Tom Nelson is a 16-year member of Local 150 and a Shop Steward for the full-time inside workers at the Sacramento UPS Hub. He’s also one of the stars of a new reality show on the AMC Network called “Game of Arms.” The show follows the lives and competitions of professional arm wrestlers.
“Tom often talks about following in his grandfather’s footsteps by being a proud union member,” says Local 150 Secretary-Treasurer Jim Tobin. “He tells me his arm wrestling career began when he would challenge his UPS supervisors to arm wrestle on the hood of his car after work. He easily won those matches and claims it was because he was a Teamster and they were management.”
A six-time national arm wrestling champion, Tom is currently the captain of the Sacramento Arm Benders, a professional arm wrestling team.
Watch Tom Nelson on “Game of Arms” on the AMC Network. Don’t be surprised to see this proud Teamster wearing his Local 150 shirt.
In February, 2014, a four-year member of Local 287, and a 30-year school bus driver, had been fired by Student Transportation of America (STA) in San Jose for a cell phone violation. After the union grieved the termination, the case ended up in arbitration. On May 23, the arbitrator ruled that the employee was wrongly terminated and should be made whole—returning him to his job and paying him 95 days worth of back wages and benefits.
The back story is that the employee’s adult special needs foster son had been ill with something he feared could be serious if not properly attended to. While in his empty bus, on his way to begin his afternoon pickups, his phone vibrated. Stopped at a red light, he decided to check to see if his son had called. In fact, he saw that he had missed two calls, and so he decided to listen to the voice message.
The employer contends that another driver reported seeing him on the phone while in his bus, causing the employer to immediately terminate him for violating the company’s cell phone policy.
The arbitrator ruled that, while the driver had violated company policy, however, it was more of a technical violation. And since the company does not have an explicit zero tolerance rule, this particular infraction did not warrant immediate dismissal.
“If this member didn’t have a union to fight for him, he would definitely have been fired,” says Local 287 President Bob Blanchet. “And all because he was concerned for his son’s health. We don’t want our members to violate company policy, but sometimes life intervenes. A minor incident like this should not end an otherwise long and successful career—and the union made sure that it didn’t.”
The Shop Stewards of Local 315 got together for their annual steward seminar on June 21, 2014.
Joint Council 7 President Rome Aloise opened the seminar, and was impressed with the attendance, as more than 100 stewards turned out.
The IBT’s education director Sally Payne conducted the seminar. “She did a wonderful job,” says Secretary-Treasurer Don E. Garcia.
Jack Peasley did the DRIVE presentation and collected 100% DRIVE sign-ups from the stewards in attendance.
All stewards received Binders, Steward Pins and Shirts and enjoyed a catered lunch from Beaver Creek Smokehouse in Martinez.
On July 25, 2014, the San Mateo Central Labor Council will honor long-time Local 350 Secretary-Treasurer and Joint Council 7 Secretary-Treasurer Robert Morales at their annual COPE Banquet.
The newspaper will be getting printed that day, so we can’t include a picture. “We just want to congratulate Bob for being named the Unity Award receipient. Bob has fought long and hard for his members and for all who work in the solid waste and garbage industry. He certainly deserves the accolades,” says Joint Council 7 President Rome Aloise.
Also being honored that evening is Saru Jayaraman from the Restaurant Opportunity Centers United; she will receive the Community Award.
Harvey Duncan started his career with United Parcel Service (UPS) in 1974 at the age of 18. At that time, UPS only had ground and 2-day air services and did not blanket all 50 states. Harvey has seen his own life change over the last 40 years with a marriage to his wife Verna, the growth of his son Westley and a new grandson.
Harvey attended Modesto JC from 1974-1977 and played baseball before giving his entire time and focus to UPS at the age of 21. In 1977, Harvey became a driver in the Modesto Center. In 1978 he transferred to the Sonora Center and in 1987 the Sonora center was relocated to Angels Camp where he currently resides. Harvey is the lead shop steward for his Teamster work group in Local 439 and serves as a mentor to all of his co-workers.
“It has been a real blessing for me to serve and help customers, management and my coworkers,” Harvey said. “I cannot be any other way; that is who I am. Your life is built around what you put into it.”
Local 439 congratulates and recognizes Harvey Duncan for 40 years of dedication, service, and commitment of excellence to his union and to UPS.
On Tuesday, July 15, more than 240 members of Local 517 went out on strike against GET Bus, a transportation company in Bakersfield. The local union has been negotiating a new contract with the employer since January, and the contract had expired on April 1, though it was extended until July 14. Union members are drivers, mechanics and support staff at the public transportation company.
Union negotiators are focusing on increasing wage rates and increasing the number of full-time positions.
According to KBAK News in Bakersfield, Angel Escandon, a Teamsters 517 shop steward, said, “There’s a big gap between the flex operators and full-time operators, money-wise. We’re united, and I’m going to stand together and strong. I want to work just like everybody else, but I need to make a living, also, and take care of my family.”
At presstime, the strike is still going strong a week later, “but we meet with the employer again and sincerely hope to get everybody back to work soon,” said Secretary-Treasurer Chester Suniga.
Teamsters Local 533 Stewards attended the Steward Seminar on April 5 at John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Reno. Stephen Kessler, mediator from the FMCS, was our keynote speaker and did an excellent job keeping the stewards active and engaged.
After the all you can eat buffet lunch, Suzanne and Scott from TARP (Teamsters Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Program) spoke on Addiction and the signs and symptoms of the different drugs. This training was designed to equip the stewards with knowledge for doing “Fit for Duty’s” when management believes an employee is under the influence. Our stewards must also have the knowledge and ability to approach members and get thm help, hopefully before the management notices there’s a problem.
Stewards in attendance received new steward pins, steward shirts and a chance in the raffle to win gift cards and other gifts in appreciation for their service and for all they do for the Local and the members where they work.
In the course of negotiating a strong new threeyear agreement with the City of San Francisco, the 180-200 Teamster construction truck drivers achieved a very important grievance settlement. For many years, these drivers have been fighting for the right of “as needed” and “temp” drivers to move to Step 2 and get a 10% raise after they’ve worked 1,360 hours. Currently, all too many drivers are considered temps for years, and get paid $4/hour less than their “permanent” counterparts who are doing the same work.
“We estimate that 43 employees will be splitting at least $257,000,” says Local 853 Business Agent Dan Harrington. “We agreed that the City would pay 70% of the gross amount of back pay owed, which came to $367,000. That number will continue to increase every hour until the Board of Supervisors signs and seals the deal.”
“The most important thing,” Harrington adds, “is that we secured language in the contract that moves the ‘as needed’ and ‘temp’ drivers up to Step 2 and full pay after they’ve worked 1,360 hours, whether or not they are called permanent employees. We’ve sought this language for many contracts and finally got it.”
The grievance was filed in September, 2012 and was resolved in June, 2014. “It was a long battle that ultimately ended in arbitration,” Harrington says. “But the final result was well worth the effort.”
In addition to the settlement, the contract calls for raises of between 8.5% and 9.5% over three years and, for the first time, stipulates that the City must take responsibility for tickets, such as, if the City requires a driver to take out an oversized load and the driver gets a ticket, the City must pay.
In November 2012, Local 853 organized the 165 drivers and bus aides at MV in San Francisco. A year and a half later, the 12 dispatchers, 6 reservationists, 4 road supervisors, 3 clerical payroll workers, and 3 fueler/custodians decided they also wanted to get into the union.
The dispatchers had the first election, and voted to join the union. “Rather than go through the whole process with each group, I talked the company into recognizing the rest, and they agreed,” says Business Agent Efren Alarcon.
The new group currently makes between $12.66 and $13.00/hour, and they hadn’t received a raise since November, 2011. Now, they’ll each get at least a 50- cent raise, for the first six months. Negotiations for the the original and the new unit will open up in November, 2014.
