Local 82 Teamsters in Boston overwhelmingly voted to approve a series of bylaws amendments to give members a stronger voice in the local. More than 140 members turned out to the local union meeting on March 26 and voted by huge margins in favor of the reforms—an impressive turnout given that the local only has 650 members.
The bylaws changes establish sweeping new rights for Local 82 members, including:
· The right to elect shop stewards.
· The right to elect rank-and-file representatives to contract negotiating committees.
· The right to an informed vote on contracts, including the chance to review all proposed contract changes in writing before any vote.
·The right to fair local union elections that are conducted by mail ballot and supervised by an impartial outside agency.
· The right to a membership vote to approve proposed officers’ salaries.
·The right to veto who the local executive board names as trustee to the union’s benefit funds.
“We want to put more decisions in the hands of the members,” said Joe Wright, a commercial mover who helped introduce the bylaws reforms. “When people feel like they’re just being dictated to, they stop coming to union meetings. We want members to feel like their voice counts so they get involved and our union gets stronger.”
The overwhelming Yes vote was a slap in the face to Hoffa Trade Show Director and Local 82 Secretary-Treasurer John Perry, who strongly opposed the changes.
It was a bad week for Perry and a good week for the rank and file. Earlier in the week, Perry’s slate failed to carry the vote in the local’s convention delegate election, managing only a split with the Teamsters for Change Slate. Perry won the delegate slot. But the alternate delegate position was won by shop steward and TDU member Kevin McNiff.
In the 2001 International election, Perry delivered 95 percent of the Local 82 vote to Hoffa. But the tide has clearly turned. Close to 100 members of the local have joined TDU in the last year and they are working together to elect Tom Leedham and to reform their local.
The bylaws changes will now be submitted to General President Hoffa for approval.