When you check out the redesigned 856 Web Site, or visit the union hall you will see the words: Work Hard. Fight Smart. This is not meant to be a clever phrase or fancy slogan, but rather a clear explanation of how we as a Local Union aim to represent the members of Teamsters 856.
Working hard is not just about giving maximum effort and putting in long hours. It’s also about the commitment and determination needed to win over time. The willingness to outwork the other side and having the persistence necessary to keep pushing for principled positions even in the face of continued resistance from employers. This persistence involves the continued examination of new solutions and the ability to be smart, strategic, and creative in how each situation is analyzed.
Fighting smart is the acknowledgement that the rules of the game have changed. It’s about embracing the understanding that in the new age of labor relations we need to find new ways to fight; that we need to implement smart multi-pronged strategies to create the leverage and power necessary to win. Strategic campaigns rarely look the same, each situation requiring its own assessment to identify pressure points, evaluate means to exploit vulnerabilities, and an examination of relationships the employer has with outside entities that may be used to create leverage.
These multi-faceted strategies involve a plan that syncs up what we do at the bargaining table with a legal, political, and media strategy, as well as a member-led ground game to apply pressure through action. A few recent examples of wins driven by the power of smart strategic campaigns include the fight for safety at the San Francisco Zoo and the contract campaign at Mount Diablo School District. The Joint Council 7 Newspaper and the Teamster 856 website have detailed stories on these campaigns.
While the rules of the game have changed, the fundamentals of a strong union have not. The strength of a union has always been, and still is, our ability to stand together. And as we head into fall after celebrating Labor Day it is the perfect opportunity to take a moment to express how proud we are to stand together with the stewards and all 8,300 members of Teamsters 856.
While our Local Union is growing and our effectiveness continues to improve, the fight for economic progress and fairness on the job is far from over. Now is not the time to rest, it’s time to build on our successes and push forward with a renewed commitment.