Gillig Members Fill the House to Capacity and Ratify Historic Contract.

Yesterday, Gillig bussing members showed up in force and overwhelmingly voted to ratify their new contract. It was the highest percentage ever for a ratification vote for this group at 97%. The Gillig membership made it clear that they stand together with one another and Local 853’s leadership moving into the future.

“This contract was a model for how I feel great contracts are completed.” Said Secretary-Treasurer Steve Beck. “Our members were heavily involved and wanted to work through it. We went line for line on this contract, so nothing was left to chance.”

“I also want to recognize that without the full participation of our steward committee, we would not have had the level of success we achieved. They were critical in many aspects of this contract. I want to express my respect and high regard for these members because they did it smartly and together, the Union way!”

Gillig Members Fill the House to Capacity and Ratify Historic Contract. Read More »

Teamster 853 Leadership Attends the Annual Brewery and Soft Drink Conference in Tampa

Secretary-Treasurer Steve Beck was speaking to Teamsters across the country at the annual brewery, bakery, and soft drink conference in Tampa, Florida. Steve spoke at length on the importance of protecting the three-tier system in the liquor industry to preserve good-paying union jobs.

He also shared a recent victory under the leadership of Director Jeff Padelllaro, General Counsel Gabe Dumont, and VP Brent Taylor; Southern Glazers agreed to card check neutrality in Dallas, Tx.

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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!

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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 »

Working toward solutions

Every five years, an election is held for the leadership of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. When long-time president James P. Hoffa announced his retirement, that opened the door for a rousing election between two powerful slates that took place last October. The results were announced in mid-November, and Sean O’Brien, from Boston, takes the reins of the Union starting on March 22. We look forward to working with General President O\’Brien and the new General Executive Board.

General President O’Brien has a lot on his plate. The UPS contract, which is the Teamsters’ largest single contract covering more than 325,000 members, expires in 2023. It’s of paramount importance that we work closely with the leadership as these talks commence later this year. While we firmly believe that a strike is the option of last resort and we prefer to come to an amicable settlement, our members at UPS should start preparing now for the worst-case scenario.

Polls show that support for union membership is the highest that it’s been since the 1950s. This gives the Teamsters, nationally, and Local 853 new opportunities to organize. We know we’ll be looking at organizing Amazon, and we’re closely following the efforts to organize at Starbucks nationwide and here in California.

In addition to new leadership at the very top of the Teamsters tree, we have new leadership here at Local 853. (See new officer roster below.)

My goal, as your new Principal Officer, is to ensure that we negotiate good, strong contracts with input from our members. Whether COVID is over or just on pause, we’ll work to ensure that safety and working conditions continue to be addressed in our contracts, along with the all-important increases that our members want and deserve in wages, benefits, and retirement. And, our business reps will continue to represent you every day. Be sure to contact your rep if you have questions about your benefits or issues on the job.

As John Lennon said, “There’s no problem, only solutions.” We’re facing constant and interesting challenges ahead; my goal is to turn these into opportunities to grow and strengthen our union. That’s the solution. I trust you’ll be with me.


Secretary-Treasurer    Dennis Hart

President                     Lou Valletta

Vice President             Stacy Murphy

Recording Secretary    Stu Helfer

Trustees                       Joel Bellison • Gloria Segura • Reggie Knighten

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A new beginning

As I take over as Principal Officer of Local 853, having served as President of the Local for the last several years, I reflect on the brilliant leadership of Rome Aloise, who, as Secretary-Treasurer since 1992, worked to build this local into a powerhouse. He stands down now, but it will be difficult, if not impossible to replace him and his decades of experience and commitment to the Teamsters union.

My mission, as Secretary-Treasurer, is to continue where Rome left off, with the goals of organizing and building an ever-stronger union that diligently represents and fights for all of our members, and that strives to bring new workers and industries into the Teamster family.

Rome leaves one of the strongest, most financially stable local unions in the nation. Most important, Rome’s commitment was always to the membership first and foremost. We have a strong team of business agents, organizers, and office staff, and we will not skip a beat in terms of servicing our members.

As Bob Dylan said, “there is nothing so stable as change.” Together, we will weather the change and come out stronger. I look forward to the challenge.


A new beginning Read More »

My final column 

By Rome Aloise — 

By the end of January, I will no longer be Principal Officer of Local 853. These past 54 years as a Teamster, and 36 years serving as a Teamster official on the local, Joint Council, and International levels, have been an amazing ride. It has been the honor of my life to serve the growing roster of members of Local 853 and to do all in my power to improve your working conditions, wages, benefits, and lives.

