April 2, 2014: Had enough of Hoffa, Hall and contract givebacks? It’s time to take back our union.
Teamsters members Voted No against concessions at UPS, UPS Freight and YRC. The Vote No movement armed James Hoffa and Ken Hall with leverage to go back to the table and negotiate contract improvements.
Instead, Hoffa and Hall have worked hand-in-glove with management to re-vote weak contracts and push through concessions.
Fed up with Hoffa, Hall and their contract givebacks, Teamster members are building a movement to take back our union.
From Vote No to Take Back Our Union
During the Vote No movement, thousands of Teamsters networked on Facebook pages like “Vote No On UPS Contract” and “No Freight Concessions.” Now these Teamsters are uniting their efforts.
“We’ve got the numbers and we’ve got the power to vote out Hoffa and Hall,” said Mark Timlin of New Jersey Local 177. “But we’ve got to get organized.”
Timlin started the 5000-member Facebook page Vote No on the UPS Contract.
Now he’s organizing with his eye on the 2016 Teamster election. Freight and UPS Freight Teamsters are also joining forces.
“Freight Teamsters are fed up with Hoffa and we are all in on an effort to dump him for good, elect new leadership and save our union,” said Bret Subsits, an ABF road driver in Chicago Local 710.
The first elections for IBT Convention Delegate will be held in 18 months. Delegates vote to officially nominate candidates for IBT office and get them on the ballot.
“When Hoffa and Hall sold out the members in our contract, they woke up a lot of people. Now we’re going to take back our union,” said Rob Atkinson, a UPS driver in Local 538 in Worthington, Pa.
Contact TDU to get involved in the movement to Take Back Our Union in 2016.
April 2, 2014: TDU members across the country have hit the ground running in 2014, holding seminars, organizing to defend pensions, and holding education conferences to inform members and build the reform movement.
St. Louis Teamsters Protecting Safety Rights
Paul Taylor, lead attorney for the Truckers Justice Center and author of a book on the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA), spoke to a packed house in the St. Louis area on February 15.
UPS feeder drivers, UPS Freight and YRC road drivers and other Teamsters heard Taylor lay out issues regarding truck safety and their impact on drivers.
Taylor raised a number of safety scenarios and provided explanations of how the STAA does or does not address these concerns.
Taylor recently won two decisions against UPS when he represented St. Louis area UPS feeder drivers. You can order The STAA Handbook here.
Minnesota Teamsters Unite to Defend Pensions
Over 80 retired and active Teamsters filled the chapel at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota to learn about the move afoot in Congress to weaken pension protections, and what is being done to stop it.
The meeting was organized by TDU and a committee of Twin Cities Teamsters who are organizing to defend their retirement security. The committee hosted Ann Curry Thompson, a pension rights attorney, and Pete Landon from TDU.
Teamsters and spouses attending the meeting signed a petition opposing any cuts to pensions. Volunteers from Locals 120, 638 and 1145 joined the Twin Cities Pension Action Committee. They are planning further outreach to local meetings, retiree clubs and meetings, and visits to local congressional offices.
NY TDU Teamster Power Conference
More than 150 Teamsters turned out for a Teamster Power Conference organized by the New York Chapter of TDU.
Workshops included: Beating the Boss in Disciplinary Cases, How to Think Like an Arbitrator, Dealing with Difficult Supervisors, How to Win Your Case at a UPS Grievance Panel, and Labor Law and Union Rights.
The conference drew Teamsters from over a dozen locals in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
Thirty new members joined TDU.
Next up for NY TDU...a bowling tournament on Sat, May 3. Raffle prizes include a big-screen TV, Yankee tickets, and Visa gift cards. For more information, contact NY TDU at 718-287-3283 or email nytdu [at] tdu.org
April 2, 2014: With the Louisville Air Rider headed down in flames, Hoffa and Hall are considering a secret plan to impose the UPS contract.
UPS Teamsters in Louisville, Philadelphia, and Western Pennsylvania have Voted No and rejected their supplements.
Now Hoffa and Hall are considering a plan to take away their right to vote and impose the UPS contract.
Teamster members won the right to vote on supplements and riders in 1991 and have used that right in record numbers this year to reject 18 supplements and riders.
Sixty-three percent of UPS Teamsters work under a supplement or rider that was voted down.
The Vote No movement paid off and forced Hoffa and Hall to improve Team Care benefits, and won other improvements in some supplements.
