Winter 2003

Channeling our frustration
into positive change

As we close out 2003, we have a lot to be thankful for -- family, friends, and the security that comes with decent jobs, benefits, and a good strong union. I’m personally thankful for the support that the members of this union have provided over the last year-your participation and attendance, and your willingness to fight for good contracts has made Local 853 a model throughout the nation.

But looking back at the year, the word that comes to mind is "frustration." It's a reaction to being unable to control things that affect all of us, from the increase in health care, housing and other costs, to our inability to find peace and justice in a deeply troubled world, to end the terrible slaughter that greets us every day in the morning paper.

Pessimistic? Perhaps. But I'm just being honest about what I think many of us feel.

This frustration often gets expressed in strange ways. I think the recent recall of G o v. Davis and election of A r n o l d Schwarzenegger is pretty typical. We can't do anything about high energy prices, housing costs and health care costs. So we throw the bums out, and bring in some new bums!

I realize people are looking for hope, for someone, or something to turn things around and bring back a feeling of satisfaction and contentment. But change for change's sake is not necessarily the right prescription. Often times -- and I suspect this time in California -- we are going to find that this change will result in further frustration. I think we are going to spend a lot of time in the next few years fighting to preserve decent workers compensation insurance, unemployment pay, health and safety and other hard-won worker rights.

Leading the way to action

I believe that our union is the best way to channel the frustration we all feel into positive action. And I think that Local 853 is ideally situated to lead the way. We're strong in many industries. We've got good contracts and a strong base of members who will do what's necessary to defend them.

What does this mean specifically? I believe it means that we must keep our union strong -- and that means organizing. Local 853 is one of the fastest-growing Teamster locals in the country because we've spent the time and the money on organizing.

And that starts with the members -- keep talking Union wherever you go. Keep giving us leads and putting our staff in touch with people you know who need union representation.

It also means that we must work three times as hard in the coming year to elect a President who is not the puppet of big business and the corporate giants. A President who will be concerned about unaffordable health care and will work to change the system. A President who cares about the millions of non-union workers who are reaching retirement age without adequate pensions, or who have had their pension funds ripped off by the current President's friends and their lying accountants.

To this end, you will find that we all need to be relentless in making sure that all members of Local 853 are registered to vote, and making sure that they vote when the time comes.

Obviously, your participation and the channeling of your frustration into these endeavors is absolutely necessary for us to be successful. That goes back to putting the U back in union. As members of Local 853, we have shown our ability and desire to do what we need to do for ourselves, for our colleagues on the job, and for our families. I am confident we can do it again in 2004.

In closing, on behalf of the officers, executive board and staff of Local 853, I want to wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday season. We have all worked hard for those we love and cherish. Make sure to take the time to enjoy them during this time of the year.

Rome A. Aloise, Secretary-Treasurer

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