By Rome Aloise, Local 853 Principal Officer
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
You should already have received your 2020 ballot. If you haven’t yet voted, please do so as soon as you can. Use the Guide in this newsletter and see our local recommendations at teamstersjc7.org/endorsements. This edition of Connections is mostly about the election and your union’s recommendations for candidates and propositions. Some of you follow these recommendations without fail, and some, unfortunately, ignore them. I want you to know how and why your union goes about formulating recommendations and taking positions. We have a team that joins other unions in each county to vet and interview candidates for every office. We question them about their positions on the issues that impact workers and their unions. Our job is to let you know which politicians, based on their records in current and previously-held offices, reflect their support for the issues that affect YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES. We need office holders to develop and support laws that protect what we negotiate, and protect you while you are working, including health and safety, workers compensation, lunches and breaks, and more. You should vote to protect your ability to provide for your family first, last, and always. As a member of Teamsters Local 853, I would hope that you will not, like many workers, vote for candidates and propositions that you are told are against your best interests. Let’s look at the current administration in Washington, D.C. I’ve lost count of how many negative changes to the National Labor Relations Act have been implemented.
From that momentous day in 1968 when Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa stood with Martin Luther King in support of the Memphis garbage strikers, the Teamsters Union has not only stood with Black leaders, but has fought to be all inclusive, making equal pay for equal work, regardless of race, creed, gender or sexual orientation, a cornerstone of what we are about. This is where Teamsters gain their strength. What happened to George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police is murder, and that is what the officer was belatedly charged with. It boggles my mind, however, that the other officers who participated in that murder of this Black man who was lying face down on the asphalt, handcuffed, trying to breathe with a knee on his neck for nearly nine-minutes, have not been arrested for the same crime. These officers, who have a sworn duty to “protect and defend,” didn’t attempt to stop it, in fact, they helped hold Mr. Floyd down until life itself drained from his body; yes, they participated in the act and should be held accountable.
We have put together a special edition of the Local 853 Connections to make sure you are getting information from your union that, given the current circumstances, is as helpful and timely as it can be. We are experiencing unprecedented and historic times. None of us have seen anything like this and hopefully, we won’t have to experience it again. The threat of COVID-19 is something that many of us didn’t really take seriously at first. As the virus spreads, and our political leaders started to acknowledge its seriousness, our world, as we know it, has experienced incredible changes. Many of our members are working long hours making sure essential items are in place for the general public and for medical facilities. Our sisters and brothers are, in some cases, putting themselves in harm’s way to make sure they are providing the service that they were hired to do, and stepping up in these uncertain times. Many have worked so many hours that when they are off of work, and trying to get the necessities for themselves and their families, everything is gone. They are truly heroes. In fact, Governor Newsom acknowledged the Teamsters Union and our members for doing extraordinary work. We have been successful in getting many of the companies that are still open and deemed “essential” to give some type of hazard pay or bonuses while our members are faced with these extraordinary demands.
Important COVID-19 information from Secretary-Treasurer Rome Aloise Rome Aloise COVID statement Please read the statement linked above. The document includes important information from Beeson, Tayer & Bodine, our legal consultants, on your rights and responsibilities in the current crisis.
A Message from Local 853 Secretary-Treasurer Rome Aloise Local 853 members are in many cases working harder and longer to make sure the general public is taken care of during these trying times. Some work with the public like our Costco members, trying to help the public while they are hoarding toilet paper and getting hell because the store is out of it. Our grocery warehouse and drivers working overtime in an attempt to keep the stores stocked, our bus drivers, especially the paratransit drivers, getting people to their life saving appointments and thousands more of our members stepping up to be good members of the community, I thank you for being Teamsters! Also, if you are feeling sick, use your sick leave, take the time. Most of our employers are not enforcing any lost time discipline and if they try to, call your business agent. While you are protecting others, protect yourself and your family. God bless you all!