Local 315 First Student Bus Drivers held their annual back to school in-service and orientation at Local 315’s union hall to prepare for the new school year. The members, organized just three years ago, were welcomed by Local 315 Secretary-Treasurer Dale Robbins, who told them how much they are appreciated for their dedication to getting the students safely to school each day. The thumb up signifies a show of solidarity and respect for their jobs and their appreciation for working under a union contract. Business Agent Jim Sveum noted that the bargaining unit has grown from 30 to 55 employees in the three year period.
Teamsters Local 350’s effort to organize the sorters who work at Republic Service’s Recyclery in Milpitas is being stymied by NLRB rules that are out of touch with reality.
Republic, which processes recycling from San Jose, contracted with a staffing company, LeadPoint, to provide the sorters and attendant workers who work the sorting line. Local 350 already represents other Republic Services workers employed at the facility.
Local 350 filed an election petition to obtain bargaining recognition for the sorters from both LeadPoint and Republic. Republic controls the sorters’ hours, wages and working conditions. Republic dictates the number of sorters working on each shift and their shift times. Republic sets productivity standards for the sorters. Republic controls the operation of the conveyer belts along which the sorters work, including when the belts stop and start for breaks, whether the lines keep running requiring overtime, and how fast the lines move. Republic’s supervisors supervise the LeadPoint sorters and Republic has the authority to enforce its own rules against the sorters and to dismiss sorters from working at its facility for any reason whatsoever, which it has done. Republic pays LeadPoint a certain hourly rate for each sorter (minimum wage) plus an additional amount for LeadPoint.
Because of Republic’s pervasive control over the sorters provided by LeadPoint, Leadpoint alone lacks the authority to bargain with Local 350 over the terms and conditions of employment of these sorters. Despite this reality, Region 32 of the Labor Board ruled that Republic is not the “joint employer” of the LeadPoint sorters and ordered an election with LeadPoint named as the sole employer. Noting the absurdity of Region 32’s decision, Local 350 Secretary-Treasurer Bob Morales said, “LeadPoint is Republic in everything but name.” This “joint employer” analysis allows an employer like Republic to insert a contractor to insulate itself from the basic legal obligation to recognize and bargain with the union.
Local 350 has appealed Region 32’s decision to the Labor Board in Washington, D.C. and is pushing the Board to overhaul its dated and toothless test of joint employer status.
There is a bright spot, however. Through the efforts of Local 350, these workers will soon be enjoying the living wage under a San Jose ordinance as employees of a subcontractor of a San Jose contractor. This means a $5/hour wage increase plus benefits for these workers.
Local 386 has had two organizing victories this summer. Sixty Eight employees of Modesto Radiology, which is affiliated with Tenet Healthcare Corporation, voted to join the Local. However, Tenet is NOT going down without a fight. They filed an appeal with the NLRB, which ruled in the union’s favor. They filed a second appeal and, at press time, we are waiting for a decision from the Board.
At Turlock Transit, a division of First Transit, the employees voted unanimously to join the Local. Teamsters Local 386 now represents bus drivers in Yosemite National Park, Merced County, and Stanislaus County, as well as school bus drivers in Merced and city bus drivers in Merced, Modesto, Los Banos, Atwater and Turlock.
The Local is currently negotiating “first time” contracts at Allied Waste in Atwater and Los Banos and Serpa Milk Transport in Turlock.
Save the Date: Shop stewards should mark their calendars now for the Local 386 Annual Stewards Appreciation Dinner on October 26. As always, training will be held in conjunction with the dinner.
For eight years, Cecilio Ramos worked at Cash & Carry in San Francisco, an express store run by Young’s Market. In October, 2012, the company conducted a theft investigation. Cecilio was found to be not involved. As a part of the investigation, however, the company drug tested everyone; Cecilio tested positive for marijuana and was fired.
“We believed that the company did not have reasonable cause to test Cecilio, so we grieved it first, and then took the case to arbitration,” says Business Agent Efren Alarcon. In the end, Cecilio was reinstated to his job and got full back pay for the 10 months he was out of work.
“This wrongful firing was tough on Cecilio,” says Alarcon. “He’s very happy to have won the case and get his back pay, and is grateful to the union for fighting for him.”
