May 9, 2007: Teamsters in the Freight Division are determined not to be ignored in the upcoming bargaining. It is time for the voices of the members and locals to be heard.
A network of freight Teamsters is forming, initiated by members of Teamsters for a Democratic Union, and will become visible in the days to come in the shops, local unions, and on the internet.
Initial plans call for a website and a series of conference calls to be held nationally and by supplemental region, to share information and arrive at a target list of critical issues for Teamsters to rally around.
Some initial issues being discussed include:
Compiling the Best Benefits and Conditions in Various Supplements. If the carriers are already living and profiting with better bidding procedures, more paid time off, or better protection against abuse of casuals in some supplements, then it can be spread nationally.
Winning Fair and Equitable Wages. Freight Teamsters have fallen far backward in the past decade. In May 1997, 10 years ago, a city driver who made $18.68 per hour makes $22.11 today. Just to have buying power equal to 1997, that driver would have to make $23.97, nearly $2 more. A UPS package car driver now makes $5 per hour more than a freight driver. It’s time for some serious improvement in wages.
The Tiered Wage Structure Should End. Experienced Teamster drivers who are hired in freight start at $16.50 per hour (75 percent of scale) and will lose at least $20,000 over the next two years. It’s time to end it.
Working Conditions Need To Improve. Dispatch procedures have broken down by playing locals against each other and through changes of operations. We must put limits on forced overtime for dock hands and local drivers. Not only will Teamsters have more time for their families, more Teamsters will be put to work.
Winning Back and Protecting Good Pensions and Health Benefits. The current UPS bargaining may set the pace here, but if it falls short of what is needed, it will be up to freight Teamsters to take the lead.
These are only starter ideas, and by no means a comprehensive program. The Freight Committee needs far more input and discussion to arrive at a program and plan to win it. Call 313 842-2600 or email letters [at] tdu.org for more info and to get involved.
We are committed to winning real gains. We are not powerless. Some 60,000 freight Teamsters now work for YRC, DHL, or ABF. These are profitable corporations, and it’s time for freight Teamsters to join hands in unity and determination to win.
May 9, 2007: The Hoffa administration threatened just enough Allied Teamsters to narrowly pass concessions in April.
There is a lesson in that vote for all of us. In the locals where carhaulers distributed TDU information and talked to fellow members, the concessions were voted down. We needed more TDU members, more outreach, and a stronger network.
We can’t wait till it’s too late: many Allied Teamsters got in touch with us after the vote.
Concessions May Spread
Other carriers—Jack Cooper and PMT, Cassens, and Active—are now pressing to get concessions like the 17 percent reduction given to Allied.
Yucaipa will do the same with their PTS operation. Industry analysts expect Yucaipa to position PTS and Allied for an eventual merger to achieve greater density and efficiency.
Carhaulers are asking how Allied can be part of the same master contract, while making 17 percent less. At the same time, we need an effective organizing program.
If the Hoffa administration wants to lead a campaign to save our contract, Teamsters, including TDU members, will get behind them in that effort. But we can’t hold our breath waiting for that.
Time To Organize
We need to organize now to defend the contract, and let the carriers know we will not approve any concessions.
We need to stand united to say that as soon as Allied makes a profit, it will be time to demand the concessionary pact be reopened, to bring Allied Teamsters back up to scale.
We need to demand that retiree health benefits be restored, and a plan to restore our 25-and-out and 30-and-out benefits our union won in the past.
Carhaulers in Teamsters for a Democratic Union have a proud history and believe together we can build a strong Teamster future.
We invite you to contact us to find out how you can be part of making it happen.
May 9, 2007: Two shareholders who own 337,000 shares of Allied Holdings filed a class action suit charging that Yucaipa owner Ron Burkle conspired in 2006 with the leadership of the Teamsters to take control of Allied.
The suit, filed under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, alleges that in May 2006 Burkle made his move, after his business partner, former President Bill Clinton, helped get Hoffa on board.
The Teamster leadership then arranged for a side-deal of concessions to Yucaipa, and pressured Allied to go along, because the concessions would only be offered if Yucaipa got control of Allied.
The deal was kept quiet until after the November 2006 Teamster election to avoid a “problematic time for Hoffa to have to announce and explain to the rank-and-file membership of the IBT any concessions or givebacks” the lawsuit alleges.
In April, Yucaipa and Allied bought-off another potential competing bidder for the company with $525,000 cash and millions paid for stock.
How much of that comes out of money promised to be used for new equipment is anybody’s guess.
That settlement deal also contains a provision that no one, including attorneys in the case, may give any information to Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU). Apparently Yucaipa considers TDU to be a threat.
