FAQ: DHL Teamsters and TDU

Why did TDU get involved with this DHL contract?

Like many Teamsters, the members of Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) are concerned about the decline in our national contracts that we are seeing in the 2008 bargaining round.

Many times when contracts have been negotiated, including some previous DHL and Airborne contracts, TDU has not taken a position one way or the other. But the 2008 national bargaining round is very different: the Teamster leadership is giving back decades of Teamster gains.

Against the wishes of the IBT Freight Division, DHL bargaining was taken from the Division and handed over to Brad Slawson to give the corporation major concessions.

It’s not just DHL. At UPS, the International gave up the key gains of the historic 1997 strike victory when our union won new full-time jobs, stopped a company takeover of Teamster pensions and won record pension increases. This year, our negotiators let UPS eliminate the language that made the company create 10,000 full-time jobs every contract by combining part-time jobs—and they let UPS split apart the Central States Pension Plan which covered 44,000 UPSers in 25 states.

The union did all the giving—settling early and short. In freight, the Hoffa administration agreed to the most concessionary NMFA in Teamster history. In carhaul, the top union officials helped billionaire Ron Burkle take over the largest carhaul carrier and slash Teamster wages by 17.5 percent, breaking up the national agreement.

TDU members believe that our union needs to defend the national agreements that are at the heart of Teamster power.

So when TDU obtained Slawson’s first secret sell-out deal with DHL last summer, we immediately made it available to the members. TDU members at DHL began to spread the word, and a network of DHL Teamsters sprang up. Hundreds of DHLers have contacted TDU to get on our DHL e-list, share info, and make their voice heard. Since then, a growing number of DHLers have joined TDU.

How does TDU work with DHL Teamsters?

Teamsters for a Democratic Union has worked to provide information, a national network, legal resources and organizational help to DHL Teamsters who care about our contract and our union’s future. In February, for example, we obtained and made available the language of Slawson’s proposed deal that would allow DHL in the future to become a majority low-wage part-time operation. We have provided informational leaflets: some were issued by TDU, some were prepared by DHL members and then TDU helped design them and make them more widely available.

TDU has held educational meetings, defended DHLers who have been harassed by the company, and protected the right to a fair and informed vote on the contract. DHL Teamsters have access to see all the various supplements because of a court case won by TDU.

TDU is a resource for active and concerned Teamsters.

What about all those charges: TDU is communist, employer funded, etc.

Some Teamster officials have been saying those things for 30 years, and never once have they been backed up by fact.

Take one lie for example: “TDU is employer funded.” Accepting employer funding would be highly illegal, and the Teamsters Union has a large stable of attorneys to go after any such wrong-doing. They have made this bogus charge each and every election cycle from 1991 to 2006. What has been the result?

Each and every Election Officer—after thorough investigations with forensic accountants—has dismissed the charge in its entirety. The Labor Department has done the same.

It is not TDU leaders who golf with employers! In fact, in over 30 years of existence, TDU has never been implicated in any corruption. Our proud record stands in contrast to our detractors—many of whom ended up being charged with corruption, banned from the union, and/or indicted.

Some of the lies are just plain wacky. In February a DHL business agent in California posted this one: “TDU's true mission: to take control of the Teamsters and hand control over to the Flag Burning, Criminal Rights NOT Victims' Rights, Socialist/Communist wing of the Democratic party and ultimately merge the Teamsters into a larger Communist Labor group.” Wow. Was TDU behind the 9-11 attacks and global warming, too?!

Why do they fear TDU so much?

Because without TDU, Teamster members would have nowhere to turn for help. You could complain, but without a national network, organization, and legal resources, you would never be effective.

The DHL contract negotiations are a perfect example. Without TDU, DHL Teamsters would have never been made aware of the concessionary deal that Brad Slawson secretly negotiated behind the backs of the membership and even local union officials. TDU armed DHL Teamsters with the facts, helped members spread information across the country, secured the right for observers at the vote count, and more. In short, we secured a fair and informed vote—something that is not popular with the top officials who were trying to sneak through secret concessions.

TDU has a proven track record of uniting Teamsters to win positive changes—including the Right to Vote for International Union officers, majority rule on contracts and the Right to Vote on contract supplements, among many other reforms. We’ve organized Teamsters to win strong contracts and defeat givebacks, vote down pension cuts and win improvements, run for union office and oust corrupt officials.

Teamster officials who lie about TDU do it to avoid debating the issues and they try to demonize TDU because they want to keep rank-and-file Teamsters from joining together to push for changes in our union.

TDU is 100 percent pro-union and committed to winning strong contracts and building Teamster Power by informing and uniting the membership. Union officials have nothing to fear from a pro-union rank-and-file watchdog unless they have something to hide.

What does it mean to Join Teamsters for a Democratic Union?

It means you are willing to donate $40 to help sustain and build a movement of Teamsters for the future of our union. That is what it costs for a one-year membership. If later you don’t feel it was worth it, you didn’t lose much. But the vast majority who join renew the next year and the year after, because they see the need for an independent watchdog and information source in our union.

There is a reason TDU is the most durable rank and file movement in the history of US labor. We stand on principle