July 9, 2021

Jason Rabinowitz - Teamsters 2010

Jason Rabinowitz - Teamsters 2010

Jason Rabinowitz

Jason Rabinowitz is the principal officer of Teamsters Local 2010, and Public Services Director for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with decades of experience and activism in protecting the rights of workers.

Since coming to the Local in 2013, Jason has led the charge in transforming our Union into a powerhouse for workers’ rights in California, taking us from 29 percent membership to more than 80 percent for the first time in the Local’s history. Under his leadership, we have created an effective Union Steward program, conducted powerful contract campaigns, some of which have included successful strikes, won strong contracts with guaranteed raises for our membership, and organized thousands of new members into the Teamsters. Teamsters Local 2010 represents nearly 14,000 clerical and skilled trades employees at the University of California and California State University.

Since...


Jason Rabinowitz

Jason Rabinowitz is the principal officer of Teamsters Local 2010, and Public Services Director for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with decades of experience and activism in protecting the rights of workers.

 

Since coming to the Local in 2013, Jason has led the charge in transforming our Union into a powerhouse for workers’ rights in California, taking us from 29 percent membership to more than 80 percent for the first time in the Local’s history. Under his leadership, we have created an effective Union Steward program, conducted powerful contract campaigns, some of which have included successful strikes, won strong contracts with guaranteed raises for our membership, and organized thousands of new members into the Teamsters. Teamsters Local 2010 represents nearly 14,000 clerical and skilled trades employees at the University of California and California State University.


Unionist is hosted by Phil Ybarrolaza in Oakland, CA.
This episode was recorded at the Alameda Labor Council. Unionist is a proud member of the NorCal Pods (norcalpods.com) podcast network.

Transcript

Jason Rabinowitz

Phil: So Spanish, you want to do the whole thing in Spanish, Si. 

Jason: Yeah. Through and in English. You are habla Espanol, 

Phil: . I don't know. I know what you said. I said, I said, 

Jason: you speak in English. I'll speak in Spanish. 

Phil: It'll be, it'll be 

Jason: pretty wild. I didn't know you spoke Spanish. I know. I keep it under wraps.

And then when you bust it out, people

are like, whoa. 

  Phil: Jason Rabinowitz. 

Jason: Yeah, the 

Phil: principal officer of local 2010 also I think division director of public employees. 

Jason: You think correctly? Yeah. Director of public services division 

Phil: is correct me if I'm wrong, but largest. 

Jason: It's the second largest, largest division in the Teamsters union.

After miscellaneous after ups. Oh 

Phil: really? Yeah. Okay. Ups. I thought the miscellaneous oh. 

Jason: Yeah. So the package, the package division is the largest impact because of the hiring during the pandemic. I think they got a lot bigger. We were actually very, very close. We've managed to maintain our membership in the Teamsters union and public sector through the Janus Case and all the attacks on public sector workers.

And then through the pandemic. I know. 

Phil: So Janice, remind me what Janus was because Janice, there was Janice and then there was another Janice or no free. It was Friedrichs. 

Jason: Yeah, there were Friedrichs. And then Janice, well, it was all part of this long. The, the long game that the anti-union forces were playing to try to weaken labor.

And so they set their sights on public sector unions and where we're the strongest right. Where we had the highest percentage of membership. And their goal is to destroy unions everywhere, but the public sector was a good target for them. So they spent, you know, over a decade filing lawsuits and various other attacks on, on public unions.

And it all kind of culminated in this Janice where, 

Phil: Remind me how we got out of Friedrich's cause. Was it, was it just somebody  died? Scalia died. That's right. I remember it was something good 

Jason: when you say that. I, I, you know, you might be struck down by lightening if you say that out loud or even if you think it, I don't know.

But, but we don't wish ill on anybody. Right. We certainly wanted him off the court because, 

Phil: right. So then it was it was a tie vote. Right. And a tie 

Jason: goes to the runner and then the term ended. Right. So because it was a tie vote, what happened was that the lower court's decision, which was in our favor was what ended up being the final decision, because it was four, four in 

Phil: the court.

This weird time we're in of this for lack of a better term, this bullshit, where they engineer these cases that are designed to lose so they can get to the Supreme court to overturn existing 

Jason: law. Right, right. Because, well, the strategy is where they start by challenging like the idea that there was a union shop in public sector that was a nine nothing decision in the Abood case way back when and so they basically came in with a strategy of let's take let's let's go in with an argument that will get laughed out of court, but let's keep hammering on it and let's keep getting those anti-union judges in there.

And someday we'll get that five, four, and they, you know, that's what they did. And it was Alito. Right. Alito wrote the decision and but it was you know, unfortunately because Trump got elected and then the, the anti-union folks got a five to four in the Supreme court. So then they brought the new case, which was Janice.

And basically a leader wrote the decision saying that no more union shop. And that was a 

Phil: teacher in, where was he? He was out of Chicago. That, that guy was ridiculous 

Jason: too well. Yeah, because here's a guy that had all the benefits of union representation, all the pay, all the pension and everything else.

And right after the case was done, what'd he do, he went and took a high paid position with one of these think tanks think tank. Of course he got his, he got his pay day after he screwed over millions, 

Phil: millions of public workers. Yeah. The big concern because, you know, I mean, I have all my own thoughts about right to work and everything else, but, you know, the, the thinking was public sector employees were going to take a huge hit, you know, right.

And membership and, and I E membership translates to strengthen bargaining power and 

Jason: everything else. So, right. Exactly. The idea is to weaken and divide us. That's what, you know, so-called right to work is about everywhere because you know, no, it once you know, they can come to some workers and say, Hey, why are you being the sucker and paying dues?

That guy over there is not paying. And the idea is that over time that they want a union membership to go down so we can be weaker and. Poor, the working people get poor and the rich get richer. That's what, well, that's 

Phil: the catch on today's lingo. They want to basically defund unions. Yes, 

Jason: exactly. Yeah.

There hope to was to defund progressive politics, I think, and because exactly at the same time. Yeah. And they didn't want us to have the power in politics to pass good laws for workers. And so that, that was the strategy. But I, you know, we in the Teamsters union we worked very hard preparing our members over a couple of years before that.

So let them know what was coming and let them know the importance of standing together as Teamsters to our future. And you know, we did, we managed to maintain our membership, our membership in public sector. And the Teamsters was just as high a year and a half after Janice, right before the pandemic hit as before Janice because of all the internal organizing that we did.

Phil: That's amazing. And it sounds like you guys have done a good job communicating to people and they've they bought in that You know, they need to participate. Right? 

Jason: Well, because the w you know, it's, it's the basic organizing that we need to be doing all the time. Anyway, going to our members, talking to our members, explaining the union is just all of us standing together.

That's the why we have power to win the pain benefits that we have to build on that, to protect that the minute we stop standing together, we're going to be toast and all that's going to be gone. So we had that conversation with our members over a period of years, we went back like in my local 2010, we went back and signed up all our members on a commitment card that said, I'm going to stay a teamster no matter what happens with the law.

Almost all our members sign that. And so like in my local 2010, we've you know, we've actually expanded our membership since Janice we organized 1300 new members during the pandemic, 

Phil: it's kind of gotten in not, not just in public sector, but it's kind of gotten a lot of people off their ass, too.

I think. 

Jason: Yeah. There's some people that say, oh, this is better. Cause it, you know, cause it, it got up off our ass. No, but you hear that and you know, there's, there's an element of truth to that, which is, you know, we're taking things for granted, I think. Well, I think that there's there. I think there's some of that.

I would  you know, I think it depends. I I'm happy to say in my local, we actually started, you were never on your ass. I tried to stay off my ass as, as much as I can, but since, since I got in local 2010, that was in 2013. And at that time, our membership was very, very low. It was about 29% of the people we represent.

And so the union was completely in rough shape, there were no stewards. We were a million dollars in debt. It was a big mess. We helped build that thing from the ground up. Right. We built it from the ground up is what we did. And we did it by going out and talking to members and signing them up to membership because 

Phil: back up a little bit, so.

I believe called local 2010. Cause it came into existence in 2010. Right. I know that's a, but that was something that didn't exist at all. I mean, that wasn't, that wasn't a group that was mildly, you know, they had a few Teamsters or nothing. I mean, it was, 

Jason: it was, what the product of an affiliation? The predecessor organization was an independent which was you know, was frankly in in rough shape in a lot of ways because there was just not a lot of member engagement member participation.

