In December, James Hoffa came out in opposition to the “Red Zone” cut-back amendment, at least in writing, after supporting it for most of 2005.On Dec. 15 the House of Representatives took up their own version of pension reform for a vote. The CSPIC steering committee faxed letters to Congressional Representatives, opposing the bill if it included the Red Zone amendment. The Pension Rights Center also lobbied against the House version. It is not known what, if anything, the IBT did.
The House passed the bill and it contains cutback provisions. The Senate version does not contain the Red Zone amendment. CSPIC leaders and some Teamster local officers visited Senators and staff earlier this year to help make that happen. The battle will now move into conference committee, with the Senate and House working out differences between the two bills.
This will not start until after the Congressional recess, in late January or early February.
“CSPIC will help get word out to Teamsters once we know who is on the conference committee,” Local 391 retiree Frank Bryant said. “We will need to push hard one more time to prevent this dangerous provision from being included in so-called reform legislation.”
We urge Teamsters to write your Representatives and Senators: oppose the Red Zone amendment that would allow pensions and already-earned pension credits to be cut. Those protections have been federal law since 1984. Weakening them is no way to protect the pensions of Americans.
Click here: Apples and Oranges, or Just Rotten Apples?: Study Counters Central States' Claims
Click here: IBT Needs Plan for Countering Employer Attacks on Benefits
Click here: Central States Fund Trustees Keep Pension and Health Care Cuts In Place
In the first decision of the court under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts, the Court cleared the way for 815 Tyson employees to receive $7.3 million in a class action suit originally filed by TDU members in Pasco, Wash. in 1998.
In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that workers should be paid for the time it takes them to put on their protective clothing and walk from the locker room to the production line. Previously, Tyson management saved millions of dollars by forcing workers to do this work off the clock.
The case was closely watched by organized labor and big business alike. The victory means that tens of thousands of poultry workers will likely succeed in two nationwide class action cases that are now pending against Tyson.
The Supreme Court victory also paves the way for workers to collect an additional $11.4 million in unpaid wages that they were awarded in 2004 in a second class action lawsuit against Tyson. More litigation is expected.
“It took a long time, but it was worth the wait just to show that workers can win when we get together,” said Maria Martinez, a Teamster and TDU leader who was the main organizer behind both lawsuits.
Hoffa's Freight Director and Southern Region Vice President Tyson Johnson has announced his candidacy for General President. Other IBT Vice Presidents and Hoffa supporters are reportedly abandoning the Hoffa ship.
The breakup of the Hoffa Unity Slate is an embarrassing and damaging blow to Hoffa, whose record of pension cuts and declining Teamster power has cost him support from members and officers alike.
In 2001, the Hoffa Campaign depended on the united support of most Teamster officials to deliver the vote. Now that unity is fracturing.
As the Hoffa camp splits, growing numbers of Teamster members and officers are getting behind the Tom Leedham Strong Contracts, Good Pension Slate.Click here to visit the Tom Leedham Strong Contracts, Good Pensions Slate Website
Click here: Hoffa 'Dis-Unity' Slate Splits
Click here: Members Back Tom Leedham Candidacy
Click here: After the Hoffa Split: Forging Alliances Based on Plans, Not Personalities
Click here: Teamster Candidates Will Debate
At a November 8 meeting of union officials International Vice President and Trustee Chairman Fred Gegare told stunned officials that union trustees have put their stamp of approval on new attacks on our pensions and benefits. Specifically, the trustees agreed:- to maintain a long term freeze in the cuts to the Central States pension accrual rate- to not restore 25- and 30-and-out, which have been eliminated for younger Teamsters, and
- to divert health and welfare money for 2007 to the pension fund, which will mean more cuts in medical benefits for Teamsters and retirees.
In addition, the Fund will require that all future contracts will have to include an increase in pension contributions of 7 percent in each year of the contract. Negotiating these huge hikes in pension contributions will divert money from wage increases and medical benefits—but Teamster members will see no pension improvements in return because our trustees have agreed not to increase the pension multiplier or restore 25-and 30-and-out benefits!
