August 6, 2010:The inflatable rat is back, as New York City Teamsters strike to say it’s not fair to pay some movers $16-$22 an hour and others—mostly Black and Latino—just $8.
It started when workers at ATM Enterprises, who unload furniture from out of state and put it on the trucks belonging to Trucking Office Products System (TOPS), started raising a stink about their low wages. The TOPS workers make up to $22 an hour for delivering the furniture to Manhattan office buildings and belong to Teamsters Local 814. ATM workers, on the other hand, have no health care.
Click here to read more at Labor Notes.
July 1, 2010: The New York State Teamsters Pension Plan will end 25-and-out and 30-and-out benefits at the end of the year, due to the fact that the plan is underfunded and in the “red zone.”
The fund, which covers Teamsters in most of New York State (but not New York City), has good benefits. For example, UPS workers can retire with 30-and-out at $5,500 per month. This is nearly double the amount paid by the UPS company plan, which covers 25 states in the south and central regions.
Effective January 1, 25- and 30-and-out benefits at any age will end, as part of the fund’s “rehabilitation plan” to start to get it back to full funding.
The rehabilitation plan’s summary has five options, which each require increased employer contributions bargained in contracts.
The five options increase the age for unreduced 30-and-out to 55, 57, 60, 62 or 65.
In addition to increasing the age for unreduced 30-year benefits, the rehabilitation plan cuts the annual pension accrual, the amount that pensions improve each year.
The fund and the local unions are holding educational meetings across the state to inform members of the situation and the options faced by each bargaining unit.
There could be votes by members in some bargaining units later this year on various options.
June 15, 2010: The New York State Teamsters Pension Plan will end 25-and-out and 30-and-out benefits at the end of the year, due to the fact that the plan is underfunded and in the “red zone.”
According to the Fund’s Annual Funding Notice, dated April 30, 2010, the fund was 57 percent funded at the beginning of 2009. This puts the fund in Critical Status, called the red zone. With the run-up in the stock market last year, this level has probably improved a bit.
The fund has $1.75 billion in the kitty. It has 14,794 active participants and 15,925 retirees.
The fund, which covers Teamsters in most of New York state (but not New York City), has good benefits. For example, UPS workers can retire with 30-and-out with $5,500 per month. This is nearly double the amount paid by the UPS company plan, which covers 25 states in the south and central regions.
Effective January 1, 25- and 30-and-out benefits at any age will end, as part of the fund’s “rehabilitation plan” to start to get it back to full funding. The rehabilitation plan’s summary has five options (A through E), which each require increased employer contributions bargained in contracts. The five options increase the age for unreduced 30-and-out to 55, 57, 60, 62 or 65. In addition to increasing the age for unreduced 30-year benefits, the rehabilitation plan cuts the annual pension accrual, the amount that pensions improve each year.
Option E, the most generous pension option, protects 30-year retirement at age 55, but is also the most costly option. The first year (2011), it requires a 6.5 percent increase in employer contribution, but then requires a whopping 11.5 percent increase for each of the next three years. This would be over $1 per hour each year for Teamsters in the top benefit levels, and will almost certainly cause diversion of wage money.
UPS Teamsters are already considering the possibility of diverting future wage increases to cover the pension contributions, as they await more detailed information.
The fund and the local unions are holding educational meetings across the state to inform members of the situation and the options faced by each bargaining unit. There could be votes by members in some bargaining units later this year on various options.
June 1, 2010: UPS sups not following proper methods caught on tape.
New York Local 804 is giving on-car supervisors a taste of their own medicine.
Local 804 union reps tailed supervisors and videotaped them on OJS days. If UPS is really interested in “Failure to follow proper methods,” then they need to take a look at Local 804’s footage.
UPS management denies that they alter drivers’ loads on OJS days. Local 804 video shows otherwise. While filming a supervisor working an OJS, union representatives spotted a second driver on the same route.
He had been given all of the bulk stops. Local 804 got footage of the bulk deliveries and fully-loaded hand truck along with the tracking numbers for all the packages.
“When management tries to tell us they don’t manufacture the loads on OJS days to spike member’s SPORH, I tell them I’ve got some video they need to see,” said Local 804 President Tim Sylvester.
Local 804 video teams have also captured managers violating UPS safety methods on using hand rails, three points of contact etc. on the same rides that they write up drivers for safety violations.
No local can tail UPS on every OJS ride. To help driver’s combat production harassment, Local 804 has produced a Daily Log Book for keeping daily records.
The log book includes an OJS checklist to document how management adjusted loads, made changes to the route, and other steps to inflate a driver’s SPORH.
“We’re arming members with the tools they need to document their day and protect themselves from unfair discipline,” said business agent Sam Cuevas.
“A fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay is what it’s all about,” Cuevas said.
