New members at Mi Pueblo celebrate their new contract, ratified in March, 2015.
Another MV Group negotiates substantial wage and pension increases and grievance procedures.
Teamsters Local 431 held an annual Stewards Seminar in March of 2015 with the assistance of Attorney Robert Bonsall of the Beeson Tayer and Bodine Law Firm. More than 40 stewards attended the Saturday morning seminar and were trained on several scenarios to better prepare them for the challenges our members face in the workplace. After the training, the Local treated them to a carne asada, carnitas and chicken taco lunch with all the fixings. Local 431 members are extremely fortunate to have such dedicated shop stewards working on their behalf and giving their own personal time to gain additional training.
In April, President Peter Nunez and Secretary- Treasurer Lennie Wells attended California Labor’s Joint Legislative Conference in Sacramento. They joined with Teamster Locals and other Labor organizations around the state to promote and lobby for a variety of labor-friendly bills in both the State Assembly and the State Senate. The 2015 conference provided an excellent opportunity for union activists to meet with politicians around the state and share the challenges that face working men and women—both unionized and non-unionized.
The bad news: Bimbo announced the closure of their bakery in Fresno. The good news: they opened a distribution center in Fresno in which the Teamsters will be manning the transportation and hopefully bringing more jobs to our area.
CEMEX purchased Triangle and Vulcan ready mix companies and combined them to form American Transit Mix (ATM). Local 431 immediately began an organizing campaign to represent the employees at ATM and secured 100% of cards signed by the affected employees who wish to become Teamster members. The NLRB will hold an election soon and we hope to be victorious in this organizing campaign.
On February 6, nearly 50 cellar operation employees of Constellation and Woodbridge Wineries in Acampo voted to join Teamsters Local 601.
“The Constellation group is a high energy group of members who were not only courageous during the year-long campaign to organize, but showed high excitement and leadership throughout the struggle,” says Local 601 Principal Officer Ashley Alvarado. “I am extremely excited to welcome them to our Local and to represent them.”
The leaders of the group, Manuel Chavez and Sang Lee worked closely with Business Agent Pablo Barrera for many months to organize.
“Chavez and Lee proved to be fearless leaders responsible for the 75% vote approval to become union,” Barrera says.
Prior to the election, the company challenged the employees’ very right to hold an election and the two leaders were subjected to long hours of interviews both by the NLRB and by company attorneys. The company lost that battle and the election was held on February 6. However, the Labor Board impounded the ballots for three weeks because the employer filed an appeal. It wasn’t until March 4 that the Board finally certified the election.
“We are now waiting for the company to do the right thing and sit down with us to negotiate a contract,” adds Alvarado.
Local 665 members who drive for Lake County’s public transit system, Lake Transit, scored Efforts to organize the Tech Bus industry continue as Local 665 takes on Bauer Transportation, a bus operator in San Francisco whose drivers shuttle workers to many tech campuses in Silicon Valley.
When the Local’s organizers uncovered employer- surveillance of drivers talking with union representatives, the Local immediately filed charges with the NLRB for violations of protected activities.
“Drivers were watched and followed by management,” said Local 665 Secretary-Treasurer Mark Gleason. “We’ve asked the board to step in because we can’t have a free and fair election if that sort of activity continues.”
Recently, Local 665 members picketed and leafletted in front of Bauer headquarters in San Francisco, saying that intimidation of Tech Bus drivers would not stand.
The Local is currently awaiting the outcome of the NLRB investigation. While the wheels of justice turn, drivers at Bauer’s and other companies continue to jump on board the Tech Bus organizing drive.
“We are getting a good response from most drivers. They know that a union contract is bringing far better wages and benefits to new Teamster members working at their competitors. So they want to be part of that,” Gleason said.
It’s been over a decade since Local 853 made a commitment to re-establish a Teamster presence in the Northern California construction industry. During that time, the San Leandro local’s efforts— under the direction of Secretary-Treasurer Rome Aloise and Business Representative Stu Helfer—have resulted in impressive increases in drivers signing up to be Teamsters.
In a two-week period in April, more than 100 drivers hauling from the $250 million renovation of the Broadway Plaza Shopping Center in Walnut Creek joined the Teamsters. These drivers, many from the Sikh community in Contra Costa County, tried to organize several years ago, but were unsuccessful. This time, they had an additional weapon.
The new weapon was Teamster participation in the Oakland Army Base Project Labor Agreements (PLA) and a commitment that the owner made to the Contra Costa Building Trades that the project would be “all union.” The Army base PLA requires that all “on-haul” of materials be done by truckers signatory to the Teamsters. Since the truckers from Walnut Creek were dumping loads of dirt at the army base construction site, they needed to join the union. Without that language in the PLA and the owner’s commitment, the Walnut Creek truckers would have remained non-union.