And so they came in affiliated with the Teamsters in 2010. So it 

Phil: started with an affiliation. Yup. Got it. And a 

Jason: union affiliation members voted to affiliate with the Teamsters and It was 

Phil: God, you 

Jason: guys have come a long way. Oh yeah, yeah. Yeah. I mean, it was a very, very different situation. You know, they were in bargaining for like five years without a contract.

They, you know, the members were, when we first got out there in 2013, I came in and I said, look, we've got to go out in the work site. We're going to blitz all the work sites. Talk to the members, talk to the workers, get them signed up, get them involved because the first step is you gotta be a member.

 How are you going to even be active or have membership? How do you have a union without members? You don't, you don't have one. So we went out and we talked to the members day in and day out to the workers, get them signed up. When we first got out there, people were like, Pissed.

Okay. They were like, we haven't seen our union and in months and years, where have you been? And you know, we had to go through that and say, okay, well, look, we're Teamsters. Now it's part of the process. We're Teamsters. Now we want to know what your issues are. We want to, we want you involved. And members, the workers joined by the thousands.

We went from 29% in that first year to up over 50%. So we got majority status. Yeah, one year. 

Phil: And how many people are we talking about? We're not talking about like two 

Jason: or 300 right? No, we're talking about 12,000 or so, wow. So yeah, so we literally signed up thousands of people each year. So we got over a majority the first year, then we got up to I think we got up to like two thirds the second year.

So it took us a few years, but we got from 29%, all the way up to 80% membership. And during this time the other goal was to get members engaged. So we you know, signing them up to stewards, training, getting them to be stewards, taking action.  

Phil: Come from like a freight background and we were all doing our thing and you guys really had to start from zero, get this independent union and then tailor everything to, to a really highly skilled group of people , who aren't going to, you know, it's just not a raw thing down there, right.

Jason: It's not just a raw thing. It was on the issues. So, and the workforce in 2010 at that time, it was just one bargaining unit we've since organized a bunch more. It was one bargaining unit. 

Phil: I guess what I'm trying to get at is that the, you found new ways to do things where a lot of people haven't had a lot of success, right?

I mean, the union density has been going down and at the same time when union density is going down union organizing is becoming more difficult. Local 2010 sticks out as really bucking every trend and growing exponentially 

Jason: yeah, no, we have been and you know, we've, we've been very innovative.

We, you know, there's been a lot, we've used technology. We have database software and the internet email, all that stuff, but I will say that  the most important thing we did was very low tech, which is go to the workplace, talk to the workers, and that might sound pressing the flesh right desk.

So and our members are scattered everywhere across the state. Okay. Just say 

Phil: How in God's name. Do you do that? You're all 

Jason: over the place. Yeah, it was very hard because yeah. It's not like some industries where everybody's in one building. Everybody shows up at the same time at a time clock. Yeah.

So we've got people that are, you know, at the time we had 10 campuses five medical centers. Now we've got another 22 campuses at CSU, but so, but one campus could be. Like UCLA, it's spread all over this huge geographic area. And we'll have some places where there's, you know, 10, 20 workers in some places where there's one or two in a building.

And we, we didn't even know where they were we had we, and so we, and we got these lists from the employer, which were completely useless. Cause it's like, I'd say, I'd say, okay, Mary Sue is in room 200 and you go to room 200 and it's like a storage closet, you know, where you go to room 200 and it says department of chemistry.

And they're like, oh no, Mary Sue works, you know, across town and this other place. And so. We just uh, and then the other problem we had was they would try to throw our ass out everywhere we went. So I've been, I've been thrown out by every cop in the UC system and all of our people, 

Phil: oh my God. I didn't even think that it's bad.

It's bad enough having to deal with law enforcement and labor, but you've got campus police everywhere 

Jason: we do. But but the thing is there are, you know, there are union brothers and sisters. And so my conversation with them was always you know, Hey, we're just exercising our union rights, just like you are.

And by the way, we're sitting at the table trying to bargain a contract with the same jerks that are messing you around. So we're just trying to, you know, but that sounds 

Phil: great, but all these, all these young young guys are hot to trot, man. They're ready to, we did. 

Jason: I, I have to say that that, you know, 99 times out of a hundred, we, you know, we talk them off the ledge and they'd be like, and that, cause then the next thing you say is.

You probably haven't heard about HERA and our right to be here, and I'm sure you don't want to violate state labor law. And you know, so why don't you call your supervisor, talk to them like your lawyer, but yeah, I know I'm fake to pretty good. So yeah, no I'd say, well, you know, whoever called you, why don't you call them back and tell him the situation and see if we can work this out?

You know? So we, we managed to but you had to be very pushy and very persistent and we would go desk to desk, or you're a teamster, you're a teamster, or you, you know, and and we, and we signed up thousands of workers got them involved and turned the union around. 

Phil: Amazing. And so how did, how did you, so I was joking about the lawyer thing.

So how did you, you weren't always. You know, in the Teamsters as a labor leader, I mean, you were counsel for, I know that you helped, I was helping out with a picket line or was part of the local I was in, we had a guy get hit by a car and you were counseled to my local on that case. And then you came over, right?

So my background, how do you, how do you, so where do you come from? 

Jason: I mean, I come from a small village called the Bronx, the Bronx, and so, and I grew up in a union household there I'm third generation union. I actually recently found my grandfather's paperwork that showed from the ILG WVU, that he was an embroiderer in the ladies, garment workers, union in the Bronx.

And I guess he had some medical procedure in 1950 something, and I just recently dug up the, the, the, the piece of paper that said the union health plan. 

Phil: Oh, wow. Did was that like in the basement or was that online? 

Jason: That was no, that was in my cousins house, trunk somewhere. She gave me a bunch of stuff.

And so I was glad because I've been running around saying I'm a third generation union member and it turns out it's true. So, and I have paperwork to prove it. But then my mom was a city worker in New York. She was social worker helping the foster kids for the city of New York. And she was in in the union there and an activist and a steward.

And then she was elected to office in her union. So I kind of grew up in picket lines and the rallies and, and everything else. 

Phil: And clearly they cared about you because they didn't want you ending up in that business as a, as a labor leader, they tried to, they tried to steer you in a better path. 

Jason: Well, I, I wanted to I wanted to help the labor movement and I thought, okay, that's why I can do that as to.

Be a union lawyer. So I, I went to law school and I was for 16 years, I was a teamster lawyer representing all the different Teamster locals in the joint council and joint council seven. So yeah, but not just Teamsters. Right? Right. So we, it was mostly Teamsters. The firm is beast and Terren Bodine and it's historically as the teamster firm, but we had other clients, which is actually how, because Q which is the predecessor to local 2010 was most of my client.

And when they wanted to affiliate with the Teamsters, I helped them through that process as well, their lawyer. Oh God. But I tried to be like the organizing lawyer, actually, one of the. Compliments I got was from actually my, my sister BJ author, who was a union rep at a local 2010. She, but she was with the organization back before the merger.

And she, you know, she used to say, Jason, you're the organizing lawyer, because I always used to try to tell, you know, when I was, when you're the lawyer, you can only give advice and say, well, you could do this. You could do that. I would always try to give advice about how, you know, okay, this is a great case and we, you know, we could win this or we're going to lose it or whatever.

But the real win is when you get the members to take action, because that's where the power is, you know, not the power is not cause I'm you. Cause you got the smart lawyer that helps, but that's not the power. The power is the members stand together and take action on whatever you're doing. So, so I would always try to advise people, well, you can take this action or that, and you know, and so on.

So when I got, so I was doing that for 16 years. I did a lot of. Good cases for a lot of different teams, your locals know, including. I remember we had that guy, I think he was hit by a car on the picket line, but then the company said it was his fault. Cause he like jumped, he jumped out of the car or something.

Yeah. Yeah. 

Phil: As he said, she said, yeah, it was like, he was on a picket line and there was an aggressive supervisor trying to get into work. And yeah. You know, I say he was hit by a car. I mean, we're talking about like two miles an hour, but right, 

Jason: right. So it wasn't, we can, we can joke about it a little.

Cause he wasn't like terribly, he wasn't  but it was still a bad situation. But but I think he was a big guy too, that phrase. Yeah. Right. Exactly. But he wasn't bigger than the car. No, but, but but we but when, when. When they said that, that he attacked the car. That was when I found the footage of Chuck Norris was jumping through the 

Phil: windshield the first time, the first interaction I ever had with you.

