As I write this, I am feeling good that our two U.S. Senators, Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, just voted against the passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade bill. Even more far-reaching than NAFTA and without any transparency, the TPP could devastate thousands of good, union manufacturing jobs. Barbara Boxer gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor about the loss of the middle class in our country due to trade and economic policies like the TPP. She went on to point out that those that work for a living and play by the rules are the ones who are getting undermined by laws designed to award the rich and the corporations. I salute both Senators for standing up for us.
More and more, we see that being a player in the political arena is critical to defending ourselves, our families and our unions from attacks on our way of life. In the states where Republicans have won majorities, they have immediately sought to pass Right to Work-for-less laws and to eliminate the prevailing wage in construction. These efforts do nothing but undermine workers’ rights to have strong, viable unions, lower wage scales and allow for shoddy work to be performed by uncertified workers.
Fortunately, because of our hard work and because many of you participate in our political fund, DRIVE, we in California do not have to fend off these destructive laws—yet.
In fact, we are moving more legislation forward to further protect our hard-won gains. The Teamsters have sponsored and are working closely with the California Building Trades to pass AB 219; this will assure that Ready Mix is covered by the Prevailing Wage laws. This change would guarantee that Teamster Ready Mix contracts set the standard for what has to be paid on public works jobs. Currently, non-union ready mix companies get this work because they can underbid on wages.
We are also sponsoring or supporting ordinances in various cities to help us get more funds for our Para-Transit drivers, and to ensure that labor-friendly Tech company contractors get to use the streets and bus stops and low-wage employers do not.
Again, I need to stress the importance of participating in the DRIVE program and signing up if you are not involved already. Corporations and billionaires can use “Independent Expenditure Funds” and Super PACs to buy victories for the candidates they support. Unions cannot use dues monies to support candidates or propositions; we are restricted to using only money that members voluntarily contribute to funds like DRIVE.
Make no mistake about it, without our involvement in the politics of our cities, counties and state, your working life as you know it would be completely different. I urge you to do your fair share; ask your Business Representative or Local Union for a DRIVE card and join in.