Posted on 17 May 2010.
Edgar Esquivel, a UPS worker in Orange County, Calif., reports on the progress of the new reform movement in his Teamster local.
May 10, 2010
Analysis and commentary
By Edgar Esquivel
Special to the OC Voice
FIVE MONTHS after it was born, the grassroots movement Reform Teamsters 952 has gained significant momentum through rank-and-file workers’ efforts to change the direction of their union.
Teamsters Local 952 members on strike against the Orange Country Transportation Authority in 2007. Photo: Reform Teamsters 952
In recent weeks, the group, made up of pragmatic rank-and-file workers from Teamsters Local 952 in Orange County, Calif., has campaigned at numerous work sites, including UPS, CVS, Coca-Cola, Straub (the local Budweiser distributor), UPS Freight and Yellow Freight–and has been well-received by workers at each of these companies.
But perhaps the biggest shock to the Local 952 system came at the UPS hub in Laguna, Calif., where the reform movement was launched. In late April, UPSers from the Coast Center at the Laguna hub organized votes of “no confidence” against their two shop stewards, who were controlled by the union old guard. One old guard steward was defeated, and a reformer elected in his place.
Over the past few years, the center had developed a reputation for weakness due to their shop stewards’ lack of action. A majority of members in the center circulated a petition that forced their union business agent to hold a new election for shop steward for package car drivers.
This action by Coast Center workers was a blow to the officers of Local 952, who for years have failed to instruct and train shop stewards on how to properly carry out their tasks in defense of members.
And on April 28, in a stunning upset for Local 952 President Bob Hahn, Mike Deszcz–a reformer who for years had been blackballed by the president himself for his strong union advocacy–won the election. As a result, a Hahn clone has been replaced with a 30-year Teamster who wants UPS to acknowledge that UPSers are human beings, and not a number or a bottom line.
After the victory, Deszcz added: “I consider it a privilege to represent workers at a time when it’s greatly needed.” Showing that he was not running to be exempt from union dues, he said he will use his portion of his monthly dues to buy gift cards for the hard-working members of Coast Center.
Reform Teamsters 952 congratulated Deszcz and the Teamster brothers and sisters at Coast Center for taking a stand against the status quo and old guard policies of Local 952. Their triumph symbolizes reform, and Reform Teamsters 952 welcomes and embraces it. Read the full story