The year of 2016’s endless elections is finally behind us and none too soon. As Teamsters, we had some wins and some losses, all of which will impact our union and our working lives for years to come.
The resounding message in both the presidential election and in the Teamster election was a call for change. For the union, this means that officers from both political slates got elected. The union will still be led by General President James P. Hoffa and General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall. However, six of the 15 vice-presidents—those from the Central and Southern regions—will be from the opposition slate.
“This was a hard-fought campaign and a historically close election,” Hoffa said. “Though we have many challenges before us, now is the time to join together as brothers and sisters and stand strong against those who would destroy the labor movement and deny workers the gains they have struggled to achieve. We will continue to lead the fight to organize the unorganized, ensure strong health care, good wages, a secure retirement and holding employers and politicians accountable.”
Hoffa first took office following his victory in December 1998 and was re-elected in 2001, 2006 and 2011. The 2016 election gives Hoffa another five-year term that begins in March, 2017.
Joint Council 7 President Rome Aloise was elected by acclimation at the Las Vegas convention this past summer to his second full term on the General Executive Board. “The challenges we face as a union have increased since I’ve been in office. With the Trump administration, I fully expect that the attacks on our wages, job security and pensions will be exponentially more vicious. I’m confident that the Teamsters Union will continue to be a force for change and will lead our nation in efforts to improve the lives of working families.”
For those eager for change, on the federal level, the election of Donald Trump will certainly herald vast changes ahead. However, few union activists or pundits expect that these will be positive for either unions or working people.
With Republicans in control of the presidency and both chambers of Congress, unions expect to face sweeping changes to labor law and regulations, with a full policy tilt toward employers.
Donald Trump and a Republican-led Senate will pick the next justice for the Supreme Court, which often hears labor-related cases. Republican nominees will likely control the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which under Democratic President Barack Obama, has sought to make it easier for unions to organize. Based on the Browning-Ferris ruling, a case launched by Teamsters Local 350, the NLRB was pursuing litigation to establish that McDonald’s Corp is a “joint employer” of workers at its franchised restaurants, a determination that could compel the company to bargain with unions representing employees of its independent franchisees. A new NLRB will not likely pursue this litigation. We don’t expect that the Obama administration’s recent overtime rules will be upheld; and with President-elect Trump’s strong opposition to regulations, we expect that the Labor Department will try to roll back many worker safety and health protections.
Throughout this issue of the newsletter, you’ll see reports about how California and Nevada bucked the tide. We elected two fighters for working people to the U.S. Senate in Kamala Harris and Catherine Cortez-Masto.
The months of on-the-ground organizing unions poured into this election continued our state’s progress. We passed two important measures to fund schools and health care in Prop 55 and 56. We restored bilingual education and built on criminal justice reform. Prop 53, which threatened good jobs and much-needed infrastructure projects, was rejected. And across the Bay Area, we strongly supported initiatives to build affordable housing.
“While Donald Trump may have won the presidency, he hasn’t changed our values. America is greater than any one man or party,” said a statement by California’s top legislators, Kevin De León and Anthony Rendon. “We will not be dragged back into the past. We will lead the resistance to any effort that would shred our social fabric or our Constitution.”
That’s a sentiment the Teamsters support whole-heartedly.