October 17, 2013: Hoffa and Hall are dishing out concessions as fast as employers can serve them up. After spending the summer cutting the healthcare of 140,000 UPS Teamsters, the Hoffa-Hall administration is now targeting Teamster pensions.
The Central States Pension Fund is lobbying Congress to eliminate key pension protections and give Central States the power to cut retirees' pensions.
Hoffa and Hall's standing with the members has never been lower. So how do they stay in office?
The $150,000 report explains part of the answer. A record 146 Teamster officials make more than $150,000 a year, and 137 get multiple Teamster salaries.
This patronage system gives Hoffa and Hall a national political machine to raise campaign funds and get out the vote at election time.
If Teamsters want to take back our union, we need a national network for the members—one that involves and unites rank-and-file members to organize for change in our locals and in the International union.
That's what TDU is all about.
It's not enough to get angry and active at contract time but then let everything go back to business as usual after the ballots are counted. We've got to get the reins of power out the hands of the concessions crew.
The next International Union election will kick off in less than two years with Convention Delegate races beginning in the Fall of 2015.
It will take 150,000 votes to win. That's an achievable goal, but it will take rank-and-file committees in local unions across the country and a national organizaton that links us all together.
Change won't happen on its own. If we want to dump Hoffa and Hall, we have to build an organization to make it happen.
October 17, 2013: Hoffa and Hall have lied to members about our contracts and healthcare. But in the fight to protect our benefits, we shouldn't turn against union health plans.
Given all of Hoffa-Hall's lies about Teamster contracts, it's no wonder that many members don't trust the union to run our health plan.
But in the fight to protect our benefits, we shouldn't turn on union health plans.
The fact is union health plans work. They benefit millions of Americans. They have strong advantages over company plans and for-profit insurance companies.
Union health plans are efficient and don't skim money away from benefits to pay profits, high executive salaries or costly advertising.
Not one dime of health plan money goes to the union, to union officials or to the employers.
The Central States Health and Welfare Fund pays 94 percent of its income in members' benefits. General administrative costs take 3.2 percent. TeamCare administration costs are 2.8 percent. (TDU went to court to make quarterly Central States financial reports available. The most recent one is available here.)
Union health plans are jointly governed: 50 percent by corporate trustees and 50 percent by union trustees. Thus they are not really "union" plans, but "union-employer" plans. The union and management trustees are unpaid, except expenses.
This structure gives our union a voice in our benefits. Union health plans can't be changed at the whim of management. The corporation's bottom line doesn't rule. It can be checked by the union.
Like union contracts, union health plans are good for workers.
That's why all Teamster leaders support the concept, from Hoffa to Teamster reform leaders.
Betraying Members Trust
Again and again, Hoffa and Hall have betrayed members' trust.
- They held contract rallies against healthcare cuts and then agreed to allow UPS to cut members' benefits.
- They told members UPS was "getting out of the healthcare business" and negotiated a UPS Freight contract that keeps Teamsters in a substandard company health plan.
- They told members a No Vote on the contract wouldn't affect their benefits and exposed their own lie when they improved TeamCare benefits after the No Vote.
Lying to members hasn't just hurt Hoffa and Hall's reputation. It's undermined members' trust in their union.
Hoffa and Hall gave members a devil's choice on healthcare. No wonder so many Teamsters say they'd rather have a company plan than a union plan.
Members are also concerned that, down the road, Central States could cut benefits.
Of course, under a company plan, UPS can also cut benefits. UPS just slashed benefits for 15,000 supervisors, and they would surely do the same to Teamsters if they could.
The contract fight revealed that Hoffa and Hall can't be relied on to defend our benefits. If we want to protect our benefits, members have to be organized and vigilant.
Despite all the problems with the Hoffa-Hall administration, we are 100 percent Teamster. We are pro-union and pro-contract so management doesn't have all the control. We are pro-union health plan for the same reason.
We don't want a corporate CEO to control our health, impose extra costs on families or deny coverage to working spouses.
The issues for Teamsters are fighting benefit cuts, and adding a maintenance-of-benefits clause in the contract to prevent cuts in the future.
