As the year comes to a close, I think it would be a safe bet to call this “The Year of the Disaster!” We started out with Houston, then Florida and Puerto Rico, where thousands of Teamster members were seriously impacted by hurricanes and flooding. Then tragedy struck in our own backyard, in Santa Rosa and the surrounding areas.
All in all, thousands of our members have had their homes flooded, burned down, destroyed, and all of their belongings lost to one disaster or another. This is not to forget the horrendous events that cost three of our members their lives at UPS. All around, it has been a devastating year.
However, as Teamsters, we are trained to move into action rather than sit around and complain. Within days of the Houston disaster, we had plans to send a convoy of seven Teamster trucks loaded with articles that Local 988 said that their members needed the most. By the time our trucks arrived, a warehouse had been set up to serve Teamster families who were disadvantaged by the hurricane and flooding. In fact, in the end, there was so much product, the Local Union opened the warehouse to the general public and helped many more people than just our members.
Joint Council 7 sent three of our drivers along with the truck to help and deliver goods. They did a great job and represented our Joint Council extremely well.
We sent money to help the Florida and Puerto Rico Teamsters, and East Coast Locals copied the model we set in Houston.
Then the fires hit. We again moved into action. We collected water, food, refrigerated trailers, and much more to distribute. The International, the Locals, and numerous companies and individuals contributed funds. Many members who were burned out of their homes were given emergency gift cards by the Joint Council and their home locals.
Local 665 basically made their union hall and parking lot a collection and distribution center for those people who were impacted by the fires. Members first, and then the general public, were allowed to pick up needed items. The outpouring of support was incredible, and the amount of supplies that the Teamsters brought to the table was overwhelming. There are too many individuals to name, but suffice it to say that it was a team effort and again showed the power, strength, resolve and comradery of the Teamsters when it comes to taking care of our own!
With the New Year, we’ll be opening negotiations on a number of high profile contracts: UPS, which covers almost all of the Local Unions within the Joint Council and Costco, to name two. Our contracts have been improving year by year; and, hopefully, these will be no exception.
Unfortunately, we have a President, Senate and Congress that are hell-bent on finding ways to undermine unions and workers. Trump’s appointee to the NLRB is a documented union buster who obviously will use his influence to award his clients—Safeway, AT&T and Amazon are just a few of more than 50 influential companies that he has represented in “union avoidance” (also known as union-busting) procedures. This will serve to undermine many positive changes we experienced in the last few years of the Obama Labor Board, severely hurting what we do, especially our organizing efforts.
Additionally, with Trump’s appointment to the Supreme Court, we expect an adverse ruling involving our public sector members. The case most likely will change a system that requires all workers represented by the union to pay their fair share, either in the form of dues or a designated amount. By effectively making the public sector an open shop, our strength will be undermined as the union will be forced to cover the costs of representing freeloaders who do not pay their fair share. As I have said all along, Trump and the Republicans are not friends to working people.
In closing, I want to wish you and your families a healthy and happy holiday season and a fabulous new year!.