Your Local is firing on all fronts

Secretary-Treasurer's Report - Spring 2016

This has been another very busy year at Local 853.

Teamster Convention

At the end of June, our delegates and alternate delegates will head to the International Convention to discuss modifying the constitution, pass resolutions, and nominate candidates for the national Teamsters General Executive Board. Our Local is one of the biggest in the country and we are sending 13 delegates and 13 alternate delegates to represent all of our members. With all the issues confronting workers, it ought to be a very interesting and, hopefully, a historic convention.

Local’s new home

We have completed our move to our new building in Oakland, the city in which our local was originally chartered in 1937. Our new building is twice the size of the San Leandro building and gives us plenty of room to grow. Our meeting hall is larger, our conference facilities are state of the art, and the building is designed to be member-friendly.

In the past, we’ve had to pay for hotel rooms for negotiations and meetings. This facility should enable us to keep in-house most of what we do on a day-to-day basis. All in all, having this facility should enable us to do business in a more efficient way.

Importantly, we now have room for two important tenants—the Alameda County Building Trades Council, and the Alameda County Central Labor Council. Not only does this help defray our costs on the new building, but it brings labor together in one place. In the old days, they’d have called this a “Labor Temple!”

While a building certainly does not make the union, this is an impressive building that our members can be proud of. It is certainly one way to make our friends feel comfortable, and our enemies know that we have the financial wherewithal to take on any fight that comes our way. We will host an Open House on August 27—more details will follow.

New organizing helps older industries

Our organizing efforts with the tech shuttle bus drivers have produced some significant improvements in their lives in wages, health care and working conditions. We have brought a large number of these new members into our Local, and it has had another amazing effect.

Because we have been able to force up the economics for the tech drivers, our other bus drivers, in many instances, have seen the benefit of this upturn. Our bus drivers who have traditionally worked in low wage school district and para-transit jobs have benefited due to the need that has been created to pay more to keep the drivers from flocking to the tech shuttle industry.

In May, Durham, a company we have battled with over the years for pennies, recognized that they had no choice but to give a significant raise to all of our members who are bus drivers in order to keep them. What has happened in this industry proves the point that when you raise the tide for workers, all of the boats rise. Our Local is committed to finding ways to improve the livelihoods of our members and their families. We are continually making progress with our goal.

Election time

As this paper goes to press, California’s presidential primary is in progress. Many of our congressional and statewide offices are also up for grabs.

The Teamsters have not yet made a Presidential endorsement; however, there is only one candidate left on the Republican ticket and he is vowing to undermine labor unions and workers’ rights. Trump has publicly stated that he approves of Rightto- Work-for-less legislation nationally; we’ve seen how this devastates the unions in every state where it has been passed. He’d also dismantle the prevailing wage for construction. This simply spells out his disdain for workers, in general, and for union workers specifically.

We cannot elect someone who would completely undermine the union rights we have. This is an important election to make sure we don’t get anything worse by voting for a billionaire who talks right on some issues, but ultimately has no concern for working people. This will be a constant topic of conversation until the election.