The problem is not the concept of a union health plan. The problem is the Hoffa-Hall leadership.
October 17, 2013: UPS management has a new toy to harass preloaders and write them up for misloads.
In some buildings, preload supervisors have started wearing scanners, entering package cars, and scanning every package in the load.
The scanner flags packages that are not in the truck's EDD. The management tries to blame the loader for the misload.
Part-time supervisors are being told to have a 1,000 scans by the end of each shift. This technology may catch misloads, but more write-ups and harassment won’t prevent them.
Misloads don't happen because of under-supervision or a shortage of discipline.
Misloads happen because Teamsters are loading too many trucks and handling too much volume.
UPS needs to deal with the root cause of the problem instead of blaming workers.
The new contract is supposed to protect members from harassment.
Article 6, Section 4 gives the International Union the right to negotiate over the use of new technology. It's time to invoke that clause.
October 17, 2013: Hoffa drew headlines when he declared that Obamacare would make union plans "unsustainable." It's another way that bungling by the Hoffa-Hall administration has hurt Teamster healthcare.
When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was in Congress, the IBT didn't make sure union plans were fully protected. Healthcare providers and other industries looked after their interests. The IBT and other unions failed to do the same.
Now the labor movement is putting pressure on Obama to make changes with regard to union health plans. As part of that effort, Hoffa signed a letter, along with two other union presidents, saying that union plans would be "unsustainable" under Obamacare.
This flamethrower of a comment has backfired.
Employers have thrown this phrase at Teamster negotiators, as the employers try to bust members' health care or take it over. And many members have become concerned over the viability of union health benefits. Who wants to be in an unsustainable plan?
Benefits under virtually every single Teamster health plan are superior to those offered in the ACA's exchanges. Those are designed to extend health coverage to those who don’t have it, not to replace benefits our union contracts guarantee.
Hoffa should be able to lobby for changes in the ACA without throwing Teamster contract negotiators under the bus and fueling employer attacks on members' health benefits.
October 17, 2013: Is management handing out excessive discipline for misloads or missorts? Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself and your fellow Teamsters.
UPS has the right to expect employees, in this case preloaders and loaders, to work accurately. This is just common sense. But management frequently goes overboard from common sense to nonsense.
In this article, we'll review how members can defend themselves in the office and through the grievance procedure. Of course, the most powerful union response is a group response. So we'll talk about that too.
Before accepting discipline for misloads or missorts, stewards have to consider several factors including:
- Was the preloader or loader the only person covering the assignment or did a supervisor continue loading when the employee used the bathroom or went on a break?
- Did the preloader or loader come late to work or leave early, leaving someone else working the assignment?
- Did the loader load the truck or sort the packages in question by themselves or did any other person, i.e. a driver, supervisor, or co-worker, do any of the work?
- What was the frequency of missorts or misloads and the overall accuracy percentage? Use a percentage when considering the amount of mistakes to total packages handled. For example: ten misloads out of 1,000 is still 99 percent accurate and does not warrant discipline.
Be careful when arguing frequency—and be wary of management data.
Management will try to use records to show that a member has a longstanding problem with accuracy. But those numbers, while reliable for tracking packages, are not reliable for tracking an individual employee’s performance for purposes of discipline.
Remember, management's records on misloads do not go on a rolling nine months and they do not exclude the days when the employee's assignment was partially worked by someone else.
Filing a Grievance
If management won't back down from unreasonable discipline, a grievance should be filed always and without exception.
If a grievance is not filed in a timely manner the discipline stands and any future protest will probably not be allowed.
Article 37 of the national contract should be cited: dignity and respect, harassment and intimidation, over-supervision, and a fair day’s pay for a day's work.
Remember, there is no accuracy standard in the contract except the general "fair days' work for a fair days pay." The company has the right to expect accuracy, but not a specific number and not different levels of accuracy from one employee to the other.
As a final defense, if it is clear the member has a problem with missorts or misloads, it may be appropriate for a steward to suggest training or, in the worst case, reassignment to a different job.
