Membership Rights at Contract Time
Teamster members do have power and democratic rights when it comes to voting on their contracts.
It was not always this way. But Teamster members united through TDU to win key rights at contract time.
TDU won the Right to a Majority Vote on Teamster Contracts
Teamster members have the right to vote on their contracts by majority rule.
This might seem like a no-brainer. But before 1987, it took a two-thirds vote to reject a contract.
That meant that employers could force through a bad contract if it was approved by just 33 percent of the members.
In 1985, the International Union imposed the National Master Freight Agreement after 64 percent of the members voted no! The International Union also forced through a national UPS contract that 52 percent of the members rejected.
TDU launched a national campaign and we went to court. In 1987, we won the Right to Majority Rule on contracts.
TDU won the Right to a Fair and Informed Contract Vote
Teamster members have the right to see the entire wording of all changes to their contract and supplement before a vote—thanks to TDU.
In 1984, the International Union secretly renegotiated the national UPS contract—behind the backs of the members and local officers too!
TDU went to court and overturned the secret deal in the precedent-setting Bauman v. Presser case. The judge ordered the ballots impounded.
And Teamsters won the right for every Teamster to cast a fair and informed vote in all contracts.
TDU won the Right to Vote on all Supplements and Riders
Teamster members have the Right to Vote on their supplements and riders. Members have used this right to defeat contract givebacks.
UPS Teamsters voted to reject 18 supplements and riders this year. As a result, they’ve defeated some of the TeamCare healthcare cuts and are continuing to organize to protect their healthcare and win improvements in their supplements.
Teamsters did not used to have this right. That gave employers a tool to force through unpopular concessions in supplements.
TDU fought back. We wrote an amendment to the Teamster Constitution. We coordinated with local unions in Pennsylvania to submit an amendment to the Teamster Constitution. And we won the Right to Vote on supplements at the 1991 Teamster Convention.
The first "$100,000|
Club" in 1976.
(Copies of this
historic book are
available from TDU.)
November 26, 2012: It started in the mid-1970s, with an organization called PROD, the Professional Drivers Council. PROD collected hundreds of LM-2 financial reports on Teamster locals, joint councils and the International and began to analyze them, tracing all the multiple salaries, family connections, and more.
The "$100,000 Club" was born.
In 1979 PROD and TDU joined hands in one organization. TDU has published "The Club" annually ever since.
A look at the history shows how this research has changed Teamster financial priorities for the better.
By the mid-1980s, top Teamster officials were pulling down salaries of up to $609,000. Indexing this to the cost of living, that would be $1.28 million in today's dollars!
|Teamster President Jackie|
Presser makes an entrance
at the 1986 IBT Convention.
It was obscene. Along with that, they had private jet planes to ferry them to resorts.
TDU was exposing all of it with hard facts, and members were mad.
Then, on March 14, 1989, we won the Right to Vote for International officers. The plan adopted by the court tracked what TDU had proposed to settle the racketeering case filed by the Justice Department against top Teamster officials. The settlement came the day before the trial was to start.
TDU went to work, hard and fast. "Wanted" posters were issued, detailing top salaries of the incumbent members of the General Executive Board, such as Arnie Weinmeister, who pulled down $502,276 in 1989.
|These posters of high-living|
Weldon Mathis forced him
to withdraw from the 1991
Weinmeister then withdrew from the election. So did Weldon Mathis, General Secretary Treasurer of the IBT. TDU's "club" report took on new power.
Members were not going to vote for people pulling down these salaries. So the insiders picked R. V. Durham to run for president, an officer from North Carolina who had not yet reached those inflated salaries.
But TDU was on the move. TDU, along with Ron Carey, who was running for General President, proposed to limit salaries, especially multiple salaries. The Carey campaign grew.
So, Durham tried to head off our momentum. He proposed a watered-down version of the TDU proposal for the IBT Constitution, and it was passed at the 1991 IBT Convention. It set the General President's salary at $250,000 (plus a cost of living bump for every year an incumbent stays in office) and a ceiling: no International official could make multiple salaries totaling more than the General President's salary.