A combination of a high-profile media campaign, legal strategy, political action, and membership solidarity has culminated in a major win for worker and public safety at the San Francisco Zoo.
In response to the 2007 fatal mauling of a teenager by a tiger, the San Francisco Zoo installed a “Code Red System.” The system, which was intended to protect the public and zoo workers in emergencies, included personal panic buttons for keepers working with dangerous animals, a public address system to alert the public to find shelter and would automatically call police when activated.
However, the system was plagued with problems from the beginning – panic buttons were easy to accidently set off and suffered water damage. The public address system stopped instructing people to find shelter, instead only sounding an alarm and police were no longer automatically alerted. Zoo management unilaterally decided to mount the personal panic buttons on walls, some of which were not connected to the system at all.
At nearly two dozen separate safety meetings, members had brought the system’s failure to management’s attention, to no avail. In fact, Teamsters Local 856 members were removed from safety committees and armed response teams after voicing their concerns – a move that was met with National Labor Relations Board charges against the employer by the union.
After management’s failure to acknowledge the inoperable system, members decided to propose improved safety measures when contract negotiations began last October. When Zoo management again refused to discuss the broken Code Red System, a multi-faceted approach was taken to resolve the issues, including filing a lawsuit compelling the Zoo to turn over data to prove the system was not working properly, taking an overwhelming no-confidence vote in the Zoo’s executive director, reaching out to politicians and the city’s Joint Zoo Committee, planning a possible protest at the Zoo’s annual fundraising gala, and working with the media to shed light on the dangers at the Zoo.
On April 24, ABC-7 aired a story featuring three San Francisco Zoo Teamsters 856 members, Corey Hallman, Wesley Haug and Steve Levitt, who revealed serious safety concerns they had with the Zoo’s Code Red System. They also highlighted management’s rigid refusal to acknowledge problems even existed within the system, let alone work toward a solution.
The decision to go public was a final resort for the longterm employees.
“It was our last option—we had exhausted all avenues,” said Hallman. “People’s lives were at stake.”
The day the ABC-7 story aired, the Zoo announced that it would be upgrading its radio system to include panic buttons for employees working with dangerous animals.
“It’s disgraceful that we had to go to these lengths to get the Zoo to implement its own safety procedures, but I’m very proud to have worked with these courageous members who took a very public stand to make the Zoo a safer place for everyone—visitors and employees alike,” said Tim Jenkins, Teamsters 856 representative who also appeared in the news story.
The comprehensive strategy succeeded, and a Federal Mediator was brought in to accelerate negotiations.
After seven 12-hour days of Federal Mediation, Teamsters 856 and the Zoo reached an agreement that included member involvement in the implementation of an upgraded safety system and an agreement to use an outside neutral safety expert to resolve disputes.
“I’ve never had as solid a bargaining team, who had the full support and backing of the rank and file membership. This is the best – easily,” Jenkins said.
While the new four-year agreement also contains significant gains in wages, retirement security, and other language improvements for the close to 150 Teamsters 856 members at the Zoo, the most important aspect is the assurance of properly working safety equipment and member participation in the implementation of safety procedures.
“San Francisco Zoo Teamsters exemplify what working hard and fighting smart is all about —a determination and willingness to fight at the bargaining table and beyond,” said Teamsters 856 Secretary- Treasurer and Principal Officer Peter Finn.
“Their unwavering resolve to do the right thing resulted in tremendous safety achievements for everyone who visits and works at the San Francisco Zoo,” said Finn, who also served as the lead negotiator during the last stages of bargaining. Levitt is hopeful that the struggle will have a lasting positive effect on the management’s approach to employee culture at the Zoo. “We still have work to do, but we’re on the road to change,” he said.
The negotiations with Anheuser-Busch/InBev began in November 2013, and finally concluded in May. Though they were tough and stressful, the talks ultimately resulted in a five-year, fully-recommended agreement for all 12 breweries, including both Local 896 breweries located in Fairfield and Van Nuys.