Taking Action Together
Management often makes contradictory demands. They demand maximum production with high numbers of packages loaded per hour in multiple cars—and at the same time they want no missorts or misloads, or near perfect accuracy.
Most people cannot satisfy both of these demands at the same time. If the preloader tries to load too fast, accuracy will suffer. If the preloader goes for 100 percent accuracy at all times then production will drop. What is a worker to do?
The most effective response is a group response. If management is giving out discipline for every misload, they are sending a clear message that accuracy is their top priority.
In such a case, each preloader is well advised to work at a pace where they can achieve zero or near zero misloads. Of course, the supervisors will scream that they want the preloaders to work faster.
Members should calmly point out that they are going as fast as they can to ensure accuracy because they do not want to be disciplined for errors.
Let the supervisor try to discipline workers for low production under these circumstances where they have already issued a pile of warning letters for missorts or misloads. Those very warning letters provide the perfect defense.
As a bonus, members should file a pile of harassment letters if the supervisor(s) cross the line and demand more production in the face of all the disciplinary warnings.
Going on Offense
The best defense is a good offense. Supervisors work, they harass, they violate seniority and the list goes on and on. Center management that churns out warning letters and discipline is sending the message that they like paperwork, so give them some more—in the form of grievances.
Wallpaper their offices with every violation possible: supervisors working, safety violations, harassment, seniority violations, over-70 violations, the list goes on and on. The supervisor might not get the message but the center manager will.
October 17, 2013: With the UPS contract long expired and peak on the way, contracts and contract supplements or riders covering over 75,000 UPSers still remain to be negotiated.
The contracts, supplements and riders covering Teamster members in the Western Region, Louisville, Ohio, Indiana, Philadelphia, Western Pennsylvania, and New Jersey Local 177 all need to be voted a second or third time.
Two additional contracts covering all UPS Teamsters in Illinois and parts of Indiana and Iowa have barely started. Chicago Locals 705 and 710, covering some 15,000 Teamsters, each negotiate their own contracts separate from the national master agreement.
The Information Brownout at UPS gave way to an unprecedented sales job in the second round of voting in October.
Hoffa and Hall unleashed a million dollar PR campaign to push through rejected contract supplements.
The Central Region Supplement narrowly passed by 53.6 percent. UPS will be able to exploit the 17(i) loophole to fire Teamsters for the vague "other cardinal offenses" for another five years.
The Metropolitan Philadelphia supplement passed by an even skimpier 1,004 to 918 margin. Three of the four locals, covering all of the largest hubs, rejected it. But a 10-1 yes vote in Wilmington, Del. squeezed the supplement through.
Hoffa and Hall did not even try to re-vote some of the supplements, because they knew they would lose. The Western Pennsylvania Supplement, rejected by 6-1 in June, was held back along with others.
Philadelphia Local 623 members showed that Hoffa, Hall and UPS had reason to be afraid. They Voted No by 71 percent. UPS Teamsters in Ohio also rejected their Rider for a second time.
In a welcome exception to the concessions, UPS Teamsters in New York Local 804 won major improvements in their supplement, including a $400 pension increase, 150 full-time jobs, and grievance procedure reform.
Rank-and-File Solidarity Pays Off
Rank-and-file solidarity has paid off and changed the Teamsters Union for the better—even if the Vote No movement wasn’t able defeat the Central and Metro Philadelphia supplements.
Hoffa and Hall were forced to reverse many healthcare cuts and improve TeamCare benefits.
The new benefits are not what members wanted, but they are a whole lot better than what Hoffa, Hall and UPS tried to make members accept in the first contract vote.
The 2013 contract fight has awakened a sleeping giant—250,000 Teamsters at UPS and another 12,500 at UPS Freight—who can be the backbone of a movement for change in the Teamsters.
Members continue to organize for improvements in some 11 unsettled supplements and riders, plus the Chicago Local 705 and Local 710 contracts.
Philadelphia Local 623
UPS Teamsters shot down the Philadelphia Local 623 supplement by 71 percent in the second contract vote.
