Photo of Local 853 Officers

Congratulations to Local 853's Officers

Elected on a “white ballot” on November 4, 2013, Local 853’s officers will serve for a three-year term. (From left) Secretary- Treasurer Rome Aloise, President Bob Strelo, Vice President Bo Morgan, Recording Secretary Antonio Christian, and Trustees Ray Torres, Scott Gonsalves, and Lou Valletta


Photo of Juan Perez receiving award

Barefoot Teamster tackles car thief

Sometimes real life intrudes on even the most compelling TV shows. That’s what happened one Wednesday evening for Local 853 member Juan Perez and his wife. They were sitting at home in their pajamas, watching television, when they heard a noise outside their home in the Glen Park neighborhood of San Francisco.

“I went outside to investigate,” explains Perez. “I saw a guy walking across the street, then he seemed to disappear. When I saw him again, he was at the back side of a pick-up truck, apparently reaching in for something. I noticed tools were laying in the tree well where I was standing and I got suspicious.”

When the guy came back toward Perez and the tools, “I noticed that he matched the description of someone who had tried to steal the tires off a car owned by a woman at my church. I told him I just wanted to ask him some questions and he took off running. We got into a foot chase. When I was catching up to him, he pulled out a roofing axe and dropped it….then I tackled him and held him for the police to come.

Not bad for someone barefoot and in pajamas. Unfortunately for the thief, he was running from a former city-wide track star.

It turns out, this thief was well-known to the police department. Several warrants were out for his arrest and he’s got a long rap sheet—pretty much all for auto-related thefts.

Perez was prepared to testify against the thief, but the guy was able to get a plea bargain. Perez says that car thefts have been dramatically reduced since this particular guy was arrested. He also suggested that the neighborhood church trim its trees for better visibility on the street.

Perez was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation by San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr on October 9 that states: “In deepest gratitude for your performance of outstanding bravery in service to others at great personal risk. Such an example of bravery is worthy of the highest esteem by the SF Police Dept.”

After being a Teamster for 35 years, most recently working as a heavy equipment truck and transport driver for Andreini Brothers in Half Moon Bay, San Francisco native Juan Perez filed for retirement in October.

Two Arbitration Victories

Alex Aguilar was fired by Wingfoot Tires in Hayward in 2012. The company claimed that he had violated company safety procedures and policy. The union contended, and the arbitrator ultimately agreed, that the company did not have just cause to fire Alex. As a result, the arbitrator awarded Alex all back pay plus interest (10%) for the year that he was out of work.

“This is the first time in my career that I’ve seen interest awarded,” says Local 853 President Bob Strelo. “I hope to see more awards include interest in the future.”

Over at Coca Cola in San Jose, 6-year employee Jorge Becerill was fired in 2012 because a GPS report showed him to be six miles out of the area where he was supposed to be working. Becerill is a merchandiser who services a number of stores.

“We condended that the firing was unfair since it was for a first infraction of a rule that the company had never previously enforced,” says Business Rep Jesse Casqueiro.

The arbitrator ruled in favor of the employee, suggesting that progressive discipline would have been appropriate. At press time, Becerill is on his way back to work with a year’s worth of back pay getting processed.

Reminder: Being in a union doesn’t prevent you from getting fired or disciplined, but if the company violates the contract in doing so, your union will fight to uphold the contract.

Western Eagle Employees Vote to be Teamsters

On October 28, the 55 processors, packers, machinists and lead people who work at Western Eagle, a plastics company in Livermore, voted to be Teamsters.

“The workers haven’t had a raise in the last two years and they wanted to better themselves,” says Organizer Frank Harms. “They also wanted to make the company better and stronger.”

Harms says that the company fought hard to keep the union from coming in, but the workers stood up for themselves and stood strong.

Harms credits Jose Lopez, a worker at the facility, for standing up with everybody and leading them to victory. He also credits lead organizer Rodney Smith, who put in long hours on the campaign and really saw it through to successful completion. Finally, he wanted to acknowledge Secretary-Treasurer Rome Aloise for offering his strategic knowledge and expertise.

“As always, union campaigns are about rights, dignity, respect, seniority and a strong contract,” says Rodney Smith. “The workers stood up for themselves and said ‘we need a contract.’ Well, we look forward to negotiating that contract with them.”