Settlement agreement with the City of Concord vindicates Local 856 members

Teamsters 856 recently reached a settlement agreement on two unfair practice charges filed against the City of Concord.

In March 2016, when the city issued James Gravely, a maintenance worker member, a warning letter for wearing union insignia in the workplace, Teamsters 856 Vice President Rudy Gonzalez filed a charge with the Public Employees Relations Board, because the ability to show support for a union is a basic, protected right.

City of Concord Teamsters (from left to right) Dex Gonsalves, Luis Gonzalez, Art Pizzato, Anthony Fierros, and Greg Fabian

While the warning only affected James, the precedent it could have set would have had a far-reaching impact on all Teamsters 856 members serving the city.

“It’s our membership logo,” said Art Pizzato, a Local 856 shop steward for the City of Concord. “It’s a show of unity and solidarity.”

“Protecting the right to wear a union pin is a part of a broader fight to protect members’ ability to speak about and be union members outwardly in their workplace without fear of discipline,” said Rudy.

“Whether it’s protesting a bully boss or fighting for a fair contract, our ability to wear Teamsters 856 buttons to display our unity is imperative,” Rudy continued.

In addition, Local 856 was able to reach an agreement with the city on another charge that impacted Luis Gonzalez, an environmental maintenance technician member. Luis had received a written warning, and felt the discipline was unfair. He believed management was unfairly targeting him in order to find a way to write him up.

Upon investigation, Teamsters 856 discovered that supervisors were keeping a secret, separate file on Luis in addition to his employee file kept by human resources.

“The department tried to bully Luis by creating a department-specific file on him and tried to use that file to create a negative record of his performance,” said Rudy. “This deprived him of his right to appeal the discipline.”

Teamsters 856 filed an unfair practice charge, and an agreement for both charges was recently reached, resulting in a victory with both disciplines received being removed from the members’ files.

“Because 856 has the resources to back our members, we’re able to file the charges, and show employers that we’ll fight on big and small issues,” said Rudy.

“Without strong Teamster representation, people won’t say anything for fear of being reprimanded with no recourse,” said Art. “As Teamsters, we have the confidence to stand up and be heard without feeling like you’ll be slapped down.”