December 7, 2009: Fed up with concessions and declining union power, many Teamsters are looking for a new direction.
Join with Teamsters who are fighting concessions and for positive change in our union.
There’s no doubt about it, these have been tough times for working Teamsters.
Hoffa sent Corporate America the message that the concessions stand was open in our union by bargaining givebacks at UPS when the company was making record profits.
When the economy began to tank, that concessions stand became a fire sale—with devastating consequences for working Teamsters in freight, carhaul, DHL, and many local agreements.
Many Teamsters are worried about what is happening to our union. Now some members are turning their anger into action.
As we go to press, more than 7,000 Teamsters have elected new leadership in Local 804—one of the most powerful UPS locals in the country.
By a 68 percent vote, Local 804 members rejected officers who negotiated concessions and elected new leadership and a new direction.
Local 814 members voted by 72 percent for a reform slate of officers in another rebellion against concessions and benefit cuts.
It’s a trend that needs to go national if we want to rebuild Teamster Power.
“Hoffa has given up on freight Teamsters, so freight Teamsters have given up on Hoffa,” said Leroy Olsen.
A YRC driver in Tampa, Olsen joined TDU and the Dump Hoffa campaign.
Teamsters from every industry and local are signing up at DumpHoffa.org and planning a wave of local organizing meetings at the start of the new year.
The economy is supposed to begin to recover in 2010. That’s good news. But if we want to recover from the concessions that have rocked our union it is up to us.
Help make it happen. Join TDU.
For over three decades, hundreds of thousands of Teamsters have turned to Convoy Dispatch as the most reliable source of news about what’s really happening in our union.
Now that same reliable information you count on has a new name: Teamster Voice.
This November, members at the TDU Convention voted to approve the name change.
Why? “Our newspaper has been the voice for working Teamsters for over three decades,” said Michael Savwoir, a member of Local 41 and a co-chair of TDU’s International Steering Committee. “It was time for a new name that speaks to all Teamsters. When we saw the name Teamster Voice, we knew this one was it.”
We intend to be a voice for Teamster members, and Teamsters need a stronger voice in our union. If you agree, spread the Voice to your fellow Teamsters. And give us your ideas, so we will be your voice.
TDU published the first issue of our newspaper back in 1976, under the name Convoy. The name changed to Convoy Dispatch in 1979 when TDU merged with PROD, an organization formed to promote drivers’ safety and health.
Members submitted over 300 suggestions for the new name. Thank you to all members who participated in our contest and helped give our movement’s newspaper a new name.
December 7, 2009: UPS Teamsters in New York have elected a reform team to lead Local 804, one of the most powerful Teamster locals in the country.
In record turnout, the 804 Members United Slate swept their local union election with 68 percent of the vote.
Local 804 represents 7,000 Teamsters in metro New York—most of them at UPS.
“This is a tremendous victory for Teamsters who believe we can stand up to big companies and the old guard and take back our union,” said Jim Reynolds, the newly-elected Secretary-Treasurer of Local 804 and a long-time TDU leader.
“Local 804 members have proven with their courage and their action that when Teamsters go from anger to hope—and from hope to action—there’s nothing we can’t do,” Reynolds said.
The election victory capped a grassroots campaign that began in 2007 when Local 804 leaders mobilized the membership to reject a concessionary UPS contract by a three to one vote.
UPS was forced to put a better offer on the table—one that reversed a 30 percent pension cut, stopped a proposed 10 cent wage cut, and saved 25 & Out for every Local 804 member.
“I’m usually not involved, but what 804 Members United has done is so unbelievable that I had to participate and support them,” said Ricardo Silva, an inside worker at UPS’s 43rd St. building in Manhattan.
“The contract victory gave us hope that we could bring change to our local,” said Ken Reiman, a newly elected business agent who was also recently elected to the TDU International Steering Committee. “We saw that members were more willing to stand up to UPS than our local officials were. It was clear it was time for a new direction.”
The newly elected leadership team faces big challenges. The Pension Fund has lost $183 million and is less than 50 percent funded. The outgoing local leadership also depleted the Health Fund’s reserves.
“We’re not going to be able to fix all the problems overnight,” said President-Elect Tim Sylvester. “We’ve laid out ten changes we’ll make to rebuild our union’s power. We’re committed to implementing that reform program and tapping the power of an informed and organized membership.”
The new leadership’s goals include increased contract enforcement and the launching of a Teamster University with educational programs for stewards and members.
To pay for these initiatives, the new officers will cut their salaries by $35,000 each and eliminate 401K contributions for officers.
“We’re going to put the dues to work for the members,” said Vice President-elect Pete Mastrandrea.
