July 9, 2007: In a June 28 letter to all UPS Freight employees, Senior Vice President Jack Holmes lashes out at a “campaign of deception” by some Teamster locals.
Management's anti-union diatribe requires a strong response by our union.
Stating that the company needs to “deal with the untruths spread by Teamster locals,” Holmes states “there is no current card check agreement with the Teamsters” and that no master agreement will be signed.
Holmes further says no significant gains will be won by joining the Teamsters and denounces as “rhetoric, pure and simple” Teamster statements that UPS Freight employees will win “positive changes in wages, pension, health benefits and working conditions.”
He goes on to denounce the Teamsters for “making their usual promises” including “positive changes in wages, pensions, health benefits and working conditions.”
Holmes says that all unions rely on “rhetoric and empty promises to find members and build [their] bank accounts with dues and initiation fees” and that the road to a strong future at UPS Freight is for employees to continue to work with management.
Contrast with Hoffa Line
Holmes is UPS Freight’s Senior Vice President for Operations. His hard-core antiunion rhetoric doesn’t jibe with the happy talk from our International Union which has issued a steady stream of press releases bragging about how we’re “making steady strides” at UPS Freight.
The most recent update on the Teamster website brags that “based on the work we’ve accomplished so far” Teamsters can expect to celebrate a “historic moment” and “achieve a strong contract” at UPS Freight.
So, the IBT says it’s all smooth sailing in bargaining. Meanwhile, UPS Freight management viciously attacks the Teamsters Union. Do you see a problem with this picture?
Maybe our International Union is so optimistic about reaching a deal because Hoffa and Hall have already conceded that 1) UPS Freight Teamsters will not get NMFA or UPS National Contract standards, 2) Management will keep UPS Freight employees out of our existing Teamster pension plans and 3) Management will continue to dominate the workplace with few improvements in working conditions.
Concerned Teamsters need to make our voices heard.
Our officers need to know that victory at UPS Freight means winning a contract that includes Teamster benefits and wages and standards that match the National Master Freight and UPS agreements.
Teamster members are prepared to back our International Union in winning a model contract at UPS Freight. That’s how we’ll protect our master contracts at UPS and in freight. That’s how we’ll strengthen our benefits and our union for the future.
And that’s how we’ll win the support of a clear majority of employees at UPS Freight.
July 12, 2007: Master contracts are the foundation of our union’s power. Will Hoffa let that foundation crumble? And what can concerned Teamsters do about it?
Master contracts cover about 25 percent of Teamsters, but they set standards for the majority. They are the foundation of Teamster power.
Jimmy Hoffa Sr. understood this principle and built up our national contracts. Is Hoffa Jr. giving up on the master contracts that were his father’s greatest legacy?
Just look at the warning signs that are flashing at us right now.
UPS. The Hoffa administration claimed early bargaining would deliver stronger pension and health benefits. But top officials are leaking that Hoffa may go along with UPS’s proposal to break up the Central States Pension Fund.
CARHAUL. The Hoffa administration has allowed 3,300 carhaulers, nearly 40 percent of Teamsters covered by the contract, to have their wages slashed to 17.5 percent below union scale—and frozen for years. This has happened even as billionaire Ron Burkle has taken over 60 percent of the industry.
FREIGHT. Freight division leaders openly question whether Hoffa has given up on this core industry. ABF’s CEO is promoting a scheme to bust out of Teamster pension plans and set up a company pension, or even just a 401(k).
DHL. IBT insiders report that Hoffa will allow DHL out of the National Master Freight Agreement.
UPS FREIGHT. Over a year ago Hoffa claimed a national cardcheck agreement would soon unionize 15,000 UPS Freight employees. Now management is playing hardball and attacking our union—and union officials in freight are concerned that Hoffa will give up Teamster standards to get the company under a contract.
UPS CARTAGE. Hoffa’s so-called “master” contract leaves substandard wages in place and no protection against subcontracting.
Master Contracts:Fact From Fiction
A true master contract uses our union’s national power to raise all Teamsters up to the highest level.
What the Hoffa administration calls a “master contract” is any contract that covers multiple locations, even if there’s no Teamster pension, the wages vary by location, and the conditions are inferior to our national standards.
Hoffa’s “master contracts” mean drastically lower wages (carhaul, UPS Cartage), undercutting our national standards (DHL and UPS Freight), and potentially even busting up our pension plans (UPS, freight, and UPS Freight).
