By Dennis Hart, Local 853 Principal Officer
If you’re wondering why it’s important for Teamsters to get involved in politics, here are two reasons. 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. 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,
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
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.
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
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
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