June 28, 2012: Corporate profits are up. Wages are falling. It's time to draw the line against corporate greed.
The pundits love to blame unions for wrecking the economy. The economy is a wreck alright—but for workers, not the corporations.
Corporate profit margins are actually at an all-time high. Companies are making more per dollar of sales than any time in history.
But wages as a percentage of the economy are at an all-time low. These numbers got worse with this recession, but they've been trending the wrong way for decades.
Income for the bottom 90 percent has been flat since 1973. Over the same period, the income of the top 1 percent has tripled.
In a bad economy, unions have been under attack and on the defensive. Upcoming national contract negotiations are an opportunity to start to turn the tide.
UPS is the biggest union employer in North America and with $4 billion in profits last year it's also one of the richest. Brown has quadrupled its CEO's compensation while freezing starting pay and cutting full-time jobs.
The country needs more good jobs, not less. The UPS contract can be a rallying point for our union and the public. Let's raise the flag.
The freight contract is another place to draw the line. ABF hauled in $1.9 billion in revenue last year and gave its CEO a 35 percent raise. But the corporation wants working Teamsters to take a pay cut.
Freight Teamsters at ABF are uniting with YRC Teamsters to say NO to concessions in the freight contract, a cornerstone of our union's power. The UPS Freight contract, which covers 12,000 members, will be another key test.
Corporate America has pushed too far. It's time to push back. Click here to contact TDU to find out how you can join the movement to get our fair share.
Source: Business Insider: June 22, 2012
July 6, 2012: Teamster women are growing in numbers and can be a big part of rebuilding Teamster power.
TDU helps women stand up for our rights on the job, share information and get more involved.
Click here to get involved and learn more at the TDU Women Teamsters page.
"Women face the same things that men do on the job and in the union, they just affect us differently.
"The 15% giveback to YRC devastated us and our families, too. Sometimes the company even runs me into my day off making it near impossible to take care of the house and my grandkids.
"YRC executives gave themselves big bonuses with that money. The union should've said no to the 2-year extension, and should instead revisit the books every year.
"I'm a proud Teamster and TDU member. The International should stand up for freight Teamsters. We earned our wages through hard work, and shouldn’t be moving backwards."
Vicky Bowers, YRC Road Driver, Local 135, Indianapolis
Equal Pay for Equal Work
"The job I work is made up of 75% women, and we are getting paid less than the men who do the same work. We are the third largest law enforcement agency, preceded by the NYPD and the Corrections Officers. We deal with the same issues and our job is just as hard.
"A majority of the school safety agents, Teamster brothers and sisters, stepped up and signed on to a lawsuit demanding equal pay. It doesn't just affect women; it affects everyone.
"I am attending my first TDU Convention this year. I'm looking forward to learning how others have overcome issues like this at the workplace, meeting different people and getting more members involved."
Kangela Moore, NYPD Division of School Safety, Local 237, New York
"My local union is headed by a woman, and the members of my local elected me as a delegate to the 2011 Teamster Convention to nominate Sandy Pope.
"In Las Vegas it was like a different world. Many of the other delegates tried to intimidate and silence me. It was very disappointing.
"We need to continue organizing women in our union to have a voice and be part of making an impact."
Laverna Wharam, Inver Grove Heights School
Local 320, Minnesota
Run For Office—TDU Can Help
"TDU provides education and resources members can use to develop as union leaders, whether they're women or men. Being a member of TDU has given me a huge sense of pride because of that.
"I want to see more women in leadership positions of our union.
"There are a lot of Teamster women out there who are qualified to serve in office, works as reps and organizers and can help propel our union forward."
Rosemary Stedronsky, UPS Part-Time, Local 63, Ontario, Calif.
Hire More Women, Strengthen Our Union
"The International union should be doing more to deal with gender discrimination—not just at UPS, but within the Teamsters. We need more women in power and more women on the job.
"I still encounter guys that I work with—my brothers—that think women shouldn't be doing the job. That UPS just hired me and gave me 30 years seniority—that I didn't earn it.
"It's been a bumpy road, but a good one too. I truly enjoy most of the guys I work with, and when it comes time for me to retire I will miss the friendships I've made."
Rozalind Coleman, UPS Feeder Driver, Local 688, St Louis
Women Teamsters: We Aren't So Rare!
"I'm so glad that TDU is showcasing women Teamsters. I suspect most Teamsters, like I, haven't been aware of the diversity of members and the industries represented by the IBT.