Rank and File Can Make a Difference
Our Right to Vote on contracts gives members the power to prevent Hoffa from selling out our national contracts. But rank-and-file Teamsters need to be informed and united to use the power in our hands.
In carhaul, members nearly voted down Hoffa’s massive givebacks, but we fell just 2 percent short. With just a little more rank-and-file involvement, a 17.5 percent wage cut could have been prevented.
Do you want to be part of a movement to defend our contracts and rebuild our union’s power? Or do you want to sit on the sidelines?
Contact Teamsters for a Democratic Union today to find out how rank-and-file Teamsters can stand up for our contracts and the future of our union.
Click the links below to read more:
July 12, 2007: General President Hoffa is the sugar daddy to many, but when it comes to multiple salaries Local 63 officials have a special place in Hoffa’s heart.
Led by International Vice President Randy Cammack, no less than ten Los Angeles Local 63 officials get a second union salary from the International Union.
Together, these ten took home more than $1.4 million from Local 63 and the International Union in 2006.
Hoffa pays multiple salaries to nearly 200 officials who already make other full-time salaries. This money could be used for organizing or contract campaigns.
Instead, Hoffa uses our dues money to buy something even more important to him: political loyalty. Officials making multiple salaries are a “Who’s Who” of Hoffa campaign donors.
If an official doesn’t kiss enough Hoffa butt, they are off the gravy train. After the 2006 election, Hoffa removed Larry Brennan, Dennis Hands, Jim Ayers, Carlos Ramos, Dan Virtue, Jerry Halberg and others for failing to toe the line.
Hoffa’s attorney said that Virtue was fired because he wanted to win NMFA standards at UPS Freight and DHL. To Hoffa, standing up for our national contracts is a reason to be fired.
Perhaps some of them figured they work for the members, and not for Hoffa. No worries for the Local 63 all-stars on that front.
We’ll report all the facts and figures—and what this spending means for our union—in the August $150,000 Club issue of Convoy Dispatch.
July 12, 2007: The International Union and New York Local 237 are investigating International Vice President Carroll Haynes over tens of thousands of dollars in payments he received from an HMO that does business with the Teamsters.
The union investigation came in response to a report in last month’s Convoy Dispatch. Research by Teamsters for a Democratic Union uncovered that Haynes received $54,500 as a “consultant” to Health Insurance Plans (HIP) of New York, the plan that provides benefits to Teamster Local 237 members.
Haynes served as Local 237 President and a trustee to its benefit funds at the time he took the payments from HIP. He resigned as Local 237 president in April.
Local 237 Investigates
Haynes’ successor at Local 237, Gregory Floyd, told the Chief-Leader newspaper that “on advice from counsel, he had not spoken with Mr. Haynes” since the HIP payments were uncovered.
Haynes served on the board of directors of HIP and on the HIP Foundation board of directors. The stipend came from the foundation board. Floyd, who also serves on the HIP New York board, said he did not receive a stipend and would not accept one.
Haynes has routinely made over $300,000 from his multiple salaries and pensions. In 2003, TDU caught Haynes taking a higher salary than legally permitted by the Teamsters Constitution. After charges were filed, Hoffa allowed Haynes to get off by repaying the $8,000 overpayment, claiming it was a “clerical error.”
Now, Haynes is under investigation for his “consulting” fees.
“We are going to wait and see if it’s permissible to accept stipends,” Floyd said. “At this point we’re not sure, because HIP provides health benefits to the city and does our prescriptions.”
$54,500 ‘Consulting Fee’
TDU uncovered the $54,500 “stipend” on an LM-30 financial disclosure form that Haynes filed with the Department of Labor. By law, union officials must report any income that comes from an entity that does business with their union. The law is intended to flag any conflicts of interest or undue influence that could compromise a union’s ability to properly serve its members.
Local 237 has hired an attorney to investigate whether a technical violation of the Teamster Constitution or Local 237 bylaws occurred.
The larger question is whether a Teamster officer and benefit fund trustee should be taking $54,500 from an HMO that makes millions through its contract with our union’s largest local.
In the old days, vendors made payoffs to officials under the table. Today, they pay “consultant fees.” Does that make it right?
