ultimately agreed with the union. He ruled that Sonja be returned to work in her previous position within her rightful seniority. In addition, she is to be compensated for all lost wages and benefits for the past eight months in which the Company wrongfully terminated her.
“Thank goodness for my union,” Sonja said. “Justice would have not prevailed if it hadn’t been for their help and guidance.”
Local 665 members recently ratified a new threeyear agreement covering 1,500 Teamsters employed at more than 300 commercial office buildings, hotels and city-owned garages in downtown San Francisco.
“Coming out of the Great Recession made these talks difficult, but the good news is that we kept, without change, the wage structures, paid time-off and pensions we have fought for over the years,” said Local 665 Secretary-Treasurer Mark Gleason. “There is also an hourly wage increase slated for the end of 2013.”
Members assembled at the beginning of December to review the terms of the new deal. They approved changes to their health trust so that it will remain strong during the anticipated changes of the Affordable HealthCare Act, sometimes referred to as “ObamaCare.”
“Teamsters in the parking industry approved changes that will withstand the expected rate increases, during the life of this Agreement,” Gleason said.
Local 665 members approved the new deal by an overwhelming 89% margin.
“The new agreement has established ‘area standards’ for parking employment in San Francisco,” explained Gleason. “The industry has about 20 major operators, and nearly all of them are on board. We are still working with a couple of companies that continue to request wage variances, but we are standing firm that they must sign the area standards agreement,” Gleason added.
Gleason also reported that Local 665 members employed in the parking industry in the city of San Jose continue without a contract. Pickets have been set up since New Years’ Day at two commercial buildings where garage workers who were required contractually to be retained were not offered jobs by the new operator.
“This is the first time in 20 years of our history in San Jose where workers were not kept during a change of operators,” said Gleason. “We’re going to keep the picket line up until we get justice for these displaced workers.”
Gleason also noted that automation is eliminating jobs in some categories in the parking industry, and this is accelerating quickly in San Jose. The Local has asked policy makers and elected officials to hold a hearing about staffing and safety in large parking garages.
“Our position is that garages with hundreds and even thousands of spaces should have someone on site for public safety and assistance. That’s why we’ve asked the San Jose City Council to hold a hearing on the expansion of cavernous office building garages in the South Bay,” Gleason said.
“We know, from our brothers and sisters at other Teamster Locals around the county, that automation is affecting jobs in every major urban parking facility in the U.S. The leadership at Local 665 is going to demand that regional policymakers require minimum staffing levels in major parking facilities in order to save jobs,” Glealson said.
Gleason also reported that Teamsters employed at the San Francisco and San Jose International Airports approved one-year contract extensions.
“We recommended that the members approve the one-year extension because we believe that issues around automation will become clearer, and the economy in San Francisco and San Jose will be on the upswing in the coming year,” said Gleason. “With a YES vote, the members at both airports agreed with this strategy.”
Local 856 City of Concord Teamsters achieved a considerable win in January after a neutral arbitrator advised the city to end its 13-day furlough program and increase members’ wages.
The recommendation came after the Local initiated fact-finding hearings when the city refused to budge in its concessionary proposals during negotiations, citing financial difficulties.
Local 856 has represented nearly 150 members who perform work vital to city operations in the Administrative, Technical and Clerical Unit and the Field and Operations Unit since April 2012.
In 2009, prior to becoming Teamsters, the members agreed to what they were led to believe were temporary concessions. These included 13 furlough days a year, and an increase in their retirement contributions, to help the city get through the recession.
These drastic cuts to their compensation equaled 10 percent of their salary; but, when adjusted for inflation, the employees’ real income had fallen behind more than 19 percent.
“During our last two negotiations, it was important to all the employees to be fair and to help when the city needed it,” said City of Concord Permit Technician Liz DeLaCampa.
“We understood and were reassured by the city that it was only temporary,” she said.
However, in the most recent negotiations, the city not only continued to claim that it did not have the funds necessary to restore the members to prerecession levels, but also revealed that it had factored the furloughs into its 10-year fiscal plan.
After reaching impasse in negotiations, Local 856 moved to go to fact-finding, a relatively new procedure under state law in which the parties present their cases to a three-member panel that consists of a neutral arbitrator, a representative for the city and a representative for the union.
During the proceedings, International Brotherhood of Teamsters Economist Dr. James Kimball testified that his analysis of the city’s finances determined that it did indeed have the funds needed to restore the members to their previous compensation rates.
Members also offered their testimony on how the cuts had affected services to citizens and important infrastructure maintenance.
In her report, Fact Finding Chair Arbitrator Carol Vendrillo wrote “City workers who testified before the panel are hard-working individuals who have taken wage cuts and suffered because of it. The concessions they made have had a real impact on their lives, on where and how they live.”
Vendrillo advised the city to end the furlough program, unfreeze salary steps and give members wage increases.
“I am happy that the arbitrator was able to see through everything and understood both the city’s position, the employee’s position, and found that we were truthful and ruled in our favor,” said DeLaCampa, who testified at the hearings.
Maintenance Worker Kai Horlacher was instrumental in bringing the Teamsters to Concord and testified on behalf of his fellow members.
“I’m glad I found the Teamsters, they have done 20 times more than I could have ever imagined,” he said.
Chairman of the Union Bargaining Committee and Local 856 Vice President Peter Finn was pleased with Vendrillo’s recommendation as well.
“The strength of our bargaining position is a testament to the solidarity of our rank and file,” said Finn.
“Our success in Concord reflects the activism and participation of each and every member and the leadership of a truly solid network of shop stewards,” Finn said.
As of November 2012, Local 890 has paid off the entire mortgage on its building. In
1971, Local 890 had a debt of $170,000. Fourteen years later, the Local’s outgoing administration left the members with a debt and lawsuits totaling more than one million dollars. The new administration had to get a loan from the IBT, putting up the Local 890 office building and meeting hall as collateral.
In 1988, 7.000 Local 890 farmworker members went on strike against Bud Antle/Dole Fresh Vegetables. In the aftermath of the strike, several growers sued Local 890 for more than $10 million, causing Local 890 to engage in a 15-year legal fight and Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. During the entire period, Local 890 kept organizing new members and negotiating improved contracts.
In the past two years, the Local has cut back on administrative expenses, frozen all business agent and officials’ salaries, and paid about $250,000 to the IBT to clear the debts, pay off the entire mortgage, and return the building to the membership. The Local has since been able to start a renovation project of the meeting hall.
“The Local is now entirely debtfree, and we are in a strong position to move forward in the next two years, negotiating improved contracts for all of our members,” President Crescencio Diaz said with pride.
Local 948 filed a petition with the NLRB to represent about 65 workers at VWR in Visalia.
Back in 2010, VWR announced its plan to close its medical supplies distribution center that had been located in Brisbane for at least 30 years and move to Visalia. The company refused to honor the long-held existing contract of Local 853 or provide severance or transfer rights for any of its unionized workforce. Joint Council 7 has continuing litigation against VWR in this matter.
Local 948 officials have worked diligently with the VWR’s new employees in Visalia to lead them through the process; the election is scheduled for February 14, 2013.
“The workers at VWR took ownership of the process and are making it happen,” says Local 948 Secretary-Treasurer Adam Ochoa and Business Agent Chris Zent. “We’re proud of their hard work and look forward to working with them going forward.”