On December 13, 2014, Santa came to Local 315 and distributed more than 250 gifts to kids from the Local and from the community. Everyone got Santa hats and stockings and enjoyed a feast of tri-tip sliders, chicken, hot dogs, and hot links. The photo booth was also a big hit. Local 315 member Ana Cervantes was the lucky winner of a Samsung 40” TV.
Two Local 431 members recently received both local and national attention for their acts of bravery and honesty.
In the fall of 2014, Teamster member and Southern Wine and Spirits employee Tom Artiaga, ignoring his own personal safety, rushed into a burning home and carried the elderly occupant of that residence to safety. Once he was satisfied the victim was safe and getting medical attention, Brother Artiaga left the scene without any fanfare.
The local media began airing footage of the lone hero wearing an LA Dodgers baseball cap. Eventually Tom was identified as the do-gooder. Once his identity was revealed, Tom was the subject of numerous national news stories. He also appeared on the “Jimmy Kimmel Show” where Tommy Lasorda congratulated him for his efforts.
In November, Teamster Member and Republic Services employee Heliodoro Banuelos was recognized by the Fresno Bee and his employer for his honesty on the job when he returned a wallet he found while on his route. The wallet contained numerous credit cards, identification and $300 in cash. Brother Banuelos has driven waste disposal trucks for 27 years and said he did what any Good Samaritan would do. The owner of the wallet made a special effort to report the act of honesty to Heliodoro’s General Manager at Republic. He said, “I wanted you guys to know what kind of employee you have.” Brother Banuelos declined a reward and also declined an offer for dinner…
“Just another day of super human heroics by the members of Teamsters Union Local 431,” says Local 431 Secretary-Treasurer Peter Núñez.
Local 665 members who drive for Lake County’s public transit system, Lake Transit, scored a victory at the National Labor Relations Board when the federal panel found in the union’s favor following Unfair Labor Practice charges filed during a series of strikes in the summer of 2013.
“This decision makes clear, both to the Lake Transit Authority (LTA) and to the community it serves, that the county’s selected operator, Paratransit Services Inc., violated federal labor law while our members were on strike in 2013,” said Local 665 Secretary-Treasurer Mark Gleason.
The 2013 strike started in late July, after members rejected a take-it-or-leave-it offer from the employer, and lasted through most of August. During the strike, the employer engaged in unfair labor practices in an effort to re-start the county’s bus system, which was completely shut down because of the work stoppage.
The labor board finding agrees completely with the union concerning actions that took place during the strike and rejects all counterassertions made by the employer.
“If the employer had restarted talks during the strike, thousands of residents who relied on the county bus service would not have had to suffer. The arrogance of the LTA’s contractor prolonged the strike and also, apparently, violated federal labor law,’’ Gleason said.
The decision, handed down in late December, orders Lake Transit’s operator to make whole Local 665 members Dante DeAmicis and Rick Wedell for all of their losses, and further declares that the actions of the operator were illegal.
“These members had a lot of courage to take on a big transit company and defend their rights,” said Local 665 President Ralph Miranda.
During the strike, union members and community activists assisted the Teamsters on strike at Lake Transit, even though many residents were inconvenienced by the transit shutdown.
“We know that it was difficult for Lake County residents to get around during the strike. The strikers are part of the Lake County community, and we hope that this decision in favor of the striking Teamsters shows that the support shown by other union members and community groups in Lake County was not in vain,” Miranda said
Teamsters 856’s membership continues to rise with the addition of more than 1,000 new members through organizing victories over the last year. Since Mount Diablo Unified School District and City of Santa Rosa employees joined last spring, the Local has welcomed five additional groups including new members working for the Cities of Walnut Creek and South San Francisco, US Airways/American Airlines, the Northern California Pipe Trades Trust Fund, and the Town of Windsor.
Teamsters 856 members have played a pivotal role in each of these campaigns by becoming member organizers and sharing their real-life Teamster experience. When City of Walnut Creek public safety dispatchers were considering becoming Teamsters 856 members, Organizing Coordinator Rudy Gonzalez asked City of Concord Steward Pat Hattwick to meet with them.
“There’s no better perspective on what it’s like to be a union member, a Teamster, than that of a current member,” said Gonzalez.
Hattwick is also a public safety dispatcher, so she could directly relate to the Walnut Creek members’ representational needs. “I was pleased to speak with these dispatchers about the difference having Teamster representation had made for us,” she said.
Hattwick told her Walnut Creek counterparts about the vast resources that would be available to them as Teamsters for negotiations, contract enforcement and beyond. “We needed experts who knew the ins and outs of labor laws,” said Hattwick. “With Teamsters 856, we have that – it’s like going to court and having the best lawyer represent you.”
Member organizers are also effective at dispelling anti-union rumors, such as misconceptions about strikes. San Francisco Zoo Steward Corey Hallman, who has worked on several organizing campaigns, said he’s able to set the record straight with his own personal experience.
“I tell them my story—that I’ve been a union member for 15 years, how I got involved and the benefits of being a Teamster,” he said.
During the US Airways/American Airlines nationwide campaign last fall, US Airways SFO Steward Ricardo Arias spoke with airline agents about the importance of voting for the Teamsters, not only at his own workplace, but also as he traveled through the Miami airport on his way to visit family. His 28 years of experience made him well-suited to convey the necessity of having union protection in the notoriously volatile airline industry.
“With such a big corporation, sometimes you feel like you’re just a number,” said Arias. “But as a Teamster, you’re a number with a voice that’s not easily erased,” he said.
Local 856’s newest members, Town of Windsor employees, checked in with City of Santa Rosa 856 member Mike Reynolds before overwhelmingly voting to join the Local in November.
“While strength, resources, and professional representation are certainly determining factors when workers choose to become members of Teamsters 856, it is the direct one-on-one conversations with current members that produce the type of unique personal impact that drives home that they are joining a real, living organization made up of members with the same interests and goals,” said Teamsters 856 Principal Officer Peter Finn.
“It’s a gratifying experience,” said Hallman after attending an organizing training sponsored by Joint Council 7. “You’re educating and empowering people at work. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?”
Contracts at both Coca Cola and at Safeway will expire this summer, reports Local 896 Business Rep Brian Indelicato. “We will be sending out opening notices within the next month. Here is where member involvement begins,” he says.
All Safeway and Coke Stewards will distribute Contract Proposal Forms—a way for each member to submit their concerns and issues to be considered in the new agreement.
“While we truly hope for a seamless transition to a new agreement, it is best to be prepared. In the unlikely event that we have to take strike action, we suggest that all members discuss the possibility with your family, pay off bills, refrain from making big purchases, and save money—save money—save money.”
“Now is also the time to unite with your coworkers,” Indelicato says. “Solidarity is very important. Meeting attendance and discussion with your fellow members is strongly urged.”
Scheduled meetings are posted on the bulletin board in each shop, and appear on page 7 of this paper. “I look forward to engaging in this process and sharing developments with our members,” says Indelicato, who adds that members should feel free to call with questions or comments.
Several dozen UCLA Teamsters marched the halls of the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in December to the office of CEO David Feinberg to deliver 853 petition signatures telling the UC to stop the discrimination and allow Teamsters to participate in incentive programs.
The delegation met with Feinberg’s top staffers. Members spoke from the heart as they explained that they work hard to make UCLA work and deserve the same bonuses and incentives provided to others.
118 Teamsters Local 2785 retirees gathered at the Elk’s Club in South San Francisco on December 6 for a grand holiday party.