Many city unions in New York contract with HIP and union officers have long served on its board of directors. But while Haynes bagged more than $50,000, officers from other unions—including those from the United Federation of Teachers and AFSCME—did not accept any fees.
July 12, 2007: The International Union has cited its agreement covering UPS Cartage Services Teamsters as a model for success at UPS Freight.
But, despite this enthusiasm and IBT Secretary-Treasurer Tom Keegel’s misstatement to the 2006 IBT Convention that UPS Cartage Services Teamsters had “secured the same wages and benefits as their UPS brothers and sisters,” Teamster standards and security in this part of the Brown Behemoth remain imperiled.
The August 2005 Addendum to the UPS National Master applies to UPS Teamsters in operations covered by local agreements with Menlo Forwarding (UPS acquired Menlo in Dec. 2004).
The August 2005 Addendum provided for 3 percent annual wage increases when local agreements expire. Some of the locally-bargained rates were very substandard, so there are former Menlo Teamsters working for UPS at substandard wage and benefit rates.
The bulk of the organizing that resulted from the August 2005 agreement brought in part-timers at the new heavy-weight hub in Louisville and five regional hubs that handle freight from shippers formally serviced by Menlo Forwarding.
A “Letter of Agreement” that was part of the August 2005 deal puts these part-timers directly into the regular UPS parcel ranks. The union delivered its high-turnover, low-wage part-time workforce.
The biggest hole in the August 2005 Addendum covering CSI Teamsters is the exclusion of these units from subcontracting protection. The Addendum bars these Teamsters from protection under Article 1, Section 1, 2, and 4, and Article 32 of the UPS national contract. UPS calls its Cartage Services unit a “vendor” that provides services to its nonunion carrier, UPS Supply Chain Solutions.
So, when the company moves new work through its nonunion carrier and has Teamster work done by nonunion subcontractors or nonunion UPS subsidiaries, the union has no recourse!
Early negotiations for a new supplement to replace the August 2005 Addendum have been conducted by the Union’s Cartage Negotiating Committee.
The “Brown Out” approach to early bargaining, keeping rank and file members on the sidelines, applies here as well.
But at UPS Cartage Services, this secretiveness hides a troubling disconnect. The company is preparing to integrate the operations of some of its subsidiaries including UPS Cartage Services, UPS Freight, UPS Freight Forwarding and UPS Supply Chain Solutions.
If IBT negotiators agree to a new supplement covering UPS Cartage Services Teamsters that does not address this future operational integration, these Teamsters could be rendered disposable.
July 12, 2007: On June 29, the House Transportation Committee voted to make it easier for FedEx employees to organize by passing an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration bill that would allow FedEx Express drivers to organize under the National Labor Relations Act.
Absurdly, FedEx, the nation’s second largest trucking company, is currently treated as an “airline” under federal labor law—thanks to a provision management snuck into legislation ten years ago. FedEx is covered by the Railway Labor Act which makes it much harder for drivers and mechanics to organize.
The vote by the Transportation Committee is a step in the right direction. (UPS management thinks so too. They support the legislation). But even if legislation is passed putting FedEx under the National Labor Relations Act where it belongs, organizing this anti-union competitor is still going to be a big challenge.
A group of drivers for FedEx Home Delivery in Hartford, Conn. voted to join the Teamsters by 12-9 in an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board last month. But the company is refusing to respect the vote.
Other elections at FedEx Home Delivery are pending while the company faces charges of retaliating against and terminating pro-union drivers.
Labor Law Reform Needed
Corporate lobbyists are blowing a lot of hot air these days on Capitol Hill about how NLRB elections are the only fair way for workers to unionize. The truth is corporations like the NLRB process because it is open to employer abuse and stall tactics that buy companies time to fire and intimidate union supporters.
That’s why the labor movement is pushing for the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation that would allow employees to unionize if a majority sign union cards.
Strong UPS Contract Will Boost Organizing
Labor law reform is important. But the number one thing we can do to inspire FedEx (and UPS Freight) workers to join the Teamsters is to win a strong contract at UPS.
After our contract victory in 1997, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said, “You could make a million house calls and run a thousand television commercials and stage a hundred strawberry rallies and still not come close to doing what the UPS strike did for organizing.”
The 1997 strike continues to give us bargaining leverage. UPS management and shippers still fear a work disruption. That’s why the company is under pressure to settle our contract early this time around.
