August 2, 2007: Thanks to a federal appeals court, an administration attempt to allow long-haul truck drivers to add an extra hour to their already long day has been overturned.
The court said the government provided insufficient evidence for lengthening the drivers' days from 10 to 11 hours.
August 1, 2007: TDU supplied the ammo, and now Teamsters from coast-to-coast are shooting down the sell-out of DHL Teamsters. And they won’t stop shooting till this monster is dead.
Today we received the good news that the deal has been stopped, at least for now. The Hoffa administration saw that the Draft National Contract was dead-on-arrival because it would never get approved by the members, and today called off negotiations and sent the local officials in Washington home early.
Rank-and-file power has won this round. But the battle for a good contract has only started.
On July 26, TDU made available to DHL Teamsters the Draft National Contract that would pull DHL out of the National Master Freight Agreement (NMFA) and give the company its long-sought white paper contract. And the draft contract was a stinker.
Teamster members, stewards and local officers are taking action. They continue to contact TDU, and are starting to network with each other. Petitions are circulating in DHL stations. Calls have poured into the Marble Palace. Stewards have called meetings to inform members.
That’s how we won this round.
On Monday, July 30, DHL union reps from various locals arrived in Washington for negotiations. Hoffa sent International Rep Ed Keyser to meet with them to try to put the fire out. Keyser stated that maybe the Draft Contract needs to be improved (!).
Hoffa’s assistant Brad Slawson, the person most responsible for this mess, didn’t show up till Wednesday, August 1. Slawson has been on the phone telling stewards and members that the Draft Contract doesn’t exist, that TDU made it up. (Earth to Brad: no one believes you.)
By the end of the day on August 1, the International suspended negotiations and sent the local officials home, with the statement that the Draft National Contract would be scrapped and a meeting would be held soon in Detroit with all affected locals, to start over. Stewards should be invited to that meeting, as they were in the previous DHL bargaining.
This movement now has to grow fast to prevent the return of the monster, and to lay the basis for a contract that protects our jobs and also uses our Teamster Power to organize the large non-union DHL sectors.
DHL Teamsters who want to get the latest news and learn what can be done, should contact TDU today. Call (313) 842-2600 or click here to send a message.
Download the bulletin, “Don’t Let DHL Pull Out of the NMFA”
Download the petition, “Preserve the NMFA at DHL”
August 1, 2007: Congress has passed new provisions strengthening “whistleblower” protections for truck drivers.
The new rules, part of the new anti-terrorism legislation, strengthen various whistleblower laws, including the employee protection provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act ("STAA").
The STAA, originally enacted in 1982, protects employees who file complaints with the Department of Transportation or their employers about violations of commercial vehicle safety regulations. TDU was instrumental in the passage of the law.
The STAA also protects employees against discipline or discharge if they refuse to drive in violation of a commercial vehicle safety regulation. However, in the past the STAA has provided no right to jury trial and required complaining parties to litigate their claims within the United States Department of Labor, where cases can drag on for years.
Here are improvements in the new law:
- Punitive Damages. In the past, a truck driver or other complainant under the STAA was only able to recover compensatory damages such as back wages, along with reinstatement to his job, attorney fees and court costs. In very serious cases, the new legislation allows someone who successfully prevails in a wrongful discipline or discharge claim to seek and recover up to $250,000 in punitive damages. This may deter some carriers from retaliating against a driver who refuses to drive in violation of hours of service regulations or refuses to operate unsafe trucks and trailers.
- Burden of Proof. The new legislation lowers the burden of proof for truck drivers and other parties who file claims with the Department of Labor under the STAA. The law specifically applies the proof burden required for whistleblowers in the airline industry such as pilots and airplane mechanics. This law provides that a claimant may prevail if he shows that his legally-protected activities were a motivating factor in the employer's decision to retaliate.
- Protection from Retaliation for Logging Accurately. The new legislation amends the STAA to specifically prohibit retaliation by an employer against drivers because those drivers accurately record their on-duty time, which would also include driving time. The new law also protects individuals who are perceived as being persons who are about to blow the whistleblower on an employer about violations of commercial vehicle safety regulations.
