Stacy Frank has worked for the Butte County Employment and Social Services Department for 18 years. She says she was originally on the fence when the organizing drive at Butte County began, “but after really listening to what the Teamsters offered, I got on board and started talking to the others in our department and around Butte County, and then I was all in.”
Local 137 won that union drive in January, and successfully negotiated a first contract. “Being part of the Teamsters is more than a workplace thing,” Frank says. When the rains overwhelmed the Oroville Dam and everyone was forced to evacuate, she was able to turn to the Teamsters. “ Organizer Misty Tanner was in Chico and she graciously opened her room to me, my husband, 4 grandkids, 2 daughters and son-inlaws, and my mom…and 3 dogs. That’s solidarity for you!”
Frank says that she went out with the Teamsters the night of the evacuation, bringing food to the people who were staying at shelters at the fairgrounds. “Our union stepped up. If any of our members needed anything, they’re always the first ones there.”
Frank adds that this is a major culture shock from their previous union. “We’ve gone from a union that didn’t do anything, to one that saved a lot of members their jobs—including those of fee payers who aren’t even members. They just do a great job and I’m proud to be a Teamster.”
Local 315 DRIVE event at UPS San Ramon and UPS Northbay on April 18 and 19, 2017. The local collected 100 DRIVE cards in the two days. “President Alberto Ruiz and Business Agent Nick Berry were instrumental in making this event happen,” said Secretary-Treasurer Don E. Garcia. Special thanks to UPS Shop Stewards Damien Law and Trina Johnson.
Workers at Aramark, a commercial laundry service in Stockton, have had union representation for about a year and they now see how important it can be. “We never witnessed having a voice on the job before having the union,” says Shop Steward Peter Villagomez. “We just won a major grievance victory and got back pay of $30,000. That’s huge! We have to give thanks to Principal Officer Maria Ashley Alvarado and Business Agent Pablo Barrera.”
Solid waste and recycling workers throughout Sonoma County have voted to join Teamsters Local 665. An overwhelming majority of the almost 400 drivers, mechanics, customer service representatives and other workers voted yes for union representation in May. Large North Bay cities including Novato, Petaluma, Santa Rosa and 14 other incorporated areas are a part of this historic win.
“Congratulations to all of the workers and everyone who was involved in this election,” said Local 665 Secretary-Treasurer Mark Gleason. “When workers join the Teamsters, they see improvements in their wages, benefits and working conditions. We’re excited to welcome them as members.”
The election is the culmination of more than 20 years of attempts to bring waste and recycling workers in Sonoma County into the Teamsters. This was the final remaining major non-union group in this industry in all of Northern California.
Patricio Estupiñon has been working as a driver in Sonoma County for almost 25 years. He said that he’s looking forward to the improvements in wages, benefits and retirement security that come with a Teamster contract.
“I feel very proud to finally join the Teamsters union,” Estupiñon said. “This is something that will benefit not only the workers, but also our families and the community at large.”
With the union and new management coming in, the newest members of Local 665 are looking forward to the most pressing issue at their jobs getting addressed: safety. “This work is very dangerous,” said Roman Olvera, a Ratto Group worker for 25 years. “We’ve all had to worry about safety on the job every day we come to work—about how we’ll feed our families if we get seriously injured. Now, that’s finally going to come to an end.”
Local 665 officers are now prepping for contract negotiations with whoever purchases or wins the garbage contracts in the eight Sonoma County cities and unincorporated areas where Ratto operates.
As part of that effort, the union has teamed up with a coalition of local groups to advocate for better conditions for workers and more environmentally friendly waste-recovery practices.
“We’ve had great support politically from the local officials here, from community activists and environmental groups, and from our sister Teamster locals, but the workers and the organizing drive are the real reasons behind our success,” said Local 665 President Mike Yates.
On June 27, workers at two different companies voted unanimously in secret ballot elections to join Local 853. At Top Shelf Packaging in Union City, the vote was 11-0. And at Zenith American Solutions, the administrators of several union pension plans in Alameda, the vote was 43-0.
“Getting these wins was gratifying, but it’s really about the workers taking a stand to improve their own working conditions,” says Organizer Rodney Smith. “And it was really a team effort.” The Local looks forward to negotiating good contracts at both companies, a process made easier with the unanimous votes.
The first Teamster contract covering workers in the fast-growing cannabis industry was ratified in January. The 20 new members of Locals 853 and 63 work as drivers and warehouse workers at River Distributing Company, LLC, a company that distributes medical marijuana, with sites in Santa Rosa, Sacramento and Los Angeles.
“These guys are so excited to be Teamsters because they’re proud to be protected,” says Business Agent Steve Beck. “They also enjoyed an immediate $2/hour wage increase, a $500 signing bonus, and now have pension and 401K plans.” Beck says that they’ll get into the Teamsters Health and Welfare program in the next contract.
In anticipation of the recreational marijuana market which becomes legal in January, 2018, Local 853 is working to establish “labor peace” agreements with several other companies to ensure that management does not wage massive anti-union campaigns.
