December 2006

Elections are over -
time to go back to work!

Our International election is over and General President Hoffa and General Secretary-Treasurer Keegel and their entire slate were elected with an overwhelming mandate for the future. I look forward to this administration continuing its good work for the next five years.

General President Hoffa has brought about many positive changes within our union, making sure we are set up to grow and increase our strength and power for the future. Secretary-Treasurer Keegel has also brought new energy to our union, particularly in the field of benefits -- finding ways to use the power of our pension funds to help us organize and bring about meaningful change within the corporations in which we invest.

I personally want to thank those members of Local 853 who took the time to vote in our international union election. Although the turnout -- both in our Local and nationally -- was disappointing, Local 853 finished very high in relation to all the other Locals across the country, and we finished number one in both of the Northern California Joint Councils. I am pleased with our overwhelming vote for the Hoffa/Keegel slate. Employers definitely pay attention to the margin of victory in union elections.

Good changes in government

On the state and national election front, along with many other sectors of society, our members voted in large numbers to return the Democrats to power in both the House and the Senate. Obviously, as a union, we supported most of the Democratic candidates and it is good that the anti-worker Republican-controlled legislature has been defeated. For too many years, bad laws have been fast-tracked to passage and unions haven't had a voice in Washington.

Now it is crucially important that the people we put into office continue to support labor's agenda, as they promised. Too many times in the past, our own candidates have abandoned us and refused to support our issues. We need to keep the pressure on them in order to get the protections workers need for the future.

Health care is a huge issue. We'll need to find a way to insure the uninsured and to control costs through national insurance, single-payer insurance or some other method. Health care, as we know it, is in jeopardy in the very near future if something is not done soon. We'll be asking for your help over and over again to keep the pressure on our elected representatives.

The year ahead

2007 will be a very busy year at the Local. We have more than 30 contracts up for negotiations, including major contracts in the dairy industry, warehouse and some of our larger single employers. We anticipate that health care costs will be the single biggest issue, but of course, pension and wages will also be on the table. We will strive, as always, to continue our past successes in negotiating the best contracts in the country for our members.

On a personal note, along with our officers, officials and staff, I want to wish all of our members and your families a happy holiday season and a very successful New Year!

Fraternally,
Rome A. Aloise, Secretary-Treasurer

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