Local 853

Golden Brands – creative thinking gets bigger raise faster

Sometimes (or every time) the union has to get creative. And that just happened in the negotiations for a new contract for the 125 drivers, warehouse workers, and merchandisers at Golden Brands in San Jose.

“We were working on a three-year contract,” says Business Rep Ray Torres. “The company gave us a dollar sum and said that was as high as they could go. But it wasn’t high enough. So we proposed taking that amount of money and getting it in two years instead of three. This way the members get a higher total in a quicker time.”

The members ratified their new two-year contract in June 2022.

Golden Brands – creative thinking gets bigger raise faster Read More »

UNFI unanimously pass new contract

The 37 drivers at UNFI in Gilroy unanimously ratified their new three-year contract in May. “They’re now making $11 more an hour than before they joined the union three years ago,” says Business Rep Ray Torres, who explained that these drivers deliver organic foods to Whole Foods, Trader Joe\’s, and other organic food markets. “We also locked in their health benefits for the life of the agreement and got annual bonuses to help offset previous insurance increases.”

While the first contract was the union’s way into the door of this company, the second contract was able to correct what the union couldn’t get through the first time. “Our priority for the second contract was to improve picketing language so that our members could take actions on the job site and with customers, and to give me, the business rep, more access to the worksite. Now I have the ability to go to the worksite any time. We won both priorities.”

In addition to substantial wage and pension increases, Teamster members will now get any benefit that the company gives to the non-union employees. “This is huge,” adds Torres. “Immediately, it includes rain gear, safety shoes, and more.” And, the contract shortened the progression to reach “journeyman” pay scale from five years to 18 months. “This means that new hires will get two increases each year — their progression increase, which comes every six months until they reach the maximum level, and their annual increase.”

Torres wanted to recognize Ruben Lopez and Vince Rubacaba who served on the negotiating committee. “Actually, they’ve been there since day one—with the organizing drive, the first contract, and now the successor contract. They’ve been excellent spokespeople for the membership.”

UNFI unanimously pass new contract Read More »

Nice boost in early contract with Clear Channel Outdoor 

When you pass a transit shelter in the East Bay, West Bay, or South Bay, do you ever wonder, “who put that ad up there?” The answer is Local 853 members who work for Clear Channel Outdoor. Our members fix and maintain the transit shelters for MUNI, AC Transit, and VTA.

“It’s not an easy job,” says Business Rep Jesse Casqueiro. “These members deal with everything you see in the streets of our busy urban centers.”  Some members clean the shelters, others post the ads, and still others maintain the shelters themselves. “Basically, we don’t construct them. But once they’re built, we do everything to keep them going,” Casqueiro adds. Clear Channel currently employs about 25 members, and it’s expected that the employer will add a substantial number of new workers to accommodate additional work that’s expected.

In July, the group overwhelmingly voted to ratify their new three-year contract, which included solid wage increases and more money toward the medical plan that took effect upon ratification of the contract. “We wanted to get money in people’s pockets as soon as possible so they would immediately see the value of having a union contract,” Casqueiro explained.

In order to recruit the new workers, the company recognized that they’d have to offer higher entry-level wages. “We let them know that they’d have to give the long-term employees comparable increases,” says Casqueiro. “For the first time in at least 25 years, we started the talks early and finished early.”

Casqueiro wanted to thank Alex Pastor and Randy Spears whose participation on the negotiating committee was instrumental in getting a good deal.

Nice boost in early contract with Clear Channel Outdoor  Read More »

Local 853 – Racking up the Successes

This is an exciting time for the labor movement. The kinds of companies that seemed out-of-reach to unions just a few years ago are suddenly growing a union presence—from the Starbucks’ baristas at 200 shops and counting, to firsts at Amazon (Staten Island), Trader Joe\’s (western Massachusetts), and REI (New York City). While every other institution in America has seen a decline in confidence and support, the union movement has actually seen growth.