In addition to concerns about health benefits, Vote No leaders have pushed for improvements in their supplement, including more full-time jobs, and for rank-and-file Teamsters to be put on the negotiating committee.
Leaders of the Vote No movement are running for Local 623 office as the Integrity Slate.
Lousiville Local 89 Air Rider
A major headache for UPS management and Hoffa-Hall is the Louisville Air Rider.
Local 89 officers, stewards and members have stood united against the Hoffa-Hall concessions, voting by 88 percent against the Central Supplement in the second round.
The Air Rider itself has not even gone out for a first vote yet, because the company is stonewalling and has blocked serious bargaining.
The Air Rider covers 8,800 Teamsters. The last thing management wants is a strike vote taken at the Louisville Worldport.
Ken Hall will either have to back the local’s reasonable proposals for improvements or resort to more old guard methods, like an IBT takeover of contract negotiations.
Indiana / Ohio / Western Pennsylvania
The Ohio Rider has been rejected for a second time. The Indiana Local 135 Rider has not been re-voted yet. The Western Pennsylvania supplement hasn't either, after being rejected by a 6-1 margin.
Western Supplement / Southwest Rider
and New Jersey Local 177
The Western supplement and big Southwest Rider and the New Jersey Local 177 supplement all need to be voted.
Hoffa, Hall and Western officials saw the Southwest Rider, with over 20,000 Teamsters in California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico, defeated by nearly a 3-1 margin back in June.
Members have been told for months that "soon" they would get a look at the new health care benefits they will be offered in a separate "carve-out" health fund. Will "soon" finally come in November?
Meanwhile, have IBT officials bargained any improvements on other important issues in the past four months? The brownout continues.
Teamster Perks or Teamster Power?
Hoffa and Ken Hall have spent much of this year telling Teamsters to take concessions.
How do you think they're doing?
A lot of Teamsters have had to tighten their belts over the past few years. Hundreds of thousands have just been told by James Hoffa and Ken Hall that concessions in healthcare or pensions or wages are necessary.
But one group of Teamsters has not felt any belt-tightening at all: James Hoffa, Ken Hall and their appointees.
Forty-one Teamster officials made over $200,000 in salary last year, and 146 made over $150,000—more than any other time in Teamster history.
These figures are part of the $150,000 Club Report, a comprehensive study of Teamster finances by the Teamster Rank and File Education and Legal Defense Foundation (TRF).
The report provides nonpartisan information to Teamster members about how our dues money is being used.
Hoffa pulled down $367,864 last year, including a special "housing allowance" of $60,000. The Teamster Constitution provides a limit of $225,000 for the General President, but also includes a generous cost-of-living clause which Hoffa always makes use of.
As you look over the list, you will see many officials draw multiple salaries—137 officials do, over 100 of them on the International's payroll. Not only does this cost our union millions, it serves to create a loyal patronage army for Hoffa and Hall.
General President Ron Carey eliminated almost all multiple salaries. Hoffa initially promised to the same, but his train left that platform the minute he got in office.
These salary figures do not tell the whole story. International officials—the same ones who just told members to take healthcare cuts—get free healthcare for life. They are also in a special, lucrative pension plan reserved only for International officials and staff. Hoffa will get a lump sum of over $1 million from that special fund.
Teamster Money to Build Teamster Power
Many Teamster officials work hard and they deserve to be compensated for the long hours. But when top officers are telling members they need to accept concessions because of tough times, those same officers should lead by example.
Our whole union has been hit hard. Many locals have had to cut back on organizing or representation. When Hoffa raised dues in 2002, he promised that the extra money would be "a nickel an hour for Teamster power."
Teamster power should take priority over Teamster perks. But the International has cut organizing. Organizers have been laid off. Over the past year, the big organizing priority of the IBT has been to raid the Transport Workers Union and International Association of Machinists at American Airlines and US Air. Those drives went up in smoke this past summer.
Our union reported 1.25 million members on their LM-2 form as of Jan. 1 this year, down more than 150,000 over the past four years.
Teamster resources should go first and foremost to building Teamster power.
Do you agree? If so, contact Teamsters for a Democratic Union, the movement of Teamsters working to make it all happen.
