January 10, 2008: Chicago Local 705 has won a major showdown with UPS over supervisors working. By threatening the company with a strike, Local 705 forced UPS to create more than 200 package car and part-time jobs and to curb future supervisors working violations.
The victory is the culmination of a multi-year campaign by Local 705 to take on supervisors working violations.
Over the last three years, business agents and shop stewards won a total of 4,000 to 5,000 grievances—including 700-plus grievance settlements where the company agreed to cease and desist from having supervisors work.
When supervisors continued to work despite the “cease and desist” agreements, Local 705 smacked UPS with a 72-hour notice that the union would strike UPS for its failure to abide by grievance decisions. The strike threat brought the company to the table to seriously negotiate the creation of additional jobs.
Local 705 has revoked a 72-hour strike notice for now and UPS has agreed to create 60 new package car positions and more than 60 part-time jobs.
The local has informed UPS management that the 72-hour can be reinstated if the company fails to continue to comply with grievance resolutions.
No Dime on the Dollar
“When you let a supervisor work, you might as well let them reach into your wallet and take money out because that’s what they’re doing,” said Bill O’Connor, a Local 705 package car steward.
“It doesn’t do anybody any good to settle supervisors working grievances for ten cents on the dollar. You’ve got to make the company pay,” O’Connor said.
After a supervisor refused to stop working and challenged O’Connor to “go file a grievance,” O’Connor and other shop stewards in the Palatine Center took action. They came to work early for six weeks and won $9,000 worth of supervisors working grievances.
“Our union backed us up. When we started to win, members took notice and so did the company. Slowly but surely we’re stopping supervisors from working,” O’Connor said.
Credible Strike Threat
UPSers in Local 705 are covered by a separate agreement from the national contract. The Local 705 contract gives the local the right to strike if UPS does not comply with grievance resolutions.
Other UPS locals do not have strike authority over company violations of local grievance settlements. However, the national contract gives local unions the right to strike if the company violates grievance settlements that are reached by the national grievance panel.
Local 705 has proven that this language can force the company to stop violations and create more jobs, including full-time positions—when our union is committed to a coordinated action plan for contract enforcement.
Local unions and the Parcel and Small Package Division can and should use the similar language in the master contract to bring the hammer down in areas where the company is serially violating supervisors working language.
January 10, 2008: “If you’re a steward always go up to a sup who is working and ask, ‘What’s going on? Why are you working?’ Or, ‘Do you need some help here?’” said Barb Ramirez from Local 206 in Eugene, Ore.
“At first this takes courage, but it gets easier and it must be done to demand respect for the contract. If you’re not a steward, you can still ask these questions. If the supervisor isn’t responsive, report the incident or go get the steward.”
A New York Local 804 steward says, “The most effective way to stop supervisors from working is to annoy the hell out of them and their bosses.
“If a part-time or pre-load sup is seen loading a truck, ask them why they are working. If they say they are covering for someone in the restroom or something similar, stand there waiting for their return and continually pester the supervisor asking if they need you to start up. (They usually walk away and everyone gets a laugh).
“If they don’t stop and no one returns, go to their supervisor (usually full time in charge of a boxline of trucks) and tell them you are going to start up and take over for the supervisor working. This will usually start up a discussion, possibly heated, about why he doesn’t need you to start or he will go to the supervisor working with you and tell them to stop.
“Progressively annoy the hell out of every supervisor/manager up the ladder so they know you are serious about the issue. This takes knowledge of where to find everyone involved and to be in early enough to do the legwork.
“Eventually you won’t have to go so high up the ladder to start working. Very importantly, you must be willing to start working before or after your normal working hours in order for this method to be effective because you will end up doing the work.”
January 10, 2008: Change continues to be on the agenda in Chicago Local 726 as Members of the Fighting for the Future Team plan to re-introduce bylaws changes they made last January.
They’re at it again because they won a protest at Joint Council 25 over how Local 726 officers conducted the vote. This year, there has to be a verified count on the bylaws proposals, instead of a rigged voice vote.
Fighting for the Future is pushing for members to get a say on who bargains their contracts. Last year Fighting for the Future led a campaign to vote down a tentative agreement that failed to protect members’ jobs. Local 726 members voted down the deal twice and won improvements. This year, Fighting for the Future is proposing three changes:
- Include rank-and-file members on bargaining committees;
- Protect members’ voting rights by mandating advance notification from Local 726 on membership status for voting purposes;
- Increase membership participation in the local by setting a new meeting time for general membership meetings.
Vince Tenuto sees the bylaw changes this way: “It’s about making members’ voices heard. Leadership isn’t just who sits up front at the hall, it’s about members having a say on how our local runs. The officers ran a piss poor vote count last year and we made sure they were held accountable. The Joint Council backed us up. Now the membership has a real chance to vote these bylaw changes up at our March 2008 meeting. We can make Local 726 officers work for the members.”
January 10, 2008: Forty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, where he was organizing support for striking sanitation workers.
Today, many Teamster members still don’t have Martin Luther King Day off, even though it’s a federal holiday. Even worse, at least one Teamster employer marks Martin Luther King Day by laying off Teamster drivers without pay.
This year, Local 807 members are standing up against this practice.
Kraft Foods in Fairlawn, N.J. employs union bakers and Teamster drivers. Confectionery Local 719 members have Martin Luther King Day as a paid holiday in their contract—but the Teamster drivers who are covered by the National Master Freight Agreement do not.
For years, Kraft gave the drivers the choice of working on MLK Day or taking the day off without pay. But last year, Kraft laid off every Local 807 driver without pay.
This year, Local 807 members circulated a petition calling on Kraft management “to honor Dr. King’s legacy of standing up for civil and labor rights—not to disrespect it by involuntarily laying us off on Martin Luther King Day.”
The petition goes on to say, “If Kraft is not going to give us MLK Day as a paid holiday like other union employees in Fairlawn, then the company should resume its prior practice of giving each Local 807 member the choice of working or taking the day off without pay.”
Kraft has not yet responded to the petition.
“The Teamsters should be more proactive about winning Martin Luther King Day as a contractual holiday,” said Michael Spruill, the Local 807 driver who launched the petition drive.
“Martin Luther King died supporting union members. He gave his life to win justice for all people. This country would be a shell of itself if it wasn’t for Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement,” Spruill said.
UPDATE: Local 807 members received the backing of the local union and Kraft management agreed to allow members to choose whether they wanted to work the MLK holiday or take the day off. The fight to win Martin Luther King Day as a paid holiday under our Teamster contracts continues.
BLET: Get Our Union Back on the Right Track
I am very frustrated with the BLET, as are a great many other members.
It must have come as a great shock to all of the General Chairmen who negotiated the “great deal” on the Norfolk Southern that it was defeated. The deal sucked. Guess what? We can read!
I had hoped that Hoffa and the Teamsters would have done a better job on the Hahs investigation. Six months suspension: what a joke. If I stole money from Norfolk Southern, I would be prosecuted and probably go to jail. Hoffa should have demanded Hahs’ resignation and repayment of all the pilfered funds.
I’ve been an engineer for almost 40 years. I’ve had it with weak contracts and weak representation. We need to give the younger guys who are coming up a reason to believe in the union.
BLET Div. 831, Norfolk Southern
Editor’s Note: The Independent Review Board agrees that the six-month suspension is inadequate. They recently rejected the proposed settlement, and Hahs may now face a harsher penalty.
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