Spring 2006

Solidarity and trust
enable Local to reach goals

We have many contracts expiring this year and our first settlement resulted in an impressive two-year extension for our Ready Mix members. You can read about the great agreement in other parts of this newsletter, but I need to say that this victory was accomplished due to two important factors: the first is solidarity of the membership and second is our members’ trust in their leadership. These two simple things may be basic tenets of unionism but they are what enabled us to get the best two-year deal in the history of the Ready Mix contract.

This spirit of solidarity must now be utilized to deal with the upcoming Graniterock negotiations. This employer did not sign on to the extension like the other Ready Mix companies it competes with. As a union, we need to prepare ourselves if this company decides to undercut its competitors. We will start a voluntary assessment with our Ready Mix members if the Graniterock negotiations begin to flounder.

I recently attended the Federated Stores proposal meeting. This unit went from a high of 800 members to 200 members due to changes in distribution to Macy’s and Bloomingdales. The members are particularly concerned about wages and the cost of health care. These members may need help in accomplishing their goals for this contract; we will call upon you in the future to assist them.

Also coming due for re-negotiation this spring and summer are the Master Construction Agreement, Genesis, Anixter, Iron Mountain and several other contracts. It will be a busy time for all of your business agents, and a time that we all have to
support each other.

Build-up to IBT Convention

We started off the New Year by nominating delegates to attend the International Convention, which takes place in Las Vegas at the end of June. The members elected the Aloise/Becker slate by acclimation. Our charge is to represent our members’ interests when the convention votes about the International Union’s direction for the coming five years and nominates candidates for the General Executive Board.

The actual election for the General Executive Board will be held by mail in November and will allow each and every member to vote for the General President and the union’s Executive Board.

The Teamsters Union is the only major union in the country that uses the "one member, one vote" rule for the election of its International officers. This is a very complicated and expensive way to elect our officers, and I hope that the membership participates in numbers that justify the expense and time-consuming effort.

401(k) Availability

Local 853 is unique because most of our members have the advantage of having both a defined benefit pension plan (Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust Fund) and the availability of a defined contribution plan (Supplemental Income 401(k) Plan). The 401(k) plan allows you to save money, pre-tax, on which you would otherwise pay taxes.

For those members who don’t want to actively manage their retirement savings accounts, the 401(k) plan recently started to offer "Lifestyle" funds through Fidelity Freedom Funds -- more information is elsewhere in this newsletter (here). The Lifestyle funds enable the professionals at Fidelity to invest and manage your money based on your predicted retirement date. These funds provide you tax advantages and professional management of your money for the future.

Many of our smartest members take advantage of this tool, but many do not. As a trustee on a number of Teamster plans, I can tell you that you are losing out if you don't take advantage of this benefit.

To get started, talk to your business agent, shop steward, human resource manager, call 800-4 PRETAX (800-477-3829), or go on-line at www.nylim.com.

Rome A. Aloise, Secretary-Treasurer

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