Joint Council 7 TEAMSTER

December 2016 / January 2017
Newsletter Volume 61, Number 5

The future for union members will be
interesting and difficult

We live in interesting times, and luckily we live them in California. By now, the Presidential election is old news. I have taken some criticism from a few members for either endorsing Clinton or saying “bad” things about Trump. Frankly, I was glad to hear from them as it at least indicates someone reads my articles!

The surprise and shock of Trump winning the election is over and now we will all watch and will unfortunately experience the results of this debacle. For those union members who voted for Trump, you have continued the trend of workers who vote against their own best interests. I understand the emotional appeal; I understand the distrust of the government; and I understand the feeling that workers have been left behind. But your vote for a candidate who openly vowed to undercut the labor movement, openly vowed to support right-to-work, openly vowed to undercut wages because “lower wages are better for corporations,” is hard for me to fathom.

For those who think things can’t get any worse, hold on to your “you know what” with both hands! Things can and, in my estimation, will get worse, and faster than you think.

In the first 100 days, Trump has said that he will rescind President Obama’s Executive Orders. This will eliminate many favorable changes to the NLRB and workers will lose the relief that those changes gave us. This means YOU will be hurt in the future.

Corporations just became stronger, and you just became weaker.

Trump will repeal prevailing wage and Davis-Bacon regulations, which means our construction members will lose work and their employers will not be able to pay the wages and benefits that we apparently have taken for granted, because they will not be able to compete against the non-union sector. We could also lose Project Labor Agreements, which will affect our ready-mix drivers.

There are many more examples of how and why a Trump presidency will be a disaster for workers. For those members who think they have it bad, just wait.

Many of our members take their contracts, wages, benefits and working conditions for granted, like it is some type of right. This is unfortunate because we will need every member who works in every organized company to come together to fight off the attack that will certainly start right after January 20th. It is time to hunker down and come together like never before as union members.

I predict that, feeling emboldened by this election, employers will start to take us on in industries that we have had good contracts and have been extremely successful. Union members will need to fight for what many had taken for granted and may likely result in strikes and lockouts that we have not seen in the recent past. I hope I am wrong. I hope Trump finds other things to do, like making America great again. But if the appointments to his cabinet are any indication, we will have a long four years ahead of us!

Success in California

Luckily, our hard work in the California political scene has produced an almost 100% win record for our endorsed candidates who, we believe, understand the struggle of workers and their families and who will stand with us when we need them to. We have been able to pass groundbreaking legislation in the past few years to help workers and make it easier to organize, and these wins have already shown positive results.

Photo ot Feamsters with Malia Vella.

Although California will not be immune from the Trump effect, we may be somewhat insulated from it. This does not mean the federal laws and regulations will be any different if he decides to repeal or unwind what has been done over the last eight years, but at least, on a state level, our hard work should offer us some protection.

This is why local and statewide politics are so important and why we work so hard to choose the best candidates we can find. Thank you for following our recommendations during our most recent elections. This may be more important now than ever.

Teamster election results

On a different note, the International Teamster elections are finally over. The long, drawn out process of our election for our General Executive Board members seems to last forever, with very few members (15%) bothering to send in a self-addressed stamped return ballot. I realize that many of our members don’t know the candidates, and many are turned off by the negative and destructive campaign, so it begs the question of whether the $20 million dollars or so that the union spends on the election process is actually worth it and whether it does anything to promote democracy in our union. The jury is still out on this subject.

Jim Hoffa, Ken Hall and their slate won most of the regions. I was re-elected at the convention. The opposition won some seats on the General Executive Board, which will make for an interesting five years. Hopefully, the Board can put our union in a position to be able to defend against the onslaught of anti-worker and anti-union attacks that will be coming our way.

Happy holidays!

Although, this article has a negative bent, I am always confident that you, as Teamsters, will do the right thing when it is needed, will step up as you always have, and we will stand together as one to defend what we have and work to improve it. I want to thank you for your constant support and wish you and your families a happy and safe holiday season.