Happy in the New Year

FORT COLLINS — Best wishes for the New Year to all our members—new, old and retired—from the executive board. We hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year holidays with family and friends.

Well had an exciting year in organizing. I’m happy to announce that Local 267 welcomed six new members and an entirely new classification to our ranks—the West Coast Clydesdale Show-Horse Handlers.

The West Coast Hitch (now in Local 267, Fort Collins, CO) joined their brother and sister Clydesdale handlers on the East Coast Hitch (now in Local 633, Merrimack, NH) and the Clydesdale breeding facility on the Warm Springs Ranch in Boonville, Missouri (now in Local 6 St. Louis, MO) in ratifying a national master agreement and local supplemental agreements specific to each facility. All three teams join the St. Louis Hitch, which has been part of Teamsters Local 6 for many years.

Anheuser Busch InBev recognized the two coastal hitch teams without an election after local union representatives presented the signed recognition cards of every hitch member. Soon thereafter, the breeding facility presented their recognition cards and—after a successful election – all three groups were being represented by the Teamsters Brewery Conference.

The bargaining team of local union representatives, headed up by Brewery Conference Director David Laughton, began the process of hammering out a labor agreement in the summer of 2015 in St Louis.

On Veterans Day, Local 267 Secretary-Treasurer Howie Dorsher, President Mike Cova; Brewery Conference Director David Laughton and Marcia McGregor of the Northern New England Benefit Trust (NNEBT) met with the West Coast Hitch team to go over the details of the labor agreements, which they ratified immediately and unanimously.

“The contract we negotiated on behalf of the show horse handlers is going to protect them and secure their employment for years to come. I hope it serves to motivate all our members to get involved with Teamster organizing efforts throughout the system,” said Laughton.

Shortly after, we all celebrated in an impromptu reception at a nearby steak house. A cold Budweiser hardly tasted any better.

Although the West Coast Hitch is technically stabled at the Fort Collins brewery, they are on the road throughout the western states making appearances in parades, events and filming commercials, for an average of 320 days a year. Their days are long, often starting well before sun up and running long past sun down, setting up and tearing down portable stables, caring for the horses, equipment and all the while interacting with an excited and curious public.

They are probably the most recognizable ambassadors for the product we make.

Although this organizing success is relatively small in numbers, the symbolism of having all the Clydesdale Hitches and the breeding facility now staffed by Teamsters, together, under one master agreement, which coincides with the master plant agreement covering all 12 Budweiser breweries, is obviously a big deal.

The image of a Teamster, proudly seated at the buck board of a 1903 Studebaker delivery wagon (the last of only three original non-replica delivery wagons and the only one still in use on the road) hauling stacks of iconic Budweiser beer, commanding eight of some of the largest horses in the world with more than 40 pounds of reigns in hand – you know – that’s pretty damn cool!

Looking ahead to 2016 and beyond, there are many organizing opportunities ripening and ready to be explored. But it takes people and effort, which is why Local 267 needs to develop its own organizing team of active and retired members who want to be part of growing the local union membership. If you’re interested, contact the union office.
On December 5, 2015, we held the Second Annual Christmas party to coincide with our annual Food Bank fund raiser. Approximately 170 retired and active members, (including quite a few of our most recently hired members), and their guests enjoyed beverages, a nice buffet dinner and of course shared their experiences inside and outside the brewery.

The Local matched funds from separate individual donations and added a portion of the ticket sales to be able to donate $2,225 to the Food Bank of Larimer County just before Christmas – when the need is the greatest.

It won’t be long before some of our members start planning events for their graduating high school seniors this spring. Local 267 offers three $1000 college scholarships, available to graduating sons and daughters of active, (including weekenders), retired and deceased members. These local scholarships, along with several other Teamster scholarships including the James R Hoffa merit and essay scholarships, Anheuser-Busch/Brewery Conference of Teamsters, etc, are just part of the many benefits of being a Teamster member. Watch the union bulletin boards in the brewery and our web site for details.

Our Local web site is (www.LU267.org). If you want to join the nearly 200 LU267 members receiving weekly schedules and occasional updates, contact the union office at 482-2749 for a log-in and password.

Since we have had quite a few retirements and new hires over the last year or so, we older guard tend to forget our newest brothers and sisters may not be aware of how much their livelihoods and working conditions depend on maintaining this strong union. Many will refer to “the union” as something apart from themselves; something they don’t perhaps realize is more than just an office somewhere that holds monthly meetings. Let our newest brother and sister know that they, we, all of us are “The Union.” And the day will come when we must pass the torch to them and they will be the ones entrusted with keeping their union strong.

Along with the many retirements we’ve had over the last few years; the overall number of our DRIVE members has gone down. DRIVE (Democrat Republican Independent Voter Education) is an exclusively Teamster program by which members may have their strictly voluntary donation of as little as just one dollar, deducted from their paycheck and sent directly to the IBT DRIVE department to be used for research (it takes considerable resources to monitor every piece of legislation and program for possible attacks on labor – and then to communicate that to us), and to support candidates from all parties who commit to protecting labor and the working class.

One half of all DRIVE funds from Local 267 are returned to Colorado to be combined with DRIVE funds from the other Colorado Teamster Locals and are used to address labor-related issues and support Labor friendly candidates in our state.

If you’re not already in DRIVE, please consider joining us, especially during this most important election year. If you’re already in DRIVE, please consider increasing your commitment for the same reason.

We wish you all the best this new year. We look forward to seeing you at the next general membership meeting.

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