Bidding a fond farewell to one of our best

Longtime Teamsters 856 Office Manager and Secretary to the Principal Officer, Laura Villafane retires

From the beginning, it seemed Laura Villafane was destined to come to work for the Teamsters.

Her career began in 1978, when she worked for a union attorney whose office was in the same building as Local 856. Years and a few office moves later, Laura’s work continued to make a positive impression on Teamsters and she came to work for Local 856 in 1994.

Last month, after 23 years on the job, Laura retired from her position as Office Manager and Secretary to the Principal Officer of Teamsters 856.

Around 856, Laura was known as the person who handled large events for the Local like the annual Teamsters Day at the Ballpark and the Thanksgiving meeting. But she also made sure contracts were opened on time and grievances were filed.

Laura kept the 856 office running smoothly for over two decades, and provided support for three of 856’s Secretary-Treasurers (Principal Officers), including the current, Peter Finn.

“Laura’s dedication and commitment to serving the members of Local 856 throughout her 23-year career has been impressive,” said Peter. “All of us thank her. All of us will miss her, and we all wish her well as she begins her next chapter.”

The hallmark of a career you can be proud of, is when news of your retirement is bittersweet not only to yourself, but to those around you.

“She’s just great,” said Fred Wood, a United Airlines Teamster Mechanic. “First of all, she puts up with us, which is a feat in itself. We can be a pretty demanding group that needs a lot of attention, and she was always there.”

When Sunny Joy Boyer heard that Laura was leaving, she was immediately saddened. Laura had recently gone above and beyond to help Sunny’s daughter Summer apply for a Teamsters scholarship.

“Laura was phenomenal,” said Sunny, who works for Contra Costa County. “She followed up and called. There were some time constraints, and Laura ended up handling everything. I know she does that for everyone. I could tell that it’s just who she is.”

Summer Boyer — Laura went above and beyond to help Summer and her mom Sunny apply for and win a college scholarship

Laura’s help made the difference for Sunny and her family. “We ended up getting $1,000, and that wouldn’t have happened without Laura,” she said. “I owe her. She was really helpful. I’m happy for her, but it’s a shame to see her go.”

Sunny was right, that is just who Laura is. When asked for adjectives to describe her, a few were repeated by everyone – kind, dedicated, and a person who goes above and beyond.

Teamsters 856 President Mike Lagomarsino was one of the people who echoed the sentiment. He said he was happy and sad to see Laura retire, because he would miss her hard work, dedication, and caring nature.

“You could always depend on her,” he said. “We were a better place to work because she was a leader at work and an integral part of the team.”

For Laura, retirement is bittersweet. She said she was happy to go to work each day for two reasons: the members and her coworkers. “We have each other’s backs and we’re all in the same crazy, fast-paced world,” she explained. “We’re all good at taking care of each other.”

Prior to her last day, Laura left everyone with a few words of advice: “Keep positive with an open mind, and be sure to laugh.”

As for future plans, she said she’s going to see where the road takes her and at least for a little while, live every day like it’s a Saturday.