March 27, 2008: DHL Teamsters are voting on their future.
The deal has sparked opposition from a broad network of stewards and members.
In mid-April some 8,000 DHL Teamsters will get ballots to vote on a proposed national contract that would allow the company to hire an unlimited number of low-wage part-timers.
The deal has generated opposition, not from a few dissidents, but from a broad network of stewards and long-time Teamsters who have held meetings and conference calls, issued emails and leaflets, and sparked a nationwide debate on the contract.
The International Union is using all its resources to sell its proposed deal. The point man behind the bargaining and sales job is President Hoffa’s special assistant Brad Slawson.
Slawson has played on members’ insecurities about the company’s future. DHL, which is part of the largest transport corporation in the world, is losing money in the U.S. due to poor operational management.
Lack of Protections
The International Union has hyped the small protections provided to drivers in the short-term while downplaying the long-term threats to good, full-time jobs and union power.
The agreement allows DHL to gradually convert all sort, airport and dock work to part-time. Even if current full-timers are laid off, part-timers can be hired at less than half wages.
If all full-timers are working, the deal allows for part-timers to be used as afternoon drivers, up to 15 percent of the full-time complement.
Union protection is lacking. There is no percentage limit on part-timers in terminal operations.
If the contract is approved, the first impact will be to take overtime opportunities away from drivers. The long-term effect is worse: the company will move toward majority part-timer operation, with union strength greatly weakened.
In exchange, the deal includes a “red circle by name” provision so that current full-time drivers cannot have their jobs eliminated. Benefit contributions will match UPS, but full-time wages will fall to $7 an hour behind the UPS rate by the end of the contract.
The Teamsters Union will get more dues from part-timers, and a card-check agreement to allow some 1,200 gateway workers to become Teamsters under a cut-rate contract that Slawson will negotiate.
This is a one-sided deal.
Click here to read more at Teamster Viewpoint.
March 27, 2008: The IBT leadership argues that we need to give DHL concessions to help the company compete in the future with UPS and with FedEx.
But many Teamsters are asking what these concessions will mean for our future and our union’s. The proposed contract will let DHL convert over time to a company where the majority of the jobs are low-wage, dead-end jobs.
History has shown that these concessions will increase company profits. But they will also undermine our benefit funds and union power.
As DHL Teamsters debate how to vote on the proposed contract, we need to ask ourselves: is our union on a road that will build power for Teamsters in trucking?
Devil’s Pact with UPS
In 1982, our union made the part-time devil’s pact with UPS—and allowed the company to create $8/hour part-time jobs. By 1997, nearly two-thirds of UPS Teamsters were part-timers stuck in low-wage, dead-end jobs.
The wage and benefit divide weakened Teamster unity. The 1997 UPS strike victory was about reversing the slide to a weaker Teamsters union. Over the last ten years, that victory eliminated 42,000 low-wage part-time jobs and combined them into 21,000 new full-time jobs. (20,000 in the national agreement plus more in the Local 705 and 710 agreements.)
That clause has brought UPS back from being majority part-time to approximately 50-50 full-time and part-time.
Hoffa’s UPS Giveaway Set the Stage for DHL
If the full-time job clause had been maintained in the new UPS contract, a total of 64,000 part-time jobs would have been replaced with 32,000 new full-time jobs, and the balance would have been tipped to a clear majority of full-time jobs.
Instead Hoffa surrendered our 1997 strike victory and gave UPS a five-year deal where they don’t have to create a single full-time job by combining part-time jobs. That set the stage for DHL.
The union officials who argue that DHL has to compete with UPS by converting all inside operations to part-time should look in the mirror. Many are the same who supported the UPS give-away.
When evaluating a contract we have to ask: what does it deliver now and what does it position us to win in the future?
The part-time giveaway in the proposed DHL contract will boost the company’s profits and it will boost our union treasury with part-timer’s dues and initiation fees. But these gains will come at the expense of union power—and of Teamster benefit funds.
One highlight of the proposed deal is higher pension contributions, but that alone will not strengthen our pension funds if our employers are allowed to convert to a majority part-time operation with most employees locked out of Teamster pension funds.
We’re on the wrong road. Many Teamsters know it—including tens of thousands of Teamsters at UPS, in freight and at DHL who have not supported the sweeping concessions in the contracts negotiated by the Hoffa administration this year and last.