"We need our union to start recognizing the needs of women Teamsters, at work when we face problems like discrimination, sexual harassment and employers unwilling to recognize family obligations that still fall mostly on women. Broader issues like reproductive rights, healthcare and childcare are very related to a woman's ability to work—our union should support those rights.
"I joined TDU because TDU raises the bar on how Teamsters can be more effective in our union and in our lives. That's especially valuable today when workers in every workplace are being assailed more than ever before."
Claudette Begin, UCAL School of Public Health, Local 2010, Berkeley, Calif.
June 28, 2012: Freight Teamsters are building a rank-and-file network to say NO to concessions. They've launched a new website to help ABF Teamsters get informed, share ideas, and unite to protect the freight contract.
Other freight Teamsters—especially YRCW brothers and sisters—are invited to join and support the struggle, because we are in this industry and union together.
No Concessions is a reasonable and winnable goal for the contract. No concessions on benefits or conditions for city, dock, road, office or garage Teamsters. And a reasonable wage increase to keep our standard of living from falling further behind inflation.
Isolated, we will lose. Together, we have rank and file Teamster power.
We've Said NO Before, We Can Do It Again
"Two years ago we sent a strong and clear message: no concessions. The company claimed they couldn't stay in business without givebacks. We proved them wrong and we can do it again. Don't let them sell you another sob story. Teamster members deserve a decent contract. That means protect our pension and benefits and get us a raise."
Emmet Ramsay, ABF, Local 391, Winston-Salem
It Starts With Winning At ABF
"Every freight Teamster needs to stand behind our guys at ABF. No concessions at ABF means the rest of us at the YRC companies have a fighting chance to get back to the full rate in 2015. Our national freight contract meant greater bargaining power in the past and we need to restore it for the future. That starts with winning a decent contract at ABF in 2013."
Allen Watrous, YRC, Local 773, Allentown, Pa.
We Need a Campaign And a Plan
"Teamsters pride is about power in trucking. We can't let Hoffa forget that. We need to rebuild our strength in freight and that means having a plan. Members need to sign up on the website (www.NoFreightConcessions.org) and help light a fire. We need a contract campaign at ABF if we're going to get the contract we deserve."
Paul Host, ABF, Local 200, Milwaukee
ABF Has the Money, Let's Get Our Fair Share
"Since the company whined about being in the red we've seen a raise for the CEO and the purchase of other companies. They've got money to spend so it's time to negotiate our fair share."
Michelle Glessner, ABF, Local 957, Dayton, Ohio
July 6, 2012: Multiple union sources report that the International union and UPS Freight management have agreed to delay or shelve the arbitration process for the deadlocked Dallas Local 745 subcontracting grievance. It appears that management and the Hoffa administration are trying to settle the issue prior to bargaining the new contract. Contract bargaining is slated to begin this fall.
At the national panel in June, once again no grievances dealing with subcontracting out union road work were dealt with. They were put on hold or withdrawn. Click here to read the decisions.
This problem has only gotten worse, and should have been dealt with long ago. Many members are now getting their hopes up that the issue will finally be dealt with, starting at the largest hubs.
One report is that management and the union could agree to the subcontracting language that exists in the national UPS package agreement. That may be an improvement, but many feeder drivers will tell you that there is too much subcontracting allowed at UPS even with that language.
The national master freight contract is the best model for language on subcontracting. There are three pages that cover various aspects. The IBT has decades of experience enforcing this language. It should be the model for the UPS Freight contract.
"I want to see every Teamster working," commented Terry Scott, a road steward at the Gaffney, South Carolina terminal and Local 509 Teamster. "As the loads go in and out, Teamsters need to be pulling those trailers. We need clear language that protects our right to that work."
Teamsters at UPS Freight expect no excuses for a substandard contract this go around. They know subcontracting is a blight on our potential union power. All work at UPS Freight terminals needs to be seen as Teamster work.
Click here to have your say at UPSFreightTalk.org.
June 28, 2012: What does the Allied Automotive Group bankruptcy mean for carhaulers? That important question remains unanswered at this point.
Teamster carhaulers, as well as the Ford Motor Company, need Allied to survive, because the remaining union carriers simply do not have the capacity to pick up Allied's work. Since Ford has made Allied their preferred carrier, they likely will survive.
Will Allied pick up more Ford work? That's their goal, but reportedly Ford is reluctant to award them more traffic while the bankruptcy is pending.
