On a sunny Saturday in September, current and former Delta Dental Teamsters gathered in Lake Chabot Regional Park in the southern Berkeley Hills of Alameda County for their annual picnic.
This year, Teamsters 856 helped sponsor the food for the event where dozens of old and new colleagues gathered together.
“We started doing this about four years ago,” said Lisa Chin. Lisa is currently a shop steward at Delta Dental and a trustee on the Local 856 executive board. “Many of the people that attend used to work with us. Some are older and retired, and some have moved on. The majority of us have known each other for over 30 years.”
The picnics, which are open to all current and former Delta Dental employees, started as a way to keep in touch and has helped foster lifelong friendships. “We stick together,” said Arieglean Washington. Arieglean, who goes by Lean, worked for Delta Dental from 1986 to 2016. “I believe that if I needed anything, I could call any of them.”
Lean talked about the ups and downs she and her coworkers often experienced on the job, but remarked that at the end of the day, her coworkers were like family — a sentiment Juanita Tate, one of her former coworkers agrees with.
“Sometimes I’ll go to Lisa’s [Chin] house or she will come to mine,” said Juanita. “It’s not like you just go to work and that’s it — we stay connected.”
This year, the picnic was bigger than ever thanks to word of mouth and Facebook posts. It was advertised as an event that would go from early afternoon to sundown, and it definitely did. Delta Dental Teamsters laughed and reminisced, and enjoyed the company of one another and their families. They also enjoyed the food each person brought to share, as well as food purchased by the Union and prepared by Lean: shrimp pasta salad, ribs, sausage links, hotdogs, potato salad, baked beans, and more.
“We catch up with each other about our children and our grandkids,” said Juanita. “We don’t talk about work. It’s just about being together, and having lots of fun with each other.”
Lisa said the picnics will continue long into the future. “It was a nice gathering on a perfect day,” she said. “We’ll keep this going as long as we can.”