As the Grateful Dead shared, “You ain’t gonna learn what you don’t wanna know.” There’s a lot to know about your union and our efforts to improve wages, benefits, and working conditions for our nearly 15,000 members. If you scroll through this e-newsletter, you’ll see stories that cover about half of our members:

• 800 members who, working for four different contractors and driving buses for the Tech industry have recently started talks.
• 1,500 UPS members will be going into contract negotiations. On August 1, we commemorated the 25th anniversary of the 1997 UPS strike and unofficially launched the contract campaign.
• Our business reps have gotten renewal contracts at UNFI, Golden Brands, Kellogg’s, Student Transport of America (STA) San Jose, TransDev/San Francisco Paratransit; First Student, Clear Channel Outdoor, and many more—together representing about 1,000 workers. Many of these agreements are record-setting in terms of wages and benefits.
• Our efforts have won organizing victories at Argent Materials, Premier Recycling, and Canon Business Services, though the hard work ahead is getting a first contract. So far, we’ve succeeded at Argent Materials.
• When companies close, sell, or declare bankruptcy, we’re there for the workers. See our stories about Amy’s Kitchen, AB-Oakland, and Watsonville Community Hospital.
• We continue to fight for our members who are treated unfairly. One former tech bus driver at Hallcon just collected $33,000 for being unfairly fired.
• Getting labor-friendly legislation passed and fighting through the courts to keep it can impact thousands of workers and help build the union. Recently, the Supreme Court decided not to hear the challenge to the law regulating the gig economy (originally AB5) and it is therefore now the law of the land. This will open up Teamster membership to upwards of 20-25,000 construction truck drivers and owner-operator freight truck drivers.
• We’ve held many member events over the last few months—from barbecues across Watsonville, Santa Cruz, and San Jose, to the amazing tailgate at the Oakland Coliseum where 700 members watched the Battle of the Bay. It’s all about fun and solidarity!

That\’s just the news that already happened. There’s plenty of news to come.

The mid-term elections are fast approaching and democracy itself is on the ballot across the country. Watch this space and the Joint Council 7 website starting next month to see our candidate endorsements. If you’re in Alameda County, keep an eye out for our friend and head of the Labor Council Liz Ortega, who’s running for Assembly. And if you’re in the Modesto area, Tim Robertson, another union leader, is running for State Senate. Getting people who come from labor elected to office pays long-term dividends for everything we believe in.

As always, I’d like to remind you to check out our Facebook page and our website. And let me be the first to wish you a happy Labor Day!

Local 853 – Racking up the Successes Read More »

Parking/Shuttle Contracts: “We’re changing the industry.”

For too many years, the shuttle drivers and cashiers at area parking lots settled for too little, and new Business Rep Mike Fritz not only aims to change that — he already has.

“We need to ensure that these members start getting paid what they’re worth—especially given the health hazards that so many of them have endured,” he says. “We have one shuttle driver who has contracted COVID four times so far.”

Fritz had three parking contracts to negotiate in the first half of 2022. His first, completed and ratified overwhelmingly in March, was for the 60 members at LAZ Kaiser in Oakland and Richmond. “At the start of the pandemic, this company couldn’t hire anybody, so they raised the wages to $18/hour. After a while, they lowered the wage back to minimum wage, and, as you’d expect, that didn’t go well with the members,” he says wryly.

“Fortunately, this year’s contract negotiations brought big change, including the highest raises our members here have ever seen,” Fritz says.  Fritz adds that the members will also get a new floating holiday, and will be able to observe holidays that fall on Saturdays on the Friday before. Also, for the first time, the company will contribute to their 401K Plan. Fritz wanted to recognize the negotiating committee for their excellent work.

The next parking contract up was with Premiere Parking at Highland Hospital and to get that deal, Fritz upped his tactics. “These members were so underpaid that I had at least one who was living out of his car.” In a great team effort, Business Rep Mike Henneberry helped Fritz get in front of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to get support for the workers at this County facility. And Business Rep Jonathan Pinney joined Fritz and Henneberry in negotiations.

“The members voted unanimously on May 14 to ratify the best contract they’ve ever seen,” Fritz says. The 3-year contract includes an immediate raise to bring them up to area standards, and more in each of the next two years. “Most important, this company is on notice that the supervisors will take their contract away if they don’t continue to do the right thing by the workers.”

