As we continue through the summer season, unfortunately we have once again been hit with unpleasant circumstances.

We were recently informed that former Local 481 steward and negotiating committee member Robert (Bob) Hawken has passed away.

Robert Gray Russell Hawken joined our Teamsters 481 family in 2000 as a C&M Worker at the Wild Animal Park. During his 14-year tenure, Brother Hawken was assigned to ground zero as part of a complete makeover taking place at the WAP, now known as Safari Park.

Within the first year that Bob was hired, the Paul Harter Veterinary Medical Center was constructed and opened. This state of the art facility was eight years in the making and took information, research, methods and designs from 15 outside facilities so that when the Medical Center opened it would incorporate the best that could possibly be achieved and ensure the animal patients would receive the highest quality care from their first arrival until they were released to go back to the Park.

To successfully open and operate such a facility (followed a few years later with the construction and completion of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Conservation Research) not only required the best in the animal care and research fields, it also required skilled tradespersons who could provide input for the initial construction and the ongoing maintenance so that it would remain a top-notch facility for generations to come.

Bob Hawken was exactly the right person to be part of this pioneering effort. The knowledge and skill he brought from his previous work experience and his people skills to effectively communicate problems and concerns before they became unsurmountable obstacles are a few key examples of Bob’s trademark attributes.

Brother Hawken applied all the above to his stewardship role as well. In addition to participating in our internal educational programs, he assisted our operation in identifying fellow Park members to step up and become candidates for steward positions who he was more than happy to take under his wing and show them firsthand how to manage any kind of representational issue that may come up.

To this day, the current Park stewards commonly recall how Bob would handle a particular situation and model their actions on Bob’s solid advice.

Bob’s natural combination of life/work experience along with an ardent desire to find common ground, served countless members well and set the example of effective stewardship which continues on a daily basis at the Park.

His input during grievance meetings and contract negotiations was valuable to all parties. When Bob spoke, everyone listened because of the respect that he had established and the manner which he utilized to get his points across. Bob was always well prepared and never reacted impulsively. When he appropriately presented his point of view, you knew it was something you could count on to be accurate and with merit.

While we were not really looking forward to Bob’s retirement as he counted down his 14+ years at the Park, as he promised, he would occasionally join us at a meeting or an event and always make himself available to the successor stewards at the Park for advisement even during his well-deserved retirement.

It is with the heaviest of hearts that we send our sincere condolences to the Hawken family and their many dear friends and coworkers. Thank you for sharing Brother Hawken with us. Please know that he will be forever missed, but never forgotten.

Rest in peace Brother Bob Hawken.

On the political front, David Alvarez has been seated to serve the remaining months of Lorena Gonzalez’s 80th State Assembly District term. Under Lorena Gonzalez’s tenure, the 80th Assembly District has been front and center for pursuing the enhancement of working family rights throughout the State of California and has served as a model that other States have adopted. We will be monitoring how David Alvarez performs in his new role in the 80th District. Details regarding the results and the impact of legislation from the 80th on working families are forthcoming in future issues of this publication.