And I didn't, I didn't know anything about you other than you were an attorney at  firm. And I get this email from you and you, and the email said secret footage or something. And there was, and the funny thing was, is this, this was before like social media and everything, but there was still like several different cameras.

And we were finding like new video all the time on it. You send this email new video footage with a link and I click the link and it's Chuck Norris killing some guys like jumping through a whole windshield. 

Jason: Yeah. Cause that was the first thing I thought when they told me, oh, the company says he attacked the car.

And then I remember when I was a kid and saw the car, I'm going to, I'm going to find 

Phil: that sound and edited in. It will be. 

Jason: Yes. Yeah. Cause it was at a bar. It was one of the great scenes in any movie. Cause, cause the cars trying to run over Chuck and run him over and he jumps up and kicks through the windshield at the guy.

 

So that stuck in my head. So when they said that this, that our brother had attacked the car, that was the first thing I thought of. So I said, well, I'll just find that on YouTube and send it to Phil and, and tell him this was new footage from a different angle. And yeah, Chuck Norris

Phil: it blew me away. I'm like, oh my God.

Who is this guy? I love him. 

Jason: This is smart ass, smart ass lawyer, but 

Phil: so in the Bronx, so high school in the Bronx elementary school, in the Bronx, all that stuff? No, I went to high 

Jason: school or did I say Brooklyn in the Bronx? In the Bronx? Just the same thing. I went to PS 81 for elementary school in New York.

He S one PS public school. Okay. So in New York city, we don't name schools because that would be too much trouble and there's too many of them, so they just don't have numbers. So I went to PSA. Yeah. Yeah. And then for high school I went to hunter high school, which is in Manhattan and it's a, one of these it's one of these schools you got to take a test to get in.

And the kids come from all over the city and interesting place, but our claim to fame. So, 

Phil: but I'm thinking, I'm thinking. I'm thinking like fireplug and playing in the street and stick ball. That's every New York stereotype. I mean, is that, that definitely played stickball really is what is Stikbots.

Yeah, exactly. 

Jason: Yeah. Stickball is, is baseball, but you don't need a field or you need, you need a broomstick and a tennis ball, one friend. Got it. Okay. So I had those things and, and a school yard and any school yard you went to, there would be a rectangle painted on the wall, which is your strikes. Oh, and you know, and so what you do is if you have two guys, you could play with more, but if you have two guys, one's the pitcher and one's the hitter.

And you know, there'll be a fence at the far end of the school yard. So in, so the guy you just agree. Okay, well, if I hit it, if it, if it goes past you, that's a single, if it gets to the wall, it's a double, if it hits the wall, it's on the fly, it's a triple. And if it goes over the wall, so home run, and we're going to remember where all the runners are.

Right. 

Phil: And we see the wiffle ball stick. 

Jason: Yeah. Same thing, but it's. Yeah. So we definitely paid stickball. 

Phil: So is it the Bronx or Brooklyn? The Bronx, 

Jason: yeah. Okay. The Bronx. Yeah. I guess I never got outside California. Well, listen, California is the place to live, but New York is, is nice to go back and visit.

But yeah, so I went to high school at this place, which our current claim to fame is Lin Manuel Miranda creator of Hamilton w graduated from there, before that it was young MC of Busta move to move. He was in my class. Great guy. And yeah. 

Phil: Was he young MC then or 

Jason: was Marvin Marvin at the time he was Marvin and DJ or dances.

He was just going to say it was the DJ. And then he know he did our dances school guy. And we also had, I think the year behind me was Miranda from sex in the city, Cynthia Nixon. She ran for mayor, right? She did. She ran for mayor. She's a, yeah, she's a powerhouse. And actually, I should say Elena Kagan Supreme court justice.

I know how I've rappers. The young MC 

Phil: has got more family 

Jason: to litigate. That's how it is. But anyways, so that's where I went for high school and I came to California for for law school in 93 and never looked back 

Phil: is California for law school. So where was that at? UC Davis. 

Jason: Oh, UC Davis, Scott King hall, king hall, named for Martin Luther king.

Phil: Well, so you had your family always been in New York or? Yeah. 

Jason: Yeah. 

Phil: What's interesting is, I didn't know is which shouldn't be a surprise because people tend to pop up that way, but you're, you're come from a family of social justice, right? I mean, your mom was in a union social worker. Yes. Um, That was that's how these things get passed down.

Jason: Yes, that was always that was imbued in us that, you know, we're we're going to serve working people. We're going to be for justice, for equality. I mean, but some 

Phil: people grow up getting taught how to screw working people, you know, how to make money for yourself. 

Jason: Earliest memories besides the picket lines were you know like when when Angela Davis was a freed, we went to the rally for that, or when the war ended, we went to the rally for that.

So you guys 

Phil: were in it. And I remember that. Yeah. Especially in New York where. Not, not in a large national event. Like that goes by on note. Oh yeah, 

Jason: no, it was, there was big movements in New York. And when I was in high school, we had the fight against apartheid in South Africa was important to me. I organized students to go, there were sit-ins at the south African consulate.

So right there in New York, right there in New York. So I was arrested with other student leaders protesting apartheid. I think I was 17 and there were other, there were civil rights leaders there , 

Phil: that's, what's amazing too, is because if you're in and nothing against, let's say somebody you know, in San Antonio or something, you know, I mean, when, when you're in New York, right in the south African consulate in New York, it's consequential.

I mean, that's home, that's their home base in the United States. 

Jason: Right. Well, at that time, there were daily sit-ins every day, 

Phil: meaning it really matters, you know, like if. Me and my friends in Cloverdale go schedule a sit in at the Sonoma county library. That's not going to have the same effect as, as basically the south African HQ in New York.

Jason: Right. Although I suppose if, you know, cause there's a lot of stuff happening in New York all the time. I suppose if you, if you were to have that city. Yeah. Maybe yeah. 

Phil: They would, man, that would, people would lose their minds. 

Jason: Yeah. should have 

Phil: tried it. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I w honestly, I, I, unlike you I cared more about like water skiing or, you know, camping than 

Jason: social justice was a lot of water skiing on the Eastern time that I know of.

Yeah. So now that was kinda what I grew up in. And then in college we had, cause 

Phil: you're not some guy that just decided to get a job. I mean, especially in labor law not the most lucrative law practices there are, right. No, that's 

Jason: true. That's true. 

Phil: So, you know, it's not something people seek out other than to help people, right?

Jason: Yeah. Right. Well, if you do labor law on management side. Yeah. But no, we have a lot of good committed union lawyers that are doing it because it's the right thing. Cause that's, 

Phil: and I don't want to get into a lot of the teamster politics right now, but that's a knock. Some people have knocked you for being it.

Yeah. Which is kind of ridiculous, 

Jason: but, well, I'll let, I'll let people make their own decision about that. I mean, you 

Phil: just didn't fall into the labor movement. I mean, you're you grew up in it. 

Jason: Right. 

Phil: But social justice. Cause we had a conversation last week and social justice for you didn't begin there really, because you were talking about how your family cause my family, I'm a first generation American on my father's side, but that your family had migrated over kind of fleeing persecution, right? 

Jason: Yeah. All my grandparents came to this country as immigrants when in the, like the around 1920s, 19 20 21.

And as they were all, you know, kids and they all came from Eastern Europe and like Russia, Ukraine, Poland, and blo Russia. So those were not good places to be Jewish at that time, because depending on who was in your, in your village, they would kill you for being Jewish.

Right. Other bad things. So Yeah. So they all came here lower east side in Manhattan and met here. And my grandma, my mother's mother came here like with, and she was a radical. Right. And so that's how you know, so, so the, the, the activism in my family kind of runs through the women, through my mom and her mom.

And yeah, so I definitely grew up in that in that environment where it's like, your, your duty is to make is to use your skills and talents, to make things better for people, for working people and to fight for justice. And that's kind of 

Phil: sounds corny. No, I, Hey. People forget things and people get complacent and no, it's, it's like, and what's funny is this.

When people immigrate, like when my family came over, it's a long story, but they came into San Francisco from Asia and uh, how there's a whole support community too, that like picks them up and, you know, cause, cause I was talking to my aunt about it is you had to have a job before they would let you in before, you know?