The corporate jets were sold. And Carey, after winning the election, sold the limousine they rode around in.
Ron Carey then made other reforms to change the union's priorities. He closed down the "area conferences" which paid 63 multiple salaries. A fresh wind was blowing.
But TDU continued to publish the "$100,000 Club" every year, without fail. Ron Carey was listed, just like everyone else. No salary has ever been left-out or altered.
The Club changed with the times and inflation. At first, the "$100,000" included expenses and allowances. But later, the line was change to $100,000 salary. Later still, it was changed to $150,000.
The Club makes a big difference in how Teamster dues money is spent. But still, too much of it goes to multiple salaries and to cronies, when it could be better spent on organizing, winning better contracts, and educating Teamsters.
TDU provides this information for members, because an informed membership makes a stronger union. It is nonpartisan. It is not an attack on those listed; many are hard working officers.
Click here to download this story as a leaflet.
Click here to download the 2012 $150,000 Club Report.
Click here to download TDU's Annual Teamster Salary Report. This longer report includes all officials who made over $120,000 in salary.
"TDU gives Teamsters information they can't get anywhere else. Knowledge is power, and TDU gives members their power. That's why Hoffa and certain officials hate TDU."
Phil Richards, Unified Grocers
Local 630, Los Angeles
March 14, 2012: TDU celebrates the contributions of Teamster women to our union and to labor struggles for social and economic equality.
Building strong unions has paid off for women workers—literally. Women in unions earn higher wages, have better health care coverage, more rights to paid sick leave and vacation, pension plans, and more rights and power on the job.
Women union members make $2 an hour more than nonunion women workers. The difference for women of color is even bigger—with union women making 35% more than nonunion workers. Union women workers are 19% more likely to have employer health insurance and 25% more likely to have a pension.
Throughout history, Teamster women have helped build the union, often against long odds. And Teamster women have helped lead TDU in fighting for a Teamsters Union that fights for all Teamsters.
Local 213 Teamster Diana Kilmury was such a leader, and was elected the first woman International Vice President of the Teamsters Union in 1991.
Twenty years later, Sandy Pope became the first woman Teamster to run for Teamster General President.
In between, thousands of Teamster women have gotten involved with TDU to build a stronger union.
TDU celebrates the contributions of Teamster women to our union and to our movement.
"It's tough being a woman with a truck driving job—not because of the work, but because it's out of the realm of normal roles women have in society. But being a single parent and having to support 2 kids I had to look for other options where I could earn a higher income.
"Women fought hard for the right to have these jobs. Thanks to them I can make a decent salary as a package car driver. I joined TDU to continue changing our union for the better."
Dorothy Hanlon, Local 804
"The TDU Women's network brings together women Teamsters to share information and education, help us stand up for our rights on the job, and empowers us to get involved in rebuilding the union."
Noreen Hollingsworth, Local 237
Co-Chair Teamsters for a Democratic Union
DVD Mother Trucker: The Diana Kilmury Story
Her story was made into an award-winning 1996 movie. Click here to order a copy!
Watch her story and find out how Diana helped build TDU in its early years, spoke up for members on the Teamster Convention floor, helped win the Right to Vote, and changed our union for the better.
When TDU was founded in 1976, Teamster members didn’t have the right to vote for top officers and the union was controlled by organized crime.
TDU set out to change that. In 1985, over a hundred thousand members signed a petition demanding the Right to Vote.
Then in 1988, the Justice Department went to court against the union’s leadership under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The suit stated that “the IBT has made a devil’s pact with La Cosa Nostra.” They proposed a federal trusteeship. TDU strongly opposed a government takeover. TDU’s position was that the best anti-corruption program would be to give members the Right to Vote.
