September 28, 2010: Teamsters at the UPS hub in Syracuse knew they needed a show of unity to counter all the grief they get daily from UPS management. So they held a rank-and-file day of action to educate members on how to enforce our contract.
“Our action brought package drivers and part-timers out front so UPS could see we’re in this together,” reported 22.3 Teamster Bill Shaughnessy. “We’re tired of supervisors working and the package guys have had it up to here with 9.5 grievances,” added steward John DePietro.
“We wanted to send the message that there’s solidarity out there as we face management on the issues,” added Shaughnessy. Both reported members responded positively to the action so they are considering making it a monthly event. DePietro said, “We hope that the idea of a rank and file day of action at UPS spreads to other hubs and centers throughout upstate New York and elsewhere.”
September 28, 2010: Local 2727 members are getting back their holiday turkeys, thanks to a grievance their local just won.
UPS Teamsters in Local 2727 will get a turkey this Christmas season, and they will get their annual safety and length-of-service awards, thanks to a grievance their local just won.
But will the rest of us get our benefits back? That question can only be answered by Hoffa and Ken Hall.
When UPS management took away these established benefits in 2009, Local 2727 filed a grievance and has now won the arbitration. Why is it that one local can win what Hoffa and Hall can’t with the whole power of the International Union?
Local 2727 represents 1,200 aircraft mechanics who service UPS planes. They are under a separate contract covering just their local, and it does have different contract language.
But our contract has a “maintenance of standards” clause in the supplemental language that reads: “The employer agrees that all conditions of employment relating to wages, hours of work, overtime differential and general working conditions shall be maintained at not less than the highest standards in effect at the signing of this Agreement…”
Local 2727 members will get their benefits restored, and be made whole for the past year, when UPS stripped away this established past practice in violation of the contract.
The same should happen for all UPS Teamsters.
September 28, 2010: UPS said it is preparing to follow its ban on driver texting with a broader policy on use of cell and smart phones while its employees are behind the wheel.
The company made the announcement while Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and other top Department of Transportation officials were hosting a daylong distracted driving summit in Washington, D.C.
September 28, 2010: Diverting feeder work to nonunion carriers (via Logistics or Supply Chain Solutions) costs jobs and hurts our union: if not stopped it could eventually destroy the feeder department and weaken our union. Here’s one example reported by Local 688 members in St. Louis.
UPS had a large account with a company called Scholastic Books. Recently this feeder work was transferred to Werner, a nonunion truckload carrier. Werner—instead of feeders—now brings the freight into the Earth City (St Louis), Kansas City, Chicago and other hubs for distribution.
As a result feeder jobs are lost. Management’s position on issues like this is “no problem, we let the drivers bid another job” but there are still jobs lost, even if it is by attrition.
It’s time for the International Union to take this issue seriously: require management to hold sufficient feeder schools to get UPSers trained, and crack down on subcontracting to save our jobs and union strength.
September 28, 2010: They used to make $8 to $10 an hour with no benefits. Now after a five-week strike, they’re celebrating big raises and union benefits.
Workers at ATM Enterprises had no union and were making $8 to $10 an hour with no benefits.
Now they’re Teamsters and celebrating big raises and union benefits—thanks to a five-week strike, a giant rat, a committed crew of Teamsters, and a joint organizing drive by New York locals 814 and 805.
The fight started when Local 814 discovered that commercial movers at TOPS, a Local 814 shop, were working side-by-side with nonunion workers making poverty wages.
Management claimed the nonunion workers were working for an entirely different company—ATM Enterprises. They just happened to work out of the same building and had all the same customers.
The workers at ATM came together, voted to join the union, and demanded better pay and health benefits. The company said no deal, so the workers dropped their dollies and picked up picket signs.
“If we had let these nonunion conditions keep spreading, eventually it would have brought all of us down,” said Keith Temple, a Teamster at TOPS who went on strike for a new contract at the same time as the ATM workers hit the streets.
Strikers reached out to customers and told them about the disruption in the company’s business. They followed scab trucks with mobile pickets and showed up at job sites with a giant inflatable rat.
Building managers on Wall Street and in New York’s financial district were not amused.
“We stopped enough jobs that the boss started losing money,” Temple said. “It was a lot of fun chasing trucks. I hope I never have to do it again. But if someone else needs help, we’re ready.”
September 28, 2010: In August, BLET members voted 6,305 to 2,452 to save their Right to Vote.
The vote was so lopsided because dozens of BLET members got organized and took a stand. Here’s how they made it happen.
Members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) have overwhelmingly voted down an initiative that would take away their Right to Vote before they ever got a chance to use it.
Now their first ever democratic vote for top BLET officers is on for this November—and it’s shaping up to be a tight race.
In December 2009, BLET officials put forward an initiative to take away members’ Right to Vote.
Why did they oppose the Right to Vote? The officials who opposed democracy in the BLET said the Right to Vote was too expensive and too complicated. And they said that members were not informed enough to choose their officers.
The real reason was a different story: “The National Division Officers fear the wrath of the membership more than anything else,” explained Abe Vasquez, Local Chairman of Division 582 in Chicago. “They know they can more easily compromise the delegate structure to tilt the required number of votes to their favor with gratuitous arrangements, promises, and no doubt with threats and intimidation if necessary.”
Right away, BLET members from Teamsters for a Democratic Union joined up with other members and launched a campaign to save the Right to Vote.
They called their group BLET Members for Democracy and started educating members about the attack on their rights. “The single most effective way to campaign on this issue was talking to members one-on-one or in small groups,” said Robert Hill, an engineer on the BNSF in Division 758.
“For those who wanted to roll back the clock and take away this right, it was an uphill battle to convince members to give up that fundamental right,” said Ron Kaminkow, an Amtrak engineer in Nevada Division 51.