Throughout August and September, Local 890 has held several meetings with Shop Stewards about the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, well known as “Obamacare.” The new law will have a great impact on union members and in the community. “These provisions are new for everyone. As union leaders, our job is to make the information accessible to our membership,” said Local 890 President Crescencio Diaz.
All individuals will be required to have medical insurance and, after 2014, larger employers will be required to provide coverage or pay a penalty. Unions can play an important role by providing reliable and easy-to-understand information to their membership.
Local 890 representatives and stewards are learning the details of the new law, and looking for the best ways to make them work for our members.
The information provided to the shop stewards is benefiting the larger community as well. As one of the stewards mentioned, “somos el puente para dar la información a los demas miembros y la comunidad.” (“We are the bridge to inform the rest of the members and the community.”)
The meetings with the shop stewards is just one step Local 890 is taking to inform the membership of the changes that are about to happen. “We are building our base for the most important next step and that is our next contract negotiations,” said Diaz.
On August 7, 2013, the workers at Pyramid Brewery in Berkley CA. voted overwhelmingly to be represented by the Teamsters.
“The parent company, North American Breweries, ran a hard dishonest campaign,” says Business Agent Brian Indelicato. “However, the workers were all engaged and saw through the lies.”
The internal organizing committee—Amalia Davilia, Cat Weise, and Jose Mora—made sure everyone, including company management and representatives, were educated on the vast benefits of union representation, Indelicato says.
“The main issues that the Pyramid workers were concerned about include unsafe working conditions, fair and consistent treatment, no pension, substandard benefits, wages well below the industry standard, no established work schedule or work week, and a working relationship completely lacking in dignity and respect,” Indelicato says. He and the membership are eager to get to the bargaining table to begin negotiating their first contract.
The Local gives special thanks to Rome Aloise, Doug Bloch, Lydia Pinedo, Dennis Hart, Lou Marchetti, Rodney Smith, Ron Valdez, and Paul Markowitz for their assistance during the organizing campaign.
When VWR closed its Brisbane warehouse and moved to Visalia, the company expected to be union-free. But, it didn’t take long for their new employees to realize how little VWR valued their work. In February, they voted to be represented by Local 948. Unfortunately, the company has been stalling on negotiating a contract.
On August 16, Local 948 held a day of action in front of the VWR warehouse.
“The company has used the uncertainty at the NLRB to delay certification and harass and intimidate these employees who choose to stand united,” says Secretary-Treasurer Ochoa. “Our goal for this action was to let the employer know that we will continue to see the process through until these hard working people have a contract with good wages and benefits.
Ochoa wanted to thank Locals 853, 601, 517, 439, 431, 386 and 87 for sending volunteers and resources; Joint Council 7 and Local 439 for bringing their trucks; and he gave special thanks to Gaylord Phillips and Jerry Hunsucker from the North Valley Labor Federation for all their help and support.
Meanwhile, the employees of Custom Tarp and Tarping voted in August to be represented by Local 948. “We look forward to achieving a fair contract that improves the working conditions and wages of these new members and we’ll do what it takes to get that contract,” said Ochoa.
In response to Teamsters Local 2010 actions, the University has agreed to stop withholding the discriminatory tax on benefits provided to same-sex spouses. UC has committed to work diligently to quickly re-program its payroll system so that the tax withholding will end no later than mid-September.
“This victory shows that we can make a change for the better when we stand up together for what is right,” says Jason Rabinowitz, Local 2010 Executive Director. “I’m proud of our members who had the courage to raise this issue, and not to back down until the University did the right thing and committed to end the discrimination.”
`Back in June, the Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, and disapproved federal taxation of health benefits for same-sex couples who were legally married. Yet the University continued to withhold such taxes from employees’ paychecks. The Union sent a letter to UC President Mark Yudof asking the University to cease the discriminatory tax, but the University responded that it had no plans to do so.
In response, a delegation of more than a dozen Local 2010 members, led by Rabinowitz, appeared at the UC Regents meeting on July 17 to speak out for an end to the discrimination. As a result of that action, UC informed the union that it was changing its policy.
“We commend the University for responding positively to our members’ action and committing to end the discriminatory tax promptly,” Rabinowitz said. “We will hold the University to its commitment. As this action shows, Teamsters Local 2010 will never tolerate any form of discrimination.”