Teamsters Local 315 are assigning themselves a new direction in rebranding, and will be launching their new website at the end of September.
In order to promote member stories and victories, as well as to provide education and guidance, Local 315 welcomes its newest staff member, Lydia D’Angelo, to the team as their first Communications Director. D’Angelo’s duties include creating content for social media and the website, communicating with members, staff, and stewards, and rebranding the local. The Communications Director’s biggest priority is to share and promote stories of the union’s members and communicate the appreciation of the indispensable workers.
On September 6, Vacaville’s First Transit members ratified a four-year agreement that will increase wages in year one by $2.24 and 3% each year thereafter. Special thanks to shop stewards Manuel Larot and Carlos Montoya for their hard work in keeping the group united after a 100% rejection of the employer’s previous final offer.
It took 19 days and a contract proposal that the members unanimously voted down before the 117 members at the Saputo creamery in Tulare finally had a contract that they could ratify.
“We told the company that their offer wasn’t good, but when the members spoke with 100% agreement and voted the first contract down, we went back to the table and got a good contract in three days,” says Business Rep Steve Nelson.
Ultimately, the key was switching health care plans. By going from Teamster Choice Plus to Select Plus, the company pays only for the people covered by health insurance, instead of paying the same price for everyone—singles and families. “This change provided the company with $1.35 million in savings,” explains Business Agent Steve Nelson. “So in addition to increases of $3 in wages and $1 in pension over the fiveyear contract, everybody’s co-pay was reduced by half.”
Nelson says that the agreement was ratified overwhelmingly in August. “It worked out well for both sides.”
Over at Ventura Coastal, an orange juice company in Tipton, getting a contract was a much smoother affair. This is a seasonal company that has 120 employees, when fully staffed.
“It was a much easier contract. After 8-9 days of negotiations, we had a three-year contract that included a 3% raise each year. And since the members were happy with their insurance, we just left it alone,” Nelson says. “There were no hang-ups and ultimately we have an agreement that everyone is pretty happy with.”
Joint Council 7 continued to lead the way in organizing in the tech industry with the ratification on September 18 of a new two-year agreement covering more than 200 drivers who work for Chariot, an appbased commuter startup.
Chariot, which runs 11 specialized commuter routes in San Francisco, has been in business for about three years.
“This is a success story with so many people to thank,” said Local 665 Secretary-Treasurer Mark Gleason. “Everyone at the Joint Council, our sister Locals, Teamster-supported elected officials, and especially, the women and men who drive for Chariot each day.”
Local 665 was approached by Chariot drivers last April with questions about organizing. At the same time, Ford Motor Company bought a majority interest in Chariot. With the assistance of Joint Council President Rome Aloise and Political Director Doug Bloch, Chariot agreed to card-check neutrality, which resulted in recognition of the Teamsters.
“Bargaining was difficult, because, as a ‘start-up,’ there is no comparison to the type of work these new Teamsters do in any other industry,” Gleason said. “We had to start from scratch in putting together a contract.”
Gleason credited Local 665 President Mike Yates, and business agents Florencio Sinogui, Michael Thompson and Tony Delorio with keeping the Chariot drivers together throughout the summer. “These were unique contract talks. President Yates and the business agents made sure that the workers stayed informed, which allowed for quick ratification of the final agreement,” Gleason said.
Now that the Chariot drivers ratified their new contract, they will enjoy immediate wage improvements of more than $2.00/hour, a union health plan and additional holidays and vacation.
Gleason encourages everyone visiting San Francisco to consider using one of the ubiquitous turquoise- colored Chariot vans to move around the City. “Jump on board a Chariot; there will be a Teamster behind the wheel,” Gleason said.
The contract will be in force through the end of 2019..
Over the summer, Local 853’s organizing team has had four organizing victories bringing in nearly 100 new members.
The first was at A-1 Ready Mix, with locations in Hayward and San Francisco, where the 20 drivers and batchmen voted yes for union representation. “We have high density in this industry, but still have several targets for organizing,” says Organizer Rodney Smith. “We’ve been certified and are set to start negotiations. We look forward to welcoming these new members.”
Almost all of the employees at the Safeway Milk Plant in San Leandro were in the union except for the 10 office coordinators. That changed in July when the group was organized and voted for union representation. “Negotiations are starting now,” Smith says.