No members were allowed to attend the officials’ only meeting where these terms were announced. Three weeks have passed and members still have not received any information. This is our fund and our benefits at stake. But once again, the union trustees are keeping members in the dark.
Roots of the Crisis
The latest crisis at Central States is rooted in the Hoffa administration’s failure to bargain enough employer contributions into the fund in the last UPS, freight and carhaul negotiations. Fund documents that we obtained by going to court prove that Hoffa knew that cuts were on the horizon.
But instead of leveling with the members and fighting for higher contributions, Hoffa hid the facts and promised, in writing, that all our pension and medical benefits would be protected for the life of those contracts.
Without the needed contributions, the fund’s credit balance continued to deteriorate. In 2003, the credit balance was approaching the point where the IRS would require employers to increase their contributions to the plan. That’s when the employers sought sharp cuts in pension accruals and the virtual elimination of retiree health coverage.
Both our union and the employers had an interest in taking steps to improve the Fund’s credit balance. But the employers had a special interest, because they faced the threat of IRS-imposed penalties and increased contributions. That threat gave our union trustees bargaining power.
Our union trustees could have used that leverage to insist on a union-sponsored study and bargain for the best possible outcome for Teamster members. Instead our union trustees just went along with the employers’ demands for cuts without any fight—effectively surrendering control of our fund to the employers.
Now the Hoffa administration has gone a step further and turned decision-making power over our benefits to the IRS. In exchange for an IRS extension of the period allowing for amortizing the Fund’s unfunded liabilities, the Trustees agreed to lock in the pension cuts and usher in more healthcare cuts.
The employers and IRS got what they wanted and Teamster members got the shaft. Our Union Trustees are supposed to represent our interests. Under the Hoffa administration, they have failed miserably. It’s time for them to go—and to be replaced with trustees who will fight for Teamster members.
No Accountability Is the Problem
The Hoffa administration keeps dragging out the same, tired excuses, over and over. The stock market declined in 2000-2001, retirees live longer now, and there are more retirees than active members. Is any of this big news? These are well-known facts. The reason we have Trustees is to manage these challenges—not to use them to justify cuts in our benefits.
TDU commissioned a comparison with other Teamster Funds, which showed that funds with the same demographic have weathered the “perfect storm” much better. It’s time to fire the Trustees who are destroying our Central States benefits.
Amid the lies and cover-ups, you never hear one word about a positive plan to build up our Fund. Do they plan to bring some 50,000 UPS Part-Timers into the Central States Fund in the next contract? They are in the Teamster Funds in the West, in New England and in Upstate New York. Why not Central States?
Is there a plan to organize UPS-Overnite and bring many thousands more into the Fund? The Hoffa administration doesn’t have a plan to build up our fund—just plans to cut our benefits. That’s exactly what UPS and other employers want—cuts that will undermine our good union benefits and drive a wedge between members and our union.
Teamster members and leaders fought for years to win good pension and medical benefits. Sometimes we took light wage increases to make it happen. We fought to win early retirement benefits so we could get out of these hard jobs with our health intact. We fought together to win them, now Fred Gegare and the Hoffa Administration destroy them and tell us we should be glad we don’t work at Enron.
Those characters need to be replaced. If our trustees won’t step down, then we need to put them into retirement by electing new leadership in the 2006 International Union election.
November 1, 2005:When employer and union trustees colluded to cut their pensions, Teamster members in New York Local 805 fought back. First, they elected new local officers who sued the employer trustees. Now, they’ve scored a major victory for pension justice.
Local 805 President Sandy Pope has finalized a settlement that reduces the pension cuts, raises members' pension accrual retroactively, and institutes sweeping reforms in how the pension plan is run.
In December, the Employer Trustees on the Local 805 Pension Fund slashed future pension benefit accruals to zero with the help of the former Local 805 President Gerry Whelan who voted in favor of the cut. The employer trustees then turned around and hired Whelan and his wife to run the Funds.
