The truth is that the International Union is millions of dollars in the red. Don’t take our word for it. This data comes from the IBT’s own audited reports and financial reports filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. These reports are signed by Hoffa and Keegel.
International Union Net Assets Are Below Zero
The IBT’s LM-2 financial report revealed net assets of minus $8.5 million. That’s right, the IBT has a negative balance sheet.
So why do Hoffa-Keegel claim in the February 2005 Teamster magazine that the IBT has net assets of $148 million? Are they lying to the Department of Labor—or are they lying to the rank and file?
Hoffa even brags on page 16 that “we have the largest net assets in the labor movement.” When Hoffa claims the “highest net assets” of any union, he must mean highest negative assets! By way of comparison the United Auto Workers has net assets of $1.128 billion. And the UAW is half the size of the Teamsters.
Two terms of Hoffa-Keegel and our net assets have dropped by more than $10 million. They have taken us into the red.
In July 2002 we had the largest dues hike in the history of the Teamsters, enacted by the Hoffa “No Dues Increase” slate. Dues went from 2 hours pay to 2.5 hours pay for Teamster members. The bulk of this new money went to the IBT, not local unions. The International Union’s income nearly doubled.
How Could their Big Dues Hike Lead to Deficit?
Ten percent of the IBT budget goes to organizing and fifteen percent to our strike fund. The rest is for the unrestricted use of the leadership. With IBT income up 79%, salaries and appointments have ballooned.
The IBT also has obligations for special officials-only pensions and retirement health plans, that have put the union into debt. According the IBT’s own LM-2 report, the IBT owes unfunded obligations of $55 million in retiree health benefits for IBT employees and also for IBT officials and appointees.
This is a special health plan, not available to working Teamsters. It provides 100 percent coverage for life, for retirees and their families.
No premiums to pay, ever.
No Cuts for Hoffa Appointees
Does that sound better than your health plan? What happened when health costs went up for your retiree coverage? For Central States Teamsters, retiree coverage for a Teamster and spouse has gone from costing $50 per month to an average of over $1000, under Hoffa’s leadership.
Central States Union Chair, Fred Gegare, says that is necessary due a “perfect storm.” But notice that Gegare has free health care for life for his family.
The IBT could lower that obligation, and get our union out of debt, by instituting cost savings and having Gegare and other retired officials pay some co-pays or premiums for their health care. But they won’t do that.
There is an additional $59 million deficiency owed to the pension plan for employees, appointees and officials of the IBT. Do you think they will cut pension accruals in half for highly paid officials? That would help our balance sheet. Central States cut your pension accrual in half.
Will Gegare cut his own?
Old Lies Smell Bad
Once again in the February Teamster magazine they continue to blame the previous leadership of Ron Carey for their own greed and mistakes. Carey left the union in late 1997, nearly eight years ago. At that time, our union had better net assets than it does now, by more than $10 million. Even after all liabilities were accounted for, our union was in the black.
Isn’t it time for Hoffa and Keegel to quit playing the blame game and take responsibility for their own mismanagement?
Hoffa and Keegel recently signed checks for 34 consecutive months to Executive Assistant Carlow Scalf, money that Scalf was embezzling from the IBT. No wonder we are in the red.
The IBT will eventually get out of the red, with that 79 percent increase in income pouring in over $140 million a year. But the money is not being used to build Teamster power as we were promised.
No Teamster should resent paying dues: our union needs money to take on corporate greed. But we have a right to expect our money to be used to build union power, not pork. And, we deserve the truth—not spin or lies—from the officials who manage hundreds of millions of our dues dollars.
February 5, 2005: The contracts that cover about 8,000 Teamster drivers, warehouse workers and office clerks in the Southern California grocery industry are set to expire Sept. 15, 2005.
Coming on the heels of last year’s grueling four-and-a-half month strike and lockout of the UFCW store clerks, these negotiations are sure to be some of the toughest and most demanding in recent history.
Are the employers in a position to take us on like they did the clerks? Is the Teamster leadership prepared to battle the company if necessary? These, and many others, are the questions that rank and filers are asking.
“We will never know exactly what the companies are going to do, and sometimes it is difficult for us to be certain what our Teamster leadership will do. But one thing is for sure: the rank and file grocery industry Teamsters had better be prepared for whatever possibilities we may face,” says Chuck Robinson, a driver for Albertsons.
