I want to start off by congratulating all of our members in Joint Council 7, as your strong support and confidence in our political programs have again paid off big time for thousands of workers in our state.
As you most probably know by now, the legislature passed a bill raising the minimum wage over a number of years to $15 per hour. Many of you who make considerably more than this now may think that this is not a big deal; I can assure you that it is.
While it is not nearly enough for someone to raise a family on, many workers in our state do just that. They struggle on minimum wage jobs, trying to make ends meet, deciding which bills to pay and whether to pay rent or feed their children. It is not a good life, so perhaps by raising the levels we help them while giving a boost to everyone else. By raising the floor, it has been proven that employers who pay more than minimum wage are forced economically to consider raising the wages they pay as well.
I am proud that I was asked by the Governor to participate in the process of putting the legislation together and then to stand with him when he announced that the legislation was complete. This act demonstrates our commitment to all working people, and confirms the fact that our influence as Teamsters is sought out by the lawmakers in our state.
Of course, we are watching the Presidential nominations race play out all over the country and fill the nightly news. If it seems like the campaign has been going on forever, that’s because it has been. The process, in my opinion, is too long and dragged out, which in turn makes it incredibly expensive. The candidates remaining in the race have been running for years already.
The Trump campaign reminds me of the Schwarzenegger campaign back in 2003. Many of our members bought into the celebrity of his campaign and his so-called “non-politician” status; they believed he would be different from the career politicians that we often see on the ballot. I tried to explain that he was a Republican who could care less about workers, was inexperienced, and could be led around by those forces who are intent on destroying unions and undermining workers’ protections. But many of our members still voted for him.
What happened? He completely gutted the Workers’ Compensation regulations that protect workers who are hurt on the job; we still have not recovered from this. Until you need Workers’ Comp, you won’t realize that you have been completely disadvantaged by the changes he put into effect years ago.
One of Schwarzenegger’s first moves was to get rid of the 8-hour day. Many of you had protections for this in your contract, but many workers did not. Much work was needed to get the legislature to put back the 8-hour day.
Trump will be 100 times worse. First, he has already said that he wants a national “Right to Work” for less law. This would completely tear apart our strength as a union, as we have seen it do so in the states where the Republicans have recently enacted these types of laws.
Trump is divisive, blames immigrants for everything that is wrong with the economy, is anti-woman, and has shown that he is nothing more than a billionaire bully. Some of our members buy into the “Make America Great Again” theme that Trump is hawking. Frankly, all he will do is tear this country further apart.
The divisions we have now between the haves and the have nots, between the 1% and the 99%, between giant corporations and workers will only be exacerbated. It scares me to think that any worker, and especially any union member, would even consider voting for such an idiotic symbol of everything we should be against.
Please—if you are someone who has fallen under the Trump spell, think long and hard before you put your mark next to his name.
The Teamsters have not endorsed a candidate during the primary season. Both Democratic candidates, on their worst day, would be better than any of the Republicans. By our next edition, the two candidates ought to be clearly in place and we can discuss it further.
I have previously talked about Taylor Farms and the incredible and courageous struggle that the workers have been going through in the Tracy plant to gain a union. This campaign has dragged on for two years and many of the workers have been fired, unfairly disciplined, and made to endure horrible harassment by their employer—just because they want a union.
The National Labor Relations Board, finally, after a ridiculously long time, has issued complaints against the company for almost 60 Unfair Labor Practices and they ordered the company to bargain with the union. Rather than comply with the NLRB’s ruling, Taylor Farms has chosen to hire an army of attorneys to fight their findings. They will spend millions in an attempt to prevent the workers from gaining a right to bargain and be protected.
That this employer would rather throw money at attorneys than pay his workers decently and allow them to work in a safe and protected fashion is the worst form of union-busting. Joint Council 7, along with Local 601, has vowed to fight as long as it takes to win these workers the union they want. The International Union has also committed to fighting this injustice.
We are currently leafleting Chipotle, which is one of Taylor Farms’ largest customers, and soon will expand the fight to others that use their products.
This is a fight that all of you should be concerned about. Allowing harassment and union-busting to happen to any worker undermines all of us. As a union of workers, we cannot stand for it.