Seeing the year out in a position of strength

Secretary-Treasurer's Report - Holiday 2017

All in all, 2017 has been a good year for our Local and our members.

After paying off our construction loans in November, Local 853 now owns our new building free and clear—a valuable asset for our members. It’s twice the size of our old building and has the room for us to host negotiations on-site rather than needing to rent expensive hotel rooms for those meetings. It also has a large meeting hall with updated communications capabilities, and plenty of parking for our members. Our Oakland home is a sign of strength and economic stability, and it signals to our friends and enemies that we are a force to be reckoned with.

We have negotiated many contract renewals for our members, and most, if not all, included significant improvements.

We have also successfully organized hundreds of new members in various industries. These new members now enjoy better wages, benefits and, most importantly, job security and a right to have a say about what happens on the job. Organizing is the life blood of any union and our Local has always organized. New members make us stronger while they improve their own livelihoods and family security by joining us. If you have friends or family members who are working for non-union companies, have them contact our organizers to improve their workplace and livelihood.

Storm clouds ahead

While things have been going well in our Local, we see storm clouds on the horizon—for workers in general, and for unions in particular. Trump promised to make America great again, but in reality, none of that has happened. An increased number of jobs have gone out of the country, despite his tweets to the contrary. While employment has increased due a growing economy, based on policies put into place before Trump was elected, the new jobs are low-paid, part-time, and without benefits or job security.

We know that unionized jobs pay decent wages and benefits, and usually offer some type of retirement. Unfortunately, the “new economy” tends to create low wage, usually 1099 jobs, where the worker takes on all responsibility for their benefits and works at the whim of their contractor. This is bad for the economy, for our cities, and for the country, as it undermines the tax base. Ultimately, new economy workers depend on social services that, in effect, you and I are paying for. This means that companies like Walmart, Amazon, Target and the like are using your tax money to supplement their profits. All the while, these companies are supporting Trump appointees whose jobs are to dismantle the labor movement. I worry about how much destruction can be caused in the next three years. Trump and the Republicans are not our friends. Never forget that.

Strength in unity

Even with onerous events on the horizon, our Local will get through all of this and will continue to protect you and all of our members. Local 853 is successful because we stick together, we support each other, and we have one another’s backs. Our leadership is consistent, hardworking, knowledgeable, honest, and respected. In the future, things may change and some of us may go. But, ultimately, it is the union that is important; our members are the union; and, our strength comes from our unity. Stay close, circle the wagons and protect each other.

On a personal note, I want to say that I am thankful that you have given me the opportunity to represent you and stand up for you. It has been an honor to do so.

I wish you and your family very happy holidays.