February 27, 2007: In January Eastern Freight Director Dan Virtue was removed from his position by Teamster President Hoffa. Virtue immediately filed a protest with the Election Supervisor, charging retaliation because he ran as an independent candidate for Eastern Vice President.
Ironically, Virtue’s last work for the Freight Division was to help prevent Yellow from misusing a Premium Service Change of Operations.
The Hoffa administration is apparently claiming that they just want to save money by not paying his $45,000 IBT salary. We’re all for saving union funds, but this administration pays hundreds of multiple salaries and pensions, holds meetings at expensive resorts, and has let International reps run up astronomical restaurant bills.
Virtue made a point at the IBT Convention last June of stating that he was not affiliated with Teamsters for a Democratic Union. It seems that offers no protection from the Hoffa’s administration’s narrow-minded need to have only loyal followers on the union staff.
Does that policy help build a stronger Teamsters Union, or a cadre of flunkies?
We Need a Strong NMFA in 2008
Our NMFA is up March 31, 2008, and we need Mr. Hoffa and the International Negotiations Committee to stop treating freight Teamsters like second class union members. We are paid far short of the UPS drivers, yet we do the same work as they do, plus the additional responsibility of hauling hazmats. We also have to work forced overtime and our companies manipulate workers into doing the work of three or more employees for the salary of one.
After our last contract was approved, our union said we “negotiated the best and most lucrative contract in the history of the Teamsters.” I say, “That needs to be seen.” The fact is, in the past ten years, our hourly rate went up only $3.80.
Yellow Transportation has made record profits and owns multiple trucking companies (Roadway, New Penn, Holland, Reddaway, Meridian IQ , Reimer Express). Our union needs to make our unionized companies bring more than 25, 35, and 50 cent raises to the bargaining table.
Local 641, Yellow
Our brothers and sisters in the machinists union at Harley Davidson are in a battle that could relate to us in the future. Remember how we voted in the present freight contract with Hoffa’s word that there would be no significant changes in the health and welfare?
Almost immediately deductibles increased and our health insurance coverage decreased. Retirement plans also took the hit, even in fully funded plans like the Western Conference. It ended up leaving us with the worst health and retirement benefits I’ve had in my 22-plus years as a Teamster.
One of the main issues at Harley Davidson is that employees are picking up more expenses for their health insurance. At least they saw it coming before it hit them and were able to make a choice! Another big issue is having a two-tiered wage system.
Unfortunately, this is something most of us gave up years ago to insure “job security.”
I know there are a lot of Teamsters out there who ride Harley Davidsons, not just because they’re the best motorcycle made, but because they’re made by Americans with union wages. Please support our Harley machinists because if they are able to hold onto their benefits, it may give us a bit of leverage to restore the ones we lost—or at least keep what we have.
Local 413, Yellow
Don’t Neglect Retirees
The other day I was asked by an active Teamster if I thought that the companies, insinuating UPS seeing how their contract is coming to the bargaining table more than a year early, need to pay more toward the health and welfare of the union members. My reaction was probably not what my friend was expecting.
I informed him that I worked at UPS for over 30 years and I do not know of one time that they did not live up to what they had agreed to do for me when it came to my union negotiated benefits. On the other hand, the Central States Health and Welfare Trustees did not, as we retirees would not be paying 1,000% more for less coverage than we had before we retired. By less coverage I mean losing your dental and visual as well as any dependents, not to mention losing (ALL) your benefits at age 65.
I am quite sure if our union leadership had to abide by the same rules that we are forced to live under things would be much different. But when you can draw multiple pensions and have the life long family insurance coverage as well as no reemployment restrictions, why would you give a damn! Bottom line, if our money is misused by our leadership for their personal gain then what good would it do for the employers, when it’s quite evident the money does not benefit their employees.
Oh! And just for the sake of getting it off my chest, I think every Feb. 1 we should be out in front of our locals picketing the unfair treatment of Teamster retirees!
Once a Proud Teamster,
Local 89, retiree
As U.S. Allied Teamsters may soon be voting on drastic concessions, Allied Teamsters in Ontario and Quebec are standing united, with pensions and wages being key issues.
The next bargaining round is set for early March, but with the report that PTS is buying Allied-Canada, a question mark hangs over the negotiations.