The suit will not benefit working Teamsters; it will not delay Yucaipa in taking control of Allied, or the 17 percent concessions which will go into effect around June 1.
The lawsuit and the Wall Street Journal report on it are available here.
May 9, 2007: The IBT has the power to keep Teamsters in the dark about UPS bargaining—and they’re doing it.
But the final say on early negotiations lies in the hands of working Teamster.
UPS Teamsters have more power than many of us realize. We have the power to Vote No and reject an early contract if Hoffa and Hall settle short.
In 2002, they sold us a weak agreement as the Best Contract Ever and we’re still paying the price. We can’t let that happen again.
There’s no reason to accept an early deal if it’s a weak one. Our bargaining power will only increase with time, because management is under pressure from shippers and stockholders to settle early.
With the pressure on UPS, why should we vote to give them an early deal unless we get the better benefits and stronger contract protections we need?
Organized Members Have the Power
We have the power to vote down a weak contract. And we have the power to vote down regional supplements too if they don’t adequately deal with working condition issues.
To effectively use this power, we need to be informed and organized. TDU is building a national network so that UPS Teamsters can share information if and when an early deal is reached.
Our IBT negotiators are keeping us in the dark. But working together, we have the power to win the contract we deserve. Be a part of it. Visit www.makeupsdeliver.org and contact TDU today.
May 9, 2007: Ken Hall has promised that the UPS contract will improve pensions and send a message to all employers that our union won’t stand for pension and benefit cuts.
“Pensions are the number one issue for our members. We’re going to focus on improving their pension. Because after all, it’s the members that drive these negotiations, it’s their issues and that’s what we’re going to be guided by.”
- Ken Hall, IBT Parcel Director
“Once we’re finished with these negotiations, the message to other employers where our members are represented should be, ‘If you mess with our members’ pension and benefits, you’re going to get the shit kicked out of you by the Teamsters.’”
Ken Hall, IBT Parcel Director
Is it real, or is it just talk?
Members are hoping for the best. But we’ve heard big talk before. In 2002, we were promised that the UPS and freight contracts would protect our benefits. Then we were hit with the worst cuts in Teamster history. We were lied to.
It’s Up to Us
It’s up to Teamster members to make sure we don’t settle short again.
At the recent Teamster “Unity Conference” in Las Vegas, Hall announced that our union will reach an agreement with UPS “soon.”
Management wants an early agreement, to reassure shippers and stockholders. Will our union use this bargaining leverage to win the pension and benefit improvements we’ve been promised?
Hoffa has promised that this UPS contract will be the richest one ever—and that’s one promise he will keep. The company’s record profits and new pension rules mean UPS will set a new record for benefit contributions.
But what will these record contributions mean to working Teamsters? What cuts will be restored and what improvements will be won?
May 9, 2007: Teamsters in the Central States were told that the 2002 “Best Contract Ever” would protect our benefits for the life of the contract. Instead that agreement gutted early retirement in the Central States by slashing the pension accrual rate in half and raising the cost of retiree healthcare to as high as $1,200 a month.
If we’re going to give UPS an early deal, we need to restore benefits that we’ve lost.
A new rule set by the fund requires that all new contracts must contain at least an eight percent increase in pension contributions every year. This means at least $2.40 an hour will go into the pension fund over the next contract, probably a good bit more. Contributions to the Central States Pension Fund will reach $8 per hour during the next contract.
The question is what benefits will be restored?
In Central States, the easiest benefit to restore is affordable retiree healthcare. These benefits were slashed because of one fact: money designated for our health benefits was diverted for three years in a row to the pension fund.
As a result, Teamster members are being prevented from retiring at 25 and 30 and out.
The next contract has to undo the damage that was done by the Best Contract Ever.
We need to substantially increase contributions to our Health and Welfare Fund so that our health benefits are protected and affordable retiree healthcare is restored.
If our negotiators do their job, UPS Teamsters in the Central States can have retiree health benefits for $50 a month, just like we had prior to the cuts.
Pension Accrual and Early Retirement
Our pension accrual has been cut in half, and our early retirement plans cut out. Teamsters need a written agreement—not a worthless promise—that our pension benefits will be phased back in as increased contributions build up in our fund.
In 1997, UPS Teamsters got a statement from Central States—before we voted on the contract—telling us in writing what our benefits would be if we ratified the contract.
After the broken promises of 2002, we need to demand it in writing this time.
We need to restore retiree healthcare in full, and a specific timeline for restoring our pension benefits.
Without these gains, why would we vote to approve an early deal? We can hold out and bargain for more.
May 9, 2007: Hundreds of thousands of Teamsters covered by the Western Plan are still facing a nearly 40 percent pension cut even though the fund is 100 percent funded.