In June, classified employees of West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) voted overwhelmingly to join Teamsters 856 as they push for improved wages, health care and other benefits. The addition of the more than 1,800 members in the WCCUSD bargaining unit, means that Teamsters 856 is now 12,000 members strong.
“With this vote, workers at West Contra Costa Unified have come together to send a message: they deserve better,” said Teamsters 856 Secretary-Treasurer Peter Finn. “We will aggressively represent these new members and bring forward demands for fairness and respect on the job. As Teamsters, their voices will be amplified, and the district should hear them – they are ready to fight and they have a strong union to back them.”
In a school district that serves more than 30,000 students, the new members of Local 856 work as maintenance employees, custodians, food service workers, special education instructional assistants, bilingual community school workers, campus security officers, and school secretaries. They banded together after suffering years of stagnant wages and eroding health benefits.
“My co-workers and I knew it was time for strong representation. That’s what this vote was about for us. It’s about having a union that will fight for us and give us a powerful voice,” said Heidi Estrella, an attendant clerk.
For more than a year, Reynaldo Hernandez, a plumber for the school district, and his coworkers organized and built a grassroots movement across the school district. “After seeing what Teamsters 856 has been able to accomplish for other county and school workers in Contra Costa County and how they have won tough contracts with good health care benefits, we knew it was time to organize to win the same quality representation at West Contra Costa Unified,” he said.
President Trump’s immigration policies are drastically affecting the labor force in the Salinas Valley. In response, one non-union Taylor Farms’ subsidiary in Gonzalez decided to raise its wages by 70 cents as a recruitment incentive. The Teamsters who work at three nearby Taylors Farms facilities (Abbot, Schillings, and Retail), organized a non-sanctioned strike, and on June 7, took to the streets.
With the members out in full force, Local 890 jumped into the mix and organized, quickly putting together a committee and entering into negotiations. Local 890 President Crescencio Diaz lead the talks, along with Business Agents Luis Flores, Juan Cabrera, and Jesus Rangel. By the next morning, a deal was reached—a $1.50 immediate raise, and another $1 next January.
Fueled by that victory, members at other companies prepared to hit the streets. The leadership of the Local 890 took the first step. Diaz reached out to Dole and Organic Girl and began negotiations and was able to secure a similar deal at the two companies.
Meantime, talks at San Benito Foods had been going nowhere since January. After a long day of mediation on June 22 when no final proposal was reached, the members finally reached their breaking point and called for a strike, starting the next morning.
Unlike the Taylor Farms situation, this strike was supported by Joint Council 7 and the International Brotherhood of the Teamsters. The members also got support from other unions, including IBEW electricians, SEIU, Operating Engineers, SMART Local 31, the Hotel and Restaurant Employees, and the Monterey Bay and South Bay Central Labor Councils, as well as the Alameda and Hollister Food Banks. Adding to the pressure, the Teamsters at UPS-Salinas refused to cross the line.
After eight days of walking in the hot summer sun, the members received what they asked for: a $1 raise from a company that has, over the last 20 years, taken away benefits and maintained low wages.
“There is nothing more resounding than the perseverance of our members, standing next to each other, fighting for a better life; and, most of all, for a fair contract,” said Diaz. “These past few weeks at Local 890 have been remarkable.”
Local 948 held its annual membership picnics on May 13 in Visalia and on May 27 in Modesto. Here’s one of the grand prize winners, Jason Andrade (L) with his kids, along with Secretary-Treasurer Adam Ochoa, in front of the family’s new 55” flat-screen TV.
With over 97% of the vote, the clerical and administrative (CX) workers at the University of California (UC) ratified a new contract on April 19, culminating Teamsters Local 2010’s strategic plan of negotiations and solidarity events showcasing the union’s strength.
“Our contract is the result of Teamster members standing together and showing their strength in their workplaces,” said Jason Rabinowitz, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 2010. “We are grateful for the support we received from our sister unions, community groups, elected officials and the public. We are proud to have an agreement that will benefit all our members and their families.”
The new contract covers 12,000 employees, at ten campuses, five medical centers, and three national laboratories. It includes increases in wages, health care and retirement benefits and more. Most importantly, it secures union rights in a variety of areas:
• Protects the right to take action as Teamsters to improve conditions;
• Requires UC to provide progressive discipline before terminating an employee, except for severe misconduct;
• Protects union access to the workplace to communicate with members.
“Our work is crucial to the University,” said Linda Markey, a UCSF Support Liaison employee for the past four years. “Each and every one of us works to provide the best service to the students and the communities we serve. This contract guarantees that all of our members receive the wage increases they deserve.”
Rolling up their sleeves and working hard on contract negotiations wasn’t the only leverage Local 2010 used to move the university towards a final agreement. Part of the strategic planning for each of the contracts has been both persistent communication with university officials and direct actions on Board of Regents’ home turf.
Last fall, hundreds of Local 2010 members marched on Hollywood Boulevard in front of the famed-Chinese Theatre to call for the university to pay a living wage. The Local also coordinated smaller rallies on campuses and brought members to Sacramento for a lobby day.
“Support for our contracts has been overwhelming, validating the countless hours of hard work by Teamster activists and leaders across California,” said Local 2010 President Catherine Cobb.