Teamsters at Western Eagle Packaging Products in Livermore, Calif., have voted overwhelmingly, 37-3, to ratify a strong first contract, guaranteeing health care benefits and job security, among other gains. The 58 members of Teamsters Local 853 in San Leandro, Calif., produce the foam packaging that protects electronics and other products when shipped in the mail.
“We’re very pleased to have negotiated an impressive first agreement for our members. They’ll now have health care for the first time and job protections that they never had before,” said Rome Aloise, International Vice President and Teamsters Local 853 Secretary-Treasurer.
In addition to medical benefits, the members will now have bereavement leave for the first time, as well as additional paid holidays, overtime, and timely notification of requests to work overtime, as well as progressive disciplinary language.
The Western Eagle workers joined Teamsters Local 853 in the fall of 2013. During their organizing campaign, the workers, many of whom are immigrants, faced intimidation from management. The local filed several unfair labor practice charges during the campaign, including one over the firing of Jose Lopez, a Western Eagle employee.
“I always supported joining the union and was vocal about it. When we came to a vote, that’s when they let me go. They said they didn’t have work for me,” Lopez said.
During the several months Lopez was out of work, he never gave up on his strong beliefs and support for forming a union at Western Eagle. In January 2014, he joined his co-workers in standing out in the rain one early morning, on strike outside the facility.
“Management was surprised this was happening in the middle of the parking lot at 4 a.m. The president wanted to speak with me inside, but I told them I wasn’t going to go into a warm office when our members are standing outside in the rain. We stand together,” said Ray Torres, a business agent with Teamsters Local 853. “The strike lasted six hours before management agreed to stop the intimidation of our members that caused us to walk out.”
After Local 853 filed ULP charges over Lopez’s termination, the company brought Lopez back. He was hired on as a full-time truck driver and got a raise in his new position.
Lopez and his co-workers are excited to now have a contract that allows them to do a good job, while protecting them.
“Every day I wear my Teamster colors—my Teamster jacket or shirt,” Lopez said. “I’m proud to be a Teamster.”