January 23, 2013: The UPS contract covers nearly 250,000 Teamsters and sets the bar for every contract.
The IBT is in contract negotiations with UPS, the biggest union employer in North America, and the outcome will affect every Teamster.
The stakes are high, but you wouldn't know it from the IBT's information Brownout.
Contract negotiations come only once every five years. They're the only chance we get to negotiate not just our wages and pensions, but the contract language that makes or breaks our quality of work life.
In a bad economy, the company has continued to haul in billions in annual profits by slashing full-time jobs and using technology, harassment, and excessive loads to squeeze more work out of a shrinking workforce.
While many drivers have too much work, part-time workers are denied the opportunity to work more guaranteed hours, earn overtime or get a full-time position.
The last time the Hoffa administration negotiated early with UPS, they delivered concessions.
The company walked away with split wage increases, longer progressions, a new substandard pension for 48,000 Teamsters in the Central Region and South, and concessions that froze starting pay and slashed benefits for new part-timers.
But it wasn't just the economics. The last contract also included weak language and gaping loopholes that has made it harder for members to protect themselves from production harassment, excessive overtime, and unfair discipline.
Chief negotiator Ken Hall told the Teamster Convention that the IBT would not negotiate early unless the economy turned around.
The economy is still on the brink, but we're at the bargaining table and UPS is predictably asking for concessions, including on healthcare and retiree healthcare.
Hall promised Convention delegates, "We're not going to be talking about concessions, we're going to be talking about improvements."
That's the right message. But it would mean a lot more if Hoffa and Hall hadn't built their careers on talking tough and settling short.
UPSers need to back our negotiators but do so with our eyes open.
We have the right to vote on any proposed contract settlement and that gives members the power to reject a weak offer and make UPS deliver a fair contract.
By Willie Hardy
This month we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, who did so much to further the cause of equality in our country.
Today, it has become popular for politicians and the media to praise him, while some of them ignore what he stood for. I, for one, am getting tired of the hypocrisy.
To honor the man, we need to tell the truth about what he stood for.
Dr. King died in Memphis, where he was supporting striking sanitation workers. He gave his life as he helped them win their strike for dignity and union recognition.
How many politicians today attack public workers and seek to destroy their unions, while pretending they honor the memory of Dr. King?
Only a few days ago, the Mayor of New York gave a speech praising Martin Luther King, Jr. Then the same Mayor set out to bust the strike of 8,000 school bus workers.
We know what side Dr. King would be on in that fight, because he knew that civil rights and workers' rights cannot be separated.
Here is what Dr. King said in a 1961 speech about so-called "Right to Work" laws:‘
"In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as 'right to work.' It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights.
"Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone."
Today the governors of Michigan, Ohio and Indiana pretend to honor Dr King while they push for anti-labor laws.
Dr. King stood for equality and was willing to fight for it. He stood for grassroots action, in the streets or going to jail when necessary. He was called a "troublemaker," the same word used today against those who take action for racial equality or workers' rights.
Dr. King spoke out against gun violence and taught the power of nonviolence. He marched for peace, and for our nation to stop wasting money on war and to redirect our resources to improve the lives of its citizens.
If Dr. King were alive today, he would still be fighting for the same goals.
All Americans can appreciate how far we have come down freedom's road, and how far we still have to go to realize Dr. King's dream.
We honor Dr. King's legacy by taking up the struggle as he waged it: with truth-telling and nonviolent action for racial and economic justice.
The Rev. Willie Hardy worked as an IBT Political Rep, retired from YRC, and now works
as a Southern Organizer for TDU and as a community activist in Memphis, Tennessee.
TDU on the Move
See You On the Picket Lines
"We just held our first TDU meeting of the year in New York to make local organizing plans. Our first project is a Teamster Education Conference that's set for Saturday, March 9.
"We'll be holding workshops on everything from effective grievance handling to organizing 'street heat actions' to back organizing drives, strikes and contract campaigns.
"See you in these workshops and on the picket lines."
— Sandy Pope, Local 805 President, New York
A Movement For Change
"In Providence, we're holding monthly TDU meetings and building a movement for change in Local 251.
"More than 1,200 members signed our petitions to amend the Local 251 Bylaws to give members the right to elect our shop stewards and our contract negotiating committee, and to vote on officers' salaries.
"Informed and involved members make a stronger union. That's why we're organizing an education conference this spring. TDU is about putting information in members' hands so they can enforce their rights and have some power and dignity on the job."
— Matt Taibi, Local 251, UPS, Providence, R.I.
Arm Yourself With Information
"The Chicago chapter of TDU is looking forward to participating in the upcoming regional Labor Notes Troublemakers School and involving Teamsters.
