Management is installing new cameras in our trucks—pointing right at the driver’s seat. Is there anything we can do?
— They’re Watching Me
August 11, 2010: Dumped by his top running mate. His administration divided. Hoffa’s days may be numbered.
But only if Teamster members organize to make it happen.
Poor Jim Hoffa. Twelve years after riding his famous last name into office, it’s clear to even his closest allies that James P. Hoffa is not his father.
Hoffa’s top running mate, Tom Keegel, has announced his retirement and publicly stated that the union is on the wrong road. (See story, page 3).
The campaign for next year’s election for International Union officers is barely underway and already a half dozen top members of the Hoffa administration have defected, including five General Executive Board members.
The upheaval at the top of our union creates an opportunity for working Teamsters who have paid the price for Hoffa’s weak leadership. The race for IBT General President in 2011 is wide open.
No reform candidate for General President has announced yet. Nominations will be held at the IBT Convention in June 2011, and 1.3 million Teamsters will vote by mail ballot in November 2011.
But the time to organize for change is now. It will take 175,000 votes to elect the next General President. TDU is dedicated to building the grassroots army that can turn out these votes to win.
Contact TDU about how we can work together to dump Hoffa and elect leadership that will fight for the members.
The defection of Tom Keegel, Hoffa’s running mate, from the Hoffa re-election campaign has sent shock waves through the Teamster political scene.
In a July 15 letter to the General Executive Board, Keegel distanced himself from Hoffa, and criticized Hoffa’s direction and isolation from local officers and members. He plans to serve out his term and then retire in early 2012.
The letter states that “continuing down the same road as the IBT has traveled for the last few years will not lead us out of our present difficulties or help us avoid the problems yet to come.”
While respectful in tone, Keegel indicates that he will have more to say on the union’s problems, and “that time will come soon enough.”
The letter goes on to criticize Hoffa for listening to his appointees rather than local officers, and for having those same appointees run his reelection campaign.
Hoffa-Keegel Petitions in the Dumpster
As a result of Keegel’s bombshell, the Hoffa campaign had to ask the Election Supervisor to let them withdraw thousands of petitions circulated by local officials to accredit the Hoffa-Keegel slate. Stickers, buttons and other campaign paraphernalia also made the trip to the dumpster.
Hoffa then tapped International Vice President Ken Hall to replace Keegel as his running mate.
Hall, as the Parcel (UPS) Division Director, has been behind key decisions that have created rifts in the Hoffa camp and alienated many Teamster local officers and members.
In late 2007 Hoffa and Hall signed a contract allowing UPS to pull all its participants from the Central States Pension Fund, leaving that fund greatly weakened, and putting UPS Teamsters into a company fund with benefits far below most Teamster plans.
The contract also completely eliminated the clause forcing the company to create 10,000 additional full-time jobs.
The contract concessions were regarded as part of a deal with UPS to gain union recognition for UPS Freight employees. However, those employees were not put under the National Master Freight contract or into Teamster benefit funds.
Since that time, contract enforcement has gone downhill. UPS has eliminated thousands of full-time jobs which are guaranteed under the contract, but Hoffa and Hall have refused to hear any grievances about it at the national panel.
The Hoffa campaign has refused to comment on Keegel’s critical letter or his defection from the camp.
They pulled down the campaign website for two weeks until it reappeared with Ken Hall on it, without any comment on the switch.
All Teamsters to Vote
Nominations for General President, General Secretary-Treasurer and all Vice President positions will be held at the IBT Convention in late June 2011, and the mail ballot election of all 1.3 million Teamsters will be in November 2011.
Fred Gegare is at present the only other declared candidate for General President. He is also circulating accreditation petitions, along with three running mates for vice president positions.
Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU), the reform movement which previously backed the campaigns of Tom Leedham and Ron Carey, has not yet put forward or endorsed a candidate.
See www.TDU.org for updated information on the IBT election as well as to read Keegel’s letter and other materials.