Allied employs about 700 Teamsters in Eastern Canada, more than the other companies—PTS, Cassens, and Gen Auto—combined. PTS has already settled with the Teamsters, for a cheap raise of just one cent per running mile for each of the three years in the contract.
In January the Allied stewards walked out on their union leaders from Toronto Local 938 over the issue of winning the right to elect their pension trustees for the Eastern Canadian car carriers’ pension plan. The stewards on the bargaining committee want that guaranteed in the contract, to protect their pension from a takeover.
The wage issue has not yet come to the table. With Yucaipa’s deep pockets now in the picture, Allied Teamsters are not going to be in the mood to give anything away.
One Allied driver told us “Time is on our side now. We’re not going to settle short, especially with the stewards united.”
Teamsters in the U.S. and Canada are in important struggles to maintain our contracts—it’s time for solidarity of all Teamsters at Allied-PTS. United against concessions on both sides of the border, we all win.
February 27, 2007: Bargaining is underway at UPS Freight, formerly Overnite. Nothing less than the future of Teamster Power in trucking is on the line.
Rank-and-file Teamsters are launching a campaign to build support for our union’s efforts to win a strong national contract at UPS Freight—and to make sure that the Hoffa administration does not mortgage our future by settling short.
Under the slogan Get It Straight at UPS Freight, Teamsters are unifying behind the three absolute must-haves in any Teamster contract with UPS Freight:
- A national contract, covering all UPS Freight workers.
- A contract that matches or exceeds the National Master Freight Agreement, with no concessions.
- The inclusion of all UPS Freight workers in our Teamster Pension Plans, not a UPS corporate plan or 401(k).
Settling short on any of these three points will put Teamster jobs, benefits and union standards at risk—both at UPS and in the freight industry.
Eight months ago, Hoffa announced that a “historic card-check agreement will soon bring 12,000 UPS Freight employees under IBT contract.” The IBT now says there are more than 15,000 potential Teamsters at UPS Freight. But for now, our union leadership is bargaining at just one terminal in Indianapolis, which employs 125 UPS Freight workers.
Hoffa has promised that the contract will be extended to all UPS Freight terminals across North America. That’s a promise he needs to keep.
Early bargaining at UPS gives our union the leverage to achieve this goal. Shippers and stockholders are pressuring the company to settle the 2008 contract this year.
We need to put the bargaining power of 200,000 plus Teamsters at UPS behind the 125 Teamsters at UPS Freight and win a master contract covering all UPS Freight Teamsters nationwide.
There should be no early settlement at UPS that doesn’t include a national contract at UPS Freight.
Master Freight Standards in All Respects
UPS is the largest and most profitable transportation corporation in the world and it does not need concessions. If the Teamsters make givebacks to the top dog, we know they will spread.
Yellow Roadway’s CEO has made clear any concessions given to UPS Freight will “set precedent” for the NMFA negotiations. UPS could also take advantage of givebacks at UPS Freight to shift tractor trailer work currently done by UPS feeder drivers into lower-cost freight operations.
It’s common sense that we can’t undermine the UPS or freight agreements by allowing these concessions.
On the positive side, if we win a strong contract at UPS Freight, that will protect Teamster standards, expand our holding in trucking by 15,000 Teamsters and position us to organize other nonunion trucking competitors.
Strengthen Teamster Benefits
This is perhaps the most critical of all issues: the UPS Freight contract must put all employees into our Teamster pension plans.
This will extend quality union pensions to our brothers and sisters at UPS Freight. And, it will strengthen our plans by adding 15,000-plus new participants from a growing carrier into the Western Conference Plan, Central States, New England, the Chicago plans, and all the Eastern Region plans.
Top Teamster officials have already hinted they may not bargain UPS Freight into the Central States Pension Plan. This would totally undermine the fight to restore our benefits.
Teamster Action Needed
If Hoffa is serious about reversing pension cuts and strengthening our benefits for the future, he has to draw a line in the sand at UPS Freight. If not here, where?
UPS Freight is our union’s opportunity to win our biggest victory since the 1997 UPS strike—and we can’t afford to fail. Achieving these three priority goals will protect the UPS and freight contracts, strengthen our pensions, and position us to organize the nonunion competition.
Failure would put our jobs and benefits at risk and undermine future organizing.
President Hoffa needs to make it clear he will settle for nothing short of a national contract that meets or exceeds UPS and NMFA standards and brings UPS Freight employees into Teamster pension plans across the country.
