Workers at Brickyard Healthcare started their organizing efforts in the summer of 2021 during the pandemic. At the time, Organizer & Business Agent, Dustin Roach worked with the group and together, they built a campaign strong enough to not only win their election but fight for and win a first contract.
Organizing through the pandemic was tough enough not including the normal union-busting employers embark upon. This group pulled off what others during that time couldn’t. They began mapping the facility, making charts to track their areas of weakest and strongest support. This small group of workers became the internal organizing committee. Meeting with the organizer often, they learned about the organizing process, the union difference, what to expect from their employer and the importance of growing a diverse internal organizing committee. Over time, they grew their committee throughout entire facility and they started having one-on-one organizing conversations with their co-workers and assessing their support. The group achieved over 80% of identified support and tested it along the way. They decided to move forward with collecting authorization cards from their peers and they filed for their election on December 2, 2021.
Immediately after filing for election the employer started their campaign but little did they know, this group wasn’t going to lose! Participating in plenty of workplace actions, including petitions, sticker days and so on, they weren’t afraid to show their support to their boss and they were prepared and ready for anything the company tried. The NLRB set the election by mail to begin on January 7, 2022, with the ballots to be counted via Zoom on February 24th. Needless to say their efforts paid off and they won their election by a significant margin.
As normal, Roach offered countless available dates to the company for bargaining, they stalled by only agreeing to meet two days a month. The negotiations committee and the group held strong through the lengthy process, keeping their eyes on the prize. They pulled relatable language from other contracts in the industry and in some instances, they drafted proposals from scratch. As a group never going through negotiations, let alone writing a contract from scratch, they all learned a lot and found their individual strong points as a part of the negotiations committee. They were able to achieve several non-economic tentative agreements at the pace expected but not desired.
Due to Roach’s new position within Local 135, Business Agent Hannah Bernardson was assigned to the group as the Union’s Chair. Hannah and the committee had to quickly build a strong relationship of trust between each other and they did just that. Any open non-economic proposals that remained would have to be completed so they could tackle the hardest part of any contract negotiations, economics. Working long and hard, they maintained a firm position at the table. At the same time, they worked to maintain and build support internally, with the expectation of what could come.
Naturally, the employer attempted to test the newly assigned agent and as expected, they failed, completely. They continued with stall tactics and surface bargaining, not agreeing to much but the committee still continued to add tentative agreements, slowly but surely. With the company continuing to stall and surface bargain, Roach added Local 135’s General Counsel, David Vlink to the committee. Hannah and David teamed up in great fashion and along with the rest of the committee, they dug in their heels. Recently, they invited any worker available into bargaining, throwing the employer off with more of their employees at the table. They kept building support internally, anticipating a need for collective action. After days of regressive bargaining, last week, the committee decided that enough was enough. They put the company on notice and demanded a Last, Best and Final Offer, making it clear to the company if they received a subpar offer they would vote it down and escalate to win a good contract away from the bargaining table. The Company gave the committee a final offer and after review, they sent it back and made it known what it would take to get a tentative agreement. The company came back to the table with an offer that ended up meeting a majority of what was needed and yesterday, they left the bargaining table with a Tentative Agreement!
This was a long, hard and frustrating process at times. This brave group of healthcare workers stood together and never stopped fighting for what they deserved! Once the offer is compiled and proofed for errors by the committee, it will be submitted to the entire membership for ratification (date to be determined). If ratified, employees of Brickyard Healthcare–Terrace Care Center, will be the first group of Healthcare Workers in Local 135. Additionally, they will set a new wage standard in the industry, proving if you are willing to stand together, you can win just like they did!
On behalf of the entire membership of Teamsters Local 135 and Teamsters Joint Council No 69, we congratulate you all on your HUGE victory! You showed what staying United, Focused and Teamster Strong can accomplish!