When the ballots came out in June, Hugh Sawyer, the president of BLET Division 316 in Atlanta, wrote a letter that was sent to every voter.
“The challenge was to make sure that the word got out, accurately, on exactly what the proponents of the resolution were trying to accomplish,” Sawyer said. “The rest was a no brainer.”
A Neutral Stand?
One candidate for the top spot in the BLET’s election, Tom Brennan, came out swinging in support of the Right to Vote. He put out blast emails and flyers to help the effort to save the Right to Vote.
The incumbent candidate, Dennis Pierce, opposed the Right to Vote when it first came to a vote in 2006.
This time Pierce tried to hide behind a “neutral” stance. But many BLET insiders report that he worked hard behind the scenes to kill the Right to Vote.
“Once members understood the situation, they quickly opposed the initiative and could easily see through the political maneuvering and motivation for taking away their right to vote,” said Ed Michael, a Union Pacific engineer on Division 724 in Illinois. “They were not fooled.”
September 28, 2010: The next meeting of the UPS Freight national grievance panel will be in San Diego on Oct. 13-15.
Article 44 subcontracting grievances remain a big issue. Nineteen cases were either carried over or remain on “committee hold.” These grievances are getting old and are from terminals across the U.S.—Columbus, Seattle, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Dallas, Boise, and many points in between. There are two new Article 44 cases on the docket from Orlando Local 385 and Newburgh, N.Y. Local 707.
Following the May 2010 panel, union chair Ken Hall said that a grievance out of Dallas Local 745 would be taken to arbitration if it went unresolved by August. We have no update on that promise.
There are 25 new grievances on various issues on the national docket. Click here to download the docket.
September 28, 2010: The Central States Pension Fund had $18 billion in assets as of June 30, 2010, according to their quarterly Financial and Analytical Report, which Teamsters for a Democratic Union obtained in late August.
This is down from $19.5 billion at the beginning of the year. The loss is due to two factors: the poor stock market performance in the second quarter, and the temporary withdrawal of YRCW, the fund’s largest participating employer.
6.8 % Loss
The fund lost 6.8 percent on its investments in the second quarter. The Central States Fund is more heavily invested in stock (67 percent of assets) than most other pension funds. The stock market has headed upward in the third quarter, and that may be reflected in the next report.
As reported by Teamsters for a Democratic Union last quarter, Goldman Sachs resigned as asset manager, effective Aug. 2. The fund transferred the assets formerly managed by Goldman Sachs to Northern Trust, and some of it to passive investment (index funds).
George Westley, who long ago retired as head of New Orleans Local 270, was reappointed for another five years as a union trustee. These union appointments appear to be for life.
Eleven Years of Decline
This graph shows the decline in the participants in the fund during the 11-year reign of James Hoffa as Teamster President.
The number of active participants has fallen from 185,000 in 1999 to 58,000 in 2010, a loss of 127,000 participants.
The number of participants dropped sharply in December 2007, when Hoffa let UPS pull 44,000 Teamsters out of the fund.
During Hoffa’s tenure, an additional 83,000 members were lost.
Some 12,000 were lost due to the temporary withdrawal of YRC.
The number of retirees has remained steady at around 214,000 for the past seven years.
More at TDU.org
The Fund’s quarterly Independent Special Counsel Report devotes three pages to the critical issue of YRCW’s participation, but provides no guidance or new information on the topic.
The reports do not indicate that any changes in benefits are planned. Like all pension funds that are in the “red zone,” Central States will produce an updated 2010 rehabilitation plan.
A copy of the Central States Financial and Analytic Information is available here.
An additional report from the Special Counsel to the fund is also available here.
October 15, 2010: Hoffa is up for re-election next year. And he’s got to know he’s got a tough battle ahead.
During his last campaign, Hoffa filled my mailbox with fancy mailers. He organized rallies, traveled all over the country visiting Teamster worksites, and hired telemarketers to call us at home.
It was an all-out push, and he spent over $3 million to get re-elected.
When was the last time Hoffa did anything like that to stand up for our pensions?
I started working at Holland because of the pension. I’ll have 25 years in the day after my 57th birthday.
I was counting on a 25 & Out pension. But I can’t count on that anymore. The future of Central States is up in the air, and it’s going to take a serious plan to fix it.
There’s legislation in Congress that would help protect my pension. Hoffa promised he would put Teamsters in the streets to fight for it—but he never did.
The future of our union, our pensions, and our jobs are all at stake. But all we get from Hoffa is hot air.
Now his job is on the line. Is he going to fight for it harder than he fought for our pensions?
By Rusty Monahon, Holland Local 100, Cincinnati
Teamsters are coming from across the country on Nov. 5-7 to Chicago to help build the campaign army to elect new leadership for our union.
I’ll Be There
“The 2011 Teamster election will change the course of our union.
“Teamsters across the country will meet in Chicago at the TDU Convention to make plans to vote Hoffa out and rebuild our union’s power.
“I’ll be there and you should too—to build a Teamster army for change.”
Tom Leedham, Secretary-Treasurer Local 206, Oregon
We’re Running for Delegate
“We’re running a team of reform-minded stewards and activists for convention delegate—to give the members of Local 174 a choice.
“They can vote for people who will just be a rubber-stamp for Hoffa, or they can send working Teamsters who will be an independent voice for the members.
“I’ll be at the TDU Convention to talk about how we can win.”
Mike Waine, Allied Waste Local 174, Seattle
I’m Joining the Campaign Army
“I’m joining the campaign army to elect strong, reform leadership for our union.
“The TDU Convention is where we’ll get organized and make plans to make it happen.
“I’ll be there—you should too!”
Michael Savwoir, UPS Local 41, Kansas City
Click here to register for the TDU Convention.