If and when he does, Teamster members need to get behind him to win at UPS Freight.
For now, the campaign to Get It Straight at UPS Freight is the best way to inform and unite Teamsters to achieve this critical victory.
February 27, 2007: James Hoffa’s reelection campaign was the subject of a hearing before Election Appeals Master Kenneth Conboy on Feb. 21, after failing to pay $110,000 to consultants hired by the campaign last fall. They claim they are broke, though millionaires on their slate contributed as little as $5, $60, and even zero.
The Hoffa Slate twisted the arms of International reps, IBT organizers and staff, and local union officials to collectively kick in over $3 million—often in chunks of $2,000, the maximum allowed under the rules. But most slate members contributed little themselves. Now they want permission to write off the campaign debt.
Barbara Harvey, attorney for Teamsters for a Democratic Union, has argued before the Election Supervisor and Appeals Master that it is illegal for Hoffa to accept contributions from employers and non-Teamster consultants like Richard Leebove and that the Hoffa campaign must pay its debt.
Leebove was banned from the 1998 IBT campaign for an illegal $167,000 employer contribution, and suspended from the 2001 campaign for hinting to IBT vendors they better donate to Hoffa to keep the business flowing.
Millionaires Can’t Afford a Dime?
Hoffa’s attorney, David Hoffa (son of James Hoffa), claims they just cannot afford to pay up, they are all tapped out. However, a review of the campaign documents shows that many of the millionaires on Hoffa’s slate hardly contributed a thing to their campaign, while demanding thousands from their staff!
John Coli, who bagged $362,000 from members’ dues in 2005, contributed $0 to the campaign. So did Carroll Haynes, another millionaire. Fred Gegare (total compensation $262,000) was able to muster just $5 for the campaign. John Murphy topped that with a total of $20, and Tom Keegel donated a grand total of $60.
Some slate members, like Jim Santangelo ($283,000 total compensation in 2005) reached $1,020 in contributions. James Hoffa contributed just $3,500, and 20(!) members of his slate contributed less than that. The maximum allowed from candidates was $10,000, and all these folks can afford that without denting their accounts.
So, millionaires who contributed $5 want to take employer contributions for their campaign, after extorting $2,000 donations from local officials across the country. Is that do-what-I-say-and-not-what-I-do or what?
All these figures come from official Campaign Contribution and Expense Reports, signed under penalty of perjury, by the candidates themselves.
The complete list of the 29 Hoffa slate candidates and their total donations to their campaign is available online at www.tdu.org or contact Teamsters for a Democratic Union for a copy.
February 27, 2007: When President Hoffa announced a card-check and neutrality agreement for UPS Freight at the Teamster Convention last June, I stood to applaud with all my brothers and sisters. I was running on the reform ticket with Tom Leedham, but when it comes to organizing, we’re all united.
That was eight months ago. We’ve received reports that bargaining continues for one terminal in Indianapolis, and that the union will not settle without an agreement that we can take national, to cover all UPS Freight.
I represent freight Teamsters at Yellow, Roadway, and ABF. Our members know it is critical to expand our bargaining power, especially at UPS Freight. UPS has the deep pockets to chart the course for other employers.
Freight bargaining will start by the end of this year. UPS Freight Teamsters need a contract that lives up to NMFA standards so we can go into bargaining strong and united.
That will put wind in our sails and give our members confidence that we can win a good contract and build our union in the trucking industry.
Scott Webber is the Recording Secretary of Local 728 in Atlanta.
Yellow has abandoned its Change of Operations plan to expand its Premium Service in the East, South and Midwest, after the change was approved by the change of operations panel on Jan. 17. Apparently it was because the IBT Freight Division insisted on rules that would require it to run new Premium Service freight, not just converting existing three-day freight to two-day freight.
The panel’s decision, at the insistence of the Teamster Freight Division, specifically ruled out conversion of existing freight to Premium Service. It also stated that management could not fill out PSE trailers with other freight.
The union also put into the record terms from the agreement on ABF’s operation, which would mean that if a regular road run was dropped when a PSE load moved from that terminal on the same day, the driver would have to be paid.
Faced with these reasonable terms, which merely aim to enforce the contract, management dropped the operation, at least for now. Premium Service was written into the contract to allow carriers to go for new business, not to rearrange existing business and break down our classifications of work.