Jury Trials in Federal Court If DOL Fails to Act. Under the existing law, a truck driver or other complainant under the STAA must litigate his case solely within the structure of the Department of Labor. Complainants start with OSHA, which rules in favor of the truck drivers less than 10 percent of the time. A truck driver can then object and have a hearing before an administrative law judge of the Department of Labor. After the ALJ rules, the DOL's Administrative Review Board acts as an appeals court with the Department. The Board has sometimes taken 2 1/2 to 3 years to decide cases.
The new law allows complainants under the STAA to pull their case from the Department of Labor and litigate it in a United States District Court if the Department of Labor fails to rule on the claim within 210 days after filing. If the complainant chooses to proceed in Federal District Court, he is entitled to a jury trial. This may provide a useful approach in some cases where the DOL fails to act.
This legislation is a victory for whistleblowers within the trucking industry. Drivers and trucking safety advocates have been working for these changes for years. Special thanks go out to Adam Miles and Tom Devine of the Government Accountability Project and to my client and friend John Simon, who obviously touched a few hearts and motivated a few Congressional Representatives to take some action to address the concerns of truck drivers.
By Paul Taylor, attorney-at-law. Contact Paul at paul.taylor [at] truckersjusticecenter.com.
Get the STAA Handbook.
This handy, clearly written guidebook is a roadmap to understanding and using one of the most effective tools available to transportation industry workers to enforce truck safety. 114 pages. $8.00 each; $6.00 each for orders of five or more.
July 25, 2007: DHL Teamsters are uniting to save the national contract. Download the Draft Contract that would gut members’ rights and find out how you can help keep DHL in the NMFA.
For years, DHL has wanted to bust out of the NMFA and cut its own deal that includes part-timers like UPS—and other sweetheart terms favorable to the company. Our union has always said NO. But now, the International Union is negotiating a back room deal with DHL to get more dues-paying Teamsters in return for letting the company scrap the NMFA.
The time is now for DHL Teamsters to speak up and defend our contract. Fortunately, many Teamsters and local unions are doing just that.
Members across the country are circulating an informational bulletin and a petition to “Preserve the NMFA at DHL.”
DHL and the IBT have already started bargaining, with no input from members or locals. It's far from over but the draft contains plenty to be worried about, including:
- Part-Timers: The Draft Contract opens the door to a flood of part-timers, guaranteed just 15 hours a week. This could be a death sentence for good jobs at DHL. The Draft Contract includes this language: current full-timers would be red-circled by name and not forced down to part-time. Some protection that is!
- A two-page list of reasons that you can be immediately fired: The final is a catch-all loophole that would let DHL fire you for just about anything.
- A weakened grievance procedure: A company-based panel would be set up with only DHL management on the other side. Innocent until proven guilty would be eliminated and so would our Right to Strike on deadlocked grievances (“the hammer.”)
You can help save our contract. Get informed. Spread the word. Tell our International Union to save our contract.
Download the bulletin, “Don’t Let DHL Pull Out of the NMFA”
Download the petition, “Preserve the NMFA at DHL”
July 10, 2007: Bloomberg News: By David Mildenberg -- United Parcel Service Inc., the biggest employer of Teamsters members, said some of the union's locals are using a "campaign of deception" in an attempt to organize the company's freight-hauling unit.
"Some locals across the country have been telling employees there will be a Master Teamster Agreement, accompanied by regional supplemental agreements for UPS Freight," Jack Holmes, the unit's senior vice president of operations, said in a June 28 letter to its employees. "This is also not true."
The union is seeking to extend its contract from one UPS Freight facility in Indianapolis, where 125 workers have accepted representation, to the 15,000-employee unit's other 200 sites. Atlanta-based UPS, the world's largest package-delivery company, already employs 238,000 Teamster-represented drivers, clerks and sorters and is in contract talks for those workers.
"UPS might be trying to play some hardball and doing some posturing here," said Victor Devinatz, a professor of management at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois, who does research on labor relations and union organizing.
Ken Hall, the Washington-based union's chief negotiator with UPS, said in an e-mail that "our members are disgusted by these vicious anti-union attacks. Jack Holmes has obviously violated our agreement not to negotiate in the press. Unless UPS retracts the letter sent to their UPS Freight employees and disavows this tactic of negotiating through the press, we would be happy to respond in kind."
Close to the Vest
UPS and the Teamsters have guarded details since the talks began in September, which typically is the best approach, said Michael Belzer, an associate professor at Wayne State University in Detroit who studies trucking-industry labor relations. The current UPS-Teamster agreement runs through July 2008.
