Local marks 80 years of growth and member strength

Secretary-Treasurer's Report - Summer 2017

As we celebrate the 80th anniversary of Local 853, it is important to understand that we are not only celebrating the Local as an institution, but more importantly, we celebrate our membership and their loyalty and dedication to their union and to their sisters and brothers.

ocal 853 has grown over the years from a small warehouse local that represented grocery and general warehousing, with some food production, to the largest local union in the Joint Council, and one of the most diverse, as it pertains to the types of work we cover, and our membership itself.

Our members work in many different industries, including dairy, liquor, warehousing, food manufacturing, beer, school bus, tech transit bus, para-transit bus, auto dealerships, food and restaurant supply, institutional food services, laundry, grocery clerks, big box clerks, parking, delivery drivers, ready mix, construction, parking, clerical, bus manufacturing, racing, county fairs and para-mutual betting parlors, public sector, and we’ve recently added the cannabis industry.

We strive to add new industries and new members because our local has a tradition and culture of organizing workers who are seeking to improve their lives and the lives of their families. This not only protects the work that we have under contract— your jobs—but also makes us bigger and stronger, thereby enabling us to have the economic ability to fight if we need to. The fact that our employers know that we are large and that we have the ability to meet them on their same level forces employers to deal fairly with our demands.

Of course our various benefits also define the value and importance of being a Local 853 member. Our Local either chairs or has representatives on our two main health care benefit trust funds— Teamsters Benefit Trust and Teamsters Managed Trust. This gives us direct input to the benefit levels and costs that protect you and your families. We chair the SIP 401(k) Plan and have a trustee on the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust Fund.

All of this happens because our local is respected and our leadership is recognized throughout the entire Teamsters Union. We have leadership positions on the Joint Council Executive Board and the International Executive Board, along with the State Federation of Labor and the University of California. The International IBT has recruited four of our staff to serve as International Representatives; this enables them not only to work for you, but also to assist other local unions around the country.

In short, we all belong to a great local union whose purpose is to represent the members first, last and always, and we have the tools, recognition and respect to do the best job possible. We all need to be proud of what we have accomplished together!

One of the reasons our local has been so successful is due to our leadership. We continue to have officers and business agents who are educated, knowledgeable and dedicated to the membership.

Recently, two of our long-term and most dedicated officers have decided to retire.

Bob Strelo, President and business agent for a combined 25 years, retired at the end of March. An excellent negotiator, Bob brought respect, integrity, and recognition to our Local. We will miss him, but he surely deserves a long and healthy retirement.

Bo Morgan, who served as an organizer, business agent and Vice President for 19 years combined, retired at the end of April. Bo was tough on the employers and demanded that our members give a decent days work for a decent days pay, but he was respected by both. Bo will work with the local as a part-time consultant, mentoring our agents and assisting them with their duties.

While we lose two great leaders, our local has always prided itself on having good leadership waiting in the wings. So, welcome Dennis Hart as our new President and Lou Valletta as our new Vice President.

Celebrate your local and enjoy your summer months. Stay safe and healthy in this season of recreational activities.