And so everybody kind of cares 

Jason: for everybody. Right. And actually I, in that, in that box where I found the my grandfather's union thing, I also found amazingly his father who I never knew his, my great-grandfather Schmorl's Merle, Merle Rabinowitz. Yeah. He changed it for show business, I think anyways.

Yeah. So, well, my hand was 

Phil: telling me to sometimes they just, when you immigrated to the United States, sometimes the guy checking people in would just change your name. 

Jason: I think that happened on both sides because the 

Phil: name changed. If you can believe. 

Jason: Was it longer than a 

Phil: bar Lazarus? Well, no, it was spelled with an I and they said, Nope, you're spelling it with a Y.

And that's just, okay. You know, you're like, I want it, I want in, so I want that. Right. 

Jason: I'm not going to argue with you. They change it ours from Vich Vach to wits. And I don't know why, but that's right. So, yeah, but  apparently had to fill out this form, which I found from 1920 saying that he cause they apparently, they sat in Turkey for two years waiting for entry into the U S.

And, and while they were there, Cheryl had to fill out this form saying that he had some cousin in the Bronx and the form had the cousin's name and address and that the, and that I can stay with my cousin. And this is the job I have, I'm going to work as a clerk. So yeah, it was pretty amazing to find that.

And then I also found my grandfather's citizenship papers from 100 years ago, 1921. He became a us citizen, I guess, as a young boy. And yeah, so I, God, this 

Phil: shit people had to go through. Yeah, yeah. I mean, you know, outside of here and then, and my family, actually, they weren't. Yeah. You know, America is, you know, this wonderful pillar of democracy.

They just wanted to go to a place that wasn't at war. Yeah. It was just 

Jason: that simple. Right, right, right. So people will probably, you know, spit on me and make fun of me or whatever, but they won't kill me for being Jewish. They'll just, you know, so but you know, it was for my family, it was you know, you talk about the land of opportunity.

My family was able to come here, get, you know, get work you know uh, be treated with a level of, 

Phil: and that, and that's the common immigrant story in particularly, even now in unions, is that unlike maybe other sectors of society that will take advantage of people, you know, people can come in and get a job, get a union job and earn a reasonable wage.

And not necessarily be taken advantage of, you 

Jason: know, that's one of the great things about unions is that they, that unions are a force for equality because when you've got a union contract you get paid what the contract says, you have the rights that the contract says, regardless of your race or ethnicity, religion, your man, or woman gay or straight, the contract gives you those rights.

And so you know what unions are and should be a force for justice, for equality, for all people, you know? And my grandfather's an example cause here, you know, he came in off the boat and then he got a job a union job, he had healthcare, he had, you know, decent pay. He was not rich by any means, but, 

Phil: And then his daughter's son goes to law school.

Yeah. Yeah. No, but I, yeah, meaning that. Lifts him out of, you know, really starting at the bottom. Right, right, right, 

Jason: right. Yeah. So my, so his kids by that 

Phil: same measure, I should have gone to law school, but that wasn't happening maybe the next year. It's God, I hope so intelligent, skips a generation in our family.

Jason: Well but it, you could see the progress in my family, each generation. Cause the cause my parents were the first ones to go to college. They went to city college in New York back when it was free for everybody 

Phil: to get back to some 

Jason: free college. Yeah. Yeah. And my, you know, my mom was able to become a social worker.

And then my mom you know, you know, your  

Phil: Your mom must have been active. 

Jason: She was, what would happen was she became a social worker and she got very active in her union and She was yeah, she was elected to union office.

She served, I think about 16 years as the vice president of her local, one of the biggest locals in New York city. And yeah, she was a great example for me of what it means to, to serve your union and, and yeah. To, to be an activist. 

Phil: And, and, and that means, I would imagine, and especially in New York city, there's always something happening.

So you're always getting dragged around to all these union functions, right. Every picket line or strike or fundraiser  or food bank or you name it, 

Jason: right? Yeah. Yep. No, that's, that's kinda how I grew up. And I suppose I could have rebelled against that and become like a, you know, like, you know, right-winger or something corporate corporate journey.

Right. I could have become a stock trader or, you know, I, I can't even in 

Phil: wall street, the movie wall street, right? Yeah. Even No, Charlie, Charlie sheen, Charlie sheen so long whose father in the movies, a union rep for the airline 

Jason: and in real life, Martin sheen is a great 

Phil: huge  union activist and where his son is active for other people, but different kind of he had.

But but even in that movie, And again, it's a movie and it's fiction, but even the sun at the, in the end, it's the, the, the activist, social justice, moral teachings of his father that kind of bring it back, you know, where he finds some sort of routine. 

Jason: Yeah. Yeah. Our parents have a big influence, I guess.

I kind of looked back and I'm like, well, that's had that happened. They didn't tell me to do any of this. I just kind of, you know, and then, you know, and then I hope my kids, and of course you want your kids to make their own decisions, but you want them to make good decisions. So you hope that they'll 

Phil: just make good decisions please.

Right? How many kids you got? 

Jason: I have three kids, two daughters that are 10 and 12. And then I have a toddler boy, three daughters, two, or I'm sorry, two daughters, two daughters, and a 

Phil: son, two daughters, two daughters, and a son, boy, daughter. I dodged 

Jason: that bullet. I I'll tell you. It's so wonderful. And but ask me tomorrow.

I might say something different because well, their parents are pre, well, I guess they're they're preteens right now. And being a pretty tuned in during the pandemic is pretty rough. I mean my, my 12 year old started middle school on zoom she's you know, so they, they overall did pretty good, but yeah, so she she's in you know, she's preteen and some days she wants her space and some days she wants to talk to dad.

And 

Phil: so, I didn't know, she knows so much, you might 11 year olds, like telling me how I'm wrong all the time. It's, you know, and you got to let them make their mistakes too. But jeez, sons and daughters, that's gotta be a different 

Jason: ball game. Well, having a little, you know, having a little toddler, boy, it's been it's, it's been a lot of fun.

He's a sweet kid. And yeah, so it's a busy life. 

Phil: So 2010, what's going on at 2010 now. So I'm trying to think 2010. So you're into your second or third contract down there now. AF post affiliate or? 

Jason: Well, what happened was

After we did our, after we had, I had kind of shored up our strength internally, we turned to external organizing and we organized 2300 skilled trades workers out of CSU.

So we have all the 22 campuses of, of California state university are now Teamsters 2010 and five now six because we just organized Davis. You see campuses of skilled trades are 2010. And we also started a campaign to organize the so-called administrative professional workers at UC, which is a universe of as, could be as much as 18,000 administrative workers who are kind of in the titles that are supposedly above.

Our current clerical administrative people are getting screwed the most because people getting screwed the most because what they do at UC they're really. A lot of games. One of them is I'm going to give you a you're so great. I'm going to give you this fancy title and salary, but a fancy title. Now you won't be in the union anymore, but look, we've got this huge range of salary.

And if you look at the range of, there'll be like 50,120,000, right. And look at the rent, you're like, yeah, I've got a fancy title in this great range. And then you get out there and then you realize I'm never moving up this range. And I don't have any rights I give you, let go, whenever I want, I have no representation and I'm not going to get a raise.

If they don't feel like giving me one, like, like last year we all got our raises. Cause we have a union contract that says raise up on the state raise rates are non union. Sisters and brothers got no raise because university cried poverty cause of the COVID epidemic. So So, but there has been many years in the past decade where 

Phil: it's not COVID, it's some other 

Jason: bullshit or crisis it's too cold, right?Marker

Yeah, exactly. But when you get a raise, it's not a real raise because it's what they call a merit pool, which means what is a merit pool, which means that if you have been kissing your supervisors, but enough you'll get 4%. But if not, and we don't like you, or you're raising issues, we'll give you 2%. Or if you really don't like it, don't put me in the merit pool, please.

No, this is not the pool you want to merit pool. So I'm going 

Phil: to hashtag that merit. 

Jason: Right? So so we've been organizing that group and we already. During the pandemic we brought in a thousand of them, they're called administrative officer twos. We're currently bargaining their pay and benefits. We also organized UC Davis in the last few months into the union skilled trades 300 skilled trades.

So we've actually organized in, just in the past a few years of over 4,000 workers, new workers into the union. And the other big thing we did was our contract campaigns. So now four years ago, we had our contract campaigns for the big statewide clerical unit. 

Phil: And this is true, like rank and file.

