Photo of Local 78 members casting ballots

Local 78 members approve merger into Local 853.

On the cold and rain-soaked Saturday morning of January 5, members of Teamsters Local 78 braved the elements to discuss and vote on the merger of their Local Union into Teamsters Local 853. Long-time members and relatively new members ultimately voted by an overwhelming 95.5% margin to approve the merger.

Local 78 Secretary-Treasurer Steve Mack opened the discussion by assuring the members that Local 78 is in good financial shape and that the merger is not driven by financial troubles, as is so often the case. Instead, he explained that Local 78 is dealing with increasingly more national and multi-national corporations that are ever more aggressive and anti-worker. Merging would increase the Local's size and assets, putting the union on a more equal footing with these corporations.

Mack assured the members that their dues rates, pension, and health and welfare plans would remain the same and that their contracts would stay in effect until the next negotiations. Responding to a member who asked about the downside of the merger, Mack said "the only downside is probably to me, as I'll no longer be the Principal Officer and to some of our Executive Board members who are stepping down to make the merger happen."

"With nearly 6,000 members, Local 78 is still one of the most viable and successful Locals in the country" said Local 853 Secretary-Treasurer Rome Aloise. "Its members are fortunate to have such selfless officials who are putting the future of the membership ahead of their own interests and ambitions."

Merging benefits members in many ways 

Aloise explained that, over the years, the two Locals have grown as a result of 15 separate mergers and that each of these mergers have made the Locals stronger and more effective. "The mergers create efficiencies of scale; they provide more people with different experience to assist in day-to-day representation, and very importantly, they enable the Local to implement a viable succession plan so that future leaders will have the benefit of the
knowledge and experience of the current officials."

Aloise suggested that because the two Locals have many common contracts involving the same employers, combining efforts will give Local 853 more leverage and strength in bargaining. Additionally, the merged Local now has trustees on all of the many health and pension plans that cover all of the members.

As a result of the merger, Local 853 will have about 12,000 members.

"I am excited about this, as Local 853 will be the largest Local
in Northern California and one of the three of four largest in the
West," said Local 78 Business Agent Dan Varela. "I knew our
members would see the value in getting bigger and better."

"Local 853 officials also are making sacrifices to make this
merger work," said Aloise. "As Steve Mack becomes the new
President, our current President, John Becker is stepping back to
be Vice President. Trustees Jeff Belunza and Julie Molina will
move to our newly-created Advisory Board. Our members should
be proud to have such dedicated people representing them."

The merger has been approved by the Executive Boards of both Locals, by the members of Local 78, and by the Joint Council and International Union and will take effect on February 1, 2008.

In the short term, Local 78's offices will remain open, however, soon, its main office will move to Local 853's San Leandro building. Local 853 will maintain two satellite offices in San Mateo and San Jose. Members will be notified when the address and phone numbers are changed.


Local 78 Members Voted at January 5 Special Call Meeting

Steve Mack, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 78, and Rome Aloise, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 853, take questions from members before the vote.