When the RICO suit was announced, TDU National Organizer Ken Paff wrote the U.S. Attorney General saying “there is only one ‘reorganization’ under RICO that the government can effectively take: namely, to direct the IBT to hold rank-and-file elections.”
On March 13, 1989, one day before the trial started, the Justice Department reached an agreement with the IBT to settle the RICO suit. It established a court supervised Independent Review Board to clean out corruption. Most important, it provided for the direct election of Teamster officers by Teamster members, with an impartial Election Supervisor.
TDU’s position against government trusteeship and for the right to vote had prevailed.
In 2011, TDU is celebrating 35 years of fighting for a stronger union.
We’ll highlight different moments in TDU’s history in upcoming issues of Teamster Voice.
January 13, 2011: More than 400 union and civil rights activists will march to Cincinnati’s City Hall Jan. 14 to condemn the plan recently elected Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) has to strip Ohio child care and home health care workers of their right to bargain for a better life.
The march is part of the annual AFL-CIO King Day celebration Jan. 13-17 in Cincinnati. Through the march and throughout the conference, activists will send a message that Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of social and economic justice is not dead even in this tough political climate. Workers who provide vital services to the Cincinnati area—including home and child care providers and transit workers—will share their stories and concerns about Kasich and his allies’ attempts to blame and punish low-income workers for the state of the economy. The activists will focus on developing strategies to advance the issues of good job creation, immigration reform and economic equality.
Click here to read more at AFL-CIO News.
August 16, 2007: Labor expert Michael Schiavone credits rank-and-file mobilization and the influence of Teamsters for a Democratic Union with winning the 1997 contract victory at UPS.
“With this being the tenth-year anniversary of the Teamsters’ historic strike with United Parcel Service (UPS) it is a good time to revisit the strike and determine how it was won,” says labor writer Michael Schiavone, the author of Unions in Crisis? The Future of Organized Labor in America.
In a lengthy, investigative article for WorkingUSA: the Journal of Labor and Society, Schiavone writes that the Teamsters won a superior contract in 1997 to Hoffa’s “Best Contract Ever” because the Teamster leadership built power through “militancy, union democracy and rank-and-file intensive tactics.”
“The Teamsters adopted these tactics in a large part because of the influence of the Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU). In 2002, the Teamsters, with James Hoffa, Jr. in charge, employed a top-down campaign, with little rank and file involvement.”
Schiavone warns that, “there is a real possibility that the next UPS agreement will also be substandard,” but adds there is reason for optimism.
“If the rank and file pressure the Teamsters hierarchy for a greater say in the UPS negotiations, there is still hope for a good contract,” Schiavone writes.
Every five years, our Teamsters Union holds an International Convention. The convention nominates candidates for International officers. Delegates also have the power to amend any provision of the constitution.
At many Conventions, members have been stripped of our rights. For the last 30 years, TDU has mobilized at Conventions to reverse that trend and win new rights with some successes.
Here’s a quick review of how our rights have been strengthened and weakened in the Teamster Constitution from 1940 to the present.
1940 – Majority rule on strikes and contracts ended. Two-thirds rule inserted. - Locals must now notify the joint council and get the consent of the General President to go on strike. - General President salary of $30,000 (no multiple salaries). President Dan Tobin declares at convention that it is too high.
1947 - Business agents, all previously elected, are now either elected or appointed.
1952 - Local union executive boards given authority to use mail ballots to approve contracts. - Dave Beck chosen as General President. - Article 12 amended to mandate joint council approval of strike votes. - Article 3 changed to give locals the power to appoint (rather than elect) delegates to conventions. - Minimum term for local officers raised from one to two years.
1957 - James R. Hoffa chosen General President. - General President can appoint area directors. - Special extra pension plan (Retirement and Family Protection Plan) established for International officers. - AFL-CIO Ethical Practices Committee Report read. Weldon Mathis moves it be struck from the record, which it was. Delegate Jeffrey Cohelan of Local 302 dissents: “The charges contained in this report are serious charges, and they deserve very special consideration. ... If this convention is foolish enough to simply sweep this from the record or to ignore the very serious charges that have been made here, we will stand before this country, and the labor movement particularly, indicted.”