Allied Automotive Group filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy on Sunday, June 10, in Delaware. CEO Mark Gendregske, in a conference call the following day, claimed that there will be "no reduction in workforce, pay, or benefits" and that the bankruptcy will be a short process compared to Allied's 2005 bankruptcy.
Gendregske contrasted the bankruptcy to 2005, when Allied demanded Teamster concessions. Typically in a bankruptcy creditors are asked to accept equity in the company in exchange for forgiving loans.
The bankruptcy involves 18(!) subsidiaries, including Axis, but not Allied's Mexican and Bermudan subsidiaries. Allied has retained three top-dollar law firms to represent them in court.
July 23, 2012: Teamsters at Rhode Island Hospital are joining TDU and uniting for stronger union representation.
Union meetings in Providence Local 251 don't usually create much of a buzz. Like many locals, Local 251 membership meetings tend to be routine.
But a recent Local 251 membership meeting was anything but routine. While the regulars took their seats, more than 100 Teamsters from Rhode Island Hospital rallied across the street and marched into the membership meeting together.
"We wanted to send a message that we're Teamsters, we're part of this union and we're not going to be ignored anymore," said Nick Williams, a hospital employee who helped organize the delegation.
Apparently the message got through. "The next day, our Union President was down at the Hospital. We've seen a lot more of our business agents lately," Williams said.
Williams is one of a growing number of Local 251 members at Rhode Island Hospital who are joining Teamsters for a Democratic Union and uniting for stronger union representation.
‘Pumping Life Into Our Union’
Rhode Island Hospital employs more than 2,500 Teamster members. "We're the biggest group of members in our local by far, but we're treated like second-class Teamsters," said Matthew Martins, an electrician at the hospital. "We're joining TDU to get the support and education we need to enforce our rights and get taken seriously."
"Teamsters at Rhode Island Hospital help save lives every day. Now we're pumping life back into our own union,” Martins said.
The new TDU members include members of the original organizing committee that brought the Teamsters to Rhode Island Hospital, like Paul Santos.
"We organized with the Teamsters because we wanted a voice on the job. But our last contract was negotiated completely behind our backs," said Santos. "We didn't even find out that a new contract was being negotiated until management sent around a memo announcing the new deal."
The Teamsters is the biggest union at the hospital but the Local 251 contract offers fewer protections than other union members get.
When management eliminated contributions to employees' retirement plan, the nurses union at the hospital, UNAP, filed a grievance and made the Hospital restore some of the cuts. But the Local 251 contract had weaker protections and members came away empty-handed.
"Stronger contract language would have meant more money for our retirement, it's that simple," said electrician Tony Medeiros.
In some cases, even nonunion employees have stronger rights than Teamsters do. For example, the corporate policy allows Hospital employees to work with family members as long as they are not directly supervised by a relative.
But Local 251 President Kevin Reddy signed a secret side letter that bans Teamsters from working in the same department as a relative.
"I was blocked from working in the warehouse for no other reason than I have a relative who works in the same department; he doesn't even work on the same shift!" said Derek Dutra. "I'm a Teamster and a returning veteran and a nonunion employee has more rights than I do. How does that make any sense?"
Under the Teamster Constitution, members have a right to vote by secret ballot on their contract and on any midterm changes or side letters which modify the contract. But that hasn't stopped Local 251 officials.
Organizing for Change
"I'm proud to be a Teamster," said Paul Santos. "If you don't like how things are going, you can't just complain. You've got to get involved and make it better."
Santos and other Teamsters at the hospital found out about TDU online. Since then, they've started holding regular TDU meetings, including a workshop on Strategic Grievance handling.
They've teamed up with a rank-and-file caucus called 251 United Action and started meeting with UPS and freight Teamsters to learn about each other's issues and organize for a stronger Local 251.
Hospital Teamsters came to UPS to help with a petition drive and the contract campaign. UPSers have helped Teamsters at the Hospital file grievances.
They're planning a picnic for Local 251 members in August.
"A strong union starts with active and united members," said Matt Maini, a UPS Teamster who's active in 251 United Action and TDU.
"It's great to see members getting involved," said Jim Jacob, a retired freight Teamster and TDU volunteer. "Getting informed about your rights. Standing up for other members when they've got a problem. That's what being a Teamster is all about."
"I'm proud to be a Teamster. If you don't like how things are going, you can't just complain. You've got to get involved and make it better."
Shipping & Receiving, Rhode Island Hospital
Unit Assistant , Rhode Island Hospital
July 6, 2012: New York City bus drivers and escorts went on strike in 1979 and won crucial job security protections.
