Check out these new workshops for the TDU Convention, Nov. 5-7 in Chicago.
Getting Results without Grievances
Is management getting its way while you get bogged down in the grievance procedure? How to avoid getting stuck and resolve workplace problems through organizing and action.
Dealing with Different Kinds of Supervisors
The boss who won’t make a decision. The fake friend. The bully. How to protect members and enforce the contract by tailoring your grievance tactics to the boss you have.
UPS Production Discipline Cases
A step-by-step guide on how to investigate SPORH disciplinary cases, collect the information you need, and dismantle management’s case.
Running for IBT Convention Delegate
Hear from past delegates how to build your campaign organization, get your message out, and turn out the votes you need to win. Plus, what to expect at the IBT Convention.
The Future of Teamster Power
The next year will set the course for the future of our union. What changes are needed to get our union moving in the right direction? And what does the TDU movement need to be doing to reach our goals?
Plus much more...
- More workshops on pensions, grievances, bargaining, and much more.
- Workshops in Spanish.
- Meetings for UPS, freight, rail, carhaul, waste, UPS Freight, warehouse.
- Caucus meetings for African American, Latino, and women Teamsters.
Click here to read more and register for the TDU Convention.
August 11, 2010: Do you want them negotiating another UPS contract?
Can we afford more of the same?
August 20, 2010: The New England is our union’s third largest fund.
Where it stands and what it will take to protect our pensions and rebuild union power.
A new Actuarial Valuation Report from the New England Teamsters pension fund shows that the fund is seriously underfunded. But it can recover with a long-term plan to build Teamster power.
The March 2010 report was obtained by members under the disclosure provision of the Pension Protection Act, and is now available on www.TDU.org. It indicates that the plan is 52.6 percent funded; the fund has liabilities of $6.2 billion and actuarial value of assets of $3.2 billion.
Like many other Teamsters, New England members received an Annual Funding Notice earlier this year, informing them that their pension plan remains in the “Red Zone,” or critical status.
The fund’s Rehabilitation Plan includes requiring contracts to include a whopping ten percent increase in employer contributions every year. The fund trustees say no benefit cuts are planned. In 2005 the plan froze accruals at the level at that time, so further contribution money goes to fund the rehabilitation plan.
Like other major pension funds, the fund is not receiving contributions from YRC, and YRC Teamsters are not getting any pension credits. On the plus side, the New England Fund gets contributions from UPS part-timers, as well as full-timers.
The report indicates that as of October 2009 the fund had 24,714 active participants and 31,525 retirees. The actives are down about 1,000 from the previous year, presumably due to layoffs.
Threats on the Horizon
Teamster pensions are under attack. They’ve been weakened by the economic collapse brought on by Wall Street. And they’ve been undermined by our union’s failure to organize new companies into the funds. Strong Teamster pensions provide retirement security earned by a lifetime of hard work. They are also a key building block of Teamster power—and historically a reason workers wanted to join our union.
It’s up to Teamster leaders and members alike to defend our pension plans and build a strong legacy for the future.
The New England Fund is our union’s third largest. Its size is an asset, but also makes it a target for employers who want to pull out of it, including UPS.
A UPS pullout would be devastating to the New England Fund, as it has been for the Central States Fund, where Hoffa signed a deal letting UPS pull out and put Teamsters into a much cheaper company plan.
The company plan reportedly costs UPS approximately $3.12 per hour, compared to well over $7 per hour in New England. So UPS could save a bundle by pulling out, and weaken our union in the process.
Corporations like Waste Management and PepsiCo try to find weak bargaining links to get out of Teamster plans, as a step toward breaking our union.
Rebuilding Teamster Pensions
We need a union plan for rebuilding the New England Pension Fund.
The short term answer is to protect our contracts, say No to any pension pull-outs by employers, and bargain enough money to support the pension plan.
But a longer term plan is needed to broaden the employer base of the fund, increase the number of participants, and allow the plan to be funded without draining so much bargaining power just to maintain our pensions.
That means organizing new employers—and bringing them into the fund. It can be done. Our union is based in industries that cannot move overseas, and most are growth industries.
A deal with UPS got UPS Freight workers into our union, but kept them out of our pension funds. That kind of deal is short-sighted, and kicks the problem down the road. Corporations have long-range strategies. We need them too.
Political action is another part of the answer. We need to build our political clout to pass legislation such as the Employee Free Choice Act, and the Create Jobs and Save Pensions Act.
But to get these reforms passed, we need to mobilize Teamster power, starting with our members. Our lobbyists can’t do it by themselves. And Hoffa’s blogs and press releases won’t do it either.
Strong union pensions are worth fighting for. We need union leadership with a plan to lead that fight.
