Jesse Gregory, a recently promoted service provider, was reaching a delivery stop along his route in December when he spotted white smoke wafting from a mobile park. Gregory observed the smoke worsening as it turned black. The UPSer pulled over his truck, threw on his hazard lights, and pulled in his mirror to further investigate the scene. He then started to hear a woman shouting in Spanish.
As he approached the park, Jesse realized that a motor home was on fire. Four other people were witnessing the scene, but no one knew if anyone was in the motor home. Two people made attempts to search the home, but the smoke was too threatening.
Jesse and another person discovered two hoses nearby, and started to extinguish the fire. One of the witnesses called 911.
With the help of others, Jesse broke in one of the windows to open the door. As he and another person went inside, they heard a cry. They found a man lying on the floor. Initially, they screamed at him to get out, but he remained still. The two of them grabbed the unconscious man and evacuated the home. Jesse sat by the man’s side, holding his head and praying. The man then began to breathe again. Shortly after, the fire department arrived and rushed the rescued man to the hospital.
Jesse Gregory went with his intuition and was able to help save someone’s life. “We are so proud of our union brother for springing into action and working alongside others when help was needed,” said Local 315 Secretary-Treasurer Don E. Garcia.
2018 is the year for negotiating two of Local 601’s biggest contracts: Diamond Foods and CPI, which the master agreement for the canneries.
“We expect that this year’s negotiations will be more difficult than ever because of the rising cost of health insurance,” says Secretary-Treasurer Ashley Alvarado, who promises to “work very hard to negotiate a good contract and to keep the cost of health insurance cost down for our hard-working members.”
The three major car rental agencies at San Francisco Airport (Hertz, Avis and Enterprise— which collectively own all the other major agencies) are all union—signatory either to Local 665 or 856. One of the three is trying to get the employees to decertify the union. “We’re not going to name the agency at this point, but we’re working to fight that off,” says Local 665 Vice President Chuck Andrew.
The rental car agencies operate under a lease agreement with San Francisco, which requires that the employers at SFO maintain labor peace and labor harmony. “This particular employer has twice before tried to come after Local 856 and now they’re coming after us,” explains Andrew. “We held a rally on February 12 to call for a hearing of the Airport Commission and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. With the active decert campaign, this employer is in violation of the City’s labor peace agreement and should be evicted from the airport unless they back off the campaign.”
Local 665 represents about 450 of the workers in the car rental industry at SFO. “We want to keep all of those workers in the union to keep the standards high for the industry. We’re working with City Hall to increase the Minimum Compensation Ordinance (MCO), and we hope to extend the prevailing wage to the rental car workers, as well” Andrew said.
In January, drivers with the largest natural and organic food supplier in the U..S., United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI), voted to be represented by Teamsters Local 853 in Oakland. The drivers are seeking fair scheduling and compensation for excess hours, seniority for overtime, improvements to safety and a shorter wage progression, among other gains.
The 31 drivers, based out of Gilroy, transport supplies for UNFI to major clients like Whole Foods, Amazon, Genentech, Sprouts and Google.
“We’re excited to welcome UNFI drivers to the Teamsters. There is a trend across the country of UNFI workers joining together and seeking Teamster representation,” said Dennis Hart, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 853. “As companies become increasingly interconnected, as with Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods, it’s important that unions strategically organize and workers unite to better their working conditions.”
Gilroy drivers seeking to organize with Teamsters Local 853 received support and words of encouragement from Teamster UNFI drivers from Dayville, Conn.; Hudson Valley, N.Y.; Moreno Valley, Calif.; and Auburn, Wash.
“This was not a slam-dunk campaign,” says Local 853 Business Rep Ray Torres, who campaigned with Trustee Scott Gonsalves and Organizer Steve Bender to counter the lies the members were hearing from the two union busters the company employed. “Having drivers from other locations tell the Gilroy workers about how the union really works really made the difference.”
