On August 28, newly organized Mount Diablo Unified School District Unit members overwhelmingly ratified their first ever Teamster 856 contract. The new agreement includes 9% in wage improvements, increased healthcare contributions from the District, and the first phase of a long term healthcare restructuring plan to alleviate out-of-pocket healthcare costs.
When the nearly 500 maintenance and operations workers at the District officially became Teamsters 856 members in March, it was cause for celebration — their newfound status as Teamsters was the result of a year-long organizing campaign. However, the hard work was far from over. After years without wage increases, skyrocketing health and welfare costs, and disrespect from management, getting a fair and equitable contract would require that the members remain steadfast in their solidarity.
Teamsters 856 Secretary-Treasurer and Principal Officer Peter Finn headed up the bargaining team as lead negotiator.
“When we entered negotiations we made it clear things had to change and we were prepared to fight to force the District address the healthcare crisis they had created,” said Finn.
A multi-pronged contract campaign was implemented that included rallies, union visibility in the workplace, membership attendance at school board meetings, and legal and political strategies. Some members even gave testimonials to school board members on the devastating effects the healthcare costs were having on their families.
Steward and Bargaining Committee Member David Tomason is pleased with the new agreement.
“After all the hard work by the 856 team at the table and away from it, we received pay increases for the first time in years, and more importantly, a better healthcare package,” said Tomason, who works as a roofer for the District.
“I’m proud that the bargaining team was able to deliver results that will make a real difference in the day-to-day lives of 856 members and their families,” said Finn.
Steward Noven Feria believes that along with economic gains, one of most important aspects of the new agreement is respect. “Maintenance and operations employees perform work which provides an important foundation for children to learn,” he said.
“We’ve gotten back the respect from the school district we deserved,” said Feria, who also served on the bargaining committee.
The unit includes school bus drivers, custodians, food service workers, network technicians, as well as plumbers, electricians, roofers, painters, carpenters, groundskeepers, and other classifications working out of the maintenance department who provide services critical to the operations of the District.
The unity from the organizing drive served members well, as their resolve continued in their pursuit for a fair agreement.
“This contract was hard fought and hard won by the membership,” said Finn. “Every member who wore their Teamsters 856 t-shirts and attended school board meetings, every member who came to the rallies, every member who told their story to the school board deserves tremendous credit. All of these acts and more demonstrated our unity and determination to achieve a strong contract,” said Finn.