When I started as Secretary-Treasurer in 1992, the Local had $100,000 in the bank, was renting a headquarters building, and had about 3,500 members, mostly in the East Bay.

Today, through organizing and through mergers, we’ve grown to about 15,000 members across the Bay Area down to Watsonville, with some members in the Valley and around Sacramento. We’ve got assets of over $12 million, including several buildings. 

But more than that, we have an amazing staff of 24 business representatives who oversee more than 300 contracts in a wide range of industries—from drivers of school, tech and paratransit buses to ready-mix and construction vehicles; from sales to driving and merchandising dairy, soft drinks, and liquor; from retail sales to package delivery to concessions at sports arenas; we manufacture food and commercial products, buses, and more. Our members are as diverse and interesting as our industries. I’m proud to say that in many industries, our contracts are the most lucrative in the nation.

On top of all that, our office staff is second to none. We’ve got a well-oiled machine that processes the contracts and membership rolls and keeps the myriad of administrative procedures humming.

One of my passions, over the years, has been to build, improve and strengthen our benefits programs, from health insurance to 401K plans to pensions. The Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust, which I chaired for many years, is now the largest and strongest union plan in the nation, with more than $58 billion in assets. 

This is not an easy time for the labor movement. The downward trend that started in the 1980s with deregulation has continued on steroids over the decades. Our ability to organize new members and keep the members we have has been hindered by labor laws that promote union-busting, replacement workers, and challenges that only the heartiest of union supporters could overcome.

And yet our members continue to step up, taking action when needed and fighting for their own rights and those of other working people. We’re now starting to take on perhaps our biggest challenge, which is the growth of Amazon—a giant that directly threatens our members at UPS, and will indirectly impact members who work in numerous other industries. I can’t predict the future, but I know that this will be a make-it or break-it fight for our union.

I thank our current staff and the dozens of people who have worked with us and worked for you over the last 30 years. You have made Local 853 the preeminent powerhouse that we’ve become—and will remain into the future.

I can’t say enough good things about current President Dennis Hart, who will be taking over as Secretary-Treasurer. He has been a fabulous partner and I have great confidence leaving the union in his able hands.

And I thank all of you—our members—for giving me your trust these many years and for enabling me to do what I’ve loved.

My final column  Read More »

Despite progress, new pandemic threat imperils recovery

By Rome Aloise — 

Our local has made great progress over the last few months on renewed contracts. Some have come easily, others were not so easy, but all include improvements in wages, covered costs for healthcare, and where applicable, pension increases.

Most of our members who were adversely affected by the COVID pandemic are back to work and business seems to be picking up.  However, we are now faced with a new threat: the Delta variant; which is causing infection rates to again increase, pushing many unvaccinated people back into hospitals, and forcing the rest of us to again have to wear masks in some workplaces and inside locations.

While our union protects all of our members, at some point we have to be aware of the science and the facts. I believe it is necessary for all of our members to be vaccinated. I realize that in many ways, this is a no-win position to take, but I have never played politics with what I think is good for our membership, whether it was popular or not. The vast majority of our members are vaccinated, and they believe everyone should be, for everyone’s safety. The members who have religious or health reasons are exempt, and that is both understandable and backed by the courts.

However, that leaves a group of our members who, for their own reasons, choose not to take advantage of the protections. There have been court challenges in both the public and private sector, and all the cases have come to the same conclusion: government entities and private employers can require vaccinations. However, it is a mandatory subject of bargaining and we can, have, and will, deal with the consequences of these requirements should they occur in your workplace. But, just to be clear, it is in your best interest and the interests of your fellow employees, their kids, and grandkids, to GET VACCINATED!

As you are likely aware, another recall election is being held soon in our state. This recall is bad for workers and is especially bad for union-represented workers…this means you! The Newsom administration has worked closely with unions to formulate more protections and better laws while having our backs during the pandemic by protecting essential workers. The administration has helped with extra sick leave, workers’ compensation if you got the virus and many other areas where we have progressed.  Big business and right-wing zealots are forcing this recall, costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars, just to remove someone who certainly isn’t perfect, certainly has made mistakes, but who is the best person for us to be Governor. WHEN YOU GET YOUR BALLOT, PLEASE VOTE NO ON THE RECALL.

Shop Stewards should save Saturday, October 2, 2021, for our Shop Steward’s seminar, which will be held at the Oakland Marriott this year.  Notices will be sent with the times and dates for the seminar. Have a good rest of the summer.

