By Tom Dalzell, Business Manager
There’s no denying that our union is facing some very serious challenges. But when I look at how our members have faced up to these challenges, I feel hope for our future.
Line Clearance Tree Trimmers took a bold step forward in September by ratifying a new Master Agreement. This agreement has immediate improvements for most tree trimmers, but even more importantly it gives us a united front for bargaining with tree contractors in the future. Several dozen tree trimmers served on the union’s “Yes Committee” that promoted this agreement. This committee, along with all the tree trimmers who made the effort to vote, sent an important message to all of us: unity matters.
There has been other good news recently. After 12 weeks of very tough negotiations, our members negotiated and ratified a solid agreement at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, an agency we’ve had an agreement with for 65 years. I recognize that very tough battles continue at Modesto Irrigation District, Turlock Irrigation District and many public sector employers. But the tenacity shown by our members at SMUD inspires me to believe that we will see better days at MID and TID as well because I know for a fact those members are as tough as any in our union.
One of the most exciting developments of the past decade, to me, is happening in our units. We challenged our unit leaders last spring to come up with ways to re-engage and re-energize our members. Already we are seeing the units’ potential to become a springboard for sports events, charitable activities, and community engagement. We will take further steps along this road in November with four regional meetings of unit leaders, which will also include some basic instruction in running a meeting for our newer unit leaders.
Finally, this year marks the 10th anniversary of the untimely death of Business Rep. Jim Lynn. Jim understood contracts, he had great rapport with members, and he built productive relationships with management. I miss him and I know that his pipeline members in the northwest and Fresno and his fellow workers in Stockton miss him as well.