by Andrés Felix Romero
Beginning at 5:30 a.m. in the cold rain on Nov. 14, members of Teamsters 2010 began their one day strike picketing outside of the College Creek Marketplace, the Library Circle and the parking lot of the J. It was the first official strike by any California State University union for the first time in 28 years, and the one day demonstration was performed by the other Teamster 2010 chapters across all 23 CSU campuses. The union members adapted to the weather by bundling up, sporting Teamster 2010 rain ponchos and covering their picket signs with plastic coverings.
The union’s picket line had two main goals. One, to establish that the unions are ready and willing to strike. Locksmith for Housing and Teamster member, Phil Bradley, said that the Teamsters are ready for more strikes.
“The one day strike today is to show the CSU we are serious about this, and to come to the table and bargain with us,” Bradley said. “It’s to show that we have the resolve to do this if that’s what it comes down to. If they don’t show up and start working with us, we’re gonna have to do a longer strike.”
Teamsters 2010 represent skilled trade laborers across the CSU system such as plumbers, painters, mechanics and electricians. Campus painter Jeff Robinson shared his thoughts on how campus will be impacted if the Teamsters decide to strike for a longer period of time in the future.
“Say you have a rainy day,” Robinson said. “You have old buildings on campus, so you’re getting leaky calls that aren’t getting attended to. [You’ll get] clogged toilets, lights that are out, or the heat’s not working.”
The second goal is for the Teamsters to draw attention to unfair labor practices.
“[We want] to bring awareness that the CSU has been conducting unfair labor practices,” Bradley said. “There’s rules on what the [CSU] can and can’t do such as, retaliation, delaying, and bargaining in bad faith.”
The Teamsters have expressed frustration at what they feel are continued practices of bad-faith bargaining by the CSU Chancellor’s office.
“[The bargaining team for the Chancellor’s office] show up to meetings completely unprepared, and they keep canceling negotiating sessions,” Bradley said. “They’re basically just doing whatever they can to delay and obstruct.”
Although the primary focus of the strike wasn’t financial, some on the picket line highlighted their grievances with a lack of an adequate wage-increase structure. Campus Building Service Engineer Steve Brands felt lucky that he was able to receive some increase in wages during his time employed with the CSU, but he feels frustrated that his colleagues haven’t had the same opportunity.
“We used to have a very defined step-structure,” Brands said. “As long as you were getting good evaluations and things were going well, you got the raises until you moved to the top of the range. And now, nobody really moves through the range.”
Teamsters such as campus automotive mechanic Ryan Moore explained how they have struggled with a lack of increase in wages, especially as inflation continues to rise
“I live out towards Willow Creek and I have kids to commute to school and sports,” Moore said. “Fuel and [groceries] goes through the roof just trying to raise a family. I never thought I’d actually be out on the picket line here at the college.”
On Nov. 9, Cal Poly Humboldt released a statement addressing the Nov. 14 strike. The message clarified to the campus community that the Humboldt and other CSU campuses have contingencies in case of an event such as a strike. As promised in the email, the Humboldt campus remained open and operational on the day of the strike. The email also promised to not pay any of the employees who participate in the strike. The email also asks the campus community to remain patient as the Chancellor’s office continues the bargaining process with the Teamsters 2010 and the other CSU unions.
The Teamsters weren’t the only union on the picket line that day. Members of California State University Employees Union (CSUEU) were there with picket signs and chanting alongside the Teamsters. The California Faculty Association (CFA) also showed solidarity that day. Some members joined the picket line and some faculty even refused to host class. CFA Faculty Rights Chair and philosophy lecturer Loren Cannon is excited to work alongside other lecturers.
“CFA is fully in solidarity with the teamsters right now, and with our other sister unions,” Cannon said. “We’re all in this together. Without the teamsters doing their work, without teachers doing their work, without staff doing their work, this place can’t run. And so we are together, supporting each other’s rights to a fair contract to make sure that we don’t have unfair labor practices.”