Labor defeats recall
As you know by now, the Gubernatorial Recall election has been defeated. Labor’s influence, through the efforts of our members and those of all California unions, played a big part in defeating this Republican-based attempt to steal the Governorship. Had they succeeded with the recall, an anti-worker, right-wing nutcase would have become the Governor of the largest state in the nation by a mere plurality of the vote.
This election cost the taxpayers almost $300 million and could have cost our members the gains we have made in worker’s compensation and other state-generated benefits. In the end, union members overwhelmingly stepped up and were part of an overwhelming victory in defeating the recall. Thank you all for following the advice of your leadership.
Confronting the COVID crisis
As we go into the last quarter of the year, we are facing a lot of the same issues we started the year with. COVID continues to be a problem that has cost far too many members their lives.
We are now dealing with our employers and the mandates that are coming for vaccinations. Let me be clear, Teamsters Joint Council strongly encourages vaccinations for all of our members, as we want everyone to be safe and healthy. However, we also realize that a minority of our members have strong feelings against being vaccinated. As of now, the choice that seems to be coming is either to get vaccinated, get tested one or more times a week, or lose your employment. How company policies get implemented is a mandatory subject of bargaining, which means your employer must bargain the policy with your Local Union. This may involve who pays for testing, if there is paid time for vaccination or testing, and what the consequences are if one decides that they will do neither.
Obviously, this is a crucially important issue. Hopefully, with diligent work on everyone’s part, we can overcome the pandemic, and start to get back to normal.
Wildfires impact members
On a sad note, after the devastating fires of the last few years, a number of our members have lost their homes to wildfires during this fire season. For those of us who have not had to live through this type of devastating loss, it is impossible to imagine the hardships it causes. Joint Council 7 again joined with the Locals whose members were affected to provide emergency funds to assist our members in the first few days after they were displaced. Over the last two years, Joint Council 7 has contributed more than $650,000 from our All-Charities Fund to members who were in some type of need, and to organizations that help working people. I am very proud that we are able to help our members when help is needed.
Pension plan thrives
I am happy to report, as a trustee of the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust Fund, that the plan is in great shape and getting better. We have increased the accrual rate by 40% for this year and for the next two. This means that plan members will receive more benefits for the contributions made in these years. For those of you who are in negotiations, or have the right to divert money to pension, now would be a good time. As of the last reports, the plan has well over $50 billion dollars!
In closing, I perhaps have not said this enough over the years, but I want you all to know what an honor it is to be the President of Joint Council 7. We are the most progressive, active, and respected Joint Council in the Teamsters Union, and I thank you for the opportunity you have given me to lead all of you.