A Fair Day’s Work For a Fair Day’s Pay
“We’re arming members with the tools they need to document their day and protect themselves from unfair discipline.
“A fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay is what it’s all about.”
Sam Cuevas, Business Agent Local 804, New York
February 26, 2010: Commercial movers in New York are mobilizing to end decades of contract givebacks and save their pensions and healthcare.
New York Local 814 moves New York—literally. The local represents the commercial movers who work for some of the deepest pockets in the city: Fortune 500 companies, Wall Street banks and the U.N.
But you’d never know it by their recent contracts. Givebacks have gutted members’ pay and benefits and divided the membership into tiers of higher and lower-paid workers.
Last year, members voted by 72 percent to dump the old Local 814 officers and elected the 814 New Directions team.
The New York Moving and Storage contract expires on April 30. Local 814 is mobilizing to win a contract that reverses the trends that have undermined good union jobs and benefits in the industry.
Sold Short for Years
Under the current contract, moving companies don’t have to pay any contributions for casuals. But they’re supposed to hire at least one industry worker for every casual. That’s called the “one-to-one ratio.”
For years, the employers violated the ratio and shorted the benefit funds, with disastrous results for the members. The Local 814 pension fund could go into the Red Zone at the end of March, and the health fund needs increased contributions to get back on its feet.
Standing Up for Good Jobs
On Feb. 9, over 150 movers turned out to launch the local’s new contract campaign.
At their meeting, members and the new leaders set out a platform for winning a good contract:
- Save the pension and benefit funds
- Make employers pay benefit contributions for all movers, including casuals.
- Reduce the pay gap between tiers
“The runaway abuse of casuals is killing us,” said Andy Diclemente, a mover at Globe Storage and Moving. “I’m going around and telling the members that we need to fight for contributions for all movers.”
The Fight Starts Now
Members are already turning up the heat on employers who violate the contract.
In January, 25 members met and formed the Local 814 Enforcement Committee.
Now the committee is out on the streets, checking jobs, signing up new members, and enforcing the one-to-one ratio.
The union discovered that Clancy-Cullen Moving and Storage had been using a hidden team of nonunion workers for years. Now the company owes over $800,000 to the benefit funds, and they’ve had to start using Local 814 members.
The committee is bringing new members into the union, getting more work for industry workers, and making employers pay more into members’ pensions and healthcare.
“We know we’re not going to solve all our problems in one contract,” said Diclemente. “But we’re determined to fight for improvements that move us in the right direction.”
Moving in a New Direction
“The runaway abuse of casuals is killing us. I’m going around and telling the members that we need to fight for contributions for all movers.
“We know we’re not going to solve all our problems in one contract.
But we’re determined to fight for improvements that move us in the right direction.”
Andy Diclemente, Globe Storage & Moving Local 814, New York
February 26, 2010: For years, Local 854 members in New York City have had substandard wages and working conditions compared to other school bus unions in the city. Now Teamster drivers and escorts are coming together to enforce their rights and demand better contracts and union representation.
Teamsters Local 854 represents some 2,500 school bus drivers and escorts (bus assistants in charge of student safety). For years, the local was controlled by the Gambino crime family.
An internal Teamster report commissioned by the Hoffa administration documented how corrupt Local 854 officials negotiated substandard contracts to help their employer friends “effect considerable cost savings by paying lower wages and fewer benefits” compared to the contracts negotiated by ATU Local 1181—a union run controlled by the Genovese crime family.
The mobsters who ran Local 854 have been barred from the union. But Local 854 members continue to work under substandard contracts which are routinely violated by employers.
Some Local 854 members have had enough. They are taking on pay and overtime violations and preparing for upcoming contract negotiations.
“We want our Teamsters contract to be as good as the Local 1181 contract. We do the same work in the same industry and we deserve equal pay and equal rights,” said Juan Carlos Rodriguez, a TDU member at Consolidated Bus Transit (CBT).
Local 1181 members make higher wages. They make overtime after ten hours work. Depending on the contract, Local 854 members can work over a ten to twelve hour spread before they get overtime pay.
Enforcing Our Rights
Local 854 members are joining TDU and holding workshops on how to enforce their contracts and demand stronger union representation. Now they’re taking action.
CBT Drivers filed a group grievance demanding that the company pay members all of the hours and overtime pay they are entitled to. The contract requires CBT to start paying drivers at their report time. Some drivers are instructed to report to work as early as 6 a.m. but the company does not start paying them until 6:30 a.m.
At Empire Bus Transit, members are also standing up against nonpayment of wages and overtime. The company has refused to pay some drivers a contractually-mandated wage increase since September. At first, the drivers’ shop steward told them they weren’t entitled to the money. But the drivers stuck together and demanded their rights. Now the issue is in arbitration.
