Friday, August 24, 2012

Interview: Tony Garcia, Local 2729 President

Local 2729 Strike, SierraPine LTD-Ampine Particleboard, Sutter Creek-Martell, CA
Friday, August 24, 2012

Carol/ACN: Give me a little run down of what is happening here, a timeline of events that brought you to this point here.

Tony Garcia: Contracts were expiring this year. We met with them [SierraPine LTD] starting April, and within those four months, there were a series of eight meetings. They want a lot.

Carol/ACN: They presented a contract to you.

Tony Garcia: Yes, they presented a proposal a number of times; it had been changed only a small amount. Unfortunately, every time it changed, it was a little bit worse. The last time was August 14 & 15; we met with them, they requested a mediator there also. She was apologetic at best. Basically, she was like, “There’s just no room to negotiate; we’re not getting anything done here.”

Carol/ACN: So the frustrations for the last few months…your frustrations?

Tony Garcia: Frustrations have been at a high level. A lot of these guys are working 12 hour shifts…especially these last couple of months it’s been super hot, and it’s hard to be under the stress of this contract deal.

Carol/ACN: Now, you guys walked out…?

Tony Garcia: We walked out yesterday at three.

Carol/ACN: What prompted that?

Tony Garcia: At the last meetings, they gave us their last and best final offer.

Carol/ACN: But nothing was resolved.

Tony Garcia: They told us when we left that they plan on implementing the contract on the 27th.

Carol/ACN: Even though it’s unsigned?


Carol/ACN: Did they give you an explanation for their logic?

Tony Garcia: For the whole contract? They said times are tough and repeatedly told us that they’ve given back and given back, and we’ve enjoyed a lot of good benefits over the years and that it was our turn to give back this time.

Carol/ACN: So come Monday, what is the general feeling of what the Union will be doing?

Tony Garcia: We took our vote last week, on Wednesday. It was a no vote, 52 to 6, unanimous vote. Our representatives talked with the company lawyer yesterday, and they didn’t have any room to negotiate.

Carol/ACN: And that’s when you walked out.

Tony Garcia: Yes.

Carol/ACN: So what’s the future? What are the next steps?

Tony Garcia: We’re hoping they’re going to come back and negotiate with us.

Carol/ACN: Any word?

Tony Garcia: No. No word from anyone in there. The supervisors are the ones in there, I believe. They pass us in the morning.

Carol/ACN: What are your feelings as to how this might impact Amador County?

Tony Garcia: There’s a big impact. Most of the guys here are from Amador and Calaveras County. You know, I mean it’s going to hurt them and their families. Me for one; I’ve got six kids at home. But there are things you have to stop. You have to draw the line at some point.

Carol/ACN: A lot of trucks come in and out of here, fuel up at the diesel place. If they shut this place down, that’s bound to impact a lot of people, vendors, builders…that’s not just job-wise, but  business-wise as well.

Tony Garcia: Sure. It would be a huge impact. Everybody knows that. This place has been here for a long time. That’s a part of the problem. I mean, you look at these guys who have been here 40 years, and they built this contract for 40 years if not longer, and those guys are behind the younger guys. We’ve endured some pretty harsh layoffs here lately as a lot of people have. Our seniority line runs in the 8-10 year range, so we don’t have a whole lot of new guys here, but everybody’s together in this saying, look, we’ve built this over a long period of time. We can’t give this stuff back.

Carol/ACN: There is some high tech, state of the art equipment in there, built especially to do what it is you guys do. Most (if not all) of you are the only ones who really know how to run that equipment. So do you think they’d be forced to shut down, because of the lack of being able to find workers to run those machines?

Tony Garcia: They told us in the first couple of meetings—when they knew it was getting ugly right away—they said we won’t try to run it, we’ll just shut it down. But the last time they didn’t say that, and we can hear things running right now, so something’s running.

Carol/ACN: So decisions are going to have to be made above the supervisors there in order for you to really know what to do. And come Monday…well, it’s pretty much the waiting game for you all right now, right?

Tony Garcia: Correct. I mean, that’s the idea. We need to have some serious negotiations behind this. The guys have to know there’s a plan in place, and unfortunately, we’re out here for the long haul, if need be.

Carol/ACN: From what I understand, you were pretty agreeable. I mean, you were willing to make some sacrifices, right?

I haven’t talked to anyone here in our local who said they weren’t willing to give up to some things.

Carol/ACN: But they didn’t listen to those?

Tony Garcia: Well, we gave them a proposal to start with, and twice we asked if they had looked at it, and they had never, to our knowledge, looked at it.  The two times we tried to discuss our proposal, they didn’t discuss it. So it was all about their proposal. They said that these are things we have to do to survive, period. So we’ve been pushed up against a wall for a long time.

Carol/ACN: Anything else you’d like the community to know about?

Tony Garcia: Support is welcome. These guys are out here, we’re going be out here, 24 hours a day. They were out here last night.

Carol/ACN: Thanks for your time, Tony.

Tony Garcia: Thanks for coming out!


Sites of interest:

Sierra Pine Composite Solutions

Carpenters Industrial Council


Mary Lou Molina said...

I'm proud of you Carol....Unionization grew in the 20th Century for all the right what was once called the "capitalist class" is doing everything they can to break them. Without unions ordinary people were crushed into poverty. I stand with Mr. Garcia and I wish him well, and I thank you Carol for giving voice to this ongoing condition.

Anonymous said...

I'd be willing to bet that most of those guys, as well as the Raley's union employees also under the gun are in fact Republicans. It's Republicans that are the real threat to unions everywhere, as they've proven over and over, all over the country. When will they (union employees) ever learn?

Terry Goffinet said...

You can find out about supporting the workers here: