2015 has been such a busy and productive year that I find it hard to believe we are already at the end of it. Clearly, time waits for no one, and we constantly need to be working hard to accomplish our goals of maintaining and advancing our good Teamster contracts, serving our members, and growing our union.
At the end of last year, Local 853 had just won the Loop Transportation election and in January of this year, completed the first contract for the drivers of the large shuttle buses that bring Facebook workers from a number of cities into their campus. This victory resulted in worldwide press as it was big news that the Teamsters Union had infiltrated Silicon Valley’s Tech industry.
That first successful campaign sent ripples throughout Northern California. In February, the drivers at Compass Transportation who shuttle Apple, Yahoo, EBay, Evernote and Amtrak workers voted overwhelmingly for representation by Local 853. The resulting contracts at Loop and Compass made life-changing improvements in wages, benefits and working conditions for these new Teamsters. These contracts also set the dominoes in motion, as some of the other bus companies with Teamster contracts asked to negotiate or open their contracts to increase the wages they pay so they can better compete with the new wages in the Silicon Valley.
This is precisely what we want to accomplish. President Kennedy coined the phrase “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Well in this case, we have seen that when the wages rise in the bus industry, it raises all buses. This success has caused numerous workers to seek representation from many of our Locals throughout the Joint Council.
Without constantly organizing, the union will shrink and die. Our obligation is to help workers who need our help, to protect our contracts, and to make sure we have the strength to fight even the strongest companies. We are always moving forward with this goal.
In the New Year, we will be inundated with presidential politics and who will survive the debates and endless primary process to become the final two candidates. As always, this election raises important issues that directly affect you and your job.
The Republicans repeatedly show that they are not a friend of working people. In every state where a Republican has been elected governor or where the majority of the legislature is Republican-controlled, worker’s rights and protections have been attacked, and in some states, such as Wisconsin, destroyed. This includes workers’ compensation, union security, prevailing wages, bargaining rights, pensions and healthcare.
Look at the current GOP front-runner. Donald Trump has demonstrated over and over again PayPal, Genentech, that he has no respect for women, people of color or the working class. All he cares about is making sure that big business and large corporations can continue to make billions while we make pennies. Without a doubt, we have major problems in this country. But our biggest concern should be getting the middle and working class back to a position where they can support their families, have enough food on the table, have a comfortable place to live, be able to put their children through school and college, and save for retirement. To me, this is not too much to ask. Our next President has to understand what working people and what union members, in particular, need. Plain and simple, without strong unions in our country, workers and the middle class cannot survive. When you think about who to support, remember your most important issue is your pocketbook and your ability to earn a decent living. All other issues fall far behind.
In closing, I want to thank all of you for your help and support of our issues and campaigns this year. I wish you and your families a great and joyful holiday season. Be safe and be happy.