TDU is about uniting us together to rebuild Teamster Power—by fighting for contracts that deliver improvements for working Teamsters today and a stronger union tomorrow.
March 27, 2008: After years of apathy and neglect, members and new officers in Chicago Local 743 are working together to turn their union around.
Last year, the Local 743 president resigned and his replacement was indicted for stealing the 2004 election. In October, the membership of Local 743 elected a reform slate of officers to the union’s top spots.
“For years, members got no information from our union. No one ever talked to them. They never knew what was going on with the union,” says Yvette Gardner, a Local 743 member at Provident Hospital. “Now there’s a new sheriff in town.”
Since taking office in January, the new local leadership has brought members from across the local together for a series of educational workshops.
The workshops have covered legal rights on the job, the grievance procedure, and organizing skills—and there are more planned.
The new leadership has also created new stewards positions and recruited some of the most active members into these positions.
At Provident, Gardner became the new steward for her unit. She has scheduled a meeting with her co-workers and new president Richard Berg so that the members can discuss their problems directly with their top officer.
Even with new leadership, management hasn’t let up their harassment of members, reports John Watkins, a member at the University of Chicago Hospitals. “It’s all out war. They write people up. Fire them. Management does whatever they can get away with,” Watkins says.
“The workshop was a good step forward. I want more of my co-workers to attend. You’ve got to participate and get involved to make our union stronger.”
Years of Neglect
Weak contracts are another challenge for the new leadership. Local 743 has over 120 agreements—on average, three contracts expire each month.
Local 743 officers and members are putting together plans to build membership-based contract campaigns to help members have a voice in their contracts.
“We have years and years of mess to clean up,” Gardner says. “It just doesn’t happen overnight. We’re only three months into it—we’re going to stick with it and get results.”
March 27, 2008: The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is once again under fire from Corporate America.
On Feb. 11, the Department of Labor issued proposals for changes that would open up new loopholes for employers to deny leave to workers who need to take time off for an illness or to take care of a family member.
These new rules are not a done deal. We have until April 11 to make our voices heard and help protect our family and medical leave.
Management’s Wish List
These new proposals read like a management wish list. Currently, an employee must give the employer verbal notice of why they are taking leave, and how long they expect to be out.
Under the new rules, an employee would have to tell the employer: (1) why they are taking leave and how long they expect to be out; (2) that they cannot perform their job functions or that a family member cannot perform his or her daily activities; and (3) whether or not they intend to visit a healthcare provider.
If an employee forgets any one of these magic words, the employer could deny their FMLA leave.
Another rule under consideration would make it harder for workers with chronic health problems—like back pain or asthma—to take intermittent leave.
The new rule would require a detailed back-to-work fitness report from a doctor every thirty days—even if a worker took only one or two days leave in that period. Workers on intermittent leave could have to get as many as 12 fitness reports a year.
What Can We Do?
The Department of Labor is accepting public comments on these new rules until April 11.
Employers are using this opportunity to flood the DOL with comments.
Many pro-labor attorneys, like Robert Schwartz, the author of the Legal Rights of Union Stewards and the FMLA Handbook, are already speaking up.
But the DOL needs to hear from us working Teamsters too.
Here’s what we can do to help stop these changes:
- Send in comments to the DOL. To comment online, go to www.tdu.org/fmla and follow the link at the bottom. You can use the sample comment in the box.
- Post bulletins at work. TDU has made a new bulletin to let members know about the proposed changes. You can download it at www.tdu.org/fmla. Be sure to post it on every open bulletin board where you
- Send an email to anyone who might be interested. This isn’t just for Teamsters—anyone can send in a comment. Go through your address book and send a note to everyone who you think might take action.
We can stop the DOL from watering down FMLA. Employers are using every tool at their disposal to win these new rules. Let’s get creative and get working to stop these changes.
by Frank Halstead, Local 572, Los Angeles
Help Defend FMLA: Send a Comment Before April 11Below is a sample comment you can send in to the Department of Labor to help defend FMLA. We have until April 11 to send in a comment to the DOL. You can send a comment online by going to www.tdu.org/fmla.
I am writing to comment on the new FMLA proposals that are currently under consideration as final regulations. I am a covered employee under the FMLA, and I am concerned that the new regulations will make it more difficult for me to take qualified leave.