Despite progress, new pandemic threat imperils recovery Read More »

Vaccines enable us to move past the pandemic

By Rome Aloise — 

We have all been dealing with the effects of COVID-19 for over a year now. The pandemic has had a devastating effect on many of our members and their families, with a number of our members passing away due to the virus. Many of our workplaces have been affected adversely and many members suffered layoffs and loss of work. Most of our members work in jobs that are essential to keeping the economy moving, food on the table, medical supplies available, and much more.

This year has highlighted to the general public how valuable Teamsters are to the community and society at large. Local 853 and our members have met the challenge. We can see steady improvements as our counties begin to fully reopen; hopefully, things are slowly coming back to normal. I\’m pleased to report that, as of this month, our union meetings, which have been held via Zoom for the past year, are now back to being held in person. We hope to see you in person on the second Thursday of each month!

Many of our members and employers have called asking about what restrictions or protocols are in place to deal with vaccinations. In my opinion, vaccinations are vitally important for the safety of our members, their families, and their fellow workers. While there may be medical or religious reasons for not getting vaccinated, we at Local 853 strongly encourage our members to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The vaccinations have been proven to be safe and effective, and have dramatically reduced infections and the need for hospital admissions for those who have been exposed to the virus.

Simply put, vaccinations are good policy for you and your family.  They protect you and your fellow workers on the job.

I strongly encourage you to get your shot(s) as soon as possible. All people (12 years old and older) are eligible. Go to to find a clinic near you. Check with your employer about making accommodations to enable you to get yours.

Vaccines enable us to move past the pandemic Read More »

Looking forward to a better new year

By Rome Aloise — 

With only a little bit of hesitation, I will say that I am happy this year is finally coming to an end. For all of us, 2020 has been quite a hardship—with new and constant threats to our members and your families.

We do have something good to look forward to in the New Year—a new President will be sworn in on January 20, 2021. I must say, from a union standpoint, this gives me hope. The current President has decimated the NLRB, changed interpretations and rules that have been in place for decades—all to the detriment of workers looking to protect themselves by gaining union representation. While the Democrats have not done enough to improve the laws protecting workers (and we know they need to be improved!), they haven’t really hurt us. But this President has intentionally gone out of his way to hurt workers and reward his corporate buddies. That will end. I expect the new administration will do all it can to get legislation that will help all workers protect themselves by making it easier to join a union. Hope springs eternal! 

As I write this article, we are again entering into another Covid-19 shutdown. We know this will hurt many of our members whose jobs will be cut back, hours reduced or eliminated, and who will be subjected to the stress and strain of not having an income or benefits. It is a horrible thing to have to face, but hopefully, these next few weeks will enable us to turn the corner, to slow down the positive tests, and to start distributing the vaccines that will begin to kill this virus and start the long road back to what used to be normal.

We have worked with a number of our employers to make sure that our laid-off members maintain recall rights to their jobs when things pick up again, and our agents have continued to handle problems for those of our members who, as essential workers, are taking care of all of us. Clearly, this has been a trying time: many of our members who are working are upset about getting exposed to others while at work, and those who are not working are upset that they are having a hard time supporting their families. We look forward to a time when we can all be working safely, and joining together to make sure we always support each other and stay unified.

Appreciating our members

Our Membership Appreciation “First Annual Drive-Through” was a great success, as was our virtual zoom “State of Our Union” address the next morning. Hundreds of members showed up to get their backpacks on Saturday; it was great to say hello to everyone and see so many familiar faces. Our meeting the next morning was attended by many members, and we were still able to hold our raffle for prizes. It wasn’t as good as all being together, seeing our sisters and brothers in person and celebrating our strength and unity, but as a substitute, it wasn’t bad!

Changes at the IBT

This next year holds the possibility of many changes in the Teamsters union. We will all have the opportunity to choose a new General President of our International Union, as President Hoffa will be retiring at the end of his term. I have proudly served on the General Executive Board for many years now, working to bring our union back from devastating ruin and I was glad to be part of that effort.

Many of you have asked when my campaign for international office will begin. While I appreciate the willingness to help with my campaign again, I will not be running for International office this time. It is time to step aside and allow for others to take over. It has been an honor to be elected nationally for more than two terms and it would have never been possible if not for you, the members of Local 853, who supported me for these many years.

Happy holidays to all of you and your families, and here’s hoping for a much different and better 2021!

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