Friday, February 6, 2015

Teamsters, BMW put past behind them, relocate successfully to new warehouse

Bob Lennox with BMW Teamsters
We told you recently how BMW opened a brand-new warehouse near the old one where Teamsters Local 495 fought to save 70 members’ jobs a couple of years ago -- and won.

But there's more to the story than that! The Teamsters and BMW put their animosity behind them and completed the daunting task of moving to the new parts distribution center.

Without any interruption of service, Local 495 Teamsters moved the facility from Ontario, Calif., to the new 326,000 square foot building in Redlands, Calif.

Moving the warehouse, with 63,000 parts – ranging from a simple screw to a complex engine – required careful planning, long hours and hard work.  Seventy skilled Teamsters worked 10 hours a day, six days a week, for five months.

They provided uninterrupted service to 90 BMW dealers by stocking both the Ontario and Redlands facilities.  The entire operation was shifted by December 1, and then the former facility was emptied.  The new distribution center is supplying parts to dealerships in Southern California, Southern Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii.

Secretary-Treasurer Bob Lennox, at the formal ribbon-cutting ceremony in mid-January this year, said, 
This is world-class service for a world-class company. 
His sentiments were echoed by Scott Schlomer, the National Parts Distribution Center Manager, who called it, 
...a great partnership.  We couldn’t have succeeded in moving from Ontario without their help and cooperation of Local 495 members.
The mutual management-union praise was another step that erases past traces of a dispute several years ago.  Then, management had announced that the plant and all Teamster jobs would be outsourced to a non-union third party.

Lennox responded with an aggressive effort that included public demonstrations and handbilling at BMW Auto Dealerships throughout the western states.  After a presentation by Lennox and BMW shop Steward Albert Bautista at the 2011 IBT Unity Conference, Teamster delegates expanded the campaign, spreading it to dealerships in major cities throughout the U.S.

An informational campaign targeted potential car buyers, asking them to reconsider their purchase until BMW reconsidered its anti-worker tactics.  With the support of the IBT, the effort that began in Southern California counties quickly spread to San Diego, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Phoenix, Denver and Chicago.

Teamsters unity and power was on full display as the IBT Strategic Campaign Department coordinated U.S. campaign operations and raised the bar as the IBT Global Strategies Team joined the battle.   Enlisting international support, port workers in 20 countries and carried out demonstrations in a powerful display of global solidarity.  Unite the Union in the U.K. also directly intervened on behalf of Local 495’s 70 members. 

With mounting pressure in the US and throughout Europe, BMW agreed to settle the dispute.

Said Lennox, 
We have come a long ways since 2011. Today our members and management work closely together to provide outstanding support to our BMW dealers and their customers.
Top officials with BMW of North America, Redlands mayor, Teamster officials and BMW dealers were on hand for the formal opening of the new facility in Redlands.

The move was a shining example of union and management cooperation.  Shop Steward Albert Bautista and Rosendo Cardenas reported that the members are providing quality work and were proud of their achievement.  They reported that the Teamsters, to accomplish the move, had loaded, transferred and unloaded 11 trailers a day – 300 in all.  

Great work, brothers and sisters!