Reliable Trucking drivers recently ratified a new 2-year agreement, bringing higher wages and improved benefits to our members there. Reliable was organized back in 2007 and continues to grow in spite of the competition from owner-operators who consistently agree to work for less.
The fast-moving construction industry is complicated, particularly when it comes to trucking. We know that a host of developers, contractors, trucking brokers, owner-operators, anti-union politicians and even a few others who should be allies really don’t want Teamsters anywhere near construction sites. In spite of those detractors, Joint Council 7 has committed to bringing construction trucking back into the Teamster fold. A critical element of that commitment is the reorganization of the Northern California Teamster Construction Committee. Locals throughout Joint Council 7 are now starting to coordinate organizing drives, share information and resources, and respond quickly to situations that arise in the construction industry. Every Teamster can do his or her part in this effort by contributing to D.R.I.V.E., talking to nonunion drivers and owner-operators on the job, and keeping an eye out for job sites that could use some good old Teamster organizing.
Contracts at both Coca Cola and at Safeway will expire this summer, reports Local 896 How do you renegotiate a contract after a company refuses to bargain with you for eight months? The workers at Dole showed what can happen with solidarity, after hundreds of workers took a series of actions that brought about better wages and better benefits for some of the lowest paid workers in the packing-house industry.
On Monday, May 4, more than 100 Dole workers, represented by the Teamsters Local 890, and their supporters went on a one-mile march in Salinas to Dole’s headquarters banging drums, carrying signs, and waving a whole lot of Teamster flags.
“The work that we do is very important to this country,” says Rosa Maria Pizano, a packing shed worker who was one of the many members participating in the action. “Our work feeds America, we deserve to have wages that are on par with the rest of the industry!”
Monday’s action was the second in which Dole workers have taken to the streets to put pressure on the company to negotiate. On April 23, more than 600 Dole workers in Soledad rallied outside of the company’s packing plant.
Workers have been pressuring Dole, a multi-national company, to increase wages to be at the same level as the rest of the salad packing plant industry; an important issue given that the higher the wages and the benefits for union jobs go, the higher it goes for other working-class families. Joining the workers were local politicians along with supporters from SEIU 521, Teamsters 912 and the Stone Masons.
Not long after the march took place, the negotiations committee and the company reached a tentative agreement to increase wages by 12% over the next three years. This agreement was ratified by a 75% majority on May 8.
The action by Dole workers follows the investment of Local 890, the Joint Council, and the IBT into organizing food processing workers in the Salinas and Central Valleys. This includes the campaign to organize Taylor Farms and the launch of the Alliance of Valley Food Workers, a new organization aimed at raising standards for union and non-union food processing workers in California.
Since February, organizers have spent time at three large Local 890 barns engaging members in the campaign. Within this short time, 280 members of Local 890 have joined the Alliance, boosting the campaigns at Dole, Taylor Farms, and other work sites. Look for more from Local 890 in the future!
More than 60 leaders of Teamsters Local 2010 from across the state came together with 150 union members, students and faculty from all three branches of public higher education for the first-ever coalition Lobby Day on Thursday, March 5, 2015. Together, the group converged on the State Capitol urging legislators and Governor Jerry Brown to stop tuition hikes and declining wages by adequately funding higher education.
“California must renew its commitment to its public colleges and universities, so they may once again provide an affordable education and be an engine of economic growth and good jobs in our communities,” said Local 2010 Secretary-Treasurer Jason Rabinowitz.
The coalition met with 40 legislators and chiefs of staff, asking their support for greater funding in the state budget for the University of California, California State University and the community colleges. A delegation delivered a letter from the Coalition to Governor Brown with the same request.
“I feel very lucky to have had the chance to be part of such a large coalition of labor, student, and faculty organizations from all over California,” said UCSB Chapter Coordinator Laurence Young. “It was a powerful moment to meet with friends and colleagues and hear stories from all of the UC’s, CSU’s, and state community colleges. I feel confident that our message was heard by the legislature and that because of our strong show of solidarity, we have affected change.”
“Joining together in coalition with other Unions, students and faculty, we magnified our strength,” said Catherine Cobb, Local 2010 President. “Several of the legislators we met expressed how impressed they were that we all came together to meet with them on our common concerns.”
The Lobby Day received press coverage from several television stations and print outlets.
“We thank everyone who participated in our incredible Lobby Day,” says Rabinowitz. “We will continue to push for funding so that the UC can once again be a catalyst for the middle-class and an educational institution that any Californian can achieve.”