In 2010, more than 100 drivers started a journey that finally led to their first Teamster contract in April, 2014.
After many months of organizing, in May, 2011 a group of workers at Valley Aggregate voted for union representation in an NLRB election. This victory was achieved despite an aggressive anti-union campaign.
The employer then engaged in bad faith, surface bargaining until they announced, in late 2011, that they had sold the company to a non-union firm in Southern California.
The new employer, Western/Dispatch Transportation, accepted applications from the former Valley Aggregate employees to be rehired. A group of brave union supporters, led by James Hamilton, Tracy Simeroth, and Debra Shields, went to the interviews flying their Teamster colors in the form of shirts, hats and buttons. The employer took pictures of them and made derogatory remarks about union supporters. Many of the employees who supported the union had 10 or more years of seniority, but none of them were hired back.
Local 137 filed NLRB charges for discrimination. This resulted in a settlement that required Western/Dispatch to recognize and bargain with the union.
However, when the company hired back the former manager to run their operation, he brought the company back to doing surface bargaining and ultimately reneged on the settlement.
The union filed new charges in July, 2013 that slowly worked their way through the NLRB.
Finally, on April 1, 2014, on the verge of an NLRB trial/hearing, the employer agreed to a new settlement that includes more than $262,000 in back pay. The Local negotiated a contract that includes a wage rate of $20/hour, overtime, $3/hour into the Western Conference of Teamster Pension Plan, holiday and vacation benefits. (This is up from an average wage of $11 to $14/hour with no overtime or pension.)
Congratulations to James, Tracy, Debra and all these hard-working new Teamsters for their courageous battle.
For years, the residents of San Jose, in coalition with Locals 287 and 853, have battled Star Concrete, a non-union ready mix company with a long history of environmental violations, a propensity to operate without proper permits and an unhealthy relationship with its neighbors.
In the latest round, Locals 287 and 853 joined with the Santa Clara/San Benito Counties Building Trades Council, community groups and residents, to persuade San Jose’s Department of Planning to “remove from the agenda” Star’s application for a Special Use Permit to erect an additional batch plant, concrete crusher and other machinery on their already cramped property. Star claimed this so-called “environmentally friendly” recycling operation would not increase truck traffic, dust, noise and exhaust fumes in the surrounding community.
The successful intervention in Star’s expansion “is the second great victory in this matter,” wrote Neil Struthers, Chief Executive Officer of the Santa Clara/San Benito Counties Building Trades Council, referring to a similar victory against Star in 2012.
With each round in this ongoing battle, the coalition of labor, environmental and community continues to grow and strengthen. For Joint Council 7 Teamsters, particularly our ready mix brothers and sisters, this struggle is paramount if we are to protect our wages, benefits and working conditions.
In March, the 130 paratransit drivers who transport the elderly and disabled at First Transit in Alameda County ratified a new four-year contract. In it, they got the largest wage increases in the history of this agreement— ranging from 25-40% over the four year period.
“It took organizing the workers at MV Transportation to get this deal,” says Local 853 Business Agent Adolph Felix. “By organizing First Transit’s competition and successfully raising those workers’ wages, we finally had some leverage.”
Those of us who don’t drive a ready mix truck probably don’t understand the skill it takes to do the job safely, and to do it right. Cemex, one of the world’s largest ready mix companies, was pleased to recognize a longtime Local 315 member, not only for his great work on a daily basis, but also for winning some of the top competitions in the industry. Here’s an excerpt of an article printed in the Northern California Quarterly CEMEX Chronicle in March.
Hector Aguilera is a great ready mix driver and has proven this throughout his 23-year career. Hector began driving ready mix trucks for a local Sacramento ready mix supplier when he moved from the Los Angeles area in 1991. In 2000, he joined the CEMEX team (then owned by Rinker).
Hector’s professional attitude is visibly evident to his colleagues. Trevor Rivers, the plant operator where he works, described Hector as someone who “takes great pride in his work.” This professionalism can be seen not only in Hector’s dedication to customer service, but also in his safety record.
In his time with CEMEX, Hector has had zero recordable incidents. Steve Alexander, Hector’s area manager, described Hector as an “extremely safety-conscious employee.”
In addition to his professional attitude, Hector has proven that he has the skills of a great ready mix driver. Hector has demonstrated his remarkable skills by winning both of the most recent Northern California CEMEX Mixer Driver Rodeos. Hector won the award in 2009 in Woodland, CA and then again in 2013 in Sacramento. In 2013, Hector competed in the NRMCA Mixer Driver Championship in Las Vegas, NV.
Most recently, Hector was awarded the runner up for the 2014 NRMCA Ready Mixed Concrete Delivery Professional Driver of the Year. Candidates throughout the U.S. were entered for this award and evaluated by a panel of judges based on career achievements, safety record, professionalism, driving competency, and customer service. Hector will be honored at the NRMCA’s 2014 Annual Convention. In addition, he will be featured in Concrete Products and In Focus magazines.