The Western Fund will be even more flush after the UPS agreement. UPS will be required to increase its contributions by at least eight percent a year in Central States, and the West will get the same. By the end of the agreement, UPS will be putting $8 an hour into the pension fund.
What will this mean to UPS Teamsters in the West? The “Best Contract Ever” and the pension cuts that followed reduced the monthly pension benefit by $500.
Will record contributions in the West fully restore the pension multiplier to the historic minimum of 2.2 and 2.65 for all Teamsters with twenty or more years? Will the multiplier go higher or will the fund increase benefits by bringing back bonus years?
Keep in mind that more money bargained into pensions will likely mean a lower wage increase.
May 9, 2007: Over the past couple years, over 200 new positions have been created at freight carriers in Georgia, thanks to Local 728. They used Article 3, Section 2 of the freight contract to turn casual workers into Teamsters with seniority, benefits and union protection. Prior to the present leadership taking office in 2005, this part of the contract was rarely enforced.
The NMFA (Article 3.2) has enforceable language requiring every terminal to provide the local union and stewards with a detailed monthly report listing the name of every single casual who worked on every shift and the name of the regular worker replaced. If no one was replaced, that shift counts as a supplemental casual, and leads to required hiring. But the union has to enforce it, or it won’t happen. In the South, and in most NMFA supplements, for every 30 supplemental shifts worked in a two-month period, one full time Teamster must be hired. Some have additional language.
Enforcement Is Key
This contract language isn’t perfect, and it should be improved in the upcoming bargaining. But it is clear, unambiguous language, so the union can use it effectively at the grievance panels. Some locals do a good job, but some don’t even bother to review the monthly reports and create more Teamster jobs. Some local officials will get a friend hired, and then give the company a pass on hiring more Teamsters.
Management sometimes serves up the excuse that they can’t find good workers to hire. The contract does not allow this loophole, so the argument has no merit. It does remind us, however, that we need to get rid of the 75 percent starting rate in freight; it will be easier to hire good drivers when they don’t have to start at $16 per hour.
Local 728 agents have had to stand their ground and do their homework to enforce this clause. Often they get a back-dated seniority date, so the member gains time in the progression, sick days and in earning vacation time.
Like any contract enforcement, when it is done regularly, it gets easier. Employers come to expect to live by the contract they signed.
If your Local Union is not enforcing the freight contract requirement on hiring casuals, it’s time to start. It will put more Teamsters to work and strengthen our hand in the upcoming bargaining.
May 9, 2007: Teamsters at Waste Management are routinely forced to work off the clock. Now a group of drivers is doing something about it.
Waste Management drivers in California have filed a lawsuit against the company for wage and hour violations. Their case is similar to a successful class action lawsuit against UPS that resulted in an $87 million victory by more than 20,000 UPS drivers.
Under California law, employees have to be given an off-duty meal period within the first five hours of work and a second meal period when they work more than 10 hours a day. The law also states that employees who work more than 10 hours are entitled to three 10-minute breaks.
Waste Management drivers regularly have to work through their breaks—including taking their meal breaks in their trucks while waiting in dump lines.
“The company pressures us to get our routes down faster and to work through our breaks. We told our business agent about it, and he said, ‘Leave me out of this,’” said Isidro Valdivia, the lead plaintiff in the case.
“Now we’re getting together to enforce our rights in court and to demand the fair pay and treatment that we deserve,” Valdivia said.
On March 16, Valdivia and four other drivers filed a lawsuit against Waste Management. They will ask the judge to approve their case as a class action lawsuit. If they’re successful, then Waste Management drivers whose rights have been violated will be eligible to join the lawsuit.
The drivers are being represented in this action by York Law Corporation, the same firm that won the $87 million settlement for UPS drivers.
Waste Management drivers who are interested in participating in the lawsuit or learning more about it can go to www.payWMIdrivers.com or contact York Law Corporation at 800-939-1832 and www.yorklawcorp.com.
May 9, 2007: Local 89 Teamsters at Kroger’s Kentucky Distribution Center have new agreements that protect Teamster standards after a quickie two-day strike.
Teamsters were fighting for their job security and their Teamster standards after Kroger turned over the warehouse to two third-party contractors, Zenith and Transervice, in February.
Teamsters at the facility walked out on April 18 after negotiations broke down with the two contractors.
Local 89 members put up strong picket lines at the facility. “We heard that no work got done inside,” reported Mark “Gator” Horsley from the picket line. Horsley is a Local 89 member at Zenith.
The new agreements are for six years—two years longer than the regional Kroger agreement.
The new Zenith agreement includes new language on overtime. If forced overtime is not reduced, the company will start having to pay double-time for forced overtime. Before the strike, many warehouse employees were working seven days a week.