In 2010, Joint Councils 7 and 38 merged in California, uniting over 100,000 Teamsters in 23 local unions. Joint Council 7’s territory is vast, covering 50 of California’s 58 counties and all of Northern Nevada.

Despite this, in 2010 Joint Council 7’s endorsement list was only two pages long. It made endorsements in most of the federal and statewide races, but at the local level – city councils, county boards of supervisors, school boards, and ballot measures – it mostly stayed out.

Why was that a problem? Simply put, if the Teamsters want to deliver the strongest contracts for its members and organize new workers into the union, it needs political support to do it. At the end of the day, it’s about having the power to get employers to say “yes” when they want to say “no.” On top of that, every day elected officials make decisions that impact our neighborhoods, our schools, and more. City and county governments have responsibility for affordable housing, maintaining our streets, setting local taxes, and more. If the Teamsters don’t get involved in electing people at the local level, it has no right to complain when they make decisions the union doesn’t like.

Finally, most politicians in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. got their start at the local level. The Teamsters work hard to build those relationships from the beginning and stick with people that stick with us over the years. Loyalty is important.

Since 2010, Joint Council 7 has made a big push to get more involved in politics at the local level, interviewing and endorsing candidates and taking positions on local ballot measures. It’s done this on its own and with Central Labor Councils and Building Trades Councils.