Please join us in congratulating Hector on this prestigious award from the NRMCA!
New MDUSD members and Local 856 City of Concord members after a joint rally
to kick off their campaigns for a fair contract on April 9 in Concord.
(Photo by Giuliana Maresca)
Mount Diablo Unified School District employees celebrated the realization of their yearlong mission to become Local 856 members in March. The nearly 500 workers of the school district’s maintenance and operations unit chose to join Local 856 by a 2-to-1 margin.
The new Teamsters include school bus drivers, custodians, food service workers, network technicians, as well as plumbers, electricians, painters and many other classifications working out of the maintenance department.
MDUSD Organizing Committee Member Deborah Brewer has been with the district for 22 years.
“Our campaign has brought us unity, we have more active members than ever before,” said the food service coordinator.
Brewer, who joined the bargaining committee, is confident that this solidarity will carry over into contract negotiations. “We are absolutely united,” she said. “I really think that is going to make all the difference.”
“I am very proud to be a Teamster,” said Brewer. “I’m looking forward to the journey ahead.”
In February, members of the Santa Rosa City Employees’ Association voted overwhelmingly to join Local 856. More than 400 members who work in 106 separate administrative, technical, and professional classifications throughout all city departments made the move to become Teamsters after negotiations stalled with the city.
“The members of the SRCEA are excited about the opportunity to align with an organization that can provide professional support,” said Mike Reynolds, president of the SRCEA and a senior code enforcement officer for the city.
“We are passionate about fighting for the rights of working families and are excited that Mount Diablo Unified School District employees and City of Santa Rosa workers have chosen to join Local 856,” said Rudy Gonzalez, Local 856 Vice President and Organizing Coordinator.
Joining Local 856 isn’t just a victory for MDUSD and City of Santa Rosa workers – all members benefit from the expansion of the Local.
“By growing our Local through organizing, we are building density in key industries, increasing our geographic and political influence, and most importantly adding significant resources that can be deployed to support all Local 856 members at the bargaining table and to provide effective day-to-day representation,” said Local 856 Principal Officer Peter Finn.
Teamster members Leticia Garcia and Maria Ruiz, back at work and
with backpay checks totaling over $15,000.
Last month, five Local 890 Teamster members returned to their jobs and received back pay checks of more than $7,000 each.
These Teamster members work in agriculture in Ventura County, harvesting celery and packaging “Celery Hearts” grown by Dole Fresh Vegetables.
In November the employer shifted the union members’ work to one of its subsidiaries, and hired a farm labor contractor to do the work inside one of its cold storage facilities. Local 890 immediately filed a grievance demanding the company rehire the union members, pay full back pay and benefits, and bargain with the union over the subcontracted work.
Local 890 has represented agricultural workers in California and Arizona for more than 60 years. The first Local 890 contract covering workers who harvest lettuce, celery, cauliflower and broccoli was signed in 1960, several years before Cesar Chavez started his now much more famous efforts to organize grape workers.
Local 890 President Crescencio Diaz was a farmworker himself when he came to California as a teenager. He points out that, “Teamster agricultural workers have many benefits that we could only dream about in the 1960s. Family medical insurance, vacations, holidays, and pension benefits are all bargained by Local 890.”
Other benefits and protections have been fought for and obtained in Sacramento and Washington D.C. Teamster reps and politically-active union members have been able to elect worker friendly politicians to get many improved labor laws passed. Now Local 890 members have electric fans installed (see photo) to help Teamsters stay cool while working with protective and sanitary gear in the California sun.
“We all still have a long way to go,” Diaz added. “Over 90% of California farmworkers have no union representation and no benefits. They are exploited by farm labor contractors, and barely earn minimum wage or even less. We need to do much more union organizing in the fields. SI SE PUEDE!”
In March, Local 2010 members attended a lobby day in Sacramento
to talk with legislators about the bullying bill.
For too long, the University of California has tolerated managers and supervisors who mistreat employees. Despite the union’s ongoing efforts to eliminate workplace bullying of our members and win a fair and respectful workplace, the problem persists. Although there are many good managers in the system, too many of our members are abused in the workplace while the employer turns a blind eye to the problem.
“That’s why Teamsters Local 2010 has sponsored legislation that would, for the first time, require the University of California and other large employers to train managers and supervisors regularly on prevention of abusive conduct,” said Local 2010 Executive Director Jason Rabinowitz.
Introduced by Lorena Gonzalez, Assembly Bill 2053 would build upon existing law, which requires training on sexual harassment, to add the requirement that employers train managers how to prevent abusive conduct in the workplace.
“If passed, it would be the first law of its kind, and a milestone in the fight for a fair and respectful workplace for all,” Rabinowitz adds.
In the coming weeks, Local 2010 members will be testifying and lobbying in support of the bill, and the Union will be asking for your support by signing petitions and taking other action in favor of this historic legislation.