"My general maxim is that when the press starts writing about labor negotiations, something is wrong," Belzer said. "You get locked into positions that you may not want to be locked into."
UPS spokesman Norman Black confirmed the Holmes letter, posted yesterday on the Web site of Teamsters for a Democratic Union, a group often critical of the union's leadership.
"Though most Teamster locals across the country have acted responsibly during the past few months, a few have chosen to begin a campaign of deception in hopes of gaining your support," Holmes said in the letter.
UPS Freight includes the former Overnite Corp., a Richmond, Virginia-based trucking company that UPS bought for $1.3 billion in August 2005. During the previous decade, the union engaged in a largely unsuccessful effort to organize Overnite workers.
"Evidently when they purchased Overnite, UPS also purchased Overnite's union-busting legacy," said Hall, director of the Teamsters' parcel and small package division. The unit had 2006 sales of $1.83 billion, or 3.8 percent of UPS's $47.5 billion total.
Wages and benefits accounted for 60 percent of UPS operating expenses in the first quarter, compared with 43 percent at FedEx Corp., the second-largest U.S. package-delivery company.
Teamsters President James Hoffa is being pressured by members who want a tougher stance against UPS, which earned a record $4.2 billion last year. Hoffa said yesterday that he was optimistic about reaching an early agreement with the company on a new contract. He declined to give details of the negotiations.
"While the Teamsters are playing patty-cake, UPS is kicking the union in the butt,'' said Ken Paff, the national organizer for Teamsters for a Democratic Union. "UPS will provide high wages to their full-time workers, but they also want 100 percent domination of work rules."
UPS shares fell 36 cents to $74.04 at 4:28 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. They have declined 9 percent in the past year.
July 18, 2007: The International Union has requested all freight Local Unions to hold Contract Proposal Meetings by August 3, and to submit proposals to be received in Washington by August 13.
We encourage all freight members and stewards to take the time to submit proposals. A copy of the form to use is attached. (There is one form for the master (Articles 1-39) and one for the supplement). You can make copies to submit one proposal on each, and to get fellow Teamsters to do the same.
These proposals may be turned in to your local union by August 3 or mailed directly to the IBT.
The International Union has given very little time for this process, in the middle of the vacation season. Despite that situation, we urge members to use this opportunity to get involved now.
The forms are attached. Indicate the Article you want to change, or write “NEW” if proposed new article.
If sending directly to the IBT, send to Jim Kimball – Economics and Contracts Dept, Teamsters Union, 25 Louisiana Ave N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001.
What Are Your Proposals for the NMFA?
The TDU Freight Network is gathering proposal ideas so that we can choose a targeted number of key issues to rally around.
We won’t win everything. But united, the rank-and-file can make an impact on next year’s NMFA bargaining by holding our negotiators’ feet to the fire on our key demands.
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: 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: IBT Election Supervisor Richard Mark has very likely made his final decision of the 2006 IBT Campaign, and done so in a confusing manner.
Mark upheld the firing of Dan Virtue and Carlos Ramos by Hoffa, for the “crime” of Virtue running for Eastern International Vice President. Mark reasoned that since the action was taken after the election was over and certified, Hoffa could fire any political opponents and hire any cronies.
If that’s the case, we wonder why it took six months to issue the decision, which has been appealed by Virtue and Ramos.
In January, Virtue was removed as Eastern Region Freight Coordinator and Carlos Ramos, a Virtue supporter, was removed as an International Rep.
The seven-page decision makes clear that the Hoffa administration, in particular his Executive Assistant Leo Deaner, made up one lie after another to justify their actions. The investigation revealed that Hoffa’s stated reasons for firing Virtue were false.
Freight Director Tyson Johnson and former Director Phil Young testified that that Virtue did an “excellent” job.
The pretenses for firing Virtue included blaming him for Hoffa’s disastrous Red Star strike. Organizing Director Jeff Farmer contradicted that story to investigators.
The Election Supervisor indicates that if the firing had been during the election, his decision would have been very different.
So a thorough investigation showed that Hoffa fires respected leaders who are doing an excellent job for the “crime” of running for office or working to maintain national standards in freight. It may be legal. But it’s not good unionism or good leadership.