Collage of Local 853 members

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!

Author: Local 853

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