2016 has been a momentous year for Local 853 in so many ways. We moved from San Leandro to Oakland, into a new larger building. With two tenants, the Alameda County Building Trades and the Alameda County Central Labor Council, we not only offset the costs, but now our building is the center of all of organized Labor’s activities in the East Bay. Additionally, our new offices give us room to host negotiations, arbitrations and many of the activities that we previously held out of the office. Although the purchase, and especially the build-out, were very challenging, in the end, I believe we have a great facility that you can be proud of and that will last us many years into the future. The building is a symbol of our local’s prominence within the Teamsters and the entire labor movement.
Some of our biggest negotiations for our larger units were finished this year with overwhelmingly good results. Costco, our single biggest unit, had the highest settlement in a number of contracts. Because of the solidarity of our members, and all the members working for Costco in the West, we were able to assist the East Coast Costco members in obtaining the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Plan—something they’d wanted for the last three contracts. Our members turned down a reasonable offer so that the East Coast Costco members could fight for their pension.
Our Ready Mix drivers stood strong and obtained one of the better settlements in their bargaining history, keeping them the best paid drivers in the industry in the nation.
Gillig members agreed to a long extension on their contract, which was very lucrative and also gave the company the security to continue building the new plant in Livermore. We expect our members to be moving from Hayward to Livermore in mid-2017, where they will all maintain their jobs and continue to be the best paid and benefited manufacturers in the industry. Much of this success can be attributed to our political strength in being able to obtain a number of variances and waivers so that Gillig could build their state-of-theart facility right in our area. This is important, as many states offered to build the plant for free if the company would move the almost 1,000 jobs, of which more than half are Local 853 members’ jobs. We were able to fend this off and keep our members secure for the next 50 years.
In the Tech Shuttle industry, we are continuing the life-changing contracts that have nearly doubled the shuttle drivers’ wages and benefits and have also helped us gain increases for the rest of our bus drivers because of the pressure we have put on the industry to retain these drivers. This is exactly what a union can do for our members when everyone is heading in the same direction.
Many other contracts have gotten settled this year, all with decent increases and with very few negative results. All of this was accomplished without the loss of one dime in wages due to a strike. This again speaks to our reputation of doing what we say and getting done what we need to for our members and their families.
Unfortunately, this year has also resulted in the election of a President who put himself out there as the savior of the middle/ working class. I am convinced that many of our members bought into this charade and voted for him. True to what many of us suspected, he is not even in office yet and his cabinet appointments signal nothing but disaster for working people.
His Secretary of Labor owns fast food restaurants and has actively fought the minimum wage and workers rights. He has been fined by the Department of Labor for safety violations, and this is the person who is supposed to look out for workers in our country! Not what was promised by this candidate.
Also, the new Republican Chair of the House Labor committee stated publicly that she doesn’t see a need for unions or the National Labor Relations Board.
The President-Elect has appointed cabinet members who are insiders, Wall Street operators and encompass a who’s who of the billionaires club. None of this looks like it will help workers in the least!
Oh yes, and his daughter moved her shoe manufacturing work from China to another third world country that pays even lower wages.
All in all, I fear that we are in for a volatile and frightening four years. NLRB appointments and, most importantly, Supreme Court appointments will last for many more years into the future.
All of this is designed to undercut what you do, the wages you make and the benefits that protect your families. My hope is that organized labor and our members band together to fight off bad legislation, bad policies and any attempts to undermine our ability to bargain and obtain the best for our members. If we let ourselves be divided, we are doomed to failure.
On a personal note, I was re-elected as an International Vice President, along with General President Jim Hoffa and General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall, to another term at the International. Also, I was recently re-elected without opposition as the Joint Council President. None of this could be possible without your support and the trust that you have placed in me.
I very much want to thank you and pledge to keep working tirelessly for you and your families. In closing, from all of the officers, officials and staff of Local 853, we wish you safe, healthy and happy holidays.