1961 - Article 5 changed to legitimize multiple salaries for International officers from subordinate bodies. - Article 22 changed to allow one person to hold office in more than one local with approval of the General President. - Article 3 changed to end local elections for convention delegates. - Article 9, Section 9(a) changed to give International authority to pay legal expenses for officers. - Article 22 changed to allow local executive boards to designate times, places, and methods of voting without membership approval. - Article 2 on election eligility changed to extend the two-years continuous good standing to include payment of dues on time each month. - Article 15, Section 7 changed so area conferences are subject to the unqualified supervision, direction and control of the General President. - Special extra pension plan (Affiliates Plan) established to cover all business agents and local and other officials.
1966 - General President now appoints negotiating committees. - General President can intervene in local contracts and order votes by mail.
1976 - Dues rate set at two-hours pay formula, so dues hikes become automatic rather than voted on. - Hoffa’s hand-picked successor, Frank Fitzsimmons, chosen as General President. Fitzsimmons states on the record that those who want to reform this union can “go to hell”.
1981 - Locals with elected BAs could keep them, but new article adopted to prevent any more locals from switching to elected BAs. - New provision adopted to allow for appointment of a new General President to fill a vacancy. Provision comes in handy less than two years later when Roy Williams goes to prison. General Executive Board appoints Jackie Presser president. - Automatic 100 percent cost-of-living raises for all International officers. - Proposal by delegate Diana Kilmury for Ethical Practices Committee shouted down on convention floor.
1986 - 100,000 members petition convention for Right to Vote. - Reform delegates submit proposals for majority rule on contracts, right to vote for IBT officers, increased strike benefits, and resolutions on two-tier contracts and organizing. All are denounced and voted down. - Members dues finance two fancy parties costing $900,000. Presser carried into Eastern Conference party on sedan chair; Billy Hogan goes on the record to say Central Conference party was just as fancy. - Presser retains Teamster presidency with 99 percent of the vote, and then conducts the “funeral of TDU”.
1991 - Due to Right to Vote provisions in consent order, all delegates elected in supervised elections. Delegates nominate candidates for International office, who are then elected by the members. - Right to vote for IBT officers written into constitution. - Right to elect convention delegates voted down by old-guard majority. Consent order, at least temporarily, protects this hard-won right. - IBT jet planes sold. - Majority rule on contracts written into constitution. - Strike benefits raised to $200 a week, but without funding mechanism. - Members win right to a separate vote on all master contract supplements. - Elections for joint council officers changed to secret ballot votes. - Name of union changed (shortened).
1996 - Hoffa forces disrupt the convention. As reported in Newsday on July 16, 1996, “From the opening moments yesterday, Hoffa supporters ... screamed, pounded on tables and chanted, almost drowning out Carey and most other officials and speakers.” - This behavior continued throughout the convention, and little was accomplished. - Article 5 changed to add the elected president of Teamsters Canada to the General Executive Board, strengthening unity between U.S. and Canadian Teamsters, with Hoffa delegates voting against. - Code of ethics for pension trustees adopted. Employers not allowed to attend the convention as guests.
2001 – Hoffa forces have 90% of delegates. Teamster Constitution amended to provide for Canadian Teamster Sovereignty, as proposed by TDU delegates in 1981, and again by Carey in 1996. Constitution amended to provide for membership vote for IBT officers, but with the rules and election supervisor appointed by the incumbents [this part was not implemented due to racketeering consent order]. Hoffa delegates reject reform proposals to cut and cap International Union salaries at $150,000, ban multiple salaries for International Union officials, and establish a Membership Bill of Rights. Delegate Tom Leedham, nominated for General President, asserts on the floor that Hoffa had a “secret plan” to call a special convention after the 2001 International election to raise dues.