We need to use this leverage to win the improvements we were promised in 2002. Winning better pensions, benefits and working conditions would mean a better future for Teamsters at UPS—and it will make it easier to organize the nonunion competition.
July 12, 2007: Management has cracked down on the distribution of Convoy Dispatch and Make UPS Deliver contract bulletins at UPS’s Lumberton, N.C. facility. Apparently, the company does not like members being informed about contract negotiations and other issues at UPS.
For years, shop steward Nichele Fulmore has distributed Convoy and other union material at the driver counter before members punch in. But on May 17, UPS management issued Fulmore a warning letter saying her actions violated UPS’s “No Solicitation” policy.
Federal law says something otherwise. Under the National Labor Relations Act, UPS Teamsters have the legal right to distribute Convoy and other TDU or union material on company property provided that information is distributed in non-work areas and non-work times.
This includes the right to distribute information in so-called “mixed” work/non-work areas where work is performed during some hours, but Teamsters are allowed to gather before and after work (like driver counters and time clock areas)—provided that members are off the clock when distribution takes place.
The right to distribute information in mixed areas at UPS was secured over management’s objections by TDU attorney Barbara Harvey, who went all the way to a Federal Appeals Court—and won. Harvey is now helping Fulmore fight for the right to keep union members informed in the Lumberton facility.
“I am a firm believer that knowledge is power. As long as anyone can keep you ignorant they can control you. I encourage the members to read everything, ‘the good, the bad, and the ugly.’ They can form their own opinions, but get all sides of the story,” Fulmore said.
If UPS management is restricting members’ right to information in your area, contact TDU. All calls and emails are confidential.
July 12, 2007: Will the Hoffa administration let DHL undermine our standards under the guise of a new 'master' contract?
The Hoffa administration and some local officials are floating a trial balloon to see if DHL Teamsters can be swayed into a company-plan to take them out of the National Master Freight Agreement. The sales pitch is that members will instead be in a DHL “master” contract.
They don’t mention that the company has pushed for this for years. Management knows breaking the master contract is the first step toward low-wage part-timers and lots more concessions in the future.
This is a serious threat. Teamsters should say No loud and clear to head it off now, before a deal is cut.
Most DHL Teamsters are in the NMFA or contracts that are just as good (Chicago is better). Some are under inferior white paper contracts. And of course DHL uses nonunion contractors to run their local operation at many stations.
The key is to bring all up to NMFA standards. We are not powerless here. The big strategic centers are Teamsters, under the NMFA. The pilots are Teamsters. We should put Teamster power to work to organize.
The alternative is to give the company what they want, in exchange for getting more dues-paying Teamsters.
July 12, 2007: In June ABF CEO Bob Davidson circulated a letter to all Teamster employees saying that members should dump their Teamster pensions for a company 401(k).
The letter is supposed to be a sales job for the company’s effort to break out of our Teamster pension plans. Instead, it reveals that it would be a disaster for our union to let employers like ABF and UPS to take this course.
An 18-year Teamster wrote Davidson about the company’s proposal. And the CEO’s advice is telling. Don’t worry about losing your pension, Davidson says. Under ABF’s proposal, you would still get your 18-year pension from the Teamster fund—plus start building a 401(k) on top of that pension. It’s “not like Social Security,” Davidson writes, but your very own account.
What Davidson failed to mention is that with 18 years in a pension fund you don’t qualify for anything but a vested pension, which in most Teamster plans amounts to very little.
ABF’s pitch boils down to this: put your future in the hands of the company’s 401(k) and pray that the stock market goes way up. It might work. Then again, the lottery might work, too. You just have to pick that lucky number.
UPS Pullout Could Cause Fund’s Collapse
At least ABF management is up front about their goal: saving the company money on retirement costs. And Davidson is honest enough also to admit what would happen to Teamster pension funds if UPS and ABF pull out.
“A UPS withdrawal, or other adverse factors, would make them even less stable or cause their complete collapse,” Davidson wrote.
Our union needs to say one short word to these corporate schemes: No. The American people have said No to privatizing social security, and we need to tell UPS and ABF the same now, in a strong and unified voice.
The corporate answer is to destroy our Teamster funds to save management money on retirement costs. The union answer is to protect our retirement security by sticking together, strengthening our union funds, and winning benefit improvements.
