Ask the Teamster Troublemaker

teamstertrouble-400.jpgEmployers are quick to label any Teamster who sticks up for the contract or questions management’s authority as a “troublemaker.”


Ask the Teamster Troublemaker is an advice column dedicated to spreading the information that “troublemakers” need to enforce members’ rights and build a stronger Teamsters Union.

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How Do I Get More Support for My Grievances?

If I’m a steward, do I have the right to demand that another steward sign my grievance? Does that come under “duty of fair representation?”

Many times, I’ve asked other stewards to sign off on big grievances with me, because I think the union would be more effective if we worked together to attack difficult managers and problems at the workplace. It’s also good to have a witness at the meeting. I’m usually faced with a “do-it-yourself” attitude. Yes, I’m a steward, but I’m already in danger of retaliation from a manager that seems eager to fire me. I’m constantly wondering what will happen if I stick my neck out any further with grievances.

- Lots of grief but no support

Can I Solicit Grievances?

I’m a new steward at UPS. I’ve been encouraging members to file grievances against excessive overtime and supervisors working. My supervisor told me that I need to watch my step because I am not allowed to “solicit grievances.” Am I doing something wrong?

- Troublemaker in Training

Will the Red Zone Ruin My Retirement?

This October, I am eligible for a 30 and out pension at age 54. But with the new pension law on the books I don’t know what to do. I’ve heard that if my fund goes into the Red Zone next year, they can cut my benefits after I’m already retired. I can’t afford to retire on less than my full benefit. Do I have to keep working to hedge my bets or what?

- 29 and Almost Out

Can a Steward Be Fired for Yelling at the Boss?

Last week, I went to my boss’s office to ask him about an information request for a grievance I’m working on. He didn’t have the information, and I got angry and raised my voice with him. His door was open and some co-workers saw it. Right in front of them he told me that he would have me fired if I ever yell at him again. Can he get away with that?

-Stewing in Ohio

Bedding Down at the Red Rash Inn

I am a road driver. Some of the places we bed down are ridiculous. I wouldn’t make my dog lay in them. What rights do I have besides grieve and wait? When we find our own rooms, we get threatened with disciplinary actions. Under Article 49 in the contract, it says the company has to pay $40. Why can’t we get some relief?

- Ornery at the Road Rash Inn, Local 200, USF Holland, Milwaukee

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