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Teamsters Make the Grade at Sierra

Teamsters Make the Grade at Sierra

May 21, 2006

More than 40 educational administrators and classified supervisory employees at Sierra Community College recently voted unanimously to join Local 228 in Sacramento, California. The workers at the Rocklin-based campus were seeking a strong voice to represent their interests in the workplace.

Sierra enrolls over 20,000 students, and serves Nevada, Placer, Sacramento and El Dorado Counties. The workers became concerned about job security when the college president was forced out of office by the Board of Trustees. The former president was well-regarded and universally admired for his work at the institution.

"The president was doing a good job and was respected by the faculty," said Lonnie Schwenk, Sierra Campus Police Chief. "If he could be put out of work, what about the rest of us?"

The unit, which includes college deans and department heads, considered a variety of options for representation. But in the end, the Teamsters Union seemed to be the best choice.

"The Teamsters Union has the reputation of being a strong labor organization," Schwenk said. "The more we spoke with the union representatives, the more convinced we were that they were the right choice."

Local 228 Business Agent Nancy Jones represents the workers at Sierra, but had never thought she would be working on behalf of a unit like this one. However, Jones believes that job security is an issue with which everyone can identify.

"It is a sign of the times when a group like this comes to us to organize. Everyone needs representation for different reasons," Jones said. "They had confidence in Local 228 because of our history of representing public employees in the Sacramento area."

The feeling was mutual for at least one of the workers who didn't think he would ever need a union as a dean working at an institute of higher education.

"I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would become a Teamster," said Brian Haley, a Dean at Sierra. "However, I believe the time had come to take a stand. My colleagues and I had a right to organize to protect our jobs, and the Teamsters can provide us with the resources we do not have as individuals."

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