By Victor Torres

As we proceed through Summer, unfortunately we have been hit again with rather unpleasant circumstances.

A person who many of us have known for many years was taken away from us. June 24, 2020, marks the day that we lost our dear Brother, Gerald “Jerry” Gallenberger.

Jerry began his Teamster membership with his employment as a Groundsman at the San Diego Zoo in August 1968. He later moved to the C&M Department for several years until making his final move to the Ornithology Department as a Bird/Senior Keeper for the rest of his career.

Jerry is best known for being the main Keeper for Zoo icon King Tut, the cherished salmon-crested cockatoo, for 20 years. It became part of everyone’s routine to observe Jerry bringing King Tut out to his perch every morning and taking him back to his resting quarters every afternoon. This ritual provided comfort and stability for countless Zoo visitors/coworkers for decades.

At Local 481, Jerry is also known for his involvement with our Union. Whether the activity was gathering ideas on how to resolve a particular workplace issue or joining us for our Union social activities, you could always count on Jerry to be there.

Jerry played a part in some of Local 481’s earliest years representing the workers at the San Diego Zoo and expanding the Union’s presence in representing workers not only in the animal care areas, but all of the additional work groups that exist today. As proud as Jerry was to have participated, Local 481 was equally fortunate for Jerry’s willingness to contribute to the cause.

For anyone who worked at the Zoo during his tenure, Jerry had a unique way of making your day a better day. His pleasant demeanor was only surpassed by his genuine interest in how your day was going. He brought an old-fashioned family feel to the workplace that does not commonly exist in today’s fast paced work world. He also brought a great sense of humor with him. Witty, but never at anyone’s expense.

It is with the heaviest of hearts that we send our sincere condolences to Jerry’s entire family, including his friends and his coworkers. Thank you for sharing him with us. Please know that he will be forever missed, but never forgotten.

On behalf of the Officers, Staff and membership of Teamsters Local 481, our sincere condolences.

To our Brother Jerry Gallenberger, rest in peace.

Local 481 stands united with our International Union and our local Labor Council and all of our Sisters and Brothers in organized labor in condemning the racial profiling and resulting public murder in Minneapolis of George Floyd based solely on the color of his skin.

Labor organizations such as Local 481 incorporate non-discrimination directives in all our internal and international policies. This has been the case for at least the last half of the 20th Century through the current time. This is something we should all be proud of because this sets us apart from virtually every other component of our society whether it be Corporate America, political systems or financial/lending/real estate industries which continue to systemically institutionalize discriminatory practices.

Despite these past accomplishments, we cannot let our pride get in the way of what needs to be done. Resting on our laurels is not an option. It has obviously fallen short when incidents such as the murder of George Floyd and dozens of similar incidents involving women, men, and children of color continue to occur. It is unacceptable and we will not stand for these discriminatory practices to go unchecked.

Local 481 will be an active participant with our International and our Labor Council to listen and learn from our Sisters and Brothers who have suffered through these painful life experiences and to support historic change and enhanced protections from out of control tyranny that has gone on in the shadows of our communities, but has nonetheless gone on for hundreds of years.

We will utilize what we have used in our labor world to eliminate race/skin-color/gender based and all other forms of discrimination and work within our labor family and our corresponding place in our human community to make our world a better place to live our lives with dignity and respect for all.

Accordingly, we will always hold ourselves to the highest ethical and moral standards of non-discrimination throughout our labor organizations across the globe. In doing so, we strive to influence all other segments of our society to do the same.