“I’ve learned everything about being a union activist from TDU. TDU shows us that real power comes from an informed membership.
“This is a serious time for our union and we need to step it up. That’s why I dug deep to give a donation even though we’re working under a 15 percent pay cut. We need more of you to donate too.”
Mike Schaffer, YRC Local 769, Miami
“I wanted to make a donation because I want to help support the TDU cause. I think the information and advice TDU provides to the members is very valuable.
“That’s why I’m donating $200 a year in small monthly payments."
Scott DiBona, UPS Local 804, New York
Click here to donate to TDU.
August 11, 2010: Standing up is paying off for Juan Carlos Rodriguez and other school bus drivers.
Standing up is paying off for Juan Carlos Rodriguez and other school bus drivers.
Consolidated Bus Transit (CBT) was recently forced to pay Rodriguez $140,000 in back pay and benefits for illegally firing him.
When Teamster drivers at CBT got together to enforce their contract, they faced threats and retaliation from their employer and Local 854 officials.
TDU helped Rodriguez and other members take legal action—and win. After returning to work, Rodriguez was elected to the contract negotiating committee.
“I’m glad to have the money. But respect—and the right to stand up for change—those are things you can’t put a price on,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez generously donated several thousand dollars of his back pay award to TDU to help other Teamsters fight back and win.
Can’t Put a Price On Respect
“I’m glad to have the money. But respect—and the right to stand up for change—those are things you can’t put a price on.”
Juan Carlos Rodriguez Consolidated Bus Transit Local 854, New York
August 11, 2010: Teamster school bus drivers in New York City demand an end to a substandard union contract.
For years, Teamster school bus drivers and escorts in New York City have received substandard wages and overtime pay compared to ATU Local 1181 members who do the same work for the same owners.
Now, Local 854 members at Consolidated Bus Transit are uniting to put an end to their substandard union contract.
“We’re tired of being treated like second-class citizens,” said Local 854 driver Angel Garces.
Members put forward proposals demanding that Teamsters make the same wages as ATU drivers. They’re also demanding the same overtime rules as the ATU contract, with overtime pay after 10 hours. Teamsters at CBT only get overtime if their split shift spans 10½ hours.
The two-tier structure of New York’s school bus industry is a legacy of union corruption. The Genovese crime family historically controlled ATU Local 1181. The rival Gambino crime family controlled Local 854 and negotiated a substandard contract with friendly employers so they could bid on lucrative school board contracts.
CBT boss Joseph Curcio owns multiple companies that operate out of the same yard performing the same work for the Department of Education—but Teamsters get substandard pay.
The Teamsters Union has made the school bus industry a major organizing target.
Putting an end to second-class treatment for Teamster school bus drivers in New York City will send a message to our members—and to unorganized school bus workers—that our union won’t let employers keep Teamsters at the back of the bus.
“We’re tired of being treated like second-class citizens.”
Angel Garces Consolidated Bus Transit Local 854, New York
August 16, 2010: For two years, the Hoffa administration looked the other way while UPS eliminated full-time jobs.
Now Hoffa and Ken Hall are kicking the problem back down to the locals.
For two years, the Hoffa administration has looked the other way while UPS has eliminated thousands of full-time combo jobs in violation of Article 22.3, which requires the company to maintain 20,000 combo positions.
The International refused to hear a single grievance on the issue at the national panel. Ken Hall, who as Package Division Director is in charge of our union’s contract enforcement at UPS, explained his inaction by saying it “wasn’t the right time” to enforce the contract.
Changing His Tune
Now that Hall has been named Hoffa’s running mate for the 2011 election, he is changing his tune. On a recent national conference call, Hall announced that the IBT is taking action.
His solution? Hall is taking all the Article 22.3 grievances that have wound their way to the national panel back and kicking them back down to the locals.
Hall said local unions are to meet with the company. If the full-time jobs aren’t filled, Hall claims the IBT will move forward nationally.
