Forty Western Milk Transport workers in California recently learned a lesson in solidarity when they voted 29 to seven to join the Teamsters.
The drivers and deliverers of raw milk are now members of Local 166 in Bloomington, California. Their victory marks the first time in recent history that employees of Western Milk Transport have had union representation.
“The issue with them was not about money; it was more about contract language and respect,” Mike Bergen, Principal Officer of Local 166 said.
Indeed, Western Transport Milk workers decided to join the union when the company docked pay and forced employees to pay more for medical insurance.
“We decided to join the Teamsters because we wanted some respect from the company,” said Israel Mararilla, a Western Milk Transport employee. “The company cut our wages and told us that if we liked the new wages we could say and work; if we didn’t like the new wages, management was happy to show us the door.”
Now that Mararilla and his coworkers have union representation, they are hoping to negotiate better pay, better benefits and retirement security in their first contract. Western Milk Transport employees currently have no retirement savings plan.
Mararilla congratulates his coworkers for sticking together during the organizing campaign to make their dream become a reality.
“The company didn’t agree with our organizing efforts. They never thought we would stick together long enough to make this happen,” he said. “It took a lot of teamwork and a lot of guts.”
Now that they have union representation, Western Milk Transport employees are sharing their news with other milk transport employees in the area, hoping others will take from their lead. Thanks to their efforts, Local 166 may soon begin four new organizing campaigns with milk deliverers and drivers.
“This is a very solid group that had an amazing line of communication,” Bergen said. “We welcome them to our union and look forward to working with them to negotiate a contract.”