The Local 805 pension fight shows the right union leadership can make a difference in protecting our pensions. Local 805 is a small local with early retirement benefits of $2,500/month—not UPS or freight money, but a solid pension for a fund of it size. The employers slashed the pension to zero to avoid having to increase their contributions.
But a strong stand by the new reform leaders of Local 805 took on this pension scheme. In exchange for dropping the lawsuit in Federal Court, Local 805 won a settlement that turned back the pension attack:
- Cut to zero eliminated: The accrual rate of zero adopted in December will never go into effect. The Union Trustees and the Employer Trustees will each hire an actuary to determine the highest future benefit accrual rate the Pension Fund can afford. The new rate will be applied retroactive to the beginning of the "zero period."
- New, professional fund manager: The former union president who went along with the scheme and his wife are both gone from the fund. A professional fund manager has been hired.
- Trustee reforms: The Board of Trustees of the fund will be restructured. The Union and the Employers will each add two new members. This reform will break up the clique of employers who dominated the fund. Of the two new Union Trustees, one will be a Local 805 retiree. The Union Trustees already includes two rank-and-file members.
Under the agreement, the employer trustees are required to accept the highest, prudent recommendation from the actuaries. While the accrual rate may not be fully restored (the Fund suffered market losses experienced by all Pension Funds), participants will be getting the highest benefit the plan can afford. The new Local 805 leadership and union trustees made a strong stand against the employers attack on members’ pension, and leveraged the best possible result for the members—all while keeping members informed every step of the way.That’s a far cry from what happened in funds like the Central States and an example of the difference the right leadership can make when our pensions are under attack.
A review of hundreds of Teamster financial documents uncovered a web of political patronage in which the Hoffa administration used money from the 2002 dues increase to balloon the salaries of key political supporters. The annual study of Teamster officer compensation also revealed a growing divide among union officials. On one side of the salary divide are the majority of local union officers. Half of all local unions pay their principal officer less than $86,000 a year.
On the other side of the salary divide is an elite club of super-compensated Teamster officials, most on the Hoffa administration payroll. Most take home one or more additional Teamster salaries from a Teamster local, joint council or other affiliate.
These super-compensated officials—and the multiple salaries they receive—lie at the heart of the patronage scheme.
Financial documents from the Department of Labor revealed:
• The number of officials on the IBT payroll receiving a multiple salary has increased from just 18 to 148 since Hoffa took office— a staggering 722 percent increase.
• A record 25 Teamster officials now make more than $200,000 a year. Twenty of them are on Hoffa’s payroll.
• In all, 119 officials on the IBT payroll make more than $100,000—a figure that leaped after the 2002 dues hike. Eighty percent of them get multiple salaries.
These officials form the backbone of Hoffa’s political machine. They number among Hoffa’s biggest donors and are the officials the Hoffa Campaign uses to turn out the vote.
Are the 148 multiple salaries doled out by the Hoffa administration helping to buy that political loyalty? You be the judge.
Multiple Salaries—Center of Teamster ControversyFor the last 30 years, members and concerned officers have organized to reform our union’s financial priorities—fighting to eliminate perks for top officials and put our union’s resources towards building union power. Multiple salaries have been at the center of that struggle.
The $100,000 Club has informed members, shed a light on abuses and brought about change. In 1990, when TDU printed the multiple salaries of several candidates for International office, they were quietly dropped from the slate and retired.
In 1993, General President Ron Carey abolished the Area Conferences and in one day eliminated 63 multiple salaries. By 1998, only 18 officials on the International payroll got a multiple salary.
Since taking office in 1999, Hoffa has reversed that trend by handing out numerous regional titles and salaries to political allies. Hoffa also uses the IBT payroll to discipline his critics. Hoffa stripped Willie Whelan of a $20,000 a year multiple salary as the Eastern Director of the Dairy Conference after he and Billie Lee Whelan, the head of Local 803, criticized the IBT for providing no support to a Teamster organizing drive in Long Island.