“This was and will become again a strong union. It’s not all about the officers, it’s about us,” said package car driver Jairo Reyes. “I know from this slate we will find the support, the backbone that we need. There’s a lot of jellyfish out there. So we need to be the backbone.”
“Local 804 members have proven with their courage and their action that when Teamsters go from anger to hope—and from hope to action—there’s nothing we can’t do.”
Jim Reynolds, Local 804 Secretary-Treasurer Elect
December 7, 2009: Teamster airplane mechanics who have gone three years without a contract are taking their fight to the public—right in UPS’s backyard.
A billboard on the I-75 downtown corridor in Atlanta warns UPS that “We are prepared to strike.” Local 2727 members have also conducted informational picketing in Atlanta to draw attention to their fight to protect their job security and healthcare.
UPS has laid off more than 150 Teamster mechanics since February 2009. In the meantime, the company is outsourcing maintenance work overseas.
The company is also demanding that Teamsters and retirees start paying for their healthcare. If management wins that giveback on Teamster mechanics, you know that the company will be demanding the same concessions from every other UPS Teamster in 2013.
UPS Teamster mechanics work at 80 airports across the United States. We stand with them in their fight for a fair contract.
December 7, 2009: Have you heard managers claiming the company is losing money?
Fill them in on the facts.
UPS recently announced after-tax profits of $549 million for the third quarter of 2009 (July-Sept), up from $445 million in the second quarter. In a terrible economy, UPS has still hauled in $1.4 billion in after-tax profits in the first three quarters of the year alone.
UPS’s profits are down from last year when the company’s third quarter profits were $970 million. But UPS is still making big money—and still beating the competition. FedEx made just $181 million in the last quarter—and lost $779 million in the six months before that.
Total package volume is down 3.6 percent—a drop, but not enough to justify the number of laid-off drivers, combined routes and excessive overtime. And things are looking up. UPS expects to ship about 400 million packages world-wide between Thanksgiving and Christmas, up slightly from 2008.
UPS forecast 22 million shipments on what it expects to be its peak day, Dec. 21—equal to its peak day in 2007, when the company was making record profits.
The UPS Teamsters who bust our backs to make these profits deserve a little more respect and a lot more contract enforcement.
In a terrible economy, UPS has still hauled in $1.4 billion in profits.
December 7, 2009: The Hoffa administration may be silent while the company walks all over the contract. But some locals are making themselves heard.
Anticipating a visit by CEO Scott Davis, New Jersey Local 177 booked a plane to circle the Edison hub with a banner: “UPS Stop Mistreating Your Employees.”
Outside the hub, Local 177 officers distributed leaflets in the parking lot with the same message.
Local 177 members are fed up with UPS’s stonewalling of grievances. The local has thirty arbitrations scheduled on supervisors working violations—each one dealing with serial violations by individual supervisors.
Under a special provision in the Local 177 supplement, the penalty for supervisors working increases if there are multiple infractions by the same sup. On the second violation, the minimum penalty is two hours at double time pay. On the third violation, the minimum penalty is four hours work at double time pay.
Management has dragged out the hearing on the first supervisor for five days with no end in sight. And that’s just on the first arbitration. There are 29 arbitrations to go—each one on multiple violations by individual supervisors.
Production harassment and ridiculous write-ups of package drivers are other major issues—just like they are across the country.
As the plane circled the building, top regional management descended on Edison in a panic. You can see their worried faces and cell phone scramble in a video called “upsflyby” on YouTube.
It shouldn’t take an airplane banner to get management’s attention.
December 7, 2009: Seventeen locals brought cases to the last national grievance panel charging UPS with violating Article 22.3 of the contract which requires UPS to maintain a minimum of 20,000 full-time combo jobs. These are the full-time jobs we won by striking the company in 1997.
Not a single one of these grievances was heard at the national grievance panel.
It’s well documented that UPS has eliminated thousands of these positions by laying off combo Teamsters and refusing to put up vacant jobs for bid.
That national grievance panel, held at the Hilton San Diego Resort and Spa, was the last chance for these grievances to be heard in 2009.
December 7, 2009: Sixty-five 9.5 violation cases were brought to the last national grievance panel. Outside of Oakland Local 70, the panel ruled in favor of working Teamsters on a 9.5 issue in just one case.
In 16 cases coming out of Local 70—the company was ordered to comply with 9.5 language. These cases involved instances where UPS was settling 9.5 violations but never fixing the underlying problem of the affected drivers’ load.
December 7, 2009: After years of sell-out contracts and benefit cuts, members of New York Local 814 have voted for a new direction and a reform slate in their local union election.