You know, flexing their muscle and getting out. 

Jason: Oh yeah. Well, the interesting thing about it is, remember I was saying that the members were not engaged in active. So what that meant was first we were signing them up to membership. Then we were like, okay, let's, let's get the members to do something because we have to get from nothing to be able to strike if necessary.

 

Phil: And 

Jason: that's a big way to go, right? So we started we'd started with, okay, will you sign this petition? Come out to this rally. And I have a picture in up in the office, which I love to look at from those early days where we called a rally at UC Irvine. And if you look at this picture, there's like a dozen people that came to the rally.

One of them, Catherine Cobb, who's now our president at the time, she was a worker at UC Irvine. My dear sister, everyone else is teamster staff. You got Ray wit Marie, you got Carlos, you got all that. Right? So, so our reach. Beginning was we could get one or two. The apathy 

Phil: has got to be it's getting over that apathy has gotta be rough, man.

Yeah. 

Jason: Well, it was a grind. It was okay. 

Phil: No free lunch, no fancy flyer. And all of a sudden everybody's excited, 

Jason: right? No, there's no magic wand and it's just a process of and then you get five people and then you get 10 people and then you get a win. So like whenever there was an issue, we would file a grievance, but we would also 

Phil: like, what, what would it be an issue that came up early?

Jason: Let's see. Well, there was one issue where there was and, 

Phil: and, and it's a loaded question, cause I know it's small things, but these small things are important to people, to 

Jason: workers. Yeah. So it could be the chairs, you know, it was I'll give you an example, which, and you tried to have fun with it right.

At UCLA. They at the holiday time they would shut down the campus and they would make people. Take their vacation. During the holidays on certain days, instead of just giving them the holidays, it's your pay days, it would make them take their vacation. Now, some people were like, cool, it's Christmas.

I'm going to take it off anyway, but there are other people who said, no, that's my time. I get to the side. I want to be 

Phil: off during Christmas, but I want to take my vacation in February 

Jason: vacation in February. That's when the kids are off or whatever. Right. So we said, so, so we said, this is our time. The university should not take away our, so we, so we got the Grinch, we got one of our folks dressed up as the Grinch and we got our, we called our members down and we got a couple dozen members.

We got hundreds to sign a petition, and then we marched into the. Chancellor's office and said you're the Grinch who stole our Christmas pay. And you know, and we, and we took pictures and we put it up and that was, this was early days of social media, but we put it on the internet and all this.

And we got them to change their position and we got them to say, okay, you don't have to take your vacation if you want, you can come in. And even just the options huge. Right? Exactly. But it was more, it was more the fact that when you, when you take action together and you get a win and then we go back and communicate it back to all the members, not, this is what your union one for you or whatever this, you know, cause we filed a grievance or got a lawyer or whatever.

This is what we won together, standing together and taking action as Teamsters. And, and when you, when you do, and, and, and then the members feel like, okay, this is, we feel in our bones that we are a 

Phil: union. So you're empowering your rank and 

files, 

Jason: which we're doing. We're empowering the rank and file because, because it's their act.

So the rank and file standing together, taking action together, that actually gets the wins. And every time we talk about the union, that's how we talk, you know, and every time there's an issue, it's okay. What action can we take? I'll give you another one that I like. Cause 

Phil: these things are important to people, you know, 

Jason: they're important to people and this is how we built our union from nothing.

Okay. So at UC Irvine in one particular department we had we had a bully boss and, and you'd be surprised how many bully bosses there are at the prestigious university, 

Phil: really? Because yeah, I would think most of the assholes would go private. No, 

Jason: because what did it, no, you've got these really kind of entitled.

Cause you know, the professors and the doctors who bring in all the money in grants they're God. Okay. And the working folks that actually make the place run. Yeah. It is 

Phil: kind of a aristocracy. Yeah. 

Jason: And is it aristocracy? And the workers are, you know, the way they treat workers ranges. Indifference to just mean, you know, abuse.

So, and we actually, our union has made that a top priority. We've gotten very strong language in our contract anti-bullying language. We've got we passed the first anti-bullying law as a union early on AB 2053, which requires train and training on abusive conduct. We were very proud of that.

So, but then when there's a bully boss, we don't like, just file a grievance. We get everybody together. So, 

Phil: oh my God. You know, I never thought about it. But whereas most companies, you know, your traditional company, like you can go from the mail room to the boardroom. Right. I mean, as, as far-fetched, as it may sound, but I never thought about it, but you see that's nearly impossible.

Right? It's just 

Jason: walled off. Well, you're not going to be a professor or a doctor unless you leave and go to the schools for that. But yeah, 

Phil: I'm seeing that there's an elite class and that for the majority of people that work under the systems. They might as well be on a different 

Jason: planet. Right. And so a lot of times their complaints are not taken seriously.

And when, so what we tell our members is, look, if you go in by yourself to the boss and say you know, we've got a problem, you know, you're, you're not treating us. Right. Boss will say, you're crazy. Okay. Right. But if we all go in together and say, we've got a problem, you know what the boss says, okay, we have a problem, right?

Yeah. Because everyone comes in, first of all, they can't say you're crazy. It's everybody. And second of all, the it's all the people that make the place run for him. Okay. So in this one situation and we've done this many times, but this was probably the first time we did it at UC Irvine. We had this we had this problem with bullying.

So we met with the members, you know, they told us about the situation and we said, okay, we're going to pick it up. And I'll come down to San Diego. We'll all get together and we're going to add a certain time. We're all going to take our break. That's right. Cause everybody's everywhere, everywhere. So that's why I'm everywhere.

I'm in the works. I'm in a different work site every day for the most part. So, so we said, okay, well we're all gonna get together. We're all gonna put on our teamster shirts and then we're all going to go walk together and March on the boss, we're not going to his door and say, oh, I hate that talk.

Boss hates. And I'll tell you that. Yeah. Oh 

Phil: yeah. So attention. I mean, especially these are, these are little Kings of their little kingdoms, right? 

Jason: Exactly. And that's how they feel until, until everyone stands out together. So we'd, so we did this, we all put on our shirts. We marched from the meeting room to the bosses office, knock on the door and you looked at us, you'd think, you know, look like deer in the headlights.

Anyways, we met and we met with them. We, we let the workers, the workers all talk to them. Explain what the problem is 

Phil: and that's it, it was the tricky part too. That's where good leadership helps because articulating the problem, you can have, everybody can March till the cows come home. But if you can't, if you don't know what you want to, to keep you from marching, like, like verbal, you know, articulating what it is you need.

So we don't have to March on you. That's a skill in itself. 

Jason: Right? Well, and they, you know, they needs to hear it from the members because the members are living it. And the members are the ones that are making that operation. So yeah, so we had it planned who was going to speak, the members spoke and and he said, okay, well, we're going to make, and they made the changes that we recommended based on, you know, based on that.

And then, you know, from forever after that, the workers in that workplace are going to be empowered and they're going to feel, you know, they're, they're going to know that they have power because we stand together as 

Phil: Teamsters. Yeah. That relationship has changed forever for the better exactly. Yeah.

Jason: Actions like this, literally hundreds of them around the state on whatever issue. And you know, over time, the size of our actions would get bigger. We, you know, went from one to five or 10 to, we could get 50 or a hundred out to a rally. And then by the time we got to our contract campaign, 

Phil: isn't all staff anymore.

Correct. I know. And it's funny that that's the work though, that takes it, it takes to get things started. 

Jason: That's that's the work of building the union. Because th that's what the 

Phil: union, I thought he just had some smart magic bullet, but you're just out 

Jason: working everybody. Right. We're out working in we're out talking about, you know, it's very, very simple.

The union is all of us standing together taking action because they can't run this place without us. And we just, you know, and that's how, that's how that's the starting point for everything that we do. And then when it gets to the contract, you know, we sat down a couple of years before our contract was up.

We we put together a research. What we found was that workers in our bargaining unit were not being paid enough to live in California. We did a study with the economic policy Institute showing that a very large percentage of workers that you see are underpaid compared to what it costs to live.

And we also built a movement of our members taking action and starting small and then building big and then culminating in strikes. And we did statewide strikes. We did. And then while we were in the middle of the contract, we organized skilled trades at UCLA and UC San Diego 

Phil: had flat out walkouts.

