Political Director’s Report

Voting: The most important thing you can do as a Teamster!

Most of you are registered to vote and you vote in every election. Thank you.

Unfortunately, far too many Teamsters just don’t vote. What will it take to get everyone registered and voting this year, which may be the most important election of our lifetime?

As a union, we do most of our work directly with our employers, negotiating and enforcing contracts. But I can’t emphasize enough the importance of the electoral process to our long-term survival and effectiveness.

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Coronavirus and jobs: what we know and don’t know

Over 100 days into the COVID-19 pandemic, California and the rest of the United States are grappling with unemployment numbers this country has not seen since the Great Depression. In California alone, almost 30% of workers have filed for unemployment. For workers of color, women, low-wage workers, and workers without college degrees, the numbers are even higher. Add to this nearly 500,000 undocumented workers and over 400,000 “independent contractors” in California and the numbers are staggering.

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The pandemic highlights the need for issues Joint Council 7 has championed

It’s been ten years since Rome Aloise was elected president of Joint Council 7, merging it with Joint Council 38. The merger created one of the largest and most powerful Teamster organizations in the U.S., covering critical industrial and political power centers including Sacramento, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and the nation’s breadbaskets of the Central and Salinas valleys.

Since that time, Joint Council 7 led on so many issues vital to defending and rebuilding worker power in California and throughout the country. 

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Projected worker shortage inspires Teamster action for good jobs

Every day, Teamsters business agents throughout the country get requests from employers for new workers. Across our core industries, from trucking to warehousing to busing, workers are in high demand. This is especially true for workers who have commercial drivers licenses.

Economists predict a major shortage of truck drivers in the next decade. Some estimate that 160,000 driving jobs will go unfilled. Much of the blame goes on the trucking industry and the shippers themselves.

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China trade war impacts recycling and Teamster jobs

More than 32,000 Teamsters across the nation work in the Solid Waste and Recycling Division. Every morning, Teamsters are out at the crack of dawn collecting America’s garbage and recyclables.

Unlike other Teamster industries, waste and recycling is concentrated into the hands of a few powerful corporations. Waste Management and Republic Services alone provide collection services to more than half the country. Despite this, the Teamsters are growing and organizing in this industry.

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California Teamsters take on Sacramento to call for end to worker misclassification

Teamsters from more than 15 local unions within California Joint Councils 7 and 42 took part in a hearing and lobby day in Sacramento in support of legislation to help end misclassification. The Lobby Day was sponsored by the California Labor Federation.

In April, the California Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. vs Superior Court of Los Angeles, referred to as “Dynamex,” simplified the test for determining whether a worker is classified as an employee for minimum wage and overtime protections.

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Joint Council 7 goes big — and wins big — in November election

 

The merger of Joint Councils 7 and 38 in 2010 united more than 100,000 Teamsters in 23 local unions covering a vast territory—50 of California’s 58 counties and all of Northern Nevada. Despite this, our 2010 endorsement list was only two pages long. We made endorsements in most of the federal and statewide races, but at the local level – city councils, county boards of supervisors, school boards, and ballot measures – we mostly stayed out.

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Technology and the future of trucking—more reasons Teamsters do politics

This month, Working Partnerships USA and the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education released a groundbreaking report entitled “Driverless? Autonomous Trucks and the Future of the American Trucker.”  The author is Steve Viscelli, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania who also spent time as a long-haul truck driver. He captured that experience in a book called The Big Rig: Trucking and the Decline of the American Dream. Steve presented his report findings and signed copies of his book at our Joint Council seminar in June.

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Keeping health care prices down—another good example of why Teamsters do politics

For the fifth year in a row, the availability and affordability of health care topped the list of concerns in a nationwide Gallup poll conducted in May.  Health care ranked higher on the list than crime and violence, the economy, unemployment, the quality of the environment, and many other issues.

This should be no surprise to any Teamster.  The rising cost of healthcare is front-and-center in every contract we negotiate, eating away at money we could otherwise put into raises and our pensions.

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Automation will impact jobs; how much is up to us

In the past few months, the issues around automation and driverless trucks have become a major focus for Joint Council 7. You may ask why Teamsters should care about automation. The answer is the potential “robot apocalypse.” Some people estimate upwards of four million transportation workers will lose their jobs to automation in the next 5-20 years. Whether and how that happens  will depend on how our employers and our union act on the issue of automation.

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