2002 – General Executive Board calls Special Convention to raise dues by 25%, with most of the new money going to the International. Reform delegates call for a membership vote, Hoffa forces reject it. For the first time, cameras banned from Convention auditorium, so no pictures can be taken on how delegates vote.
2006 – International leadership goes all out to block the nomination of any opposition candidates for International Office. However, Leedham and the Strong Contracts, Good Pensions Slate nominated. Three independent candidates ran for vice president positions also. Reform proposals to protect Local Unions from International takeover were rejected, as were constitutional amendments on pension fund trustee accountability and a Membership Bill of Rights. Convention adopted only housekeeping changes to the Constitution.
How the Reform Movement Has Changed the Teamsters Union (1976-1979)
In 1976 the Teamsters Union was in big trouble. Union leaders had allowed organized crime to infiltrate the highest levels of the union. Read more.
Winning the Fight for Democracy (The 1980s)
The 1980s were a difficult time for working Teamsters. They were years of economic recession, freight industry deregulation, and concessionary bargaining. Read more.
Rebuilding Teamster Power (1991-1997)
Rank-and-file Teamsters won the right to vote for top Teamster officers after a decade-long fight led by TDU. In the 1990s members used that right to elect new leaders and change our union’s direction. Read more.
The Fight to Save Our Union (1998-2001)
After the UPS strike victory in 1997, the Teamsters stood at the forefront of the American labor movement. But there were tough times ahead. The coming years would see Ron Carey’s reform efforts as IBT President ended and the restoration of old-guard leadership at the IBT. Read more.
TDU began publishing the “$100,000 Club” in 1979. Armed with this information, and the Right to Vote, Teamsters have demanded financial reforms and won them.
In 1987, Teamster President Jackie presser bagged $609,984 in multiple salaries. In today’s dollars (adjusted for inflation), that would be over $1 million. International Vice President Arnie Weinmeister made $443,612 that year. Others, like Weldon Mathis, took home $305,914. They used union-owned jets to go to golf resorts.
In 1989, Teamsters won the Right to Vote after TDU’s plan was adopted as part of the consent order to settle the racketeering suit against top Teamster leaders. Thanks to TDU, Teamsters had a tool for holding top Teamster officers accountable for their outrageous dues waste. That changed everything. Incumbents like Mathis and Weinmeister were forced to drop out of the race for International Office. Members were not going to elect those millionaires.
The incumbent slate, in an attempt to win the election, even adopted part of TDU’s platform! At the 1991 IBT Convention, they capped the General President’s salary at $225,000 plus an unlimited cost of living clause. No International officer or rep is allowed to use multiple salaries to make more than the General President.
The fat cats were on the run. TDU’s platform was gaining ground. Then it took a leap forward.
In December 1991, Ron Carey won the General President position and took decisive action to change the fat cat life style. The union limo and jet planes were sold. He lowered his own salary to $150,000 and began to phase out multiple salaries. TDU continued to publish the $100,000 Club and press for more reforms.
In 1993, Ron Carey abolished the “Area Conferences” which were a useless layer of bureaucracy. In one day, 65 multiple salaries were eliminated, and millions of dues dollars returned to local unions.
By 1996, even James Hoffa had to support TDU’s financial reforms—at least in his campaign platform. Hoffa promised to “cut n cap” with no International officer allowed to make over $150,000 by using multiple salaries.
When Hoffa won office in late 1998, he abandoned the platform. He raised his own salary, brought back multiple salaries, and pays himself and Tom Keegel a lucrative “housing allowance” to pad their income more.
Despite the setbacks and renewed waste under Hoffa, TDU’s hard-won reforms still have staying power.
Look at the $150,000 Club today. No one is bagging the kind of money they used to get – the members just won’t tolerate it. Our union is more democratic, thanks to the Right to Vote and the fact that TDU is there to get the facts out.
The result is less financial waste and more money for strike benefits and organizing. Can we do better? You bet. But where would our Teamsters Union be without TDU and the $100,000 Club?