Making progress. More fights to win.

Secretary-Treasurer Peter Finn addresses a joint rally of City of Concord & Mount Diablo School District Teamsters on April 9.

We often talk about how imperative it is to continue to push forward and get results. That the status quo is not good enough; that we must make progress. And while we have significant ongoing fights at many employers where Local 856 members work, I want to take a moment to report on some progress that has been made, where we have gotten results.

Healthcare Wins in Private Sector Bargaining
Over 1500 members working in the private sector at large employers such as Delta Dental, UPS, and throughout the Hotel Industry, have new five-year Local 856-negotiated agreements that secure 100% employer-paid healthcare. And while the contracts include wage COLAs, the five years of healthcare security is significant, especially in light of rising premiums passed down from insurance companies and the general uncertainty in the healthcare market.

Public Sector Fact Finding Victories When public agencies have refused to acknowledge the improving economy and failed to begin upward movement of wages, we have taken a multi-faceted approach to fighting back. This has included using creative bargaining techniques, leveraging political pressure, organizing member actions, and when necessary, employing legal strategies such as Fact Finding. In 2012 we won the first major California City Fact Finding case, and in March 2014 this success continued with a Fact Finding win over the City of Millbrae.

More than 900 New Members Join Local 856
With the organizing victories at the City of Santa Rosa and Mount Diablo School District, more than 900 new members have joined Local 856 this year. As our Local continues to grow through organizing, it directly translates into building power for current members. This is accomplished by building density in key industries, increasing our geographic and political influence, and most importantly adding significant resources that can be deployed to support current Local 856 members.

Member Political Activism Doubles
As we have seen from the attacks on working people in other states such as Wisconsin, politics matter. Led by the work of our Political Director Trish Suzuki, member participation in DRIVE, the Teamsters national political action committee, has already doubled in 2014. This commitment to politics translates into influence, and coupled with the increased member involvement in the endorsement process, get-out-the-vote efforts, and activism in labor councils, we are seeing the increased strength of our political program pay off at the bargaining table.

Local 856 Health Trust Fund Grows by 35%
In the first three months of 2014 alone we have seen a 35% increase in the number of members receiving negotiated health benefits through the Local 856 Health and Welfare Trust Fund. This substantial growth strengthens the 856 Health Trust Fund for all current participants, provides security for retirees in the plan, and makes the 856 Health Trust Fund an even more attractive alternative at the bargaining table as a solution to skyrocketing healthcare costs.

Fights ahead in Airline Industry, Hospitals & More
Unfortunately, there is little time to celebrate our victories. There is always an employer making the wrong choice – whether it’s attacking individuals in the workplace or picking a fight at the bargaining table. That means that we have to constantly prepare for the next challenge, double down on our ongoing fights, and be ready to do whatever it takes.