Separate settlements were recently reached at Hertz in the San Jose International Airport (SJC) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) that required the company to pay a $10,000 settlement to Local 856 members at each airport who lost time when the company outsourced their work.
It started when Hertz rolled out its Ultimate Choice program early last year. The program allows customers to choose their rental car rather than being preassigned a vehicle.
Hertz hired non-union employees to work as Way Finders to walk or direct customers to the area where they could find their selection of cars. Before the creation of the Ultimate Choice program, the duties of the Way Finder were being done by Greeters — a Teamster job.
Melba Gaeta, who has worked in customer service for Hertz SJC for 36 years, said there was a lot of turnover in the position and the numbers started to dwindle. Rather than filling the Teamster positions, the company brought in third-party workers.
“They weren’t 856 members, and we have to guard our jobs,” said Melba who is also a Teamster shop steward. “They were taking our workload away, and if we didn’t speak up about it, this could have become a past practice.”
Annette Losada felt similarly when she saw the company bringing in outside workers for the Ultimate Choice program at Hertz SFO. Annette has worked for the company in customer service for 35 years and is also a shop steward.
“Outsourcing breaks down and undermines our way of life — our income, security, insurance — things we’ve been fighting for,” she said.
Members at both airports contacted Local 856 Representative Liliana Cortez. “I filed grievances every day from the day the Way Finders showed up,” said Liliana. “This was union work that the company tried to repackage with a new job title.”
Liliana said the stewards played a large role in ensuring the positive outcome. “Annette and Melba text messaged me every day to let me know how many of these non-union Way Finders were there.”
At SFO, Local 856 alleged that Hertz violated the collective bargaining agreement by using non-union Way Finders for over 2,000 hours between February and March 2017. And at SJC, the same allegation was made for nearly 3,000 hours in April 2017. The resulting $10,000 settlement at each airport was split between Local 856 members at Hertz.
In large part because of the diligence of the shop stewards, a settlement agreement between Teamsters 856 and both Hertz locations was reached last month.
“I don’t think we would have gotten the result we did if our Union wasn’t backing us and watching out for us,” said Melba. “Hertz would do whatever they want.”
“It was really great to win the settlement,” said Annette. “It showed them we mean business and the corporation can’t pick on the little guys and get away with it.”