Empire drivers have also filed a grievance to enforce all members’ rights to overtime pay. The contract requires overtime pay whenever drivers and escorts work more than eight hours during an 11-hour spread. But the company has not been paying overtime even when employees work more than the 11 hour limit.
“There is a lot of fear and intimidation in this industry and a lot of members don’t know where to turn,” said Pierre Jerome, a driver at Empire. “TDU gives us the information and the support we need to enforce our rights.”
Equal Pay for Equal Work
“We want our Teamsters contract to be as good as the Local 1181 contract. We do the same work in the same industry and we deserve equal pay and equal rights.”
Juan Carlos Rodriguez, Consolidated Bus Transit, Local 854, New York
February 19, 2010: "It will be quite a battle," said Sandy Pope, the president of Teamsters Local 805, referring to an attempt by employees of online grocer Fresh Direct to join the union.
The Teamsters and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 342 launched a public campaign this week to focus attention on the workers' struggle to organize.
Click here to read more at NY Daily News.
January 19, 2010: Teamsters Local 805 is launching a new campaign to organize FreshDirect, the biggest nonunion employer in the New York City grocery industry.
FreshDirect is an online supermarket that doubles as a warehouse and a grocery delivery service for New Yorkers. Their motto is: “Our food is fresh. Our customers are spoiled.” More accurate would be: “Our Food is fresh. Our labor conditions are rotten.”
The 1,200 warehouse workers at FreshDirect make starting wages of just $8 an hour with a maximum hourly wage of $11. Health benefits are completely unaffordable. Workers’ shifts are changed frequently.
Teamsters Local 805 is teaming up with political leaders, community groups and immigrants’ rights organizations to demand that FreshDirect respect workers’ rights to organize.
The organizing drive is a joint effort with UFCW Local 342.
Taxpayers have subsidized FreshDirect to the tune of $2.8 million as part of a program that is supposed to create good jobs. But FreshDirect employees make just two-thirds of what the average grocery warehouse worker makes.
When workers tried to organize with Local 805 in 2007, FreshDirect played dirty. They fired key leaders of the organizing drive. Federal immigration officials raided the warehouse right before the union vote. The company won the vote—but not the hearts and minds of FreshDirect employees.
“Ever since, workers have been asking us when we’re coming back,” Local 805 President Sandy Pope told the Village Voice. “Well, we’re coming back.”
The local isn’t coming alone. Political and community leaders are backing the effort.
City Council members have called on the company to sign an agreement to remain neutral during the organizing drive and to agree to an expedited election procedure. Another high-ranking city official, New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, has offered to broker an agreement.
“We want workers to have the right to vote to join Local 805 without delays and without intimidation tactics,” Pope said.
If the company refuses to sign a neutrality agreement, Local 805 has already lined up a battery of community supporters to take on FreshDirect in a public campaign. The International Union, Joint Council 16 and many area locals are also backing the effort.
Fresh Direct workers are ready to stand up for themselves and their right to form a union.
It’s up to the company to decide if it wants to agree to a fair election—or put its brand name and tax-payer subsidies at risk in an ugly public dispute.
January 18, 2010: Reform leaders have taken office in Teamsters Local 804 and are setting a new direction for one of the largest UPS locals in the country. They’ve also inherited serious challenges.
The 7,000 UPS Teamsters of Local 804 elected the Members United Slate last month with 68 percent of the vote.
In their first official act, the new leadership adopted a Grievants’ Bill of Rights. “Deal-cutting and horse-trading of grievances are out,” said President Tim Sylvester. “Grievances will be settled on their merits and members will be informed and involved at every step.”
Local 804 officers voted to slash their salaries and eliminate contributions to a special 401k plan for officers, financial reforms that will save the local about $400,000 a year.
That will free up money for new educational programs being launched at Local 804. The newly established Ron Carey Memorial Education Fund will pay for Local 804 members to participate in labor education programs.
The local is also launching its own 804 University with workshops for stewards and members.
Some outgoing Executive Board and Business Agents left a huge backlog of unresolved grievances—including more than 150 pending arbitrations. But the local’s grievance records were almost nonexistent. Computer hard drives and software were erased or removed.
Union reps and stewards are working together to process the outstanding grievances and create a new grievance tracking system.
Learn strategies for enforcing your rights on the job.
Meet other Teamsters who are rebuilding union power.
- Grievance Handling 1: Writing & Investigating Grievances
- Grievance Handling 2: Making Your Case
- Winning SPORH Disciplinary Cases
TDU Education Conference
Sunday, June 13, 2010
11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden
29-19 24th Ave., Astoria, Queens
Click here to download a flyer with the schedule of the event and directions to the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden.
Registration Fee: $20
TDU Membership Special: Join TDU and we will waive your registration fee.
This event is open to Teamster members who support reform in our union.