Numbers don’t lie

This last November, Joint Council 7 ran the largest election program in our history. The pandemic did not stop us from talking with more of our members than ever before, using a combination of boots on the ground, phone banking, and text messages. I am proud to say that every single local union participated. Hundreds of Teamsters worked this campaign throughout the state, from members to business agents to local union political coordinators and principal officers.

Numbers don’t lie—so let’s get into them. This was California’s first all-mail ballot election, and along with our sister state Nevada, we were operating under COVID-19 rules. That forced us to get our message out in many different ways. At our worksites, we gave out over 10,000 masks; 10,000 stickers; and distributed over 50,000 flyers. We took advantage of the cell phones we all carry, sending 762,583 text messages and making 100,212 phone calls statewide. Our local union Principal Officers supplemented this work through recorded phone messages and letters. Finally, thousands of Teamsters participated in our Zoom meeting town halls.

We targeted almost 100,000 Teamsters who are registered to vote in California. On average, 58% of our members returned their mail ballots. But let’s look at those numbers closer. We contacted 42,000 Teamsters who committed to us personally to return their ballots, and that’s where we see the difference. 90% of the members we spoke with voted in this election.

The lesson? There is power in numbers. When we come together in a common effort, we can make things happen that we cannot do on our own. That, brothers and sisters, is Teamster power.

This was a team effort. Although a lot of local unions and people deserve recognition, I want to single out a few. Let me start with Joint Council 7 President Rome Aloise. Rome and the Executive Board spearheaded an effort to raise funds for the campaign from a one-time, special per capita payment from each local. As a Teamsters Western Region Vice-President, Rome helped draw down significant help from our International Union, including additional funding and IBT staff. Mark Shumar from the IBT Department of Political and Legislative Action played a critical role in coordinating our field efforts.

Teamsters Local 431 Secretary-Treasurer Peter Nuñez and his team took our social media campaign to a whole new level by creating video testimonies of our members talking about the importance of voting and our issues. They, along with Local 439, were the first out of the gate talking to our members on the job. Locals 70 and 150 took their worksite campaigns to new levels. Locals 890 and 948 worked our majority Spanish-speaking worksites hard, and Local 137 traveled across nearly half the state to talk with members. Local 2010 Secretary-Treasurer Jason Rabinowitz, who serves on the Executive Boards of both Joint Councils 7 and 42, was invaluable in coordinating our efforts statewide. Finally, the dozens of rank-and-file Teamster members who took time off work to come on as Political Field Organizers deserve the most praise. They were in the trenches and we owe them a debt. Without them, none of this would’ve happened.

We also spent a lot of time interviewing candidates for elected office and studying ballot initiatives. In total, we made endorsements in 298 contests. We won in 214 of them, which comes out to a 71%-win rate in election talk. That’s good for our members. And on that note, a special shout out to the five Teamsters who won their elections this cycle: From Local 665: Eddie Alvarez; and from Local 856: Jovancka Beckles, Otheree Christian, Alena Maunder, and my own Vice Mayor of Alameda, Malia Vella! 

On a final note, the other number that doesn’t lie is $200 million. That’s how much Uber, Lyft, PostMates, DoorDash, and Instacart put into Prop 22. Not only was that the most money ever spent in any ballot initiative campaign in U.S. history, but it was also ten times more than we had to spend on our side to beat it. The results were heartbreaking given all we put into it. In the end, we could not overcome the money those companies poured into an onslaught of television, radio, newspaper, and internet advertising. They got to more voters and they got there first. Their ads were very deceptive. Polling shows many voters believed Prop 22 was actually good for workers. We know that Prop 22 will undermine the very basic labor protections that we all enjoy. Those high-tech corporations may have won this round, but the fight is far from over!

It was truly an honor to work with Joint Council 7 this election. We continue to improve our efforts with every election cycle, and the numbers show that the work is paying off.

To see the full list of endorsements and winners, click here!

Trish Suzuki Blinstrub, Political Director