Fritz\’ third contract will be for the members who work at LAZ Oakland Airport. “We’re in bargaining now and I am looking to get these members almost the same deal as we got at Kaiser. I will involve the Board of the Port of Oakland if I have to.”

Parking/Shuttle Contracts: “We’re changing the industry.” Read More »

Teamsters Stand in Solidarity

After a week-long strike, about 4,800 nurses with the independent union CRONA (Committee for Recognition Of Nursing Achievement) at Stanford Health Care and Stanford Children’s Health in Palo Alto, CA won a significant raise over three years. Not only did Senator Alex Padilla turn up on April 29 for a major rally to support the picketing strikers, but he was joined by Local 853 Trustee Reggie Knighten.

Addressing the group, Padilla said: “I am proud to stand in solidarity with nurses today in calling for fair contracts and for the sustainable working conditions nurses need in order to continue providing world-class care for their patients.”

Reginald Knighten told the nurses and their children: “The Teamsters are here to let you know that we recognize your worth and stand with you fully. We have seen thousands of nurses standing strong on the picket line because you believe a better contract and working environment is not just possible, but necessary. We support you in your efforts to bring transformative changes for yourselves and your nursing colleagues down the line.”

Teamsters Stand in Solidarity Read More »

Printers\’ Pension Plan Saved By Biden Administration

It\’s not new news to hear that union multi-employer pension plans had been hit hard due to a combination of factors including changing industries and the 2008 stock market crash. While unions fought for years to get congress to support our plans as they had already supported single-employer plays, this effort had gone nowhere.

Until last year. The Biden administration ensured that the Butch Lewis Act would be inserted into the American Rescue Plan, providing foundational support for hundreds of troubled union plans.

The result: for our 1000 members in the San Francisco Lithographers Pension plan, instead of seeing their hard-earned pensions become insolvent next month, they will start to again receive their full monthly payouts in June. And in July, they will get a retroactive check representing full payment for the 10 months of checks that had been reduced starting in 2021.

“At the last minute, our consultants from the Segal Company and our trustees were able to negotiate a $130 million investment from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC),” explained Business Rep Lennie Kuhls. “If this hadn’t happened, we’d have been insolvent starting next month. Now the pension is guaranteed through 2051, if not longer.”

This good news impacts members who worked in the printing industry and were members of GCC 583, which had merged into Local 853 in 2006.

Printers\’ Pension Plan Saved By Biden Administration Read More »

The Value of Voting

If you’re wondering why it’s important for Teamsters to get involved in politics, here are two reasons.

  1. Because of the Biden administration, the pension plan for about 1,000 of our members in the printing industry (formerly of GCC Local 583) has been saved and will not go insolvent as of next month. That’s because the Biden administration inserted the “Butch Lewis Act” into the American Rescue Plan. This Teamster-backed bill provides foundational support for troubled multi-employer union pension plans.
  2. City Councils across the Bay Area—from San Francisco to Hayward to Gilroy to Fremont and more—have turned down Amazon’s requests to open mega-warehouses offering little more than sweatshop jobs. Elected officials have stood up to America’s largest single employer saying, “We won’t accept crappy jobs. We want good jobs for our communities!”

Be sure to vote in the June primary, and again in the November general election. Your vote matters! Before you vote, check out the Teamster endorsements here.

Fighting for UPS Part-Timers

In January, some UPS part-timers got a rude awakening in their paychecks. Instead of the $21.50/hour they had grown used to, their wages were reduced to $17.50 or so. This is because the company had raised the wages for the part-timers in many of its metro-area facilities using what was called a “Market Rate Adjustment,” and since that adjustment wasn’t in the contract, they could withdraw it as easily as they gave it.

The Teamsters said, “Not so fast,” and organized monthly rallies, first at the impacted facilities, then in San Francisco, and finally in Sacramento.  Half of the San Francisco County Supervisors came out to support the workers, as did dozens of Sacramento legislators—joined by more than 500 Teamsters at each location.

The Nor Cal Committee is working with the Joint Council and the IBT to figure out our next steps. Make no mistake, this issue will be raised loud and clear when the Teamsters go into contract negotiations with UPS later this year.