Since then, Ken Hall has worked hand-in-glove with management to vote and re-vote the rejected supplements to get them passed.
But members in three areas have held out against concessions and for improvements in their supplements: Louisville, Western Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia.
These UPS Teamsters are ready to stand up and even vote to strike, if that threat is needed to bring the company to the table to bargain a fair contract.
The supplements could have been settled a long time ago if the International Union had stepped in and backed the members.
Instead, Hall has played politics and lashed out at the Local 89 leadership and the Vote No movement and tried to blame them for holding up the national contract and members' retro checks.
The company has taken its cues from Hoffa and Hall and refused to budge at the bargaining table. In Louisville, UPS has even reduced its offer.
This is exactly why Teamsters fought for the Right to Vote on supplements and riders in the first place: to stop employers from imposing concessions in supplements and riders by pushing through a contract nationally.
Before we had this right in 1991, the master contract and all supplements and riders were voted on in one national vote. That gave employers a tool to push through concessions at the supplement level.
The Right to Vote on supplements and riders changed all that.
In 2007, Local 804 members voted no and rejected their supplement. They won a better contract offer that saved 25 & Out pension benefits the company was trying to take away.
The Right to Vote on supplements stopped contract concessions and won improvements.
Now Hall is now floating the idea of imposing the UPS contract and abrogating members’ right to vote on the outstanding supplements. This plan has started to leak out from Hall loyalists.
All members need to be prepared to stand with these Teamsters and defend our Right to Vote.
UPS cannot operate without the Louisville Worldport and Philadelphia Airport which together handle a huge volume of air packages.
The Local 705 and 710 contracts covering 15,000 UPS Teamsters in Chicago, Illinois, and Northern Indiana are also not settled. These contracts are separate from the national agreement, still open, and vital to UPS’s operations.
With a united approach, our union has more than enough leverage to defeat concessions and win acceptable contracts in Louisville, Western Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and in Chicago Locals 705 and 710.
The Right to Vote gives working UPSers leverage. Hoffa and Hall should be using it to negotiate contract improvements, not threatening to take that right away.
“We Voted No because we oppose Team Care and want other improvements in our supplement like more full-time jobs, protecting our feeder work, and a better grievance procedure.
“The Union could easily achieve these improvements and settle the contract if they would just show some backbone for a change.
“It’s time for Hoffa and Hall to stand behind us and UPS Teamsters in Louisville and Western PA, instead of standing with the company and selling us out.”
Bobby Curry, Local 623, Philadelphia Airport
April 2, 2014: “When you work as a team, you can win supervisors working grievances, put extra money in your wallet and build Teamster unity on the job too.”
Nick Perry, Local 413, Columbus
Working at UPS is exhausting and the company always wants it done yesterday. It can be tempting to look at supervisors working as a necessary evil, even a helping hand.
But supervisors aren’t helping us when they do bargaining unit work. They’re taking money out of our wallets. Whenever a supervisor works, a Teamster loses the opportunity to get extra hours, and extra money in their paycheck.
Management always has an excuse for supervisors working, like blaming attendance.
But the contract clearly puts the burden on the company to “maintain a sufficient workforce to staff its operations” with Teamsters and not to “send any employee home and then have such employee’s work performed by a supervisor.” (Article 7, Section 3).
The contract only works if we make it work.
TDU members have won tens of thousands of dollars by filing Supervisors Working grievances. You can get double-time pay for supervisors working violations too.
Get the TDU guide on how to Make UPS Pay for Supervisors Working, including:
- A Make UPS Pay for Supervisors Working flyer. Filing supervisors working grievances can backfire if you don’t explain why you’re doing it to other members and work in a group.
- Contract Enforcement Tips, including do’s and don’ts and advice from successful contract enforcers.
- Grievance Checklist: a guide on how to prepare and document winning sups working grievances.
Get the Make UPS Pay for Supervisors Working guide here.
Production Harassment in the Hub
Is management handing out excessive discipline for misloads or missorts?
Get Fighting Harassment for Inside Workers, a one-page guide that explains how members can defend themselves in the office and through the grievance procedure.
Find out more here.
Tired of excessive overtime and management stiffing drivers who try to use their 9.5 rights?
Use the 9.5 Rights Enforcement Packet from TDU.
The packet includes guidelines on who’s eligible for 9.5, step-by-step instructions for enforcing 9.5, and the forms you need to document a winning grievance, including a documentation form.
