Winter 2004

Staying Strong in the Face
of a Daunting Future

I have finally gotten old enough to appreciate what my parents were always saying about "time flying." It seems like I was just writing this article for last year's Holiday newsletter, and here I am doing it again. Time does fly!

I wish I could say that the time flew because we are having fun, but given the recent election, the ongoing escalation of health care costs and the struggling economy, I can't say that we had much fun in the past year.

I fear that the Bush Administration is going to continue to make the rich richer and take away most of the protections that working people now have. With the "mandate" that he thinks he has, president Bush has already started to push forward his first priority, which is to "privatize" social security. Of course, this is another scheme to allow big investment firms to make trillions of dollars off of workers who will "trust" them to hold their investments.

Bush's attack on traditional pension plans will be another way to force people into alternative types of plans, which again will assist his buddies in the investment industry to make even more money. The Bush administration's refusal to do anything about national health care will continue the upward spiral of costs to our health plans, and will force the union to negotiate money on healthcare that could instead be going to wages and pension.

The Department of Labor has issued new, draconian and useless reporting guidelines for Unions that will force us to spend more money on accountants and clerical help to complete. The Bush Administration will, no doubt, have many other initiatives to hurt working people --unfortunately, this is just the start.

Reasons to be Thankful

All that said, there are many things in Local 853 to be thankful for and that give me hope for the future. The majority of contracts that we negotiated in 2004 were ratified overwhelmingly by the membership and contained decent increases and improved protections.

We didn't have to take strike action against any employer due to the good job our Local Union did in completing what we needed to do in a reasonable fashion. However, by respecting the picket lines of another Local Union at Graniterock, our members were very much involved in a long strike. These Ready Mix members rallied behind their brothers and sisters at Graniterock by contributing money each week so that they could survive the 13-week fight. This is one more example of the solidarity that makes Local 853 a strong and effective Union.

I want to give thanks to all the members of Local 853 who registered to vote, gave money to DRIVE and got involved in the 2004 elections. We certainly did our part in Northern California. And I want to congratulate Janine Vanier, our office manager, who was inducted into the MS Society Hall of Fame for her fundraising work to fight the devastating effects of this terrible disease. Her accomplishment has brought honor to another Local 853 team member.

Additionally, more than 400 members attended our Membership Appreciation meeting last month. They showed that we can be strong and solid in the face of a daunting future.

I am thankful for the goods things that have blessed us this year and thoughtful about the not-so-good things. We will overcome the adversity as we always have, and we will continue to protect the membership by sticking together and striving to improve our livelihoods --for ourselves and for those who follow us. Be happy and confident in this.

On behalf of the entire staff, Officers and Officials at Local 853, I want to take the opportunity to wish you all a happy holiday season, and a happy and healthy New Year!

Fraternally,
Rome A. Aloise, Secretary-Treasurer

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