Recently, some astute Mount Diablo Unified School District Teamsters noticed new sod on one of the fields at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek. Normally, Teamster groundskeepers would have performed this work, so the new grass obviously piqued their curiosity.
When Teamsters 856 Representative Juan Escobar investigated, he learned the District had contracted out the work without the union’s knowledge, a clear violation of the Teamster contract.
“If the District can demonstrate a real need to have work done by an outside party, that’s what the Volunteer Committee is for,” Escobar explained. The Volunteer Committee is a panel that comprises management and union members who determine on a case-by-case basis if certain projects merit outside assistance.
When pressed, the District couldn’t prove that this project had the approval of the Volunteer Committee or that the Committee even had knowledge of it. Through the grievance procedure, the District agreed to pay $30,000 in restitution to be split between affected members for breaching the contract and taking away union work.
“This all could have been avoided if the District had simply followed the contract,” Escobar said. “We have worked hard to establish a solid and trustworthy relationship with management, but giving away union work is a very serious matter and we are not afraid to aggressively pursue corrective action,” he said.