9.5 Eligibility Guide: A clear guilde on who's eligibile for 9.5 and instructions on how to enforce your 9.5 rights.
9.5 Enforcement Form: Use this form to document 9.5 violations and chart the steps to take to pursue your grievance.
9.5 Opt-In Form: Easy-to-use form to use to opt-in to the 9.5 list.
“We used to get killed with excessive overtime. Now for the first time we have a plan and we’re enforcing the language. We have 19 drivers on the list in my center. We’ve gotten the loads adjusted for the most part and where there’s still an issue we’re filing grievances and fighting for triple time pay. It’s all about bringing quality of life back to the package car driver.”
Frank Hay Local 251, Providence, R.I.
April 2, 2014: If you’re being questioned by UPS management, you have the right to union representation—even if those questions are not part of a disciplinary interview.
UPS Teamsters have rights that go beyond Weingarten thanks to our Teamster contract—and an important arbitration victory by Teamsters Local 804.
UPS Teamsters have the right to union representation whenever management is conducting a investigation of any kind.
This includes investigations into accidents or questions in the office about production numbers of what happened on the route that day—even if there’s no disciplinary action on the table.
If management is asking questions as part of an investigation, you have the right to a shop steward. Period. Until a shop steward is present, management cannot start the meeting or ask questions.
These rights are all spelled out in Article 4 of the contract. But UPS management, including Loss Prevention, frequently violates the contract by questioning members on the side and coercing members to waive their rights to union representation without any shop steward present.
Local 804 took this issue to the national grievance panel. When it deadlocked there, the local took it to arbitration—and won. The arbitrator ruled that a member cannot waive their right to union representation until a shop steward is present. And no member should ever waive their right to union representation!
For a copy of this arbitration decision, contact TDU.
April 2, 2014: Teamster members swept the United Action Slate into office in the 5,500-member Rhode Island Local 251 last fall.
One hundred days into their first term, the reform leadership is living up to its name—by taking united action and rebuilding union power by getting members involved.
As candidates, the United Action Slate vowed to cut bloated officer salaries and put members first.
On their first day in office, they made good on the promise, by voting to cut the salaries of all officers and business agents by more than $300,000 a year.
The highest-ranking officers led by example. Secretary-Treasurer Matt Taibi and President Paul Santos reduced their salary by more than $60,000 each.
The local’s old guard officers paid themselves as much as $170,074 a year and drained the treasury on their way out the door by claiming $68,000 in unused vacation pay.
The new Local 251 Executive Board has closed the loophole that officials abused to bank unlimited amounts of unused vacation.
They’re also selling off the fleet of cars owned by the Local, having Business Agents drive their own cards, and putting the proceeds from the car auction to work for the members.
Elected Shop Stewards & Contract Bargaining Teams
Last year, a majority of Local 251 members voted to change the union bylaws so that all shop stewards and contract bargaining teams would be elected by the members.
The old officers blocked the reform by requiring a two-thirds majority. The new Local 251 is
putting democracy first.
Members in any shop can now call a shop steward election by turning in a petition that is signed by over 30 percent of the Teamsters in the bargaining unit.
The union has beefed up representation for the 2,500 members at Rhode Island Hospital by tripling the number of stewards with every one of them elected by the
Returning the Local to the Members
Membership meetings used to draw just 75 members and retirees and members were shut down from participating. “We clocked one meeting at less than five minutes, including the Pledge of Allegiance and moment of silence,” said President Paul Santos.
Now, membership meetings regularly draw 300 to 400 members, with educational
workshops held afterwards.
Shop Steward Trainings
After years without any shop steward education program, Local 251 now holds monthly Shop Steward Trainings. The first one drew 110 stewards. Topics so far have included: Shop Steward Rights, Investigating Disciplinary Grievances, and Dealing with Difficult Supervisors.
Standing Up to UPS
With over 700 members, UPS is Local 251’s second-largest employer and its number one
Local 251 held shop steward elections so every shift now has representation and launched contract enforcement campaigns to take on excessive overtime and supervisors working violations.
When workers in New England need union solidarity, Local 251 is there.
Local 251 has been out in force at rallies to support an organizing drive by UNITE HERE at the Hotel Renaissance in Providence.
The union organized a rally to fight privatization of Teamster sanitation jobs in Fall River, Mass. and sent the local’s Tractor Trailer to Vermont to support striking Teamster bus drivers.
April 8, 2014: An interview with Brooke Reeves a Local 251 Steward at Rhode Island Hospital.