A New Era
These negotiations mark the end of one era and the beginning of a new one. The long-time union negotiating chair, Jerry Vercruse, passed away last year and the new chair is IBT Vice President Jim Santangelo, who is also the head of Joint Council 42.
Santangelo did an abysmal job during the UFCW strike, so rank and file Teamsters had better be prepared if we want these negotiations to be a success.
I recently contacted the California State Attorney General’s office and obtained a copy of the “Mutual Strike Assistance Agreement” that Ralphs (Kroger), Albertsons, and Vons (Safeway) entered into prior to those negotiations.
Mutual strike assistance? I thought these employers were supposed to be competitors! When it comes to taking on organized labor, these employers are allies and they are united.
Teamster Unity Needed
As Teamsters we need to send the employers a signal that we are just as prepared and united. Management needs to get that message from our leaders—but that’s not enough. The employers need to see the same determination from the ranks. They need to see us getting informed, involved and prepared to take action if necessary to defend our contract and our benefits.
Our union needs a coordinated campaign—with regular contract campaign updates, stickers, petitions, t-shirts, rallies and action days. We need to build a member-to-member communication and mobilization structure to maximize Teamster participation in these activities.
The best way for us to avoid a strike is for the companies to see that we are prepared for one. They need see that members are capable of quickly spreading information and taking rapid action. We can demonstrate that ability by building a strong, effective contract campaign starting now—not waiting until negotiations hit a crisis point.
We also need to make a break with the traditional dinosaur methods of contract negotiations. Rank and filers need to be a part of the negotiating committee, not just officials and business agents.
Rank and file members are the ones most affected by the contract and we deserve a seat at the bargaining table. We should be part of formulating the proposals that are presented to management.
When an offer is ready to be voted on we need to demand that we have an informed vote.
We need ample time to thoroughly review the proposals, and we need everything available in writing. No reading from the podium or side agreements popping up after the vote.
Power of the Rank and File
Teamsters in the grocery industry need to realize the power we possess and the positive gains that we can achieve if we exercise that power effectively. The power of the rank and file is the key to obtaining a quality contract.
It’s our future. Let’s fight for it!
Frank Halstead, Shop Steward
Local 572, Ralphs Grocery Co.
February 17, 2005: Boston Local 25 President Ritchie Reardon told Joint Council 10 that the IBT Parcel Division approved a mid-contract giveback to UPS that violates language in the New England supplement. Reardon’s statement was part of his testimony in a hearing on internal union charges over the concession. The testimony marks the first time that anyone has put on the record that the IBT approved the contract concession. Reardon said the approval was not issued in writing.
Sunday to Thursday Without Premium Pay
Local 25 negotiated a side agreement with UPS management, after the company threatened to move some jobs, that allowed the company to establish a Sunday to Thursday workweek with no premium pay for Sundays. The New England supplement recognizes only a Monday to Friday or a Tuesday to Saturday workweek. The UPS contract requires that all mid-contract agreements be approved by the Joint National Negotiating Committee.
The giveback quickly spread to locals 42, 191, 340 and 671.
Other local unions voted the giveback down or refused to hold a vote—even though UPS threatened some locals that they would lose work if they did so.
Members have argued that the change to the regional supplement should have been put to a regional vote—rather than allowing UPS to pit local against local for the best deal.
The impact of this giveback continues to be felt. Recently UPS management at the Worcester hub posted a notice stating that the a.m. sort would be shut down and that the volume would be “moved to other hubs.” Worcester Local 170 was one of the locals that resisted the side agreement.
If the IBT and all New England locals had stayed united it would be impossible for management to pit members against each other in this manner.
A lawsuit filed by members to reverse the concession was dismissed on a technicality Jan. 13. The judge hearing the case ruled that the suit needed to be filed within six months of the change at Local 25, rather than within six months of the date that Local 25 refused to process members’ grievance against the change.
According to Local 25 member David Whitney, the New England Supplement Protection Committee will continue pursuing the issue through charges that are under investigation at the National Labor Relations Board. Also, internal union charges have been filed against officials of all the local unions that made the change without a proper vote of the members
Teamsters have been petitioning across North America to make the Leedham slate the officially accredited team to put forward new leadership for the Teamsters Union. It will also give all Teamsters the right to hear from the candidates in the Teamster Magazine. (The Leedham campaign asks that all Petitions be received by December 9, at Leedham Campaign, 320 7th Ave #338, Brooklyn, NY 11215. See www.leedham2006.org for further info.)