Jason: Oh yeah, no, we took a, we, we did we did a series of strikes. We did a 

Phil: is, you know, like where I come from, typically you're doing a renewal agreements and there's, you know, there's a lot of talk of striking, but it's, you know, it's hard and, you know, God forbid you have to get to that point, but once you're there, that's a whole nother dynamic you know, right.

Jason: Well, and you know, we tell our members, look, we're, we're not looking to strike just for the fun of it. And 

Phil: if in other words I'm saying it's a tool seldom used, but rather effective, right. 

Jason: You know well, but, but what I tell my members is that if the, if the employer knows going in to bargaining that we're not ready to take action, we're going to get what they give us.

Yeah. But if they need, you're not fucking around either, right? No. If they know going in that we're ready to do whatever it takes up to strike then, then they're going to take us seriously. And hopefully if th then we won't have to strike, so they must be taking you seriously. But that was part of the deal because the new kids, we were the new kids.

And so, you know, we had. 

Phil: Bloody nose or two to kind of get it to 

Jason: the chin. You hate to use that analogy, but it's kind of, you know, you in the new kid, in the school yard, right. In this case, they had to see, and we, we went into it hoping we wouldn't have to strike. Right. But it turns out that they were not being fair with us.

And so they're going to test you too when you're knew. Exactly. And, and, you know, I think, I, I think we had to prove it, not just to the employer, but to ourselves that we were able to do this because I think, I think that you know, we didn't know cause we hadn't done it now. We know that we can run an effective strike if, if we need to and we're going into bargaining now we're gearing up because that contract was a five-year deal.

It's up next 

Phil: year. So. Are they public employees? Who is it? Perp staff or is 

Jason: it, these are all public. Yeah. University of California is a public employer. And so is California state university. Those are our big employers and we since the, when we started, we were one bargaining unit, one contract. Now we picked up statewide contract of 1100 CSU skilled trades, 22 campuses, one, one bargaining unit, six campuses of skilled trades each with their own contract at UC.

So we have at between those two seven contracts right now, we have open and we're in bargaining at Davis because that's the new group Santa Barbara and Irvine, because those were the two contracts. The Santa Barbara and Irvine and actually CSU, we were in bargaining when COVID hit. Oh yeah.

And a lot of that. Yeah. So that was a rough deal because we were actually like at CSU, we had this big fight to reinstate the step increases, which had been taken away 20 years ago. We had legislation, we had a whole campaign around it. They were about to, we had given them our proposal. They were about to give us their proposal on steps and then COVID hit.Marker

And of course you couldn't bargain at that time because there was no money. It was a disaster. So we took an extension with reopener and all the unions at CSU, including us and extensions. Right. Well, we were the only ones that got a reopener you know, in hindsight it may turn out to be pretty clever because our reopener was based on if the budget improves, if the state budget improves the state 

Phil: budgets improved.

Right. So by the way, just, I don't know who, and maybe my perception is wrong. I just heard it was a couple of weeks ago that there's a huge budget surplus in the state, 

Jason: right? Yeah. So, so back when, when we were at the, you know, conceivably, 

Phil: you could have got locked 

Jason: into something. We could have got locked into something where we were in rough shape, but instead we were smart enough to bargain a reopener, or if the budget improves past where the COVID the pre.

The pre, the pre COVID budget that we would get a reopener on wages. So the new budget ought to trigger that. And so you know, 

Phil: they're just talking about just giving money back to people, 

Jason: right? Well, hopefully they give it to the workers who have been on the front lines. Our skilled trades members at CSU have been working for the most part in the workplace, straight through, straight through this whole thing, while they're supervisors.

I think I was telling you before we started talking, their supervisors were at home on zoom. They were in the workplace working throughout this whole thing. And and without a raise because of, because of COVID. So now it's time for the employer when now we're a wash. 

Phil: And, and that, that's another thing that kind of gets lost too, is, you know, hazard pay was, it is a, is a important subject.

And for a lot of people that were under contract You know, they were just compelled, there was no hazard pay, you know, just 

Jason: actually just go to work well, for us, we're very proud of the work we did during COVID our whole union, but local 2010, you know, not to pat ourselves on the back, but we jumped no pat yourself on the back, please, if you insist.

So, so no jumped in and we fought like hell through this whole thing. Cause when this COVID first hit, you know, these employers never miss a crisis as an opportunity to, to screw workers' rights. So they wanted to do layoffs. They wanted to cancel our contractual, raises all this stuff and we jumped in and we pushed back.

We basically kept everyone on payroll through the whole thing. A lot of people, we, we got thousands of our members have the right to work from home safely because they could do it, you know depending on the type of work we had a lot of big wins and one of them, cause you brought up hazard pay at CSU.

We, we were, we had a good provision and 

Phil: you take advantage of somebody. I could see. Well, 

Jason: no,  we, we didn't take advantage of anything. We fought for our members' rights based on some pretty good contract language that we had, which provided for emergency. Okay. Okay. But it was double time. Oh, okay. It's an emergency issue.

And so if anyone was working on site, we've got our members double time. If they were working on site during the pandemic, when everyone else was working, by the way they deserve that absolutely are, you know, members deserve everything that we can get them and more and more. And so yeah, if we have, so we were fortunate that language fortunate, we won in that language, that language was in there.

Right. Well, when the fires hit, we bargain that in there because they would shut down a campus. But then they call in our members to work. Of course it'll have the smoke and everything else. So we bargained emergency pain. It was double time. So when this COVID hit and they shut down, all the campuses, students are home.

Administrators are home, everybody's home, except our members get called into work. And so we said, that's emergency pay. And they said, no, it's not because of this technicality. And we said, yeah, it's we filed a grievance and we ended up getting it. So we got emergency pay. And what ended up happening in practice was then they sent people home when they could pay them straight time.

But when people came in you know, during the pandemic, they got paid double time and a lot of members got paid that. So then once they opened things up, the emergency pay went away. But we were able to also when extended paid family leave and a whole bunch of other stuff, are they 

doing 

Phil: anything with the vaccine as far as requirements?

Well, yes. 

Jason: You're vaccinate because we're within six feet of each other. 

Phil: Absolutely. I think I am all for, and this may, the reason I say this is, it might be unpopular, but I'm all for mandatory requirements for vaccination. I'm not saying you should fire people if they don't get vaccinated, but if you want to work, get vaccinated.

Yeah. 

Jason: Well, as a union, . You know, I know I may have my own opinions about it, but my job is to represent the members. Absolutely. And so what are they doing? Well, let me, let me tell you that. So it's, it's, it's a little bit of a it's a little bit of a story, 

Phil: cause I'm probably gonna yank.

Jason: You don't want to get hate mail, right? That's a good idea. I say, leave it in. Be tough. Okay. So you know, we've got we've got members that have all different opinions about this, right? And before there was a COVID vaccine last fall university, California made the seasonal flu vaccine mandatory for the first time ever.

And bef you know, in previous years it was only mandatory at their hospitals and you could get a personal exemption and wear a mask if you didn't want to get vaccinated. So without bargaining with them, I didn't even think 

Phil: that you, of course you see is, you know, there's a, there's a whole medical industry in California that is.

Part 

Jason: of the UC system. We have five UC hospitals about a third of our members. Right. You see, 

Phil: I was thinking, I was thinking colleges and I forgot. I forgot just how much you see how 

Jason: much anyway. So our members kept those hospitals running throughout this pandemic. Okay. Sorry. I never even thought of that.

Yeah. So but what they did was they made seasonal, flu, mandatory, or the vaccine mandatory for everybody. And we sat and bargained the effects and they, you know, we, we won some things in terms of paid time off to get the vaccine and, and a medical exemption and a religious exemption, but we wanted a personal exemption so that our members that didn't want to get the vaccine would not, we could wear a mask instead.

And our position was you know, that workers should have the right to control their medical decisions, not the employer. And a lot of our members feel very, very strongly about this. 

Phil: That have an opinion 

Jason: on it. I have a strong one. Right. And then of course we have other members that's why are we taking this up?

Everyone should get vaccinated science, science, you know? So so we did we fought for everybody and we we won a bunch of stuff, but we didn't win the personal exemption. So we actually filed a lawsuit. And it was kind of funny that our lawsuit was filed in the same court that where their lawsuit filed by Robert Kennedy's anti-vaxxer group was filed.