February 27, 2007: UPS's record profits guarantee that our next contract will be the richest in Teamstser History. But we learned last time that money doesn't make the "Best Contract Ever." This time, we can't be fooled by the dollar signs.
UPS reported more good economic news last month. The money is there to pay to restore our benefits and address the many quality of worklife problems at Big Brown.
UPS reported a profit of $1.13 billion in the fourth quarter of 2006. The results were 7.5 percent better than 2005’s fourth quarter. Overall, UPS took in a record $47.55 billion in revenue and $4.2 billion in after-tax profits last year.
Brown’s profits are up by more than 70 percent under the “Best Contract (for UPS) Ever.”
“The best news about UPS is they have money,” General President Hoffa told representatives from every UPS local at a meeting of the two-person committee in October. Hoffa said that the 2002 contract was worth almost $10 billion and bragged, “We’re going to set a record this time.”
Unlike most Hoffa promises, that’s one that you can take to the bank. Given the company’s record profits, our next UPS contract is guaranteed to be the richest in Teamster history.
The question is will UPS put enough of its record profits on the table to end the cuts in Teamsters’ pensions and retiree healthcare—and improve our benefits for the future? And will we win the stronger contract language (and tougher enforcement) we need to resolve chronic problems like excessive overtime, supervisors working, more full-time jobs, and fairness for combo workers and part-timers?
That’s how we’ve got to measure any contract put before us for a vote.
If a contract offer falls short of these goals, why would we settle early? We’re going to have to live with our next contract for years to come.
If that takes bargaining through 2008 to win lasting solutions, that’s what we should do.
House Committee Says Yes to Employee Free Choice Act
The House Education and Labor Committee voted by a 26-19 margin on Feb. 15 to send the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800) to the full House for a vote in the coming months.
The Employee Free Choice Act would give workers greater freedom to join a union by:
- Establishing stronger penalties for violations of employee rights when workers seek to form a union and during first-contract negotiations,
- Providing mediation and arbitration for first-contract disputes, and
- Allowing employees to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation.
The committee voted 26-19 in favor of advancing the legislation (H.R. 800). The toughest obstacles are ahead. The day before the committee vote, Vice President Dick Cheney appeared at a National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) meeting to promise a veto from President Bush.
The NAM event was held to kick off the group’s lobbying effort against the bill. Our congressional representatives need to hear from us.
Employers Attack Family Medical Leave
Employers have been pushing for changes to water down the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for a long time. Now the Department of Labor is giving them a chance. The DOL just closed a commentary period where they officially sought suggestions for how to change the FMLA.
Employer groups flooded the DOL with comments to push for changes that would gut our FMLA rights by:
- making it harder for workers to qualify for a “serious health condition;”
- requiring employees to produce a doctor’s excuse every time they use intermittent leave;
- watering down protections that restrict employers from contacting our doctors;
- making it easier to deny family medical leave.
Although the DOL says it will be fair and objective, this is the same agency that revised overtime regulations just a few years ago to take away overtime rights from many employees. If we want to protect our rights, we’ve got to make our voices heard.
Teamsters for a Democratic Union produced a flyer to alert Teamsters to this threat and spread the word through the TDU website and Teamster-to-Teamster.
The DOL commentary period closed on Feb. 16. But the threat to the FMLA continues. We will continue to keep you informed.
Over 2,800 members of the United Transportation Union (UTU) went out on strike against Canadian National Railways at midnight on Saturday, Feb. 10. According to Rex Beatty, general chairman of one of the four Canadian general committees on strike, trainmen on the CN want longer break periods and a pay raise. The strike continues as we go to press.
The striking Canadians are getting no support from their International. UTU International President Paul Thompson has refused all aid to the strikers: “Rather than having the assistance of the largest railroad union in North America and the substantial resources of the International on their side, our brothers and sisters in Canada have been put in a position of having to fend for themselves.”
Union Lawyers Side with the Railroad
The Canada Industrial Relations Board met with union and company representatives on Feb. 13. Siding with the railroad, lawyers for the UTU International asked the CIRB to declare the strike illegal. The Board postponed any decision.
The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference has issued a statement wishing the UTU “total success” in their strike, but BLET members in Canada are legally prevented from honoring the strikers’ picket lines. “This is exactly why we need a democratic merger of the BLET and UTU,” said Ed Michael, a member of BLET Div. 724. “We should all be united when we go up to fight the carriers.”