Next StepsThe Campaign is producing a DVD of Tom Leedham’s speech to the TDU Convention. Running approximately 20 minutes, Tom’s speech covers his background as a working Teamster and addresses many of the key issues in the upcoming campaign. This can be used to introduce Tom to fellow Teamsters. Copies will soon be available from the campaign. Order your copy at info [at] leedham2006.org or by mail; include a donation for the DVD.
The Leedham campaign and reform Teamsters are looking ahead to the next steps in the campaign, including:
• Convention Delegate Races: Almost all local unions will hold delegate elections, with nominations in January in most, February in some. We need to elect delegates who will nominate the Tom Leedham Strong Contracts, Good Pensions Slate and support reform proposals at the Convention. The time is now for plans to run and win. Need ideas or help? Contact the campaign at leedhamslate [at] gmail.com.
• Outreach:To win in 2006, we need a strong, well-coordinated grassroots network of Teamster volunteers. The Leedham Campaign needs your help in building a database of supporters. Please mail or email to the campaign the names and contact information you have (phone #s, email addresses, and/or addresses) for Teamsters who will support the campaign.
• Fundraising: It’s simple. To win in 2006, the Leedham Campaign needs to raise serious money. The campaign is now able to take credit card donations online at www.leedham2006.org. We encourage all supporters to donate today.
Georgia has a long tradition in the history of Teamster reform. Teamsters here have also been deeply involved in the effort to stop pension and health benefit cuts.
While continuing to move ahead with positive changes, members in both locals may now also face what is becoming a worn-out routine under the Hoffa administration: re-run elections. The losing slates in both locals have filed protests.
Local 528 members will also be demanding that the International end its trusteeship of the local, imposed over 20 months ago, and install their duly elected officers as quickly as possible.
January 28, 2005: New York Local 805 members elected the Sandy Pope Leadership Action Team in balloting on Dec. 7. Pope, a long-time leader in the Teamster reform movement and a member of the TDU International Steering Committee, defeated the incumbent president by a wide margin. All seven members of her slate were elected.
Cuts to the Local 805 pension were a major issue in the campaign. Pope opposed them and said the union should launch a campaign to preserve benefits. Incumbent President Gerry Whelan said that stock market losses in 2001 and 2002 made pension cuts inevitable even though the Local 805 pension fund is 90% funded—making it much stronger than other funds that have cut benefits.
Members backed Pope by a 58% to 42% margin with 55% of the local’s 1,200 members voting. But Whelan was not about to let the voice of the members get in the way of his plan to cut members’ pension.
In an 11th-hour move before leaving office, Whelan struck a deal with employers to cut the pension accrual rate to zero—meaning that members will earn no pension credit beginning in 2005. At the same fund meeting, employer trustees and an alternate designated by Whelan’s defeated executive board voted to hire Whelan as the fund manager.
As we go to press, the new Local 805 executive board is making plans for a campaign to defeat the pension cuts and job grab pushed through by Whelan and the employers—including possible litigation.
“Gerry took care of himself and hung the members out to dry,” said Ralph Vomaro, the newly elected secretary-treasurer on the Leadership Action Slate. “We’re not going to let him or the employers undermine our benefits.”
Pope and the Leadership Action Team have a track record of defeating employer demands for benefit cuts. In the last round of negotiations, multiple Local 805 employers demanded that members start paying for a portion of their medical benefits.
Instead, Pope, with the backing of strong rank and file negotiating committees, bargained record contribution increases that preserved members’ medical benefits without cuts or cost-sharing on the monthly premium.
“Local 805 members elected the Leadership Action Team to strengthen union representation and fight to protect our benefits—and that’s what we’re going to do,” Pope said.
January 28, 2005: On December 9 Judge James B Moran directed the trustees of the Teamster Central States Pension Fund to turn more documents over to participants in the fund. The decision expands an October 21 victory won by Teamster members in Locals 638, 391 and 20.
Central States has now been ordered to reveal quarterly reports, along with financial and actuarial supplementary attachments, from August of 2000 up till the present, and into the future. The information will help members see just what should have been done, and what can be done now, and who is responsible for the drastic cuts the trustees imposed on members and retirees.
