Focusing on the Fundamentals


Secretary-Treasurer Peter Finn with Local 856 stewards from the recently merged American Airlines and US Airways.

In late September my wife Devon and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. In looking back on the last 10 years, she said something that struck me as very relevant to the work we all do together at Teamsters 856. She talked about how it’s not the high-profile events that have mattered most over the last 10 years, but the day-to-day little things that have made the largest impact. Simple things like paying attention, putting in hard work, and being consistent.

The focus on fundamentals and doing the small things is just as important when it comes to the work we do at Local 856. Whether it’s maintaining an emphasis on being responsive to the membership, continuing to pursue grievances aggressively, or doing the hard work necessary to bargain from a position of strength, the day-to-day is the core of what we do.

Attention to detail when investigating grievances leads to the ability to efficiently identify what is, and what isn’t, a grievance. And a willingness to be honest and straight-up about the merits of a grievance generates long-term respect.

Strong preparation creates the power generated by having better information than the opposing side at the bargaining table. The hard work associated with persistently sticking by your principles and not taking the easy way out, allows you to stand by the results of negotiations with integrity.

Taking the time to listen in the workplace enables issues to be fully explored and understood. Finding time to do small things like speaking to new members to explain the basics of what a Union is can make a lasting difference. Consistent communication creates transparency, trust, and strength. All things necessary for a strong, engaged Union.

While as an organization we certainly need to be forward thinking and work on big picture issues that have a long-term impact such as the fight for healthcare transparency, stopping the abuses of the sharing economy, and building power through organizing, it is imperative that we never lose sight of the importance of the day-to-day. We always need to stay focused on the core of what we do: bargaining strong contracts, aggressively enforcing those agreements, and being responsive to the membership.

Annual Membership Survey Identifies Affordable Housing as Key Issue

In the fifth year of the Annual Membership Survey, we had more members complete the online questionnaire than ever before. This all-time high participation is a sign of strong member involvement and the overall strength of our Union. The survey provides valuable insight that allows us to move our Union forward in a direction that matches the needs of the membership.
One important result of this year’s survey showed that overwhelmingly, affordable housing was the number one non-work related issue that the membership wants the Union to advocate for.

In San Francisco, for example, our 856 endorsed candidate for the Board of Supervisors Aaron Peskin is making affordable housing the cornerstone of his campaign. And we are working hard to pass Proposition F, a ballot initiative aimed at stopping the abuses of AirBnB and preventing them from removing huge numbers of housing units from the rental market through illegal hotels.
The Annual Membership Survey results confirm that we need to continue to advocate for candidates and work on issues that make affordable housing a priority in all communities where 856 members live.


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