The International Union has not provided any guidelines to UPS locals. It has just dropped the issue in their lap.
Under an arbitration decision, UPS must maintain a minimum number of 22.3 jobs, but the company gets to decide where to put these jobs. Under this system, only the International, not any one local, has the power to monitor UPS and make sure the company is maintaining all 20,000 positions nationwide.
Hall claimed that, “Many locals report progress is being made and jobs are being restored.” But he declined to mention any locals where this is actually happening. Teamster Voice contacted shop stewards in UPS locals large and small across the country.
None of them reported that their eliminated full-time jobs have been restored.
The one exception is Local 63 in Los Angeles, where the company has reportedly agreed to fill 80 vacant 22.3 positions at the Ontario Air Hub. The actual results remain to be seen. So far, jobs are only being posted a few at a time—and the bids are being filled by members who are already working in 22.3 positions.
Part-timers who have been waiting to bid on these vacant jobs will apparently just have to keep waiting.
If Article 22.3 jobs have been eliminated in your local—through layoffs or unfilled vacancies—now is the time to act. Teamsters at the local level need to do what Hoffa and Hall have failed to do: meet with UPS to demand that 22.3 vacancies be filled.
Hoffa and Hall have kicked this national crisis down to the locals. For now, enforcing the contract and winning full-time combo jobs is up to us.
“Ken Hall says we’re making progress on 22.3 jobs—that’s a joke.
“We have at least ten vacancies that haven’t been filled in Greensboro and the same problem in other buildings in my local.
“Our union and our contract are supposed to be about giving us a better life. We have plenty of members who are willing to do something to make that happen.”
Mark O’Neal, 22.3, Local 391, North Carolina
August 11, 2010: A package car driver has filed a class action lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court accusing the company of violating labor law by requiring drivers who wear shorts to buy socks with the UPS logo from the company.
Unfortunately, when it comes to socks, our contract rights stink.
The problem goes back to the 1993 contract negotiations. The company was absolutely dug in to not agree to shorts. Our union won the argument and got the shorts, but did not get the socks. Instead, we got language in Article 42 that says, “Such shorts may only be worn in compliance with uniform and appearance standards established by the Employer.”
Of course one of the standards established by the employer was the wearing of specific socks.
In many places drivers have successfully gotten around the restriction by buying their own brown socks and not making a big deal out of it. The socks must be identical to the company catalog socks (minus the logo).
August 11, 2010: Profits are skyrocketing at UPS while working conditions continue to bottom out.
UPS executives announced that Brown hauled in more than $854 million in the second quarter. Brown’s profits increased by 90 percent compared to the second quarter last year. That’s $400 million more in profits.
In all, UPS made nearly $1.4 billion in profits after taxes in the first six months of this year alone. Package volume continues to increase. UPS Freight revenue is up by 10 percent.
Chief Financial Officer Kurt Kuehn told analysts that he expects profits to increase even more over the rest of the year despite the slow economic recovery.
August 11, 2010: “It’s been a long, hot summer at UPS. The loads are so heavy it looks like peak some days.
We still have members laid off, but management keeps cutting routes and piling it on.
Package drivers are out past eight o’clock. It’s not right.”
Todd Hartsell, Local 90 Des Moines, Iowa
“The company and union repeat over and over: ‘Be glad you’re employed’.”
David Dethrow, Local 688, St. Louis
“All is not well and good in UPS world, that’s for sure. At our building, management is cutting jobs and getting rid of customer counter clerks by eliminating full-time inside jobs, making many workers with over 20 years of seniority having to work split shifts.
“They’ve cut routes and are overburdening the drivers with excessive stops.
“They fire over infractions without adhering to progressive discipline.
“And they have never honored the 9.5 language of the last contract, the language that was supposed to allow drivers to opt in or opt out of overtime.”
Michael Carano, Local 348, Akron, Ohio