Click here: Patronage or Teamster Power
Click here: $100,000 Club 2005 (Acrobat Reader Required)
Click here: Officer's Salaries: A Wide Range
Click here: $100,000 Club Findings
Each year, the Teamster Rank & File Education and Legal Defense Foundation (TRF) conducts a comprehensive analysis of Teamster financial documents and officer compensation.
Convoy Dispatch publishes the results in our annual $100,000 Club issue.
This year, the study focuses on the record number of super-compensated Teamster officials—making $150,000, $200,000 or more—who are on the International Union payroll.
Our $100,000 Club analyzes how the Hoffa administration is using members' dues money in a political patronage scheme—by guaranteeing multiple salaries to a network of political allies.
A total of 148 officials on Hoffa's payroll get multiple salaries. This figure has skyrocketed by 722 percent since Hoffa took office.
Our study also examines the growing salary gap between these super-compensated officials and the majority of local union principal officers who make $86,000 a year or less.
Is all of our dues money being used like it should to fight corporate greed and build union power? Or is some going for patronage and pork? We provide the data and let you decide.
Researchers found that not only is Teamster organizing down in the Hoffa years, but that the IBT has failed to strategically focus on the targets that could boost the union’s bargaining power in key industries.
The study was conducted by the Teamster Rank and File Education and Legal Defense Foundation, which has analyzed NLRB organizing figures and Department of Labor statistics for years. Key report findings include:
• Teamster membership has fallen by over 100,000 since 1999 when Hoffa took office. The recent mergers of two rail unions and the graphic communication workers have recouped some of these losses, but mergers are not organizing. And you don’t spend millions on organizing to merge with other unions.
• Organizing under Hoffa continues to fall far behind what was achieved in the 1990s. In 2004 the IBT won 248 elections. This figure was slightly better than the 228 wins in 2003, but worse than the 278 wins in 2002, and far worse than the average of 380 new shops organized annually a decade ago.
• Teamster organizing under Hoffa has largely ignored the nonunion competition in our union’s core industries. Tucking and warehousing companies were targeted in just 19 percent of Teamster organizing drives.
More Money, Less OrganizingGeneral Secretary-Treasurer Tom Keegel recently reported that the Hoffa administration has “poured $44 million into organizing.” But even the largest dues hike in Teamster history failed to reverse the Hoffa administration’s record on organizing.
In 2002, the Hoffa administration raised members’ dues by 25 percent, in part, he said, to boost organizing. Hoffa also reshuffled the organizing department and installed Jeff Farmer as Director of Organizing. The Hoffa administration promised then—just as they are promising now—that the IBT would focus on organizing the nonunion competition to boost Teamster membership and bargaining power in our core industries.
Not only has Teamster organizing dropped far below the levels achieved in the 1990s, but organizing is not directed at strategic targets. The IBT did not participate in a single NLRB organizing election at freight companies Overnite, Conway, Estes or Watkins in 2004.
Cintas, touted by the IBT as a big national campaign coordinated with the UNITE HERE union, does not appear at all in the NLRB statistics. How much of the $44 million was “poured” into this campaign?
Some Teamster organizing takes place outside the NLRB process, among public workers or rail and airline workers. However, most Teamster organizing, especially in our core industries, is covered by these NLRB statistics.
Making Gains in WasteTrucking and warehousing recruitment brought a little over 2,000 workers into the union. Healthcare came in second, with a little over 1,000 workers organized The third largest group of workers organized in 2004 was in waste hauling. A number of local unions have worked with the IBT to organize BFI, Waste Management and Allied—the big players in this industry. In 2002 Waste Management accounted for the most IBT elections against any single employer (20 elections). In 2004 activity has lessened somewhat but continues to show some life. There were 16 elections (and nine wins) against BFI, Waste Management and Allied in 2004.
Is DHL the Strategic Campaign We Are Looking For?Our union experienced an organizing opportunity when the express package delivery company DHL bought Airborne Express. In 2004 the IBT won elections at up to fifty DHL contractors around the country (the exact figure is hard to determine because DHL just drops organized contractors, forcing the locals to organize the same group under another company’s name). Large units of DHL workers were also won in New York and Miami. Overall the IBT organized over 1,500 DHL workers in 2004.
