It’s only June, but 2019 has been an incredibly busy year for Local 767. We’d like to share some highlights to bring all of our Brothers and Sisters up to speed.
Political action ensures the future of workers’ rights. Therefore, Local 767 is proud to announce we are now officially recognized as operating a PAC by the State of Texas. This spring, we had reason to celebrate after filing the necessary paperwork, recognizing Assistant Business Agent Benny Brooks as PAC Treasurer. Through this effort, our power increases significantly as a political entity amongst not just legislators but also company lobbyists who are fighting against us every day.
With over 35% of our membership now contributing to DRIVE, we wanted to have greater opportunities to address our membership’s labor needs with legislators here in Texas. Therefore, having instituted our PAC status, we also submitted the request to be listed as a “rebate local” within the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Once enacted, this fantastic program will direct a large portion of YOUR contributions toward a separate fund that can only be used to strengthen our local’s political voice pertaining to the best interests of working families and union longevity. Through our Communications Department headed up by Kristan Turns, we have already been awarded over $9,400.00 from the IBT in reimbursements for our DRIVE campaign activities–the bulk of which included our local’s first-ever DRIVE payroll reimbursement benefit for those pulled out of service.
Since generating funding cannot change the regional landscape of American labor alone, President Perrier initiated a relationship with leaders from the Texas AFL-CIO. This partnership was responsible for further educating our team and assisting us with the tedious process of navigating meetings with officials inside the Capitol, as well as introducing us to other labor organization leaders with similar goals. Earlier this year, Local 767 moved to formally affiliate with the Texas AFL-CIO. Joined by the diverse network of labor union members bonded through efforts led by the Texas AFL-CIO, our local now stands united and organized for power with over 235,000 Texas AFL-CIO members. We are also beyond pleased to announce Brother Charles Anthony’s daughter applied for and earned a college scholarship through the AFL-CIO this year, which was made possible by Local 767’s affiliation with the organization.
Educate! Organize! Mobilize! Our presence in Austin and at city hall means much more when coupled with strong voices on our shop floors. During our Weingarten Rights campaign in February and March, our local distributed over a thousand cards in English and Spanish to members at the gates. We have increased steward representation by more than 25% since January of 2019 through steward training orientations hosted by Business Agents Andrew Reddell and Bobby Jach and are currently planning our third steward training session of the year for this July. Last week Stewards Brandon Hubbard and Robert Lopez returned from IBT Organizing School, and Brother Hubbard reports:
“We need to find ways to grow, both internally and externally. As a local, we need to be making a sound effort to be involved in our community, with our local politicians, and with other community leaders. If we are invested in fighting for all workers’ rights–from Gainesville to Palestine–we will find ways to grow.”
The local has empowered members to lay the groundwork for committee involvement, and we are excited to see that develop in the near future. With a PAC in place, upcoming legislative speakers, and members slated to attend the IBT Political Coordinators Conference in Washington, D.C., next week, our Organizing and Political Education Committee will be ready to hit the ground running hard next session. According to plan, we are educating. We are organizing. We are mobilizing.
While our general membership held strong at a 16% increase last month compared to the same time last year, members of Americold experienced the largest percentage of growth overall by more than 50% since January. Additionally, over 80% of Americold members voted to ratify their new contract with 95% approval in May. The negotiating committee, comprised of business agents and shop stewards, hammered more improvements out of the company than ever before, including recognition of seniority and higher wage increases than past contracts.
Over the past six months we’ve also worked diligently to connect our members with information like never before. Local 767 purchased and published this entire website for only $300 with no monthly maintenance contract, which is 45% less expensive per year than what we were paying for the old website with very little functionality and limited access. Our members now also have multiple current social media channels and will soon benefit from a mobile app that should enable our Brothers and Sisters to: communicate with us as well as with legislators, receive instant notifications via text, push alerts, and email blasts, and view contracts, forms, and membership data as well as the capability to submit documents. Beta testing begins next week on our Teamsters Local 767 app, and we have already submitted a request to integrate this product with TITAN. On the shop floors, we have changed most of the bulletin board information at Americold, Safran, and each UPS facility (except in areas under construction), and Brother Eric King tirelessly replaced every lock to keep management from interfering with our right to communicate with you. (That was a LOT of locks; many thanks again, Eric!)
While integrating one mobile app is a major improvement, two apps are even better. Our Communication Department is also in discussion with the IBT Data and Analytics team to modernize and restructure the way we handle information, scheduling, grievances, and pretty much everything that we’d enter into a database to better serve you. Once completed, your business agents will be able to review your grievances through a secure network whether they are in the office or at a panel hearing in Florida or anywhere. Our current system offers very limited data fields and crashes frequently, making it very costly to maintain and impossible for our BAs to perform certain facets of their jobs without having the paperwork immediately present. If you’ve ever been terminated, you can probably imagine how a database application that allows your agent to instantly view your grievance and its supporting documentation can make a huge difference, lessening our need to respond “when we get back to the office.” Once implemented, this more efficient, customized CRM database will replace our outdated interface, saving time and money.
Most importantly, during the course of the past six months, you have given us the opportunity to forge lifelong friendships, brother-and-sisterhoods with our 767 family. As proud union members, we stand firmly together, lifting up and encouraging one another so that no one stands alone. As Teamsters, we create solutions that strengthen our unity, that cement our position at the bargaining table, that establish labor-friendly legislation, and that carry forward the hard-fought union legacy left to us by those who desperately struggled, even sacrificing their own lives.
As we say farewell to our first six months in office, we graciously anticipate more good things yet to come for Local 767. Brothers and Sisters, many sincere thanks for all you do every single day to build a better tomorrow within our union, our communities, our families, and on the shop floors. SOLIDARITY FOREVER.