Two new proposed regulations would make it harder for employees to exercise their right to leave under the FMLA.
The new regulations under sections 29 CFR Sections 825.302(b) and 303(b) are too technical and detailed, and could give employers an excuse to deny leave to workers who should qualify for the leave by requiring employees to say the “magic words” to properly notify employers of their leave.
The proposed Section 310(g) would also make it harder for workers to use the leave they are entitled to. By requiring a fitness report for even one day off work, this new rule would make it harder for workers who suffer from chronic ailments to take leave.
I urge you to re-consider these regulations.
March 27, 2008: Teamster sanitation workers across Los Angeles have launched a solidarity campaign in support of Jose Morales, a shop steward who was fired for opposing Waste Management’s attacks on members’ rights.
On March 10, Waste Management terminated Jose Morales, a shop steward who was a rank-and-file leader during a Local 396 strike against the company in Los Angeles last fall.
The dispute with Waste Management began after the company distributed digital cameras to all drivers in its Sun Valley yard and instructed them to take photos of overloaded trash bins on their routes.
After Morales reported that he had mistakenly been issued two digital cameras—and returned one of the cameras to management— the company fired him on bogus charges of “dishonesty.”
The real reason that Morales was fired is that he publicly criticized the company for cutting members’ health benefits and organized against management efforts to impose weak contracts and permanently replace Teamster strikers.
Local 396 is taking Brother Morales’ case to arbitration.
Sanitation and UPS Teamsters are uniting to defend their fired Teamster brother. They are circulating a petition to demand that Waste Management immediately reinstate Morales.
“We’re taking action because Teamsters need to support one another and send the company a message that we are united for justice for all sanitation workers,” said Jose Luis Plascencia, a Local 396 member employed by Waste Management in the Sun Valley district.
March 27, 2008: Warehouse Teamsters in Washington state are fighting union-busting tactics at AmerisourceBergen—a major pharmaceutical supplier to Teamster Health & Welfare funds.
Now our union is turning up the heat on the company to bargain in good faith.
The Teamsters are turning up the heat on AmerisourceBergen Corp. (ABC) after the drug wholesaler broke the law and refused to bargain in good faith with our union.
ABC is one of the biggest pharmaceutical distributors in the country and a major supplier for Teamster Health and Welfare plans.
Local 117 members at the wholesaler’s warehouse in Kent, Wash. have been negotiating with the pharmaceutical giant for over a year.
The National Labor Relations Board has said the company violated U.S. labor law by refusing to bargain in good faith and unilaterally changing production standards and eliminating senior day shift positions without talking to the union.
In January, members walked off the job for a day to jump start talks. Then in February, workers traveled to the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Philadelphia and threatened more walkouts if the company continued to stall bargaining.
In the event of another strike, ABC says it will use replacement workers to keep their operation running—even going so far as to parade temps through the Kent warehouse.
Now Teamster Health and Welfare funds are getting involved. Over 50 Teamster trustees have sent letters to their fund’s pharmacy providers, asking about their relationship to ABC and urging them to make plans to choose another supplier in the event of a strike or lockout. Some funds have even put out new bids for replacements to ABC.
The pressure is starting to work. After the rally in February, the company put an improved contract offer on the table.
This year has gotten off to a busy start for Teamsters for a Democratic Union. We’ve been breaking the news about the details in important master contracts, helping members get organized to protect their benefits in New York and Baltimore, and developing and supporting new leadership in our union.
We’re expanding our network of working Teamsters who are committed to building a stronger Teamsters union. But to bring more members into the fold and expand on our organizing and educational efforts, we need more resources.
We count on support from Teamsters like you for the resources to grow. To put more TDU organizers in the field, do more legal and educational work, and build a movement strong enough to put our union on the right track for the future.
If you’re a TDU member, we’ll be asking for your financial support through the mail this month. We hope you’ll consider making a generous contribution.
A contribution to TDU is a contribution to the movement for change in our union. You know we’ll put every cent to work.
And if you’re not already a member of TDU, the best thing you can do to support the fight for the future of our union is to join today.