UPS-Only Plans Cut Benefits
UPS management is pushing their own pension scheme which starts with busting 42,000 UPS Teamsters out of the Central States Fund. Management wants to establish a new UPS-only fund, with half corporate directors and half Teamster officials on the board.
UPS Teamsters don’t have to guess how a UPS-only plan would work. Two large funds exactly like this already exist. They cover all the full-time UPS Teamsters in New Jersey and the New York City areas. Both funds are housed right inside UPS headquarters in Atlanta.
UPS has a track record at these funds—and it should raise alarm for Teamsters concerned about our retirement security.
Management recently demanded big pension cuts in both. They got their way in New York, and slashed pension accrual rates by 30 percent. In New Jersey the union blocked the cuts, so management has pushed the issue before an arbitrator.
The New Jersey fund is only 52 percent funded, by the way. That’s less than Central States. The return on investment in the New York fund was just 3 percent over the past five years and just over 6 percent for the last ten years. That’s much worse than Central States.
These are UPS-Teamster plans just like the company wants to set up for 42,000 Teamsters in the Central States. And they are cutting benefits. This puts the lie to the company’s claim that you would be better off in a UPS-only plan.
Promises are cheap. The results speak for themselves.
The Positive Alternative
Hoffa’s “Best Contract Ever” and the post 9-11 stock market dip delivered pension cuts. But the recent bull stock market has boosted our pension plans and positioned us to win realistic benefit improvements. That should be the priority for this bargaining round at UPS and in freight.
Affordable retiree healthcare. We have an additional 70 cents per hour in benefits due on August 1 in our national contracts. Early bargaining at UPS can let us get a lot more, enough to pay for retiree health care at affordable cost.
A written timetable for improvements in all pension plans. We need a guarantee, in writing, so all Teamsters will know that our pensions will be restored and improved as increased contributions build up in the funds. In 1997, UPS Teamsters got a binding document from Central States before we voted on the contract. We should settle for no less.
Include UPS part-timers in all Teamster pension funds. Part-timers are already covered by Teamster plans in the West, New England and Upstate New York. This will improve pensions for both part-timers and full-timers and be a big boost to the Central States and other funds, bringing in thousands of new participants.
These are realistic goals. There is no reason to give UPS an early deal without them.
July 12, 2007: by Jim Eubanks and Ed Michael: The United Transportation Union (UTU), the main union for conductors on the railways, is proposing a merger with the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA).
Why is the UTU so eager to merge with the SMWIA when they have a natural merger partner sitting across the engine cab from their members—the Teamster engineers in the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen? A merger with the BLET makes much more sense.
We’re members of both unions because we think it’s time to come together. We’re getting beat up by the divide and conquer strategies of the carriers. A merger between the BLET and the UTU would end the destructive war between the two unions.
It turns out that this merger is less about building power for our rail workers—and more about business as usual at the UTU.
It’s All about the Money
The UTU is having trouble paying for the outrageous salaries we pay to our top officers.
Last year, Paul Thompson, UTU International President, made $258,093. And Thompson’s not the only one making big money. In 2006, the eight lowest-paid Vice Presidents each made $137,094.
International officers also get an extra pension on top of Railroad Retirement.
These salaries and pensions are costing us a lot. In 2004, for example, the UTU put $7.53 million in the officers’ pension fund—that’s almost half of our total dues for 2004.
Trim the Fat
We know how to cut down these expenses.
The Blue Ribbon Committee charged with examining our finances recommended that we cut eight VPs off the payroll. They reported: “Our review of International officer assignments and their annual reports clearly indicates that there is insufficient work to support maintaining the current number of full-time officers.”
Here’s the catch: these recommendations will not take effect until the end of this year. If the merger passes, these officers will keep their old jobs under new names.
Put Teamster Power To Work on the Rails
This year, Teamster engineers went through another round of national negotiations without the support of our natural allies, the conductors. We paid the price with a contract that leaves us paying more for our healthcare.
In addition, Teamster engineers on some railroads have ratified a side agreement that appears to open the way to single-person train crews.
The merger with the SMWIA is a dead end for conductors and engineers. The fights between the UTU and the BLET will not stop. Those fights will leave us both weak and divided.
We do need a merger—but not with the SMWIA. A UTU-BLET merger would put our unions back on the right track.