Richard Turner Fights the Pandemic to Build Union Power


When Richard David Turner decided to get involved in his union, he signed up and drove 35 miles through the mountains between Capitola and the office in San Jose to attend weekend steward trainings. No stranger to working in difficult situations, he was elected to represent DLC 741 just days before the Covid-19 pandemic hit following the retirement of the previous DLC president. In the year since, he’s been fighting for DMV employees through his work with the DMV Heavy Enforcement Action Team (H.E.A.T.) to push back against management looking to take advantage of the crisis.

H.E.A.T., which emerged thanks to the successes of the DMV Reclass Committee, focuses on contract enforcement and member engagement to build power in the workplace. “We’re putting Local 1000’s purpose statement into action in as many situations as possible,” Richard said. “Doing so ensures members see and benefit from their power to enforce our contract and to help ease and eliminate stress at home and at work.”

During the Covid-19 pandemic, handling the risks of transmission and workplace safety meant managing the transition to virtual meetings. Today, as the end of the pandemic seems near, the lessons learned will help supplement work in the future. Richard and the DLC 741 Eboard have decided that alongside post-Covid in-person gatherings, video conferencing will continue. “That will help to grow the number of members we can contact throughout the DLC without requiring travel just to meet once a month to discuss issues they may face at work or at home,” Turner added. “It will also increase our communication levels and the overall number of members who can attend by providing them with more than one option.”

By pinpointing accessibility and engagement, DMV H.E.A.T. is supporting the same goals stated within our mission. “Plus, having conversations with new and existing members helps us to learn what’s needed BEFORE they ask,” Richard continued.

Even with the end of the pandemic in sight, Richard and the team continue working to mitigate the effects on the DMV Field Offices while simultaneously dealing with the responses from various management factions. “Frankly, too much of what has come from management hasn’t helped the staff or the public,” Richard said. “During the past year, we focused on ensuring our members weren’t negatively impacted by the DMV’s ongoing preparations surrounding the RealID processes and the Federal compliance requirements.” This transition, which began under President George W. Bush’s Patriot Act, was also one of the driving forces behind the DMV’s push to win the original reclass.

And so it goes. Richard’s involvement with DMV has seen the work evolve, while the job of organizing has changed alongside it. But amidst scenes that at times resemble constrained chaos, his work with Local 1000 remains constant and consistent: building resilient and ongoing membership power.