Members elected Jason Ide and the New Directions Slate by a whopping 72 percent in big turnout among the local’s 1,000 members. The new team will take office on January 1.They inherit huge problems and major challenges.
The local’s previous leadership negotiated a series of concessionary contracts that allowed employers to hire tiers of low-wage employees who got no pension or welfare contributions.
Over time, both benefit funds went into the tank. Fund trustees adopted a plan that will freeze members’ pension accrual. In one of his last acts as Local 814 President, George Daniello approved healthcare cuts that eliminated members prescription, dental and vision benefits altogether.
Rebuilding the funds and members’ benefits will be a top issue in upcoming contract negotiations covering more than 800 Local 814 members in the moving and storage industry.
“In the past, Local 814 officials bargained concessions and then used the strike as weapon to bully the membership into accepting givebacks. That strategy is out the door,” Ide said. “We’re going to mobilize the membership and be prepared to win gains. With the state of our contract and our benefits, we’ve really got no other choice.”
Winning wage increases that close the gap between higher and lower paid members is another contract goal—gains that Ide and other New Directions leaders won in a successful contract campaign they organized at Sotheby’s last year.
Policing the Contract
The new Local 814 officers are also gearing up to increase contract enforcement.
“We’re creating a task force of members to go out and police jobs,” said Richie Johnson, the new Local 814 secretary-treasurer. “We’ve got to enforce one-to-one ratio so our members are being put to work and employers are funding our benefits the way they’re supposed to.”
To pay for the new programs, the New Directions leadership is cutting officer salaries.
The cuts will free up resources to periodically pay members to come off the job to work for the local on organizing drives and contract enforcement campaigns—but given the local’s finances even that will be limited.
“This is going to be a team effort,” Johnson said.
“We’ve got new generals, but every war is won by the soldiers. We’ve got to build a fighting, rank-and-file army if we want to win,” said Walter Taylor, a member of the TDU International Steering Committee and a Local 814 member.
Taylor helped organize a series of rank-and-file campaigns to vote down bad contracts that defeated some of the concessions pushed by employers and the former officials of Local 814.
“Finally change has come and members have a chance to fight for our future. The old officials locked us out of our own union,” Taylor said. “We have big problems, but now we have hope.”
December 7, 2009: In a speech at the TDU Convention, Butch Lewis talked about what it will take to get our union on the right track.
We all know times are tough. The country faces the worst recession any of us has seen. Members are angry and frustrated. Over the past year we’ve seen our wages cut by 15 percent. YRC is no longer paying towards our pension. Members are anxious to know what’s next. That’s not a great situation to be working under. And it’s not something we can live with over the long haul.
So what do we do? How can things be turned around? Hoffa talks about Teamster power and pride but those are just empty words coming from him. The membership isn’t experiencing any sense of power or pride. Real power and pride have to be earned—and that takes a tremendous amount of hard work and commitment.
Hoffa and many of our officers like to strut around and act big but they’re really just a bunch of blow hards and stiff suits. We’ve had ten years of their so-called leadership and I’m not sure if we can survive another two. We need change badly.
Start at the Grassroots
Now whether or not you voted for Obama, and we can discuss how that’s going over dinner or beers this evening, you have to recognize that he and his team organized a grassroots effort during the primaries that gave people a sense of movement and hope. People responded because they wanted change and they saw somebody giving direction.
We need to learn from that experience and bring it into the Teamsters. Regular folks can make a difference if they can organize a grassroots effort that makes sense.
A couple months back, I said to myself, if not TDU, who? And that’s the question and challenge I pose to other Teamsters. Who is going to help us turn this dire situation around? We need to challenge our brothers and sisters to get off the sidelines and into the game. TDU gives us the best odds for winning.
TDU has the track record of getting the information and the know-how out to Teamsters that want to make a difference. Many, many Teamsters read the website and count on TDU for what little information and perspective we can get. That knowledge is crucial as the basis for forging our campaign to change this union.
Build an Army
We need to take those readers and turn them into an army of thousands of Teamsters who are a galvanized force in our union. Those thousands can reach out to thousands more. We need to focus all the discontent out there into a positive movement to retake our union.
Hoffa Junior play acts at leadership. We’re serious about how necessary and important real leaders need to be. It starts with a commitment and then a plan. Our message to all those frustrated and angry Teamsters is, YOU and WE—the membership—are the leaders we’re looking for.
In these tough times, it’s up to us to make it happen in our workplaces and our locals. It’s now or never as far as I’m concerned and I’m heartened and gratified I’m in this fight with all of you.
“We need to challenge our brothers and sisters to get off the sidelines and into the game. TDU gives us the best odds for winning.”
By Butch Lewis, Holland Local 100, Cincinnati