Local's Strength Will Be Put to the Test in 2012

Secretary-Treasurer's Report - December 2011

Our Local Union is one of the largest in the country as well as one of the more high profile Locals. We are a microcosm of the labor movement as a whole.

When Tea Party politicians launched the War on Workers in Wisconsin, Ohio, and other states, we helped where we could and watched the fight from a distance. We are fortunate of course, that the attack on public sector workers didn't come to our state, and this is directly because of Labor’s participation in the electoral process here in California. Our members vote and support candidates that support workers, and although we don't get everything we ask for from these leaders, they don't come after us either.

Unfortunately, the War on Workers has come to our Local in the form of attacks on a number of our contracts. As we go to press, we are poised for a fight with PrimeSource, which is attempting to take away our members’ pensions. Dreyer’s Ice Cream, now owned by the global conglomerate, Nestlé, is attempting to strip our members of their income formula, costing them a reduction in their annual earnings. Sysco continues to mistreat our members. And, of course, our long fight with VWR continues.

More than any other time that I can recall, we are under attack at Local 853. We will need to bring our members together to support the fight against these employers and any others that think they can use the economy and political environment to take our hard-won benefits and earnings away from us. As diverse as our members and their jobs are, we have always had a strong reputation of joining together to help each other. We will certainly need to be together in this coming year. Be ready!

Again, this year, the Membership Appreciation Day was a great success. I love to see our members come together, meet each other, and join in a celebration of our Local. We are indeed a unique group of workers from many different races, ethnicities and cultures, but we move in one direction when it comes to our union. It makes me proud to be a Local 853 member.

During this year, a number of our officers and officials retired. I always have mixed emotions when our people leave, as they take with them dedication, commitment and vast experience. But then again, it is a tough and demanding job that takes its toll on those that serve the membership, and the ability to retire with dignity and respect and to enjoy the future is something I wish for each of our members.

So to the following friends and colleagues, I wish a happy, healthy and long retirement:

Lee Lahtinen, GCIU director and former head of Local 583 GCIU;

Mike Furtado, Trustee from Berkeley Farms; Mike came over as a Trustee from Local 302 and served Local 853 for many years;

Jeff Belunza, Trustee from Gillig Corporation, who also served many years on the Executive Board; and of course,

John Becker, our former President and Vice President who was mentioned in a prior edition. They all deserve our thanks and respect.

Finally, I want to thank all of you who took the time to participate and vote in the election for our national officers and for your support of my campaign. While less than 20% of our members voted, we had the highest vote margin for the Hoffa-Hall slate.

Happy Holidays to you and your families, and when you give thanks, please remember your union.