From coast to coast, DHL Teamsters feel the same way: Hoffa did the company’s bidding and didn’t even bother to consult the affected Teamsters. Much anger is focused on the union allowing DHL to leave the freight grievance panels for more pro-company panels, but a second issue also demands an answer: why did the union fail to exercise the option to reopen the contract?
The contract reopener was put in the contract for good reason. It would have given us leverage, right now, on critical issues like organizing all the DHL contractors. And it would have given members the right to vote on changes, including changes in the grievance procedure. Is that why the Hoffa administration allowed the reopener deadline to pass without taking action?
Some officials, including Chuck Mack in California, have tried to convince members that DHL management wanted the contract open. If that were true, why didn’t they reopen it? Either party had the right to reopen. Why would the company want to allow any possibility at all of a work stoppage at this time? The leverage belonged to the union, and the leadership instead collapsed.
Meanwhile, Local 249 continues to struggle to collect the grievance procedure award of over $200,000 for members who lost work due to subcontracting at the Pittsburgh airport. They have the right to strike over the issue, even though the International Union has refused to sanction one. (Joint Council 40 did grant sanction.) Reportedly they are considering legal action as well as a possible work stoppage.
The International Union, in the person of International rep Brad Slawson, tried to undercut the local union and cut a backroom deal with DHL, but DHL lost the issue a second time at the joint area committee and is legally bound to pay the affected Teamsters. Why does the Hoffa administration continue to do the company’s dirty work on this issue?