And, you know, the judge, the judge, basically throughout our argument that said that it was unconstitutional to force people to get vaccines. So, you know, and that decision was. Yeah. So, yeah, so we, the decision was pretty clear. We want a bunch of stuff for our members. We didn't get that personal exemption.

Okay. So fast forward to now there's a COVID vaccine and they, the UC and the CSU actually got together and put out a joint statement. We're making COVID vaccine mandatory for anyone that comes on campus, staff, students, faculty, anybody. So S and no exemptions, except for, but they, they put all the protections.

We had bargained in the last thing they put in there. So we're bargaining the effects, but we have been going to our members and saying, this is what the rule is gonna 

Phil: be. Well, you're, you're kind of already over a barrel by that precedent. Right. And we 

Jason: said, look, we fought the good fight. We got the result.

We got, we got some things and other stuff we didn't get. But now look, there's also a difference between COVID and seasonal flu, right. COVID is the thing that killed. More than half them. I don't know how many at this point, the Americans and shut down our country and destroyed our economy. Right. So it's between six and 700,000.

Yeah. A lot of people. So you know, so it's a little bit different and you know, so we have encouraged our members to get it recognizing everyone's got the right to their opinion. And we've said, you know, 150 million people who got this vaccine, it's. It seems to be very, very safe, very effective. You protect your health, your coworkers, your family.

And also many of our members have been volunteering to help administer the vaccination too. Are you, by the way, you're vaccinating, right? Oh no, no, no, no. I'm fine. 

Phil: Breeds on you for the last hour. I always introduce myself to people. I'm Pfizer. 

Jason: Yeah, no, I got it. I got it right over here at the Coliseum.

Yeah. Oh, okay. So anyways, I so, so w w we've we've encouraged our members to get it, but we've also said, look, if you're objecting to it, we'll work with you to help you. Get the exemption, recognizing that it makes, 

Phil: again another example of better to be union than not union, because if you're not union, you got no recourse, you know?

Exactly. So not that I'm promoting an anti-vaccine, but again, at least as, as an M. So the example is as a worker, you've got, now you've got, you know, some leverage and you're, you've got some recourse. Whereas if you weren't union, you got to do what they say. 

Jason: Exactly. I mean, there's never been a more important time to be in a union than right now.

And that's why we're organizing all over the place. Because even though you can't, you know, you couldn't for a year go and see workers to organize, and we had to do it on zoom and everything else, but this crisis has laid bare. The difference between working union and working non essential workers. Yeah.

I mean, at the union places, people have protections. They've you know, we fought for safety measures. We fought for extra pay. We fought for a stop layoffs. Look at the non-union workers. Look at the Amazon, the people working at Amazon. W or dropping dead 

Phil: fulfillment centers, they have a number each one of how many people died during COVID.

Yeah. 

Jason: And, and th and they couldn't care less. They they'll sweep your side and get another one. The robot will push you out of the way. And hopefully, yeah. As soon as they could trigger out how to get a robot to do it, they'll do that. So, so workers more than ever want a union. Cause, cause COVID shows how important it is.

Right. So yeah. Which is why we need to take this moment to organize like never before, which 

Phil: is, you know, like Joe Biden, how, what what, I mean, he's exceeded all my expectations. Yeah. Joe, Biden's been great. And he's the most pro pro pro pro union president will ever see. 

Jason: Well, it's a great opportunity.

We still have to pass the ProAct. We'll have to pass the infrastructure and without 

Phil: voting rights, too, none of it's going to matter 

Jason: and right. But right, exactly. But passing the passing the exactly the ProAct is is labor law reform because labor law in our country is completely broken. Which is why you've got only 7% of the private sector workforce organized when a majority of people want a union and the whole country got an education in how broken our labor laws are when the Amazon thing happened, right.

Because of the, where labor laws are set up. You've got supposedly a free and fair election, right? Whether to go union, but one candidate in the election, which is the employer. Okay, well, you're 

Phil: spotting basically labor law, as I understand it, to dumb it down to my level is basically. Employers have a two touchdown advantage at the 

Jason: start of the game right now because they have, they have unlimited access to the voters and they've got, and they can sit you down one-on-one or in groups and yell at you and scream at you and threaten you and lie to you and break you down.

And then the union. Doesn't get equal time. This 

Phil: clockwork orange division of 

Jason: like mandatory, mandatory employer, the scene where they make him watch the movie holds his eyelids open. The pin is that's pretty much what the employer can do. They can force you to listen to, and watch their message, their union busting message for hours and hours and hours.

And they do. Yeah. And these are the people that control your livelihood and that. So you know, so it's the whole thing is totally coercive. Totally unfair. And then the union doesn't get equal time. So what kind of election is that? Right? That's not a real election. I mean, could you imagine, like, if there was an election for Congress and one candidate could sit all the voters down for a month and talk to them and threaten them and drop the stuff mandatory, ever talk to them mandatory, mandatory.

So that's not a democratic election. So the ProAct would the ProAct would create a lot of protections, like equal time for unions. If the employer. Does a captive meeting, then the union gets equal time. If the employer threatens workers, then there are actual real penalties. Cause the way it works now is if you violate labor law, then you know, you ha you you get a slap on the wrist, you get a post notice, you have to put up a notice that said we violated labor law.

Or if you fire a union activist for being a union, which is going to happen, which happens in many, many cases, step 

Phil: one of a union election is you fire one guy and they may end up getting him back to work and paying him every penny plus. Right. But 

Jason: the work, but the employers are very happy to spend that much, but that happens 

Phil: after the fact after the 

Jason: election's over.

Yeah. The, the employers do a very simple calculation. Okay. It's going to cost this much for us to have a union because the economists have studied the question and they've realized that paying workers more costs more than paying. No, wait a minute. 

Phil: We're we're told in a, in a, in a supply-side economics society, that if we give the money to the people that have it, we get more money.

Jason: No, if you get so, so here's the thing is that when everybody's, when everybody's union, I mean, if you look at this, if you look at the numbers, when we had the strongest year, In the fifties and sixties working people had the larger, a larger share of income. We had more quality across the board. We had a middle-class that was that was sound.

Now, even at the height of that, the rich people were still rich. Okay. Right. So it's just, it's not a question of, they're going to be broke. It's a question of, for working people will be paid fairly rich people just have to be a little bit less, right. Well, what the hell is wrong with that? I know what it does to these guys really need to have this many buildings going 

Phil: up in a fucking rocket 

Jason: phase.

 Let them stay in space. 

Phil: okay. So yeah,  in his rocket, you know, his wife who got half, I think she's straight, got half or close to it. Hell, I take a quarter. Billions, but billions, she gave it all away. Married a school teacher in Seattle. Yeah. 

Jason: Remarried. Well, you know the thing is that there's no, by the way, Bezos 

Phil: isn't a Musk.

Musk is a Dick. , but Bezos and these guys, I 

Jason: mean, there's so there's no re so here's the thing. Why should we have.

An economy where a handful of people have more wealth than they will ever need in a million years. And regular working people don't have enough to live. There's no, it doesn't have to be that way. Right. And, and that's the fundament and families get 

Phil: wiped out with one, one occurrence, one bad illness and a family and they get wiped 

Jason: out.

Yeah.  so, but it doesn't have to be that way in the richest country, in the world. And then the thing about it is that Th th we've been talking about this crisis of wealth and pay inequality for, for so long. The unions are the only ones that have the answer to it because unions are the unions are the, the kind of market-based solution to the problem.

You just give workers a seat at the table. You give them power, just like the employers have power and you can have a real, actual fair bargaining over what is the fair pay for our. And closer would it, would it, and that changes everything, right? Because because then, then workers get, you know, get paid.

What they're worth. My 

Phil: dad, who was a labor guy, used to save unions, didn't exist in a capitalist society. They'd have to invent it just to keep the balance. Well, they did. They did. Of course. 

Jason: Yes. No. And, but, but it's true before the reunions we, we had people working 12, 14, 16 hour days with no protections, no pay.

You had kids working in the mines and the fields. It meant if you were an industrial worker or a truck driver or a mine worker or an office worker at mental life of poverty. When unions came in, even the playing fields, just a little bit, we had a middle class in this country where working. We're a working class job meant you could support your family, send your kids to college, have food on the table and a retirement with dignity after your, your lifetime.

Right? So that's, that's what unions have given to this country. So now with unions being weaker, we see that we're going back to the battle days. 

Phil: Well, the irony is too is then you end up with these huge social problems, right? Government's got to, got to come in and solve these problems at a different level.