"I've been glad to participate in Local 705's education program and attend a three-year labor studies course at DePaul University.
"The TDU Convention is a great place to learn, too. It gave me an opportunity meet other Teamsters and see how other locals are. I even got to meet and talk with some of the Wal-Mart strikers. I am excited to go to the one this year."
— Mike Bauhmart, Local 705, UPS Part-time Steward, Chicago
NY-NJ TDU Education Conference
Saturday, March 9
CUNY Law School, Long Island City, Queens
Join Teamsters and TDU members for a day of workshops to learn strategies for enforcing your rights and building a stronger union. For more information call NY TDU at 718-287-3283.
Southern New England Labor Education Conference
Saturday, May 4
Save the date for a day of labor education and solidarity. For more information contact Matt Taibi at 401-935-1663.
2013 TDU Convention
The biggest Teamster educational and reform event of the year will once again be hosted by the Chicago Chapter.
Save the date now so you can join Teamsters from across the country who are organizing to win stronger contracts, enforcing our rights on the job and taking back our union.
January 23, 2013: When it comes to defending members, write-ups for absenteeism is one of the most common problems stewards have to deal with.
TDU asked experienced stewards and union representatives for tips on protecting members from unfair discipline.
Here's what they had to say:
Q. What's the first thing you do when someone's written up for absenteeism?
A. You have to do a thorough investigation. You can't rely on management's story.
I look into the case myself and investigate:
- The accuracy of the employer's facts
- The reasons for the absences—and any mitigating circumstances, including the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- The worker's attendance record relative to other employees
- Management's consistency in enforcing the rule
- Whether management followed progressive discipline
My first step is to talk to the supervisor and find out which days are in question, and if any of the days are for tardiness. If they are for tardiness I get the specific clock-in times.
Next, I go over the records with the member. If management doesn't have their facts straight, you can contest the discipline right there. But you better have the facts.
Q. Sometimes when there's smoke there’s fire. What if the write-ups are legit?
A. Look to see if there's a pattern, are they late every Monday? If there isn't a pattern, it's a good idea to ask if there's something going on that's causing the problems. Maybe there are mitigating circumstances that could be fixed with an adjustment in their start time. Sometimes it's a medical or family problem and the FMLA becomes an issue.
If their record isn't too bad, you can try to bargain with management to reduce the discipline or to throw it out altogether if the member agrees to get straight and fly right.
Q. What are tips or tricks for bargaining with management to settle grievances or make the write up go away before there's even a grievance?
A. If management wants to issue a letter I always try to talk them down to just a verbal warning.
This only works if you've built up some credibility with management. If you make this agreement, you've got to follow up on your end, have a serious talk with the member and try to get results.
It is very important that the member be present in every part of this process, so that they can witness the bargaining between you and the supervisor.
Q. What's the best way to talk to a member who is having attendance and tardiness issues?
A. It depends on what the issues are. Sometimes, I'll try to give the member a pep talk. If I can relate, I let them know that I understand their problem. But you've got to be firm, too. You need to be honest and let the member know that there's only so much you can do to protect them from an attendance problem if that problem continues.
Sometimes, I'll try to give them an incentive to shape up. I'll remind them that a raise is coming up soon or they'll be qualifying for more vacation. I give them encouragement but I also let them know the ball is in their court.
Q. What about the FMLA?
A. A lot of members don't know their FMLA rights and they'll get written up for absences that could be protected under the FMLA. I'll use that to try to get those absences thrown out. I keep copies of FMLA information in my stewards' folder so I can get the member up to speed. If a person has a chronic health problem or a family member with a chronic problem, I make sure they understand how to use intermittent leave. (see below)
Q. What about favoritism or "disparate treatment." A lot of members will say, "Why am I getting written up when so-and-so is absent twice as much as me?"
A. It is a very difficult thing to do. Everybody thinks they know people that have gotten off easy, but they have no idea what the details are of each settlement. For example, a steward could've gotten a member off because of their excellent work performance by agreeing never to throw it in the face of the company if it happened again down the road. The trick is to carefully check all the details so that nothing you do backfires.
One thing you can do is make an information request (click here to learn more) to the HR department or the company for absentee records for all employees in a department, or on a shift, or in the company. So instead of calling out a handful of members with worse attendance records to prove your case, you can show it's been allowed to happen to an entire group. Often times the company will back down to that.
Q. What if management is determined to fire the person?
A. First, I make sure the company has followed progressive discipline. But if it's a real problem case and management has gone through all the steps and they just won't budge, a possible alternative is a Last Chance Agreement.
