Drivers at Waste Management, Inc. in Redding voted unanimously to ratify their first contract. These 22 new Teamster members, now represented by Local 137, obtained the contract after a year of negotiating, following a two-to-one election victory on August 28, 2016.
“Individually, we as drivers had no voice with management to create positive change in our working conditions,” said driver Vincent Smith, a 27-year employee at Waste Management. “With the help of the Teamsters, we’ve won representation, ratified our first contract and will be seeing major steps forward in our working conditions.”
The workers will enter the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Plan and will be able to obtain affordable Teamster health care. The contract also contains wage increases and job protections.
“This is a great victory for these hardworking Teamsters,” said Secretary-Treasurer Dave Hawley. “There’s nothing better than delivering a first contract to a group of hardworking individuals and seeing how much good a union can do for their lives. I’m very grateful for all of the support we’ve received to get to this point.”
The bus drivers at Transdev Napa ratified their new three-year agreement that calls for increases in wages and health and welfare. Business Agent Dustin Baumbach negotiated the deal.
Local 431’s annual Shop Steward Seminar on October 15 brought together more than 30 stewards to learn about key legal topics from Attorney Peter McEntee from the Beeson Tayer and Bodine law firm. After the training, they all enjoyed a delicious lunch.
The California High Speed Rail project is progressing rapidly and Local 431 has been actively dispatching drivers and owner-operators.
The project has brought new companies that have historically never worked under a collective bargaining agreement to the Central Valley and Local 431 has been able to sign half of them to the Teamsters Master Construction Agreement while building good working relationships.
The Local has an extensive need for experienced Class A Drivers in order to fill dispatch requests. The project continues to progress and is projected to utilize several more drivers by next summer.
Sid Ponce, a 16-year Coca Cola employee, was terminated for what the union determined were unfair production standards in 2016. Secretary-Treasurer Lennie Wells successfully fought the discharge at arbitration and Sid was returned back to work with back pay and benefits in the amount of $20,592.
A group of 17 firefighters and administrative assistants from a fire district near Stockton have joined Teamsters Local 439.
The battalion chiefs, captains, lieutenants, engineer lieutenants, firefighters and administrative assistants work for the French Camp-McKinley Fire Protection District. The workers sought to join Local 439, and the local was recognized as representative by the state Public Employment Relations Board in late September.
“We will help negotiate a strong contract for these hardworking men and women,” said Ken Guertin, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 439 in Stockton. “As public employees, they deserve to know the community has their backs.” “The firefighters play a vital role every day keeping their communities safe and they deserve to be protected as well,” said Rob Nicewonger, Business Representative for Local 439. “They know the Teamsters will work hard to protect their interests.”
Keenan Quintana (R) gets his 2016 James R. Hoffa Memorial scholarship check from Local 517 Secretary Treasurer Chester Suniga. Keenan’s father, Carrie Quintana, works at Foster Farms Dairy and Keenan is in Fresno State’s dairy program.
Getting out the worker vote in Nevada was key to turning the state blue and electing U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto.
At a UPS Depot in Sparks, Local 533’s Secretary-Treasurer Debbie Calkins, President Gary Watson and a UPS steward were joined by Iliana Flores from the IBT, Lawrence Heaton from Local 2785, and Congressional candidate Chip Evans (C).
On November 10, San Francisco’s Mark Hopkins Hotel was filled for a very special occasion: to honor U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer for her years of service as a champion for working people.
The annual Bay Area Union Labor Party event also honored the San Francisco Immigrants Rights Center and Hotel Workers Local 2 President Anand Singh as its Rising Star.
The event was hosted by Local 665 Secretary-Treasurer Mark Gleason.
Having a union means that somebody’s got your back, and that’s just what it meant for a 7-year employee at Berkeley Farms, who had been fired for violating company policy by taking long breaks.
It turns out, the company relied on the use of video monitoring to determine the discharge. “The union had previously bargained that video surveillance could be used against its members only if it is not the sole source implicating a worker of wrongdoing,” explains Business Agent Doug Radonich.
The case first went to mediation in the spring, and when the employee refused a settlement, the union took it to arbitration. The union was represented by Andy Baker from Beeson Tayer and Bodine.
The arbitrator found the company had failed to prove just-cause and agreed to sustain the union’s grievance in full. He ruled that, after 11 months of being off work, the employee should be returned to work with all back pay and benefits, plus interest at 10% per annum. In December, she received a check for about $65,000 and is back at work.
