Every year, local, state, and federal government agencies give out billions of dollars to corporations through procurement contracts, tax credits, subsidies, grants, and more. These are our tax dollars “at work.” This raises two questions: does it work for us? And if not, what can we do?
Sadly, the answer to the first question is “not enough.” However, the answer to the second question is “we can do a lot.”
For decades, we’ve been fighting misclassification in trucking. In 2019, we passed AB5 which says every worker in California is an employee unless your employer can prove differently. Uber, Lyft, and the gig-economy companies promptly sued the State of California to stop the law. Then they spent hundreds of millions of dollars to buy a new law when they passed Prop. 22. Yet, during that time, both of California’s public pension funds, CalPERS and CalSTRS, increased their investments in Uber and Lyft. That’s our pension money!
On the flip side, last year we passed a law that stops any trucking company that gets busted for misclassifying drivers from getting grants or subsidies to purchase new clean trucks. No more throwing good money after bad.
Right now, Teamsters Local 856 is pushing a bill that would mandate school districts to buy American food. This is a simple concept that would help more than 10,000 Teamsters in our California canneries. Yet, California school districts are pushing back because apparently, they would rather buy peaches canned in China than in California just to save a little money. That’s horrible.
Again on the flip side, Joint Council 7 Teamsters pushed the San Francisco, Oakland, and West Contra Costa Unified School districts, along with Alameda and San Francisco Counties, to adopt a food purchasing policy that rewards local, union companies. Not only are these government agencies buying from Teamster employers, but we are also using that policy to push them to stop buying from Amy’s Kitchen which is fighting an organizing effort with Local 665.
Finally, let’s talk about public transit buses built by 500+ Local 853 members at Gillig in Livermore. Not only have we won campaigns to get transit agencies to buy Gillig buses, we won protections to prevent federal funds from buying anything but 100% American buses. Last month, we helped Gillig win a nearly $30 million California Energy Commission grant to support Teamsters making electric buses. That’s how it should work.
Nobody is doing more work on attaching strong labor standards to our tax dollars than President Biden’s administration. Hundreds of billions of dollars for infrastructure development, climate change mitigation, and more are all coming down to our communities and the administration is doing everything they can to make sure any corporation that gets money has to build union and operate union. The Newsom Administration is right behind them doing the same thing. That, brothers and sisters, is why politics matter.
So please vote this November. Take time to look at the endorsements your local union made after meeting with candidates (starting on Page 7 of the newspaper or click here.) These people support our jobs. Let’s support them!