Collage of Local 853 members

Time for change at Local 853

By Dennis Hart —

When I began my career as a UPS driver in San Francisco back in 1974, I never would have imagined that 48 years later, I would be leading one of the largest and most successful Teamster locals in the nation. But that’s exactly the turn my career took. Now, after serving as President or Secretary-Treasurer for the last five years, I will be leaving this position and starting a new chapter in my life. Even though we have just endured a hard-fought election, I trust that Local 853 will be in good hands.

Leaving the Teamsters is not an easy move. Being involved in the union has truly been a labor of love. For me, it has always been about what’s best for our members.

Over the years, I’ve served as a shop steward at UPS, an Executive Board member, and a Business Agent, first at Local 278, then at Local 296, which merged into Local 78, which eventually became part of Local 853.

I represented UPS members for 12 years, including during the historic 1997 UPS strike. I then moved into representing workers in the Brewery and Soft Drink industries, both as a Business Agent and as an International Representative for 22 years, negotiating hundreds of contracts that truly changed industry standards locally and nationally

I currently serve as a Trustee on three different Health & Welfare Trusts. By being on these Trusts, I have been able to provide high-quality, affordable health and welfare benefits to members and their families. I have also served as a Trustee on the Executive Board of Joint Council 7 for several years.

Our union is composed of members who are loyal and dedicated to one another. We rely on our strength as a team to overcome any obstacle. We have a strong history and we are determined to continue moving forward.

As Principal Officer of Local 853, my goal has always been to provide the best possible representation for our members and to improve lives through negotiating and helping our Business Agents negotiate strong, impactful contracts.

The change in leadership that resulted from our recent election is an opportunity for a new generation to take the reins at the Local. As I leave, I want to recognize the hard work and dedication of several other officers who will also retire at year’s end.  I honor and thank Lou Valletta, Stu Helfer, Dan Harrington, and Bob Galves for their combined 170+ years of service to the Teamsters. You can see their bios on pages 6 and 7 of this paper.

No matter who you voted for last month, the election is over. The time is now to move on and support the Local’s new leadership. I support the new group and I hope all of our members will do the same.

Labor is facing a myriad of challenges, from an under-funded Labor Board to economic challenges to ongoing legislative fights. On the positive side, there has been a huge outpouring of support for labor, particularly among young people.

As Local 853 moves into the future, we must work together to take advantage of every organizing opportunity that arises or that we can generate.

As the old saying goes, “In Union there is Strength.” I wish Local 853’s new leadership and members a strong future.

I leave by saying thank you to every Teamster, retired and active, for everything that you have done for me and my family. It has been my honor to work with you and to serve you.

Author: Local 853

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