Workers across California can finally take a load off, thanks to a recent opinion issued by the state’s Supreme Court that states that if employees can perform their duties while seated, employers must provide seats.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Staff Attorney Susanna Farber. “The Court said that an employer’s preference that work be done while standing is not enough to deny workers a seat.”
Teamsters 856 has long been advocating for this finding on behalf of members working in the customer service industry who spend many hours on their feet behind service counters.
In October, Teamsters 856 Principal Officer Peter Finn and President Mike Lagomarsino visited front desk members at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square the day the new chairs arrived.
“There was absolute jubilation, especially from some of our more senior members,” said Lagomarsino. “They finally have some relief after standing for so many years.”
Shop Steward Nora Johnson has been at the San Francisco Hilton Union Square for 44 years. “No one has ever had a seat in my time there,” she said. “People couldn’t believe it.”
Johnson said that many of her colleagues have suffered from back pain, varicose veins, and other health problems from being on their feet for eight hours a day, sometimes even longer if they work overtime.
Finn, who started his Teamster career as a member and steward in the hotel industry while in graduate school, knows firsthand the significance of the Court’s decision for the more than 2,000 Local 856 members who work in the customer service industry. “Being on your feet all day long, year after year, can be incredibly taxing,” he said. “We are committed to ensuring that employers subject to the ruling comply with the Court’s opinion.”
So far, the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, Parc 55, Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf, and Clift hotels are in the process of providing seats. Lagomarsino and Farber are continuing to work to ensure that the remaining hotels where Local 856 members work are also in compliance.
On October 24, Teamsters 856 members at the Peninsula Humane Society took a bold stance and held a press conference to blow the whistle on dangerous conditions affecting animal care and public safety at the organization. Local 856 members at the San Mateo facility had previously reached out to the organization’s president, Ken White – who made close to $700,000 in 2013 – but he declined to hear their concerns with their union representative present.
Armed with photographic and video documentation, Local 856 members spoke of the lack of air conditioning in the back of PHS vehicles where animals are transported, which can result in temperatures reaching 96 degrees (and up); broken kennels that have caused injury to animals, and chronic understaffing, as some of the issues affecting animal and public safety.
“Whistleblowers had previously reported their concerns to management in vain, and some were even told that if they didn’t like it, they could leave,” said Teamsters 856 Representative Tim Jenkins. “Going to the press was a brave last resort.”
The press conference was covered by most local media outlets, including the San Francisco Chronicle, and television stations KPIX, KTVU, KGO, and NBC Bay Area.
After the whistleblowers went public, Teamsters 856 Political Director Trish Blinstrub arranged for them to meet with members of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors who have been receptive to the workers’ concerns. (San Mateo County contracts with PHS for its animal control needs.) Astonishingly though, the Society’s Board of Directors, which includes the CFO of Yahoo, a Goldman Sachs Vice President, and the author of the novel, “Legally Blonde,” has remained silent in response to the workers’ pleas to meet to resolve the issues for the benefit of the animals at the shelter.
“We’re all here for the animals, we love what we do,” said Teamsters 856 member Vaughn Hyndman.
Dozens of UC workers protested hunger, food insecurity, and low wages at the University of California Regents meeting on Wednesday, November 16.
A recent study by Occidental College shows that 70% of UC full time clerical, administrative and support workers suffer from food insecurity or hunger.
“It’s hard to admit that, even working full-time for a world-renowned university, many of us have to skip a meal or rely on snacks to get by,” said Joseph Meyer, an administrative support worker from UC Berkeley. “I have skipped breakfast and I have had to sacrifice purchasing prescription medicine for my asthma in order to pay for food or vice versa. It is past time for the UC to pay us enough to live.”
In addition to picketing, the workers gave the regents copies of the Occidental College study along with personal comments about experience with food insecurity.
“This is a crisis for the 14,000 administrative support workers who are trying to live on the UC’s poverty wages,” said Catherine Cobb, Teamsters Local 2010 President. “The Regents should be speaking out on this issue and demanding solutions. We will be taking our concerns to the state legislature.”
“Until the UC pays workers enough to eat, we will continue to demonstrate at campuses throughout the state,” added Principal Officer Jason Rabinowitz.
On September 23, 2016, Teamsters Local 2785’s Retirees Club once again treated their members and families to a wonderful barbeque at Coyote Point Park in San Mateo. Event organizers always take this picture to express their gratitude to their generous sponsors.