For 41 years John J. Sanchez has tended the grounds of the Mount Diablo Unified School District, mowing dozens of acres a day, readying football fields and baseball diamonds for play from scratch, and helping to set up the infrastructure for new school facilities are just some of the tasks he’s completed as an equipment operator. At the end of this month though, Sanchez is calling it quits and stepping into a well-deserved retirement, with his entire medical plan covered, including vision and dental, thanks to his new Teamsters 856 contract.
“It’s a blessing,” said Sanchez. “I’m really excited, it’s a 100% gift at my retirement.”
While retiree medical coverage may be the biggest boon for those members nearing the end of their careers, there are plenty of big gains for Teamsters who may still have a while to go. The two-year agreement covering more than 400 maintenance and operations employees contains big wage increases– 10% in wages increase (9% ongoing / 1% one-time money); guaranteed District contributions to health care even if rates increase; full benefits for half-time employees, and an increase in longevity pay and shortening of the amount of time it takes members to reach that longevity increase.
“We’ve had 18% in wage increases over the last two contracts since we’ve been Teamsters,” Roofer and Bargaining Team Member Dave Tomason said. “That’s unheard of.” Mount Diablo maintenance and operations employees left their previous representation and joined Teamsters 856 in 2014.
Teamsters 856 representative Juan Escobar, who served as lead negotiator, said the bargaining team approached negotiations seeking equality. “It’s only fair that all employees of the District enjoy the same benefits,” said Escobar. “Teachers and management enjoyed retiree medical, our members deserved to as well. Our bargaining team did a tremendous job at the table on behalf of their fellow Teamsters and we were able to bring back a contract that improved conditions for every member,” he continued.
Carlyon Inklebarger started working in the District’s transport department repairing upholstery in 1985. “I never thought that I’d ever see it,” the bargaining committee member said of the Teamster-negotiated retiree benefit, which will cover retirees for ten years provided they have worked for the District for five years prior to retirement. Inklebarger now works as a groundskeeper at Northgate High School and is planning her retirement for next year.
“It feels good when you can get something for new members, and it feels really good when you can get something you’ve never had before,” Inklebarger said. “I’m glad I was a part of this; I’m really proud of this contract.”