The union knew, entering these negotiations, that it would be a completely different experience from the past, as this was the first time we were negotiating with the now Belgium-owned parent company, lnBev.
The company presented national proposals that were vastly concessionary and they refused to address any local issues. Initial proposals included a reduction by more than 35% in active health and welfare funding, worth about $650 a month, and total elimination of the retiree health and welfare coverage, which would cost retirees more than $1000 a month per participant. These proposals would normally be proffered by a company in financial peril, not one as grossly profitable as Anheuser-Busch/InBev. In fact, the company had just awarded $2.4 billion dollars in bonuses to all upper-level executives during the latter part of 2013; this was hardly a company that was hurting.
The long negotiations process took more than eight separate weeks of talks, with extensive preparation in between. All 12 breweries met and negotiated under the leadership of the IBT Brewery Conference to overcome what seemed to be insurmountable hurdles. Finally, when the Teamsters made it clear to the company that we were ready to do what was necessary to provide a positive agreement to the membership, the company rescinded all of their concessionary proposals. In the end, the contract contained significant increases to both hourly wages and monthly Health and Welfare contributions, it included a sizeable performance-based incentive program and a $2500 signing bonus. The company also renewed its commitment to keep all 12 breweries open for the duration of the agreement.
The members voted on and overwhelmingly approved the tentative agreement on April 29, 2014, securing five more years of job security and benefits for retirees.
This would not have been possible without the assistance of all of the Stewards including Brian Cook (Brewing), Andre Cooks (Utilities), Bob Delorenzi (Operations), Loren England and John Johnson (Maintenance), and Jamie Simmons (Quality Assurance).
Additionally, Local 896 would like to thank Daivid Laughton, Jack Cipriani, Dennis Hart, Bud Benack, Sara Meyer, Rebecca Stein, and everyone at lBT for all of their support during negotiations.
Teamsters Local 2010 reached many firsts as more than 80 union leaders came together for the Local’s first Chapter Coordinator Training on July 11, and its first Statewide Council Meeting and ROC Training on July 12.
Chapter Coordinators from across the state came together with Local 2010 union representatives and organizers to learn about roles and responsibilities to be carried out by each chapter and in the union as a whole. They also participated in many hands-on activities such as team building, leadership development and strategies to activate the members to win victories on important workplace issues.
“Building the relationships between our leadership and staff is of upmost importance,” said Local 2010 President Catherine Cobb. “Identifying and utilizing the strengths of each member is key to being an effective union.”
Chapter Coordinators are elected by the members at each campus to help build the union and the strength of our membership. Union representatives and organizers are union staff members who represent members and build the union.
More than 80 leaders from every part of the UC stood united at the first ever Statewide Council meeting. Secretary-Treasurer Jason Rabinowitz reported to the Council on the union’s activities and presented a draft Strategic Plan, which the Council adopted unanimously. Many members of the Statewide Council took time to express the concerns of their chapters and give their ideas for future campaigns.
Once the Statewide Council adjourned, the training of Recruitment and Organizing Coordinators (ROCs) began in full force. Teamster ROCs volunteer to build the union in their workplace. Attendees learned about workplace rights and fine-tuned their skills on speaking with members and management.
Communications Coordinator Christian Castro launched the “selfie” contest, encouraging ROCs to take a creative picture of themselves and post it to the Local’s social media. “The results were hilarious,” Castro says. UCLA Assistant Chapter Coordinator Arlistel Williams won the contest with his blatant display of union love.
Political Director Doug Bloch and Political Coordinator Veronica Diaz from Joint Council 7 spoke to the group about the importance of contributing to DRIVE (Democratic, Republican, Independent Voter Education), as it supports a number of causes to benefit working families. Scores of DRIVE cards were submitted that day.
“The energy in the room is incredible,” said Secretary-Treasurer Jason Rabinowitz. “Each member in our training is a testament to the growth and power of Local 2010. I am confident that with these leaders, we can reach any goal that our membership sets.”