On June 28, the 50 employees at Zenith Amiercan Solutions voted to become Teamsters. This company is a “third party administrator” for pension and trust funds. “It was a unanimous decision,” says Smith. “We’re proud to represent these workers who provide important services to other union members.”
And also on June 28, the 11 workers at Top Shelf Packaging in Union City voted unanimously for union representation. These workers build the boxes and packaging for Southern Wine and Glazer, and join the salesforce and drivers as members of Local 853..
Every year, women from unions throughout the United States and Canada gather together for the Summer Institute on Union Women (SIUW) in their region. This year, Teamsters 856 sent 18 members from both the public and private sector to the Western SIUW, held in beautiful Honolulu, Hawaii.
“What better way for our members to grow and learn than to do so with other union women around the country,” said Teamsters 856 Secretary-Treasurer and Principal Officer Peter Finn. “The women we sent will be able to come back and take what they learned to their worksites, and use it to help build and strengthen our union.”
This year’s theme, “Continuing the Legacy: Responding with Direction, Unity & Strength” was chosen to equip union women with the tools needed to fight back attacks on the right to bargain collectively.
Throughout the four days, institute attendees learned about organizing, mobilization, collective bargaining, globalization, and building solidarity from experienced organizers and labor leaders. The women were in a space where they could share their expertise, work with each other, and learn from one another.
Dayna Sherwood and her colleagues at the San Francisco Zoo will begin bargaining soon, which is part of the reason she knew attending the SIUW would be beneficial.
“I came back feeling super inspired and ready to bargain,” she said. “I felt like I had more power, and felt stronger about going to the table. I learned more about the process: how to prepare and present proposals, and how to respond to the employer.”
LaKenya McGhee works for Contra Costa County and said her experience taught her how to be a stronger leader.
“You don’t have to be in a role of power to be a leader,” she said. “The small things you do to and for people can have a big impact on them. Listen to that tap on the shoulder when someone has picked you as their leader.”
Teamsters 856 Political Director Tricia Suzuki Blinstrub attended the SIUW and led a workshop on politics and the importance of political activism.
“The SIUW is an opportunity for us to send our members to expand their knowledge about being in the labor movement,” she said. “It also allows us to bring together the different sectors of our union to meet, learn, and experience the bond that holds us together. We often get caught up in our own worksites so this allows us to remember the bigger pictures of who our union is.”
Connecting with fellow 856 members was a big part of what made the SIUW important to Shaune Vaughn who works for Delta Dental. “It taught me that all women from [all] walks of life go through things and still maintain families and work,” she said.
Women empowering one another was happening both in and out of the workshops and classrooms.
Micki Estrada has worked for Washington Hospital for 30 years. This was her first time at the SIUW, and she said she was particularly inspired by a woman from British Columbia who showed her that she has within her more confidence than she ever realized. Micki says these lessons were the most important to her. “They showed us that women have rights and a voice that’s often overlooked,” she said. “They helped give us the voice that we already had – only louder.”
After a year of unprecedented milestones, we can add another victory to our list. Earlier today, the 1,400 skilled trades workers of the State Employees Trades Council (SETCUnited) overwhelmingly voted to affiliate with Local 2010.
Over 75% voted in favor of joining the Teamsters, and the turnout was enormous, with over 77% of members voting in the election.
“We are proud to have the 1,400 skilled trades members of SETC join the 12,000 administrative, clerical, and support workers at the University of California system and the over 800 Skilled Trades workers at UCLA and UC San Diego,” said Jason Rabinowitz, Secretary Treasurer of Teamsters Local 2010. “Together, we are building a true powerhouse in higher education with strength at not only the UC, but in the Cal State system as well.”
“Becoming part of the Teamsters was an easy decision,” said Sean Kerkoff, a plumber at UCSB. “I am proud to be part of such a powerful organization with an unwavering commitment to its members.”
Earlier this year, by joining forces with our skilled trades members, we multiplied our power during the contract fight and this will only grow our strength exponentially.
The new group includes almost 1400 electricians, elevator mechanics, plumbers, and facilities workers from UC Merced, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, and 22 campuses in the California State University system.
“This is an exciting time for our Union,” said Joseph Meyer, a records assistant at UC Berkeley. “The addition of 1,400 skilled trades members puts us in an incredible position with the clout to make real change for our members.”
Congratulations to the newest members of the Teamsters and make sure to take some time and welcome our new sisters and brothers to the union.