Teamster UNFI members from Local 63 in Covina, Calif., and Local 117 in Tukwila, Wash., traveled to meet with the UNFI workers in Gilroy, to provide support and share their experiences with organizing and forming their union with the Teamsters.
“Our thanks go to all the UNFI workers who reached out to their fellow UNFI workers, and to the Teamsters Warehouse Division Director Steve Vairma for his support and leadership,” Hart said.
At the Wing Nien Foods manufacturing facility in Hayward, Teamster Local 856 members — with a newly ratified contract — can be found making and producing many of the sauces found on grocery shelves around the country.
Local 856 has represented workers at the family- owned Wing Nien Foods for decades. The company first opened in San Francisco, but moved to Hayward in 1992. Originally only producing soy sauce, now the 40 workers cook, test, package, and ship gyoza sauce, curry sauce, pot sticker sauce, sweet and sour sauce, and more. They produce the popular Kikkoman soy sauce and sauces for large stores like Trader Joes.
Roger Lin has been a machine operator at Wing Nien since about 1982, and is happy with the new contract. “We haven’t had anything like this before,” he said. “The raise we got this time gives me more money to spend on my family.”
Roger and his coworkers ratified their new contract just before Christmas. The agreement includes a wage increase, retains 100% employer-paid health care, as well as a 401(k) with employer contributions.
“We want to help this company expand, and they have an opportunity to do that,” said Teamsters 856 Legal Counsel Malia Vella, who led negotiations. “The employer is putting more money on the table, but also continuing to provide competitive benefits,” she said. “They are able to compete and get more business, and our union grows stronger by adding more members.”
Run Hua Tan has been a cook at Wing Nien for 30 years. He remembers the move from San Francisco to Hayward in 1992. Since he started, Run has helped three others who came to the U.S. from the same village he is from in China secure jobs at Wing Nien.
Working in shipping and receiving, Raul Beloso has worked for Wing Nien for 24 years. “The most we’ve shipped out is four to five truckloads in one day. We like it when it’s busy,” said Raul.
With members from around the world, speaking many languages, demanding strong contracts, and working together to produce quality products, Wing Nien Teamsters are a part of what makes the union strong.
Local 948 congratulates Rubel Dehal (C) for winning the James R. Hoffa Memorial Scholarship.
Her mother Amarjit Kaur Dehal (L) is a Del Monte Modesto employee and is a 23-year member of Local 948. Rubel has already completed her first semester at the University of California Berkeley.
“We wish her great success in her future,” says Secretary-Treasurer Adam Ochoa (R).
Hundreds of Skilled Trades workers across the California State University system held protests on Tuesday, January 23, to call attention to the threats to students caused by years of neglect of campus facilities.
CSU has accumulated a $2+ billion backlog of neglected repairs and maintenance work, which continues to grow by $143 million a year.
“CSU raises tuition, but fails to invest in student safety and the safety of the workers who make the university run,” said Jason Rabinowitz, Teamsters Local 2010 Secretary-Treasurer. “It’s time for CSU to fulfill its promise to the people of California and provide a safe environment for students and workers.”
Inadequate funding has resulted in a backlog of system failures and facilities past their useful life, according to CSU’s own reports. At many CSU campuses, the utilities infrastructure is obsolete, dating back more than a half century and in need of upgrade or replacement. This results in power or water service interruptions and failures, which threaten to interrupt education services to students.
“Our members— electricians, carpenters, plumbers, and other skilled trades workers—work hard to keep the universities running and we take pride in our work,” said Hector Fernandez, Teamsters Local 2010 Director of Skilled Trades. “But we are overworked and understaffed, putting us and the students in danger.”
In a recent survey, more than 63% of CSU skilled trades workers, whose job it is to maintain and repair university facilities, reported being aware of unsafe conditions or accidents due to deferred maintenance and understaffing.
“I just want what everyone wants,” said Curtis Maas, a carpenter at Chico State. “I want to be safe in the workplace and be paid a fair wage for work that I do.”
Teamsters Local 2010 is currently in wage reopener negotiations with California State University.