By Peter Finn, Principal Officer/Secretary-Treasurer;
As somebody always focused on looking forward and getting better, I don’t often spend time reflecting on the past. However, as we close out a decade, I do want to recognize the accomplishments of our Local Union over the last 10 years and especially the reps, stewards, and Local 856 members who made it happen. Believe it or not, 10 years ago our Local Union had 7,000 members. Today we are over 17,000 members strong and the second biggest Teamster Local in all of California.
Throughout the last 10 years I have talked a lot about the principle of hard work, about the need to take the fight to employers, and to do it in a way that is smart. I truly believe that through hard work, through persistence, you can win by outworking the other side. And when taking on employers it’s not just about being aggressive, it’s about being smart, being strategic. For example, when it comes to negotiations, while it’s fun to pound our fist on the table and yell a little, to be effective, we need to take a multi-pronged approach, combining a bargaining strategy, with a legal strategy, with a political, communications, and organizing strategy — all to create the most leverage possible to convince, persuade, and sometimes force, employers to see our point of view. Because we have grown our Local Union, we have more resources and influence to implement this type of winning strategic campaign.
While our growth means Local 856’s financial position is stronger than ever, when it comes to our Local Union, our most important resource is our people: our members, stewards, and reps. In fact, our Local 856 staff is now over 30 people, including professional negotiators, staff attorneys, a political director, communications team, and now our own organizing department. I would like to acknowledge the staff of Local 856, including our great clerical team. We truly have the best of the best.
Strength in numbers is a pretty straight forward idea. It’s the idea that as our Local grows, so does our power. The more of us that stand together, the more of us that have each other’s back, the stronger we all are. And when it comes having each other’s back, it’s the over 500 stewards of Local 856 that lead the way. Local 856 stewards have the back of co-workers, other Teamsters, other union members, and because legislative work up in Sacramento, such as AB5, helps everyone, we have the back of all working people. That’s what being Union is all about.
As many of you know, I started my Teamster career over 20 years ago as a Teamsters 856 steward, and our President Mike Lagomarsino has been a Teamster member for over 40 years. We have not forgotten where we came from, and we know firsthand the strength of our Local Union comes from you, the members of Local 856. Active, engaged, and ready to fight for what is fair, your willingness to stand together in our ongoing push to improve wages, benefits, and get respect at work has made us strong. Without a doubt, the success of our Local Union over the last 10 years is a direct reflection of you, the members of Local 856. Thank you.