In other words, like if you don't provide healthcare, if people aren't provided healthcare, they're Walmart jobs, right. Then somebody's got to step in and provide insurance for these people. So now you've, now you've ended up having to create a government program. Insurance that Walmart is not paying 

Jason: its employees.

Corporate welfare is what it is cause. Right. Cause all these, you know, Walmart and Amazon or these employees, the, the government is paying their healthcare, but also paying, you know, food stamps and other kinds of programs because these are, these employers are not paying a living wage. Right. So, and it's a government subsidy.

Well then the taxpayer's paying for that. Right. And, and that's why, and the wall. 

Phil: The money that the taxpayers have to pay the Walton family in the case of Walmart. Yeah. It's almost like giving them the tax money. Well, that's 

Jason: that's right. So it's, it's a reverse Robin hood situation. That's what we have is reverse Robin hood right now. We have, we have, you know, Robin hood took from the rich and gave to the poor. What we do right now is we take from the poor and we give to the rich it's crazy. Right. So so I, I had a really brilliant point that I was just going to, I fucked it up.

You did,  but I'll, I'll forgive you because we were running well. Right. But the other, the other problem that we have is when you have this, this great inequality in wealth, You have more recessions? The economy is suffers because, because when working people get paid fairly, they put the money back in to the system by buying stuff.

Okay. And so you have fewer recessions, you have a better you have a better economy for everybody. So, so really 

Phil: well, like I've always said, if you give rich people money, they know what to do with it. Well, you give, you give my neighbor money and he goes and buys a new truck, you know? Right.

Exactly. The money gets straight back into the economy.

Jason: , the workers are buying stuff they need. And that's good for the economy. Yeah. 

Phil: It creates economic. But the point is, is giving, you know, the supply side argument, this wealthy argument you give rich people.

It does not create the economic activity that it does to give the middle-class. That's right. It's just bottom line economic 

Jason: activity. Yeah. And so that's what, you know, that's part of why we've had some of the economic problems that we've had. And you know, and things just keep getting worse during the COVID epi epidemic.

You have guys like Bezos and Musk and Amazon and so on. They are getting richer and richer and richer, but working people have really suffered through this pandemic, especially non-union workers. Who've been lost their jobs by the millions. And you know, there were huge bailouts for the corporations workers got know.

$600 check or whatever. Right. But so this things just keep getting worse and worse without unions being strong. So I think you have just about an hour ago that the pro the pro pro act, the whole point of the pro the act is to give workers the right to form a union and the right to bargain a contract.

And if you do that, basically, It will change everything in our country because working people will you will see working people's standards rise. You'll see this, this disgusting gap in wealth between the rich and the poor close up. And you'll see a much more fair and just country than what we have now.

And by the way, I think that you'll also see us stabilizing in, in our politics because so much of our politics is crazy. Now is driven by. You know, grievance, people's grievances being pointed in the wrong direction. Economic insecurity, right? Yeah. So you've got, you've got people that are working.

People are suffering and every, and every Democrat behind they're sinking, you've got misleader is who go to the white workers and say, okay, the reason. You're suffering is because of those immigrants or it's because of those black people that want something okay. Just pitting, defining person against another, instead of it's those billionaires that are taking everything from everybody.

And if we all unite because our union movement is black brown and white and unity, solidarity means unity of everybody. Right. And so if we all were to unite, then we would have a lot more power. Right. And that's the, 

Phil: that's the, the boogeyman. And I think everybody falls a little bit on the right and the left, you know, politically on certain issues.

But you know, the bogeyman is, is that everybody wants to tear everything down and turn it into a communist state. You know what I mean? It's what they're selling in the Midwest and it's nonsense. 

Jason: Unions. We want 

Phil: market-based. We want healthy, vibrant companies that, that take care of their 

Jason: employees, right?

And the Teamsters, the Teamsters have always said, we want our employers to be successful because then if the employers are successful, then you have a job. If there's have jobs and then they'll have to have money to pay fair wages. So we're not a union that says tear it all down. Unions are a market-based solution to wealth inequality in the context of.

Capitalist system. You've got employers who are there, these corporations they're built to make money and the way they want to make money is exploit workers. They want to pay you the lowest that they can pay you. 

Phil: Okay. Corporations are like these mindless soulless robots whose missions are to make money, not to, not to protect the environment or anything else.

Jason: So that's why we need laws that say exactly to regulate. Burned down the environment. Okay. While you're making money while you're making money, kill the workers with unsafe, right? So that's why we need laws, but also that's why we need unions because the unions job, the employer's job is to make as much money as they can.

And they're also, they make a product or service that someone wants to buy. And that's useful our job in the UK. Is to make sure that while we're making all that happen. Cause it's our work that makes all that happen, that we're treated fairly paid fairly. And that's our job. That's our role because the employer's never going to do it.

Right. The 

Phil: employers and that's, that's the unions. So you're getting down to the fundamental, which I think a lot of people forget. And that's the union's role in a capitalist society. There's there, there are, there's no unions in Communist society. 

Jason: Well, right. And so our, so our, our role and we're 

Phil: keen to keep capitalists honest.

Jason: Yeah. Because without unions in a capitalist society, you're going to have a terrible problem. They'll just wholesale 

Phil: take advantage of people. 

Jason: Well, and that's what we saw in our history before there were unions, when. Workers had no rights and, and you know, were, it was, it was brutal to have to work a job in industry or in the mines or the fields or what have you.

So  unions are fundamental to our system and to our democracy, in my opinion and unions also fight for For equality, they create, create equality for all people because w when our, our job is to unite the working class and to win a fair share of the wealth we create, and the working class that we represent is.

Black brown and white that's men and women, it scans straight. It's all it's all different demographics. So the, and the only way we win is to unite everybody. And we want 

Phil: to see everybody get more, whether you're black, brown, gay, straight. Exactly. 

Jason: And, and, and the only way we can do that is to fight against discrimination.

That's why I'm so proud that like our union stepped up and said we are, we oppose racism, you know, From the founding and in 1903 in our constitution through the civil rights movement. And now with with the black lives matter movement our union has said we're against racism, we're for justice for all people.

And that's fundamental to our mission. And I'm, I'm proud of how our union has stepped up. And of course we're not perfect, man. 

Phil: It's it's it's it hurts that we're in 2021 and we're still arguing about. I mean, racisms, I would certainly at an all time high in my lifetime.

Jason: Yeah. Well, and that's, you know, we have some very powerful folks that have really tried to stoke stoke, stoke that and the, the stuff on social media, it's 

Phil: just, I mean, without getting too deep in politics, The whole Maga movement, you know, America first is born in racism,

it's just a, it's a racist movement. And even the people that are in there that don't think they're racist. The race you're following the racist, 

Jason: you know? Right. And then the anti-immigrant thing, which is, you know, an and unions again, the working class is, is native born.

And going 

Phil: back to swirl though, you know what I mean? 

Jason: We're, we're slammed the door of children, of him. Yeah. And and native Americans. And so our, our union has to represent. Because if we don't then the boss wins. Yeah. That's as simple as that. 

Phil: Okay. Well, on that note, it's been awesome, man. Yeah.

You want to do it again sometime, or? Yeah, I think he could talk, he can talk me 

Jason: under the date of birth. I've heard that. 

Phil: Well, thanks, Jason. Thank you. All right. Take it easy.

Thank you so much for listening to this episode. If you want to help the podcast out and believe me, we need the help.  If you could review us on iTunes or Google podcasts, but. Specifically iTunes. 

Or visit the website for the show at www. Dot unionist podcast.com. Again, Thank you so much for listening and we'll catch up with you next time

Jason Rabinowitz Profile Photo

Jason Rabinowitz

Jason Rabinowitz is the principal officer of Teamsters Local 2010, and Public Services Director for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with decades of experience and activism in protecting the rights of workers.

Since coming to the Local in 2013, Jason has led the charge in transforming the Union into a powerhouse for workers’ rights in California, taking us from 29 percent membership to more than 80 percent for the first time in the Local’s history. Under his leadership, we have created an effective Union Steward program, conducted powerful contract campaigns, some of which have included successful strikes, won strong contracts with guaranteed raises for our membership, and organized thousands of new members into the Teamsters. Teamsters Local 2010 represents nearly 14,000 clerical and skilled trades employees at the University of California and California State University.