Another good year at Local 853

Secretary-Treasurer's Report - Holiday 2013

As the holidays approach, I like to reflect on how the Local fared during the year. I want to make sure that our staff performs each and every task at the highest level. Most importantly, I want our Local to be respected by you—our members—as well as by other Locals, and our International union. I also want to ensure that employers respect us as honest, competent and powerful. I believe we have reached that goal again this year.

Negotiations

Of the dozens of contracts we negotiated, only one—DBI— caused our members to go out on strike. In one day on the picket line, they leveraged the best agreement we have ever negotiated for this group.

Times are tough, but we have negotiated raises for the vast majority of our members, kept our superior healthcare and pensions, and moved forward correcting problems in the workplace. We have also negotiated two first-time contracts and welcomed in new members from Stonyfield Farms, a yogurt manufacturer, and Steeler Inc., a construction materials company.

Organizing

Organizing continues to be a priority for our Local as new members are needed to make us stronger, replace lost jobs, and continue our obligation to represent workers who need or want representation. If you have leads—friends or relatives who want a union—be sure to let us know.

Arbitration Wins

We prevailed in a number of arbitrations resulting in our members getting their jobs back, and in some cases, receiving full back pay.

Shop Stewards

Every year, our business agents work to resolve hundreds of grievances and this year has been no different. Employers violate their contracts every day and it is up to our members to recognize when it happens and enforce their contract. With the thousands of members we have, business agents cannot be everywhere, so our first line of defense is our members and Shop Stewards.

To this end, education and experience is key to having an effective and strong union. We conducted another successful Shop Stewards seminar with more than 100 Shop Stewards giving up time on an August Saturday to attend. These workshops help ensure that your stewards are knowledgeable and ready to perform one of the most important jobs in our union.

You should all go up to your steward and shake his or her hand for volunteering to do an often-thankless job—putting themselves between you and your boss. They deserve a pat on the back from their fellow members.

Challenges

In the coming year we expect many challenges, starting with how our employers deal with the new Affordable Care Act (ACA). Your union contract provides health care for you and your dependents, either through a Taft- Hartley “union” plan or another plan negotiated with the company. Therefore, you will not immediately be affected by what is being commonly referred to as “Obamacare,” and do not have to do anything at this time. However, as we negotiate new contracts, we have already seen some employers attempt to take advantage of certain parts of the ACA to undermine our members’ coverage.

All of your union officers and business agents have attended numerous seminars to make sure we know what we are doing when health care coverage comes up in negotiations. What makes our Local so strong is that the leadership makes it a point to be well-educated on the subjects that affect our members.

Election

On a personal note, as you probably saw on the front page of the newsletter, I and the Local’s entire Executive Board, were again re-elected without opposition. I just need to tell you that I think this is the highest honor a worker can pay to a leader of their union. It means that you trust and respect your leadership and that you have confidence in us to protect you and your family. I want you to know I do not take this responsibility and honor lightly. I will continue to work hard and tirelessly for all of you.

I would like to wish all of you and yours a safe and happy holiday season!