Lingering Covid

I think we all wish we could say that COVID is over and behind us, but that’s just not the case. In the last few weeks, at least four members of our staff have gotten it—and all had already been vaccinated and boosted. Fortunately, they’ve all had mild to moderate cases.

I urge you all to stay as safe as possible. If you haven’t gotten boosted yet, don’t wait. Just do it. And keep your masks on when working or shopping indoors.

Also, be sure to test often. Unlike voting, you don’t want to test too early. The federal government is again offering two boxes (each with two tests) to every address. Go here to get your free tests.


To end on a positive note, more people than ever are interested in joining unions. This is especially true of young people. Every day, you can read about another Starbucks shop that’s voted for union representation, and the first Amazon warehouse in the U.S. (in Staten Island, NY) voted Union, Yes!

Here at Local 853, our organizing staff is working hard to follow up on leads. Although we still fight constant uphill battles against employers who’d rather pay millions to union-busters than honor the wishes of their employees to join a union, we are not backing down. It’s more important than ever to unionize the competition of our union employers in specific industries. If you have friends or neighbors who might be interested in getting Teamster representation, have them contact our lead organizer Pablo Barrera at 408-642-9448.

Listening to the Boss

I’ll leave you with some words from the magnificent Bruce Springsteen:

“Every time you vote, you decide the future of this country. The more we vote, the more we are represented. Your participation matters in all elections, from the president, to state governments and city councils. Whatever issues you care about, make sure your vote is counted. Voting is how you make what matters to you, matter to them.

The Value of Voting Read More »

Big wage increases for school bus drivers

The 50 Hayward Unified school bus drivers who work with special needs kids ratified a new contract with Storer in January and it’s the best these drivers have ever seen.

“This was essentially a new contract,” explains Business Rep Tracy Kelley. Previously, Durham School Services held the contract with the Hayward schools. “But when Storer won the bid in 2018, they just added wage increases to the previous contract with the goal of creating their own contract once that one expired.”

Kelley says that when the pandemic hit, schools closed immediately and these drivers were hit hard. “They stopped working in March 2020 and didn’t come back until August of 2021.” When the contract expired in the midst of the pandemic, the union opted to extend it indefinitely, “because we had no idea when or if these drivers would get back to work. We reopened the contract in October of 2021 and resumed negotiations as work started to return to normal.”

Ultimately, the five-year contract provides significant economic gains for the drivers. After a large initial wage bump, the drivers will get sizeable wage increases through the end of the contract. “This makes them the second-highest-paid school bus drivers in the Bay Area, next to San Francisco,” says Kelley. The non-commercial non-school bus drivers will also see a significant raise. In addition, the contract includes an increase in the health care allowance and additional days of paid time off (PTO).

“School bus drivers were probably the hardest hit among all transportation drivers,” Kelley says. “We fought hard to bring up their wages so they could deal with the high cost of living in this area. Hopefully, by achieving area standards, some of the burden of inflation will be tempered.”

Kelley particularly wanted to recognize and thank Yareny Gonzalez and Joline Knott for representing the members on the negotiating committee and communicating the progress of the talks back to the members. “They stepped up to be on the bargaining team after two long-time stewards had recently left, one retiring and one on a leave of absence. They did an outstanding job.”

Closing out, Kelley adds that “it’s good to see the company recognize the services that our members provide to their clients every day. This contract puts them in a great position to improve their wages even further next time.”









Big wage increases for school bus drivers Read More »

It\’s scholarship time!

If you have a child who\’s graduating from high school and can use some cash for college or vocational school, you\’ll want to apply for a Joint Council 7 Harry Polland/Bob Morales scholarship.

Applicants are eligible for scholarships when their parent or legal guardian is a member in good standing of Teamsters Local 853. Criteria that will be considered are academic achievement, school and community service, and financial need. In addition to completing the application form, the student must also submit a two-page essay on the topic: \”The Importance of Labor Unions.\”

Like they say with the lottery—\”you can\’t win if you don\’t play!\” It can\’t hurt to apply.

The deadline to apply is July 1, 2022. To get all the details and the application form, contact jpayne@teamsters853.org

It\’s scholarship time! Read More »