On Tuesday, Aug. 23, a group of nearly 25 city members, comprised of mostly stewards and a few rank-and-file representatives, gathered at the Teamsters Local 700 meeting hall to collaborate on ideas and strategies for the upcoming 2017 City of Chicago contract. Local 700 President Becky Strzechowski, Secretary-Treasurer Michael G. Melone and Senior Staff Attorney Cass Casper were present, along with all Local 700 city business agents and assistant business agents.
Stuart Davidson, an attorney with more than 30 years of experience representing numerous labor organizations and union workers, including the Teamsters and the NFL Players Association, flew in from Philadelphia to join the meeting. Also in attendance was Jon Magna, a partner from Illinois Advocates, LLC, who will be working alongside Attorney Davidson throughout the negotiations process.
“Our City of Chicago members have waited 10 years for a chance to negotiate a new contract and bring their own ideas to the bargaining table,” said President Strzechowski. “This meeting was the first of what will be many strategy sessions to prepare us for upcoming contract negotiations with the city.”
The meeting kicked-off with introductions around the room and as the city members introduced themselves, some of them shared their excitement for being a Teamster and a union member:
“I love this job.” – Robert Cherry
“I’m excited all the time because I love coming to work.” – Jose Rios
“I’m proud to be a Teamster since 2000.” – Larry Lampkin
“I am a fighter and I love to be a part of this union.” – Antoine Hull
Stewards, members and staff sat facing each other at a big square table and the meeting was led as an informal open discussion. Both stewards and rank-and-file members spoke about issues specific to their units and had multiple conversations about contract provisions that affected all members across the city. Stewards and members came to the table ready to fight for their members and find solutions to the most pressing of issues.
Attorney Davidson commented on how public employees are currently being vilified across the country and how city members need to be unified in order to be successful. “These will be very difficult negotiations,” said Davidson. “The only way to succeed is to remain unified and focused on the needs and aspirations of our members. Chicago’s city workers are entitled to a fair and equitable contract that ensures the quality of our members’ work lives and that preserves good, family sustaining city jobs in the future.”
Before the meeting adjourned, everyone was given copies of a contract proposal form that will be available at all city locations and on the Local 700 website.
“We need our members to guide us on what we need to fix,” said Casper. “Put it down on this contract proposal sheet. This will hopefully be the starting point for us to negotiate a rock solid contract.”
If you would like to send in a proposal for the next contract, you can also send an e-mail directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please turn in proposals to your steward, business agent or to the union office by October 1st. Click here to download a proposal form.
The same group will be invited to meet again in the near future. We will be sharing more information with the membership as proposals come into the union office and the leadership team begins crafting a plan for negotiations.