Gary M. Brooks, Local 705, Chicago
Willie Hardy, Local 667, Memphis
Joe Sexauer, Local 743, Chicago
Railroad Workers United Founding Convention
On Friday April 11, railroad workers from across North America will gather in Dearborn, Mich. for the founding convention of Railroad Workers United (RWU), a cross-craft inter-union caucus of railroaders drawn from the ranks of all crafts and all unions.
Rank-and-file members and many local union leaders are fed up with lousy contracts in the face of year after year of record profits for the carriers, and they are angry at increasing harassment and lack of respect on the job.
They are disgusted with the corruption of their union leadership, the lack of internal union democracy, and the woeful lack of membership involvement and participation found in many of the craft unions. And they have had enough of the back-biting, back-stabbing duplicity of a craft union leadership which seems all too often far more intent on squabbling with one another than building the unity and solidarity necessary to effectively fight the carriers.
If you work in the rail industry anywhere in North America—the U.S., Canada, or Mexico; if you are a carman, track worker, engineer, trainman, shop worker or other; if you hold membership in the BLET, the BMWED, the TCU, the UTU or any other rail union; if you work for a Class One road or a short line, please join us for this historic convention of ALL rail labor. For more information or to register, call 206-984-3051 or email info [at] railroadworkersunited.org
RWU Steering Committee
BLET Div. 51, Amtrak
March 20, 2008: A Teamster mechanic is a quarter million dollars richer after settling an OSHA whistle-blower complaint at UPS.
Teamster Local 687 member Dan Petersen was fired by UPS after he reported trucks in its Watertown, NY building were unsafe.
Petersen successfully won his job back through his local union and then took on the company for violating federal whistle-blower protections.
According to OSHA, UPS has paid Petersen $254,000 and pledged “not in any way interfere with, coerce or restrain its employees from exercising their rights…”
UPS admitted no wrong-doing, showing it’s easier to get Brown to pay up then to come clean.
Whistle-blower protections protect workers’ rights to report safety and health problems without fear of termination or retaliation.
Want to learn more about your health and safety rights?
Click here to send TDU a health and safety question.
Click here to buy the STAA Handbook, a guide on how to use federal law to enforce truck safety and protect your job.
Click here to watch 7 News reports on Dan Petersen’s efforts to ensure truck safety at UPS in Watertown, N.Y.
March 14, 2008: The UPS, freight and carhaul national contracts all have a Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) clause, to help protect against inflation eating away our wages. Teamsters are asking, with gas prices heading toward $4, will we get a COLA raise?
For UPS Teamsters the answer is No.
For freight Teamsters, the answer is apparently No.
For carhaulers, it is Maybe.
For DHL Teamsters, it is Yes, according to the proposed tentative agreement.
As prices for essentials like gas and milk go sky high, why no cost of living raise for UPS Teamsters? Because the UPS contract has language specifying no COLA for 2008. The next time any adjustment is possible is August 2009.
The freight contract language, as posted on the IBT website (Article 33), seems to indicate that Teamsters should get a COLA increase on April 1. However, other language received from the IBT states regarding COLA “No change except change dates to make effective in new agreement.” Apparently this language means No.
The proposed DHL tentative agreement states that COLA will be paid on April 1, 2008 (Article 21, Section 2 of proposed deal). We have calculated that it will be 16¢ per hour. Not enough to fill your tank, but certainly some help.
That same 16¢ is what freight Teamsters would have gotten this April 1, with language requiring it.
Carhaulers should get a COLA increase of 32¢ on June, assuming that the same clause in the existing contract is retained (the contract expires May 30) with a COLA pay out for this year. That remains to be bargained. Unfortunately Teamsters at Allied will get nothing, because of concessions signed last year.
Why twice as much for carhaul? Because the carhaul COLA formula pays exactly twice as much as the freight clause does. The mileage pay increase for carhaul (assuming the clause is in effect this year) will be 0.8¢ per running mile (1.6¢ per loaded mile).
The Devil in the Details
UPS and freight Teamsters get zero, DHL Teamsters get 16¢ (at least according to the language of the proposed deal), carhaulers will get 32¢ if the present clause is retained for this year.
This shows that when it comes to a cost of living clause, the details really count. Waiving the clause in this year of high inflation was costly to Teamsters.
Our national contracts have some protection against runaway inflation, but few local contracts do. It’s not an easy item to bargain with most employers. But with inflation heating up, it may be time to put it on the bargaining agenda wherever possible.