The year is flying by, and as always, it has been an eventful one for our Locals in Joint Council 7.
At press time, the members of Local 2010 are voting on a tentative agreement with the University of California; getting this far took a major effort by Local 2010’s members—aided by strong support from Teamster locals across the state. In March, Local 853 organized more Tech Industry shuttle bus drivers with WeDriveU. Earlier in the year, Local 137 organized more than 1,000 public sector employees in Butte County, and in April, Local 2785 won its first organizing drive in a long time with a freight company. Local 665 has an active organizing campaign with about 400 solid waste and recycling workers in the North Bay, and Locals 856 and 315 continue to bring in new groups from Contra Costa County.
I hope I didn’t leave anybody out. What’s most important is that many of our locals understand that organizing makes their locals stronger while helping to improve the lives of workers who achieve the benefits of union protection. It is the responsibility of every officer, business agent, and member to always be on the lookout for organizing possibilities, because without organizing, a local cannot survive.
We have now watched our new President operate for almost 100 days. While I suspect that those who supported him feel like he is keeping his promises, I wonder how people do not see through the lack of planning, the “shoot from the hip” responses, and the showmanship that has basically been his playbook so far.
The President held meetings with the Building Trades Unions, with which the Teamsters are affiliated, to discuss his plans to put billions of dollars into infrastructure—building dams, bridges, roads and highways. It sounds great, however, the telling part of these conversations is that he has never uttered the words: Union, Project Labor Agreement, Davis Bacon, or Prevailing Wages. If these were mentioned, it would mean that all of this infrastructure work would be done with union labor, paying good wages, providing good healthcare and pensions, and decent, fair working conditions. Guess what? By not mentioning any of these words or phrases, the President keeps the Building Trades unions on the hook, while placating the nonunion contractors’ associations. All the while, there is no legislation pending to actually fund this work.
The tax cuts that the President has promised will be good only for the 1% and not so good for the rest of the country. Without taxes, there will be little money to spend on infrastructure. Get the picture?
What the President does best is say what people want to hear, but so far, not much is getting done. His first Supreme Court appointment will likely have a devastating effect on public sector union members. It is almost certain, given the new justice’s voting record, that he will vote in favor of cases that take away the right of public unions to have a “fair pay” provision in their contracts. This is tantamount to Right-to-Work in the public sector. That’s not good for workers, union or non-union.
We expect that some people will stop paying union dues, and yet will take advantage of union services, thereby undermining the union’s strength. There are freeloaders in every part of life, but by forcing the union to represent them, the strength we have to protect you will be diminished.
For those of you covered by the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust Fund, I am happy to announce that our investments exceeded the 7% rate that we had set as a necessary amount to fund the plan. In 2016, we made between 8.3%- 8.5%, which represents upwards of $2 billion dollars in investment gains. The plan is funded in the “Green Zone” area, which is right where we want to be.
The Joint Council is working towards assisting our Local Unions to update how we communicate with members. In this day and age, many of our members want their information quicker, faster and electronically— through texting, tweeting, and email. We are working to accommodate those desires. This will begin happening toward the third quarter of the year.
UPS Locals will start preparing for negotiations on the Teamsters’ largest contract, UPS, very soon. Our charge is to figure out how to take care of our existing members and deal with the new, non-union players, many of whom work as independent contractors, who threaten our good jobs. This will need thoughtful and well-strategized discussions.
Unfortunately, in recent years, a group of activists who have never negotiated a contract, handled a grievance or represented actual members of our unions, have inserted themselves into the strategy meetings, alleging that they could do a better job. I believe that their only real desire is to undermine the union politically and play into the hands of the people who are attempting to destroy labor.
Make sure you think about what you hear, and that you don’t listen to people who have no real-world negotiating experience. Mark my words, they will be out there trying every tactic in the world to get you to believe bad news, rather than listen to reality.