Click here to download a history of TDU's $150,000 Club report.
Click here to get your Local's financial report.
They Live Off Our Dues
"They tell us we have to sacrifice our wages and pensions to keep our jobs while they live off our dues with their bloated salaries, benefits and secure retirement packages."
Todd Glessner, Holland
Local 957, Dayton
High on the Hog
"My principal officer makes four to ten times more than the members he represents. Too many officials are out of touch with members who struggle to make ends meet. Teamster officials are living high on the hog."
Frank Halstead, Ralphs
Local 572, Los Angeles
|New York Local 707 UPS Freight Teamsters|
October 17, 2013: UPS Freight Teamsters wonder what happened to their union. They've heard next to nothing since they rejected the proposed contract in June with a 69 percent No vote. Four months of silence. It's clear that Hoffa and Hall have no plan for winning significant contract improvements.
So where does that leave Teamsters working at UPS Freight? We can still win a good contract if we unite behind solid issues.
With the 2008 contract, Hoffa and Hall both spoke of the importance of having the same expiration dates for the parcel and freight contracts, to have more leverage. But when the membership stood together in solidarity to reject the first offer, Hoffa and Hall didn't hear the wake up call.
UPS Freight Teamsters couldn't believe how little headway was made on improvements from the original contract. What changes were proposed, in many areas, were for the worse. And to top it off, the negotiating committee agreed to a new line haul classification with lower wages and benefits.
Some key areas stand out if members are to approve the next proposal:
- There has to be clear language banning subcontracting of Teamster work and the elimination of the proposed substandard line haul driver classification.
- We need pension improvements. Raise the accrual to keep pace with inflation.
- No premiums for health insurance. We should get what our sisters and brothers get in the UPS Parcel and freight contracts.
- Raises of $1 per hour or at least a match with the UPS Parcel wage increases.
- And better language on layoff recall rights.
There's no reason UPS Freight Teamsters should get anything less from their contract. In fact, they should expect the union to deliver more from a corporation that made $4.5 billion in profits. With the strong No vote, members sent a clear message to the IBT that negotiations had to win more.
UPS Freight Teamsters across the country are networking and continuing to build solidarity. "We're going to have to continue to vote NO if they don't come up with more," commented Kurt Kronemberg, a city driver form New York Local 707. "We have to keep talking up the issues and build off the first no vote."
October 17, 2013: ABF Teamsters in the Central Region are voting on authorizing a strike, but it's a phony proposition. The International union has not put forth any issues or demands to strike for!
Instead, Hoffa and the Freight Division have simply denounced the Central Region members for voting No twice, and tried to divide other freight Teamsters against them.
The votes will be counted on October 29. The International union and ABF management plan to implement the 7 percent wage cut and other concessions at that time.
Meanwhile, YRC management is asking Hoffa for an extension to the concession contract. Hoffa's appointee to the YRC Board, Harry Wilson, is leading the charge for the company. No word yet on what the Hoffa administration will do.
Hoffa's administration has given up on freight and trucking, the backbone of Teamster power. We need to give up on them in the next IBT election, and rebuild Teamster power.
Not if We Stop It!
UPDATED October 23, 2013: A Congressional hearing will be held to address pension issues Tuesday, October 29.
We expect a bill to hit Congress very soon which would allow "deeply troubled" pension funds—such as the Central States Fund—to slash the pension benefits of retirees and those soon to retire.
We're out to stop this train wreck for Teamsters and other workers who worked long and hard to earn their pensions. If they revoke the ERISA anti-cutback rule and could then cut some pensions, the door will be open to slash more pensions.
This nasty bill has the support of employers and the Central States Pension Fund. We expect CS Director Thomas Nyhan to testify for it at upcoming hearings in the House of Representatives. The hearings were postponed due to the government shutdown.
Opposed are some unions and workers' organizations, the Pension Rights Center, the AARP and TDU.
Read what Teamsters have to say in "We Earned Our Pensions."
Join retirees and active Teamsters who are working with the TDU Pension Action Network to protect our pensions.