As the New Year gets underway, the Teamsters see a lot of work on the horizon. In a nutshell, we have a very busy political season with the Presidential race and many important state and local elections. We have many contracts open for renegotiation. And we’re apprehensive about a Supreme Court ruling on the “Friedrichs” case that will likely affect many of our public sector members.
The Presidential campaigns obviously have been going on for a long time already. The Republicans have put up almost 20 candidates in their attempt to win over the voters. None of these candidates, not a single one, and certainly none of the front runners, has any sympathy or desire to help workers. Republicans not only want to destroy unions and the political power we represent, but they’re doing all they can to destroy the middle class, in spite of their lip service to the contrary.
We have witnessed brutal attacks all over the country by right-wing Republican Governors and legislatures undermining the very underpinnings of workers’ rights and protections. We saw this first in Wisconsin, then in Michigan and Ohio, and in a number of other states. Some examples of this are Right to Work (for less), the out and out taking away of bargaining rights for public employees, and attacks on prevailing wage laws.
All of these and many other attacks on working people have been generated by billionaires plowing money into the campaigns of Republicans that dance to their bidding. The election process, in many ways, has been stolen from the general public and put into the hands of the giant corporations and the wealthy 1%.
Fortunately, we have not fallen prey to this in California. This is not to say that big corporate and private money hasn’t been poured into California campaigns in an attempt to undermine our laws that protect working people and that recognize the role unions play protect and improve the lives of workers and their families.
This brings me to the point of again stressing how important participation in the political process is for you and your families.
We need all of our members and their families to be registered to vote, and once that happens, we need you to actually VOTE.
Your union makes recommendations based on a time-consuming and involved process. We fully vet the candidates, question them on issues that pertain to working people, and if they have held public office, we review their records prior to giving any endorsement. This process happens for hundreds of offices, from the the President of the United States down to candidates for school board and waste districts. This happens at the General Executive Board, at the Joint Council and at your Local Union level. We take this very seriously.
That is why, when you see recommendations in this newsletter later in the year, you can be assured that these candidates and propositions have been thoroughly reviewed so that they are the best candidates and propositions that we determine are supportive of our goals and needs. In California, we have worked very hard to make the Teamsters presence and opinions very important to those who represent us in Sacramento. We need to maintain this and build on it.
We finally heard from the National Labor Relations Board that they are moving forward with a bargaining order and 52 unfair labor practice charges against Taylor Farms. Unfortunately, as this goes to press, we are anticipating that Taylor Farms has decided it will not work to settle the issues in Tracy and will, instead, spend millions on continuing to fight their workers’ right to be represented by the Teamsters.
This is particularly frustrating because Teamsters Local 890 represents 2,500 workers at the Taylor Farms operation in Salinas, and by all accounts, the relationship has worked well for the members and the company. Why Bruce Taylor has decided to get into a war with us in Tracy is a mystery to us all.
However, we cannot let this go without obtaining a victory for the hard working people who make Taylor Farms a success. Over the next few months, you will see the fight ramp up and we will be asking our members to step up and help in many ways.