Now, those protections are on the line.
New York City is trying to eliminate rules that protect school bus drivers from pay and benefit cuts, or losing their jobs, when another bus company bids on their work.
School bus drivers across the city went on strike to win these critical Employee Protection Provisions in 1979.
Now, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has successfully lobbied Governor Andrew Cuomo to veto a bill that would have extended the protections. This fall, the Mayor and Department of Education plan to bid contracts covering more than 138,000 students without the provisions.
We'll Fight to Protect Our Jobs
"The Mayor and Department of Education are trying to destroy good union jobs," said Pierre Jerome, a Local 854 bus driver in Brooklyn. "Bus drivers and escorts went on strike to win these job protections and we'll fight to keep them."
Strike votes are being held in Amalgated Transport Union 1181, which represents the majority of school bus drivers, escorts and mechanics.
ATU issued notices to its members about preparing for a possible strike and is circulating a survey to members. A bus company sent out their own leaflet threatening ATU 1181 employees with a 20 percent cut in pay and benefits!
The Employee Protection Provisions were won as a result of the 1979 citywide school bus strike by thousands of members of ATU 1181. During that strike, police drove kids to school in buses used to take inmates to and from Rikers Island jail.
The provisions require the Department of Education to maintain a Master Seniority List of all drivers, mechanics and escorts. School bus companies that win new routes or hire more drivers are required to hire from the List, in order of seniority, and maintain the workers' wages and pensions.
Defending Children's Safety
"Without the protections, our work would go to the lowest bidder," said Teamster bus driver and TDU member Juan Carlos Rodriguez. "This doesn't just affect us. This is about the safety of New York City children and our streets. Union drivers and escorts are well-trained and know how to do our job safely."
Teamsters Local 854 issued a notice to drivers and escorts about the threat to the protections, stating the union is "prepared to do whatever is necessary to benefit our members."
But members question whether the union is really prepared. There have been no membership meetings or action plans.
TDU members from different bus companies are distributing informational bulletins and collecting petition signatures to defend the Employee Protection Provisions.
Union Needs a Plan
"We need more than talk," said Pierre Jerome. "Our union needs a plan to organize members, build public support, and protect good jobs and safe transportation for the students. This isn't about what's good for this or that bus company, or the Teamsters and ATU—it's about what's right for New York City."
Threat to Union Jobs
"Without the protections, our work would go to the lowest bidder.
"This is about the safety of New York City children and our streets. Union drivers and escorts are well-trained and know how to do our job safely."
Juan Carlos Rodriguez, Consolidated Bus Transit
Local 854, New York
Union Needs a Plan
"We need more than talk.
"Our union needs a plan to organize members, build public support, and protect good jobs and safe transportation for the students."
Pierre Jerome, Empire Bus Corp.
Local 854, New York
June 28, 2012: Working conditions at UPS are at an all-time low.
Will the new contract address the problems—or will they get swept under the rug?
The International Union announced it will open early contract negotiations with UPS on Sept. 27.
The IBT has outlined a compressed timeline for talks with just three weeks of negotiations scheduled on operations issues.
Negotiations will be suspended during peak and resume in January with bargaining over wages, benefits and pensions.
Contract Working for UPS
Our working conditions are at an all-time low. But the current contract is working just fine for UPS. The company has been able to boost profits and cut costs.
In a terrible economy, UPS is making billions by squeezing more out of working Teamsters through longer hours, excessive loads, production harassment, and using Telematics and GPS technology to monitor (and push) drivers more than ever.
UPS has also boosted profits by eliminating full-time jobs—cutting air drivers, eliminating 22.3 positions, and reducing package jobs.
Cutting and combining routes is happening nationwide. Subcontracting is on the rise—in both feeders and package where work is going to the Post Office. Volume is up. But most centers still have fewer routes than they used to.
Money Won't Stop Harassment
UPS was making record profits when they negotiated the last contract.
But union negotiators agreed to watered-down language that has helped UPS drive down our working conditions—including 9.5 (Article 37), new technology and "proven dishonesty" (Article 6), and full-time job creation (Article 22.3).
UPS got what they wanted in exchange for giving the Teamsters 12,000 new dues-paying members at UPS Freight.
This year the danger is that Hoffa and Hall will settle short on the contract again as long as UPS throws money into Teamster benefit funds.
The Hoffa administration has made no secret that negotiating money into Teamster pension and health and welfare funds is their priority.