I only do this when there are no other options. Even then, my local will only agree to a Last Chance Agreement if it includes certain very specific conditions, including an expiration date, limitation of the agreement to issues related to absenteeism, and the right to access the grievance procedure. Click here for more information on Last Change Agreements.
Protect Yourself with Intermittent Leave
FMLA intermittent leave is a tool we can use to protect ourselves.
The FMLA allows covered employees to take up to 12 weeks time off each year—either for a serious condition, or to care for an immediate family member.
You don't have to take it all at once, or in a continuous manner. If you have a chronic condition, you can take FMLA as you need it—one day at a time or even a few hours in a day. This is called "intermittent leave." Medical conditions that apply are:
- chronic neck, back, knee and shoulder injuries
- migraine headaches
- and many more
You can also take intermittent leave to care for a parent, spouse or child with a serious health condition.
The details of how to become qualified for FMLA leave are important. Click here to learn more about how you get covered and how to enforce this right. You can call TDU at 313-842-2600 or send us a message by clicking here.
January 28, 2013: You know it's time for negotiating the next contract when ABF starts bombarding members with the message that times are tough.
So tough that the company claims a loss of $230 million since 2009. The company has mailed a DVD explaining the state of their finances and upper management has visited a few terminals to plead their case.
"It makes you wonder how much ABF spent on this," commented Doug Wylie, a city driver out of Worcester, Mass. "Management had Teamsters watch it in the terminal on the clock. And on top of that, on the busiest day of the week, my manager had me watch another video on the basics of the pallet-jack and lift-gate deliveries. I'm beginning to understand why they have a difficult time making a profit."
Members remember similar cries of poverty in 2010. They voted down an attempt to secure concessions and may have to prepare for a similar vote when the proposed contract comes up for ratification.
Teamsters have cited the $185 million purchase of Panther, the increase in upper management salaries and perks, and other aspects of ABF expenditures as the likely reason for ABF showing little gain over recent years.
"It looks like the IBT did some good research on ABF finances and are prepared to take a no giveback stance," said long time TDU activist and Milwaukee city driver Paul Host. "Members need to stand strong and not fall into the trap of ABF's propaganda."
Stay informed at NoFreightConcessions.org. No Freight Concessions is a network of freight Teamsters working together to defend the contract and say NO to any further concessions in freight.
"It looks like the IBT did some good research on ABF finances and are prepared to take a no giveback stance.
"Members need to stand strong and not fall into the trap of ABF's propaganda."
Paul Host, Local 200
January 23, 2013: Members pledge to vote NO unless contract has major improvements.
Teamsters at UPS Freight are organizing to win a good contract. Stewards and active members have met for months to discuss necessary improvements with the 2013 contract. A solid set of union proposals was taken to negotiations.
Members understand that it will take the active involvement of Teamster members to succeed. In January they launched a petition campaign to reach more members and build unity on making major gains on contract language.
The petition is addressed to UPS CEO Scott Davis and states that members will not vote for a contract that does not address subcontracting, bidding rights, guaranteed hours, and improvements of health insurance, pension and wages. A show of unity will help reinforce the union bargaining team to win a strong contract.
"The petition is a great way to talk with other Teamsters about what we need in the next contract," commented Kathy Ventura, a road driver out of Akron. "It can also show the unity of our union to bargain for what we want."
Click here to view and download the petition at UPSFreightTalk.org.
"The petition is a great way to talk with other Teamsters about what we need in the next contract.
"It can also show the unity of our union to bargain for what we want."
Kathy Ventura, Local 24, Akron, Ohio
January 23, 2013: The members have spoken and re-elected 804 Members United, the reform leadership in one of the largest UPS locals in the country.
Local 804 represents more than 6,000 UPS Teamsters in metropolitan New York. Voter turnout was high in a hotly-contested three way race that pitted 804 Members United against two slates led by former Local 804 officers.
"Local 804 members are passionate and opinionated. They get involved. That's what a democratic union is all about and it's what makes Local 804 so strong," said President Tim Sylvester. "With the election behind us, Local 804 members will do what we always do—come together, stand united and fight for a better contract."
Local 804 is covered by the national contract and its own local supplement.
Local 804 Members United was elected three years ago after they led a rank-and-file contract campaign that defeated concessions in the Local 804 Supplement and saved 25 & Out pensions.
Key issues at the bargaining table this time around include pensions and grievance procedure improvements to provide swifter justice and protection from unfair discipline.
"The membership re-elected 804 Members United because they want to go forward, not backwards," said package driver Ken Reiman. "At contract time, they want an Executive Board that will keep members informed, tell us the truth and stand up to the company."
