February 26, 2010: Teamsters at the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Los Angeles are demanding a basic union principle: the right to vote for their chief steward.
They shouldn’t have to be petitioning for it, because this right is guaranteed in the Local 896 bylaws under Section 12.
But Rene Medrano and other Local 896 officials ignored the bylaws, removed the elected chief steward for the bottling and packaging department, then appointed another member and canceled a scheduled election.
“All we are asking for is the right to vote, and we expect to get it,” said Teamster Ray Szymanski. “It’s not a matter of whom you support. It’s a matter of doing what’s right.”
Brother Mag Zavala ran for Secretary-Treasurer in November 2009 and lost to the incumbent, Medrano. Since then there has been on-going retaliation. Zavala ran in January 2010 for chief steward and was duly elected by a majority of members in the bottling department, yet was not allowed to take office until the election was re-run.
The re-run was based on a frivolous charge of not posting a notice in a timely manner, which in fact was done within 48 hours of notification from the local. However, Local 896 leadership then denied Brother Zavala the right to run in the re-run election and, in fact, appointed another member who had lost the election.
This is not the first time the Local 896 officials denied members the right to elect stewards. Previously a steward was removed in the lab in the brewery, and at Coca Cola in L.A. and in Downey. These arbitrary steward removals are politically motivated.
The majority of bottling members have petitioned their executive board, and if they don’t get their bylaws enforced, they plan to pursue the issue through charges. Members are demanding their right to elect their stewards. The officials have been elected to lead, not to dictate.