On paper and in press releases the DHL record looks good. Behind the scenes, however, many local union officials are unhappy with the IBT’s handling of the drive. Some locals have organized the same DHL unit more than once, investing significant resources into the same organizing drive without any end in sight of a good contract that can be defended. Local 162 in Portland, Ore. finally struck the DHL contractor, effectively shutting down their airport operation. The local had leverage until the IBT stepped in and told them to call off the strike. The employer knew of the IBT’s decision before the local did.
We need to use the clout we have with thousands of Teamsters organized at DHL, including in many big cities and including the pilots, to put pressure on DHL to stop recycling the contractors as they are organized. The DHL drive has the potential to bring 10,000 new trucking Teamsters into our national contract and pension plans. We need to make it happen.
Click here: Study Reveals Cost of Hoffa's Broken "Cut and Cap" Promises
Click here: IBT Organizing Lags Again in 2004
Click here: NLRB Statistics on Teamster Organizing
October 30, 2005: Teamster organizing figures have decreased for the second straight year, according to the latest figures available from the National Labor Relations Board. A new report on Teamster organizing reveals the Hoffa administration is lagging far behind the organizing levels achieved in the 1990s.
Hoffa recently pulled the Teamsters out of the AFL-CIO, supposedly to free up resources for organizing. But only one percent of Teamster dues were going to the AFL-CIO. Half that amount is now going to the Change to Win Coalition for a net savings of just $4 million per year.
In contrast, Hoffa’s broken campaign promises to "Cut and Cap" officers’ pay and to introduce other financial reforms have cost our union more than $15 million that could have been put toward organizing.
Click here: Organizing Report Shows Need for New Strategies to Build Power
Click here: Study Reveals Cost of Hoffa's Broken "Cut and Cap" Promises
Click here: NLRB Statistics on Teamster Organizing
Coli is best known for his prominent role in the scandal that led Hoffa’s anti-corruption czar Ed Stier to resign last year, along with the entire staff of Project RISE, Hoffa’s anti-corruption program. Coli was accused of using his influence in the General President’s office to shut down Stier’s investigations into organized crime influence and corruption in Chicago. Hoffa pulled the plug on Stier’s investigations—and Stier resigned in protest—before these allegations against Coli could be proven. But here is what is definitely known about Hoffa’s newest running mate.
Coli is the head of the powerful Chicago Joint Council and of Local 727. He inherited the leadership of Local 727 in 1992 after his father retired and his brother was removed from the Teamsters by the Independent Review Board (IRB). Coli’s father was a member of the Chicago mafia, according to the Stier Report of 2004, but he himself has never been identified as a mob associate.
Coli’s local is being investigated by the FBI, and a Grand Jury has issued subpoenas regarding alleged kickbacks and fraud involving the members’ dental plan. A report by Stier details a scheme where money from the plan travels to an “insurer” owned by a Florida dentist, then to an account in Illinois, before a lesser amount is deposited in the dental service providers’ authorized account.
What It Means
Why would James Hoffa name this man to his slate, hoping to make him a top leader of the Teamsters Union? This is a man who inherited his power, is under FBI investigation, helped kill-off the Teamster anti-corruption program, and whose first love is the members’ money.
He is doing it because Coli is a Teamster power broker: he has personal influence in high places inside our union.
This is the same reason Hoffa put another Chicago power broker, Billy Hogan, on his slate ten years ago, until investigations of his operations got too hot. Eventually Hogan was removed from the union for trying to implement a sweetheart contract with a company that his family had an interest in.
This is the opposite of the way power should flow in our union. It should flow upward, from the members, stewards and local organizers. Leadership should be earned, not inherited or extorted. Leaders should be selected for their integrity and their ability to win strong contracts.
In 2006 Teamster members will have a choice between those two kinds of leadership.