January 23, 2013: An NLRB judge has ruled that Voith Services conspired with the United Auto Workers (UAW) to deprive over 100 Louisville Teamsters of their jobs and their union contract. The decision orders Voith to put 85 of the Teamsters to work, pay them nearly a year's back-pay, reinstate the superior terms of the Teamster contract, and void the bogus deal the company signed with the UAW.
The December 21 ruling is a decisive win for the Teamsters. The 40-page decision details how Voith, with Ford Motor pulling the strings, underbid Jack Cooper at Ford's Louisville Assembly Plant for some 166 jobs moving and baying new cars, using a substandard contract with the UAW.
The case was heard in a 13-day trial in August, September and October 2012.
The yard work at the plant had been under the Teamster contract since 1952, until early 2012 when the dirty deal was put in place. Teamsters who made $20 per hour, with a union pension, were replaced by UAW members making $11-$14 per hour.
Typically decisions such as this are subject to lengthy appeals. This case is so egregious that the NLRB's General Counsel is requesting an injunction from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to speed up the process. A district court judge declined to issue an injunction.
Hopefully justice will not be delayed much longer.
The judge's decision orders that:
- 85 named Teamsters must be put to work. Other Teamsters must be given a chance to apply for jobs.
- Back pay must be awarded, on the basis of the Teamster contract.
- The pre-existing Teamster contract must be reinstated in full, until a new contract is negotiated with Local 89.
- The UAW contract is voided, because it was the product of illegal discrimination against Teamster workers and collusion between the corporation and the UAW.
- The decision's orders must be posted on bulletin boards, on the web, and read aloud at meetings of all workers.
Hoffa: MIA in Carhaul
The International Union was MIA in the struggle by Local 89 and carhaul members.
In fact, this victory of Teamster jobs and over $5 million in back pay didn't even rate a mention on the IBT website, until this fact was prominently pointed out on www.TDU.org. Then the Hoffa administration decided to claim the credit, falsely describing a "coordinated effort" by the IBT, the Carhaul Division and Local 89.
Hoffa's carhaul director, Roy Gross of Detroit Local 299, has stood by while Voith took Teamster jobs at Ford plants in Michigan. It appears that Local 89 has won what Hoffa and Gross gave away.
January 23, 2013: While under trusteeship and controlled by a Hoffa appointee, Local 630 signed a side-agreement that created a new job classification paying $10 per hour below the contract wage. The agreement is with US Foods, a company that employs Teamsters all over the country, and undermines Teamster standards in the warehouse division.
The cut-rate wage is in regards to a new machine called a Robo Wrapper. The new machine does work currently performed by Teamster order selectors who make the contract wage.
"New technology is constantly being introduced into the warehouse industry and we can't allow it to destroy good Teamster jobs," says Ricardo Huitron, Local 630 member employed at US Foods-Los Angeles.
No vote of the members was permitted on this wage-cut agreement made in November 2012.
The International Union needs to maintain Teamster warehouse standards and prevent sell out deals—not allow them to happen under their watch. The Hoffa administration should repudiate this deal now, before it spreads like cancer.
You can see the side-agreement for yourself by clicking here.
January 23, 2013: The Independent Review Board (IRB) has sent a 141-page investigative report to Teamster president James Hoffa, calling for charges against the former top Teamsters in Minnesota, Brad Slawson Sr and Jr, along with their family friend and business partner, Todd Chester.
The IRB report, which is available here, alleges that both Brad Slawson Sr and Jr committed racketeering and bank fraud. While the IRB does not have the authority to bring criminal charges in federal court, the report is no doubt already in the hands of the Justice Department.
The Slawsons have bragged that they will return to the union hall. It now seems they should be less concerned about getting into the union hall than with staying out of federal housing-with-bars.
The Slawsons were removed from running the 11,000-member Minnesota Local 120 in November, when the IRB recommended that Hoffa place the local in trusteeship, which he then did.
The new IRB document covers much of the same material as the November IRB report, but now recommends that eleven specific charges be brought to expel the Slawsons from the Teamsters and bar them for life from the union. In addition to racketeering, the IRB alleges numerous acts of embezzlement totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, diversion of strike fund money, padding payments to a building contractor, violation of the bylaws, signing a sham collective bargaining agreement, and lying under oath.
From Minnesota Viking tickets to liquor sales to building a new union hall, it seems the opportunities to skim money were taken.
Slawson Sr and Jr were paid $469,228 in salaries and expenses in 2011 from the union treasury. The IRB report says they were embezzling a lot more for several years.
The IRB is jointly-appointed by the union leadership and the U.S. Justice Department, and responsible for investigating corruption within our union. The Hoffa administration is attempting to abolish it.
Background: Read Why Hoffa Won't Take on Corruption, IRB Hits Corruption in Local 120.
Further reading: Slawson Holds Fundraiser!