Local 853—improving and growing stronger each year

Secretary-Treasurer's Report - Holiday 2015

2015 has been another successful year for Teamsters Local 853 and our members. We always try to improve every aspect of our Local from year to year, from handling grievances more quickly and successfully, strengthen our bargaining preparation and techniques, and aggressively organizing new members to get bigger and stronger. I believe we have excelled on all these fronts this year.

Let’s look at some examples. We were able to assist Gillig Corporation, the last American bus builder in the U.S. to get tax breaks and environmental waivers to build their new, state-of-the-art plant in Livermore. This work enabled us to save the jobs of each of our 500 members there.

Many states had offered Gillig big incentives, from constructing their facility to incredible tax breaks, to move and relocate. But the factors that kept Gillig local were the quality of our members’ work and our Local’s ability to deal fairly with the company. Most importantly, we were able to negotiate a seven-year contract extension that contained considerable wage and benefit increases, while guaranteeing the company labor peace while moving and getting started in their new location—a big victory for our members at Gillig!

Also, we were able to negotiate, and the members overwhemingly ratified, one of the best and most lucrative Liquor agreements ever for our members working at Young’s Market and Southern Wine & Spirits.

The members at Berkeley Farms (Dean Foods) ratified their new contract, which is the best agreement negotiated in the dairy industry nationwide in the last several years. Many of our members in other industries also were able to get significant increases in their contracts, but none more than what we have seen in the busing industry.

Bus drivers have traditionally been overworked and underpaid. Due to our organizing victories with the tech shuttle bus drivers (Loop, Compass and WeDriveU), and the extraordinatory contracts we negotiated with those companies, we have been able to make significant gains for all of our members who drive buses. Companies like MV, Transdev, and Durham have offered unusual wage increases in order to keep our members working for them, rather than leaving to go to work for the tech companies we organized.

This is what a union is supposed to do—raise the bar for our members and allow them to earn the most they can and have the best benefits that can be afforded by the companies they work for.

As the Principal Officer of Local 853, I have the responsibility to make sure that our Local does the best job possible for our members and your families. I believe that we can improve and get stronger each year, and this year has been no exception.

Going into 2016, we are facing the excitement and bombast of a presidential election. You can assume that we will be pounding away to make sure you understand the necessity of electing a candidate who will help workers with the struggle that we are always in and, at the very least, not hurt us.

The current crop of Republican candidates are all anti-worker and anti-union. Each one has demonstrated his or her willingness to hurt workers, undermine our power, and destroy collective bargaining as we know it. The frontrunner is a bigmouthed bully who says what he thinks people want to hear, but knows full well that he won’t have to act on any of it. He is a billionaire who has no regard for people of color, people with disabilities, or most importantly, for us, the people who work hard for a living and who fight for everything we have.

As union members we need to consider one thing and one thing only: how is the candidate that we vote for going to help our hurt our ability to make a decent living and support our families? Plain and simple! All of the other issues that you may personally support do not come close to your need to have a good job and a strong union. The Republicans are not our friends. Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric; vote with your pocket!

Thank you for being a great and supportive membership! Happy Holidays to you and your families, and here’s hoping for a successful New Year for all of you!