“It’s a great victory. Hopefully when we get these documents we can get an expert evaluation of the situation,” commented Tommy Burke, a UPS driver in Local 391 who is one of the intervenors in court. “I want to thank our attorney, Paul Levy, for his good work.”
The trustees are apparently considering whether to appeal, to try to continue to hide from the Teamster membership.
Teamster Website False
The Teamster website, in a “Central States Update” contains false information on the situation. First, it states the court only ordered that two reports be revealed. The truth is that the court ordered that many reports be turned over, along with additional separate financial attachments. Central States is stalling on many of them. Second, the International claims that Public Citizen Litigation Group took the action; in truth, Public Citizen represents Teamster members who are long time fund participants. Third, the International says the reports contain “little new information.” This statement is interesting, and was immediately reported to Judge Moran by the members’ attorney, because in court the International’s trustees claim the exact opposite: that vital secret information will be revealed. The same false statements are posted on the Central States site.
TDU, the Central States Pension Improvement Committee and concerned members and local officers will continue the fight for pension justice. This is one more victory in a long march toward that goal.
January 5, 2005: Some Teamster contracts address the issue of excessive overtime. Here are two examples.
Forced overtime is a huge problem in grocery warehousing. Oregon Local 206 has fought for strong contract language limiting overtime in their grocery contracts. Local 206 Secretary-Treasurer Tom Leedham knows about forced overtime from back when he was a rank-and-file member working at United Grocers (now Unified Western Grocers) in the 1970s. “They would work us from 5 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.,” says Leedham.
“In 1977 we struck to get overtime language in our area grocery agreement and won. The language limited forced overtime to two hours a shift and ten hours total a week. To this day, in every contract negotiation, we’ve had to fight to keep this.”
The National Master UPS contract also contains language regarding overtime, though somewhat weaker than what is found in the Local 206 grocery contracts. UPS Teamsters can use this language to pressure management to limit forced overtime.
Some years ago, when UPS drivers at the Bluegrass center in Louisville were being given excessive pieces to deliver, drivers got together to fight the problem using the “9.5 hours” language in the master UPS agreement. Article 37, Section 1 gives the right to grieve if drivers have to work more than 9.5 hours a day for any three days in a workweek. “About 20 of us started consistently filing 9.5 grievances for every period in which there was a violation,” says Local 89 member David Thornsberry, who was the union steward. “We filed almost 200 grievances total. On each of them, we asked that as a remedy UPS hire more drivers. They were inundated with 9.5 grievances, which were taking up about 90% of grievance hearings. As a consequence, they hired about 20 additional drivers at our center over a period of about a year.”
January 30, 2005: The Graphic Communications International Union’s (GCIU) 60,000 US members voted by a narrow margin to merge into the Teamsters. Most Canadian locals, which voted separately, have rejected the proposal. One local inToronto and all three locals in Quebec have decided to affiliate with the IBT.
TDU welcomes our new brothers and sisters across North America into the Teamsters. GCIU will now be an autonomous printing trades conference within our union.
Those in favor of the merger have expressed hope that the Teamsters will help them in their fight against the giant antiunion corporation Quebecor World, and will provide political clout. Support came especially from GCIU members who work alongside Teamsters at newspapers. In addition, one large California district council voted heavily for the merger. In the other regions of the country, the vote was fairly evenly split. Overall, 35,000 members voted, with 52% voting yes.
Throughout the process many leaders at all levels of the GCIU voiced strong opposition to the merger, citing concerns about the Teamsters’ ability to protect pensions or help the GCIU stabilize its membership. The Committee to Save GCIU, a union-wide group of members and leaders, also noted that the Teamster structure is more centralized and “top-down” than what they have now in the GCIU.The GCIU carries a proud tradition of standing up to employers. Moreover, the members traditionally have a distaste for closed-door meetings and backroom deals. We invite all GCIU members to meet like-minded Teamsters by joining TDU to work for democracy and the very highest trade union principles within the IBT.
The Members First Slate, headed by president-elect Randy Brown, won the Local 728 election on November 19.
The election marks a victory for all the members of Local 728, and the Teamster reform movement. Georgia Local 728, which has statewide jurisdiction in the UPS and trucking industries, has over 6000 members and is the second largest local in the Southern Region of the IBT.
Members First won five positions. The Experienced Slate, consisting mainly of the current business agents, came in second, and narrowly won the vice president position and one trustee. It was a close race between those two slates, with the PQR and Cornerstone slates finishing third and fourth.