You backed the incumbent officials who lost the Local 251 election. What’s it been like since then?
The biggest change is the new leadership is totally up front with the members. The old Business Agent made deals that were kept totally secret from us.
We just found a Memorandum of Understanding that cut starting pay for new hires. I wanted to throw up. The old BA signed that in the middle of the contract and didn’t even tell us.
With the new officers, everything is out in the open.
What’s the biggest difference that stands out about the new local leadership?
They’re not here to make deals with H.R. or try to make H.R. happy; they’re here to help the members.
They don’t play favorites. They knew I didn’t support them in the election, but they reached out to work with me. They said the election’s over, it’s time to come together.
The old BAs played favorites. If they didn’t like you, they didn’t return your call.
It may sound corny, but these guys are sincere about representing every member.
We’ve got a lot more grievances now, but that’s because members are getting results, instead of getting ignored, so more people are coming forward to ask for help.
How has this experienced changed your view of TDU?
Before, I didn’t really know what TDU was. I only heard what the officials told me: that TDU sucks and they’re out to destroy the union.
I didn’t have anything negative to say about TDU really. Well… I think I posted TDU Sucks once on my Facebook page (laughs).
I went to a TDU Education Conference and that’s where I saw for myself what TDU is really about. The training there blew me away. I’ve been a steward for years and the old local officials never gave us any training the whole time. We were on our own.
I like that TDU wants members to know what can be done and how to do it the right way. TDU gives you the tools to defend members and enforce the contract. That’s what union is all about. I joined TDU myself right then and there.
The Rhode Island Hospital contract covering over 2,500 members expires later this year….
Yeah, and I think it’s going to be the toughest contract fight we’ve ever had. Contract negotiations have always been behind closed doors. It’s always been, “Here’s the new contract. Now vote on it.”
This time, we’re really going to talk with all the members and bring people together.
The Hospital wants to take a lot away. It’s up to us to stick together and protect what we have.
April 2, 2014: Bus service is at a standstill but solidarity is on the rise in Vermont where a Teamster strike has shut down the state’s largest public transit system continues.
As Teamster Voice goes to press, the strike at the Chittenden County Transportation Authority is entering its third week.
Community groups, unions, and the public are uniting in support of the drivers who have made driver fatigue and public safety a key issue in the contract dispute.
“We will not let the public down by driving under unsafe conditions,” said driver Rob Slingerland, one of the lead organizers of the drivers rank-and-file contract campaign. “Driver fatigue is a leading factor in accidents in the transit industry.”
A typical work day for drivers already begins at 7 a.m. and ends at 7:30 p.m., a 12½ hour spread for which workers get paid only seven hours. Management wants to increase the spread of hours even more to 13½ hours a day.
Local 597 members are also demanding an end to unfair discipline, including management’s abuse of anonymous tips to write up drivers.
CCTA refused to budge on these issues, provoking the strike. Management’s plan was to to pit “greedy union workers” against the public.
This strategy has been used by employers and corporate politicians across the country to attack public employee unions and force concessions. But Local 597 members were
Long before the strike, shop stewards and other rank-and-file leaders began meeting with members from other unions, students and concerned bus riders at the Vermont Workers Center.
They organized Town Hall meetings and press conferences to make their case to the
public and build community support.
On the first day of the strike, drivers and supporters knocked on doors and passed out handbills across Burlington. They posted “I Love My Bus Driver” lawn signs across the city.
Throughout the strike, public supporters and other unions have been a fixture on the picket lines, in marches and rallies, and in an emergency meeting of the City Council.
Management thought that drivers would be isolated and cave in after a few days on the picket lines.
But a driver-community alliance continues to power the fight for a fair contract at the CCTA.
April 18, 2014: Contract enforcement action by a TDU member has paid off—winning a $100,000 grievance victory for new York City school bus drivers.
Consolidated Bus Transit (CBT) tried to pull a fast one and cheat more than 160 drivers and bus aides out of their vacation pay for President’s Day week.
New York City schools are closed for President’s Day week but Teamsters at CBT have always been paid for that week for 20 years as part of a contractual guarantee.
TDU member Juan Carlos Rodriguez circulated a group grievance that members signed, they pushed the union to fight for their pay—and they won! The company is paying members about $100,000 in lost wages.
“This is a big victory for us."
“It shows everyone that we can organize to hold the company to the contract and push the union to do the right thing.”
Juan Carlos Rodriguez, CBT Local 553, New York City