Of course, strong Teamster benefits are a top priority for working Teamsters too! But that's only half the story.
More money won't stop production harassment, excessive loads, subcontracting, full-time job elimination and declining working conditions. Only strong contract language can do that.
We Can Win a Strong Contract
Contract negotiations took more than a year last time. This year, the International Union is talking about negotiating over operations issues for just three weeks!
The company is happy with an accelerated bargaining schedule. Management always wants more flexibility, but they don't need big changes in the contract. They've been able to have their way under the current deal.
UPS Teamsters do not need to choose between protecting our benefits or negotiating stronger contract language and better working conditions. The company is making billions. It can afford both.
Our union's chief negotiator Ken Hall told the Teamster Convention, "I hope UPS makes $10 billion because the more they make, the more we take when it comes to negotiations."
It's up to Teamster members to hold our negotiators feet to the fire. We can make UPS deliver a strong contract that protects our benefits and improves our working conditions. But we've got to stay informed, get involved and stand united.
Understaffing & Over-Dispatch
"Drivers are tired of eating dinner at 9 o'clock at night and only seeing our families on the weekends. Understaffing and over-dispatch are the biggest operations problems for drivers at UPS and they need to be addressed in the new contract."
Ralph Serpico, Steward, Local 804, New York
Hire More Drivers
"The volume is there but routes are being cut or combined. In our center, we've gone from 50 routes to 39 in the last three years. That means we only get a guaranteed 3 drivers for eight hour days. We're never going to solve the problem of excessive stop counts until UPS hires more drivers. On a conference call last year, Ken Hall promised the IBT would get UPS to run the numbers and hire more drivers. It's time to deliver on that promise."
Ross Thompson, Package Car, Local 41, Kansas City
End Substandard Pensions
"Full-time UPSers in the IBT-UPS plan have the lowest pension benefit in the country—just $3,000 a month after 30 years. Our National Negotiating Committee can bargain an immediate hike in our pension benefits by changing Article 34 of the contract.
"We've got the numbers. There's 48,000 of us in the IBT-UPS pension plan. We've got to be ready to Vote No on any early deal that doesn't include a fair pension increase."
Willie Ford, Feeder Driver, Local 71, Florence S.C.
Innocent Until Proven Guilty
"In the eyes of the grievance procedure, we're supposed to be Innocent Until Proven Guilty except for cardinal infractions like stealing. But the company gets around this language by abusing a loophole in the Central Supplement that counts 'other serious offenses' as a cardinal infraction.
"If you're going to be discharged, it should be in black and white, not a catch-all phrase that's open to interpretation and abuse."
Zach Pfeiffer, Steward, Local 89, Louisville
Teamsters Uniting for a Strong Contract
That's what the Make UPS Deliver campaign is all about.
We are UPS Teamsters from across the country sharing information and fighting for the contract we deserve.
Click here to: Get informed. Get involved. Make a difference.
"It's time to win contract language that fills every 22.3 job and protects them for the future.
"We need language so 22.3 Teamsters have seniority, bidding, and overtime rights and part-timers have the right to fill 22.3 positions when someone goes on vacation or comp.
"We are talking about 20,000 Teamsters who have virtually no contract language outlining their rights. That's got to change."
Lawrence Cruz, Steward, Local 396, Covina, Calif.
July 6, 2012: Part-timers and other inside workers are organizing to win a contract that delivers for all Teamsters—full-time and part-time.
They've launched a petition drive to demand better pay and more full-time jobs.
"In Milwaukee, we're collecting signatures at shift change from part-timers and drivers too," said Daniel Ginsberg-Jaeckle, a Local 344 Teamster. "We want management and our bargaining committee to see that full-timers and part-timers are uniting behind each other's bargaining demands."
Any contract offer from UPS has to be put to a vote of the members. If UPS sees that part-timers and inside workers will vote to reject a weak contract, they will be forced to put a better offer on the table.
Check out www.MakeUPSDeliver.org:
- Click here to sign the petition online
- Click here to download petitions to collect signatures
- Click here to sign up for email updates
Higher Pay for Part-Timers
"Starting pay for part-timers is just $8.50 an hour. That's below minimum wage in some areas. It's ridiculous.
"National negotiations are our chance to win higher starting pay and more guaranteed hours.
"Part-timers aren't going to make what the drivers do. But there should be a progression to a top rate. That's what a real union pay scale looks like—and the national contract is the place to win it."
Garth Cedeno, Preload Steward
Local 804, New York