Patty’s Corner, January 9, 2015

By: Patty Warren, Senior Business Agent

The last quarter of 2014 was a busy and productive one for 174. I will start with our organizing victories.

HUGE VICTORY IN CARHAUL

Selland Auto Transport drivers and shop employees across the West voted to join the Teamsters in December. This multi-state election is a historic first in the West, and the first victory for the Teamsters in carhaul in over 30 years. The bargaining unit stretches from the Mexican border to the Canadian border and covers all eleven western states. It includes terminals in Seattle, Renton, Kent, Spokane, Portland, Laurel Montana, Salt Lake City Utah, and San Bernardino and Richmond California. After backing off on an initial agreement for a card check recognition process, the Company took us to a hearing, seeking to exclude owner operators from the bargaining unit. They lost that battle, with the NLRB including the owner operators. A mail ballot election took place and the ballots were counted on December 16. No objections were filed and we were certified a week later.

With a new group, the first thing up is establishing a relationship with the Employer. Since the election and under the leadership of Michael Beranbaum (Joint Council 28 Collective Bargaining & Organizing Director), the Company has been cooperative on working through problems with us and we hope this is the beginning of a long and constructive relationship

The campaign was initiated by Local 174 organizer Abe Taylor, with the assistance of IBT organizer Meaza Ogbe. It soon mushroomed into a huge multi-state operation. Scott Abrahamson, a Selland driver, was brought on to be the primary contact with the employees. He spent countless hours on the phone and on the road, chasing down Selland drivers in every state. Carl Gasca, Local 174 Business Agent and previous car haul driver, along with Michael Beranbaum, assisted both locally and in visits to California. Michael also helped coordinate activities with the other locals. I handled the unfair labor practice charges, which resulted in the issuance of a complaint by the NLRB. The charges were recently settled with the posting of Notices at eleven locations.

Working in cooperation with the International Union’s Carhaul Division and staff from various IBT departments, Organizers from various locals and Joint Councils, under the direction of their respective Secretary-Treasurers, all did their part in helping to pull off this amazing victory. Thanks go to the Secretary-Treasurers and other Teamster officials across four states (Randy Cammack, IBT Vice President, JC 42 President and Secretary-Treasurer Local 63, Covina California; Steve Vairma, IBT Vice President, JC 3 President and Secretary Treasurer local 455, Denver Colorado; Rick Hicks, JC 28 President and Secretary-Treasurer Local 174, Seattle, Washington; Tony Andrews, JC 37 President, and Secretary-Treasurer Local 305, Portland, Oregon; Val Holstrom, Local 690 Secretary-Treasurer, Spokane Washington; Jaime Vasquez, Secretary-Treasurer Local 542, San Diego, California; Don Garcia, Secretary Treasurer Local 315 Martinez, California; Clayton Banry Secretary-Treasurer Local 223, Portland, Oregon; Jim Larson, Secretary-Treasurer, Local 190, Billings, Montana; and Spencer Hogue, Secretary-Treasurer Local 222, Salt Lake City Utah.

Thanks go to those who provided hands-on help in the organizing campaign (Jim Larson, Alvin Mitchell, Carlos Borba, Greg Baxter, Mark Brandt, Spencer Hogue, Matthew Fazakas and Mark Macpherson).

This was definitely a team effort. Congratulations to everyone involved.

Abe Taylor, our very successful organizer, has been promoted to Business Agent. He has been replaced as Organizer by Meaza Ogbe. Meaza has worked as an Organizer with the IBT for a number of years. Seattle is her home base, and we have asked for her help on a number of campaigns. We are lucky to have her and I am sure all of you will welcome her to the 174 Staff. Congratulations to Abe and Meaza. That change will take effect January 19.

Thanks to the efforts of Abe, two other bargaining units were certified, Gresham Trucking in September and NCM (ReNu) in November. We are just beginning negotiations with both groups. We have had demands meeting with both groups, have begun negotiations with Gresham and are gearing up for RenNu.

We also finalized a first contract covering the Quality Control Lab Technicians at Cadman. We received voluntary recognition for the two full-time and one part-time employee and sat down with Cadman to get them covered by a contract. Their contract is very similar to the one covering the truck drivers, and was ratified with a 100% yes vote.

And last in the new bargaining unit news, but certainly not least, a first contract for Hertz was ratified by 100% in November. Our new members at Hertz were very happy to receive an increase retroactive back to April 23. We held a very unusual day after Thanksgiving vote so there would be no delay in their future wage increases and in the hope they would receive that retro check just in time for Christmas!

Welcome to Local 174 to all of the above!

On December 20, Columbia members ratified a one-year extension to their contract. It was due to expire on February 29, 2015, and we believed we were heading to a strike. Our relationship with Columbia had continued to deteriorate and we had several signs that management was planning on trying to take away all the gains we have made at Columbia over two contracts, including attempting to eliminate just cause. Business Agent Michael Gonzales and I have been discussing strike contingency planning for at least six months. Stewards and activists had already been engaged. Michael and I had circled the property, looking for where we would have to put pickets. (We already knew where to put the porta potties, we were that close to a strike in 2012).

Columbia had lost four arbitrations in a row. That contract has loser pays language in the arbitration section, and between the cost of four arbitrators and the backpay for a number of employees, Columbia had a significant economic hit. Within a couple of months, the HR Director and Labor Relations Director were fired. Their replacements were more labor friendly, and the tone immediately changed. While we were hopeful, we continued to prepare for a strike.

Then the Plant Manager was let go. While they were searching for a replacement, we were approached about a one-year extension. The new team said they wanted an opportunity to work with the employees and try to establish a new relationship with their employees. We sat down and negotiated a rich one-year economic package and it was passed overwhelmingly. We are hopeful that this is the beginning of a much improved relationship.

On a sadder note, the final quarter also brought us the death of friend and co-worker, Business Agent Brian Davis. Brian passed unexpectedly, a great shock to all who knew him. And all who knew him know he was a great guy, a loving mate and father, a dedicated Agent, and a true trade unionist. We miss you, Brother Davis.