Concord members prevail in contract battle

City of Concord Teamsters conduct a practice picket on their lunch break on October 21.

City of Concord Teamsters conduct a practice picket on their lunch break on October 21.

A strike vote, an unfair labor practice charge, and an extraordinary amount of solidarity culminated in a strong contract for City of Concord Teamsters after nearly eight months of negotiations.

During negotiations, the City proposed to cut in-lieu of medical benefits for future and current employees. This benefit provides members who opt-out of receiving health insurance through the City with monetary compensation.

“The city’s proposal would have affected future members and current members who might decide not to receive medical benefits through the city in the future,” explained Teamsters 856 Vice President Rudy Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said that the proposal was perplexing because it could have pushed members who currently opt-out of medical to opt-back in, creating an even greater cost to the city.

The 144 Teamsters working in the Field & Operations and Administrative, Technical and Clerical units felt strongly about the importance of maintaining this benefit, so they banded together to take serious action. They filled up city council meetings and expressed how this cut would adversely affect their families; they voted down the city’s initial offer; worked with Teamster Legal Director Sarah Sandford-Smith to file an unfair labor practice charge alleging bad-faith bargaining; and took an overwhelming strike vote, which led to a lunchtime “practice picket” at Concord City Hall on October 21 .

Ultimately the members’ efforts prevailed and they were able to reach an agreement with the city that preserves the medical-in lieu benefit and includes wage increases consistent with the consumer price index.

“We fought for and won for an important principle,” said Gonzalez. “I’m extremely proud of our members for sticking together, and especially our stewards and negotiating committee who showed tremendous diplomacy and leadership throughout this process.”