August 11, 2010: They work side-by-side with Teamster movers who make a living wage and get decent benefits. But some workers at ATM Enterprises are making $8 an hour with no healthcare.
On July 19, more than 40 workers at ATM Enterprises and a related company, Trucking Office Products System, dropped their dollies and picked up picket signs—to transform these poverty-wage jobs into decent jobs with a living wage.
ATM workers voted to join Teamsters Local 814 in June. Their strike has been supported by area locals and New York Joint Council 16.
“They work at the same location. They help move the same furniture,” said Frank Rotundo, a mover at Trucking Office Products System who’s been on strike since July 19. “But ATM apparently wants to keep some workers at poverty pay and pocket the difference for itself. That’s not America.”
August 11, 2010: Since March, laid off Teamsters on-call for YRC terminals in Cleveland and Copley, Ohio have had weeks where they are working six and sometimes seven days.
YRC is telling them they must be available for work at either terminal at any time. But management is refusing to pay them time and a half for a sixth punch and double time on a seventh punch.
“YRC shows no respect by stonewalling us on overtime pay. They asked us to sacrifice our wages and pension but can’t be decent enough to pay us what we’re due or call us back to work. Is that playing fair?” asked Mike Ostrander, a 27-year Teamster.
The laid-off Teamsters are on a combined seniority call list as a result of a change of operations which consolidated terminals in northeast Ohio at the end of 2009. A grievance filed in April will be presented by Local 24 at the JAC in September. Numerous other grievances are pending.
If YRC has to work laid-off Teamsters six and seven days, they should recall some of them to a regular shift.
Isn’t this injustice something the IBT Freight Division can take care of with a phone call?
August 11, 2010: In a move that can only be called petty and mean, YRC management in the Southeast has ordered some of their best road drivers to remove their AM-FM radios from their assigned tractors.
A grievance has been filed in Memphis, to try to protect this years-long practice, but it may not even be heard until October.
Roadway Express gave assigned tractors to road drivers with three million safe driving miles, and YRC continued this practice after they merged operations. Many of these drivers then bought AM-FM radios.
Now a manager has ordered the radios removed in Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia and other Southeast areas.
After drivers have agreed to give up their pension contributions and sacrifice 15 percent of their wages, would it be too much to expect a little respect and decent treatment?
Would it be appropriate for the IBT Freight Division to tell YRC to stop this kind of crap immediately?
August 11, 2010: Local 901 strikers and reformers are fighting for their rights—and they’ve won each legal battle.
But officials and management are working together to delay justice.
Rank and file reformers and strikers in Puerto Rico Local 901 continue to fight for their rights. They’ve won each legal battle, but Local 901 officials and management at Coca-Cola are working together to delay justice.
To speed up the process, workers have now filed suit in federal court, and hope to have a hearing for an injunction by late September.
Reformers, Strikers Ordered Reinstated
That suit demands the immediate reinstatement to membership and to their elected steward positions of Migdalia Magriz, Silvia Rivera, and Mara Quiara, who were illegally expelled from the union in March 2009 after they ran for local union office.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has already held an extensive hearing and ordered the union officials to reinstate them, which would make Magriz and Rivera eligible to run for union office. (Quiara has since retired.)
The NLRB also ordered Coca-Cola to reinstate about 40 Teamsters who were fired or suspended for going on a lawful strike.
A separate suit has been filed by the Department of Labor against Local 901 officials over numerous irregularities in the last union election; a supervised rerun election is very likely to be the outcome.
Workers Fight Illegal Dues Hike
On another front, workers are standing up for their rights at Pepsi Cola, where the Local 901 union officials illegally imposed a big dues hike without a vote.
They have asked the International Union to order the local to correct the injustice, and if that fails, they will take further action.
The members are represented by TDU attorney Barbara Harvey of Detroit, and by Linda Backiel of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
August 16, 2010: Teamster carhaulers have been hit as hard as anyone by the Great Recession, which has drastically cut auto production. With the economy just starting to recover, carhaulers are asking “Where’s the union leadership?”
In June, Allied Teamsters returned to full union scale for the first time in three years, a most welcome development. But the International union has signaled that Allied can come back for concessions, and most carhaulers expect that to happen soon.
Meanwhile, employers continue to nibble away at the union contract on a terminal-by-terminal basis.
Jack Cooper recently told Houston members to accept a 15 percent pay cut, and Local 988’s “leadership” seems ready to vote the proposal.
The same deal may be coming at some other Jack Cooper terminals.
Jack Cooper, now owned by Innovative Equity Partners, states on their own website that they are now operating in the black and expect to make a profit this year.
Carhaulers don’t expect miracles, but they expect the union to have a plan to organize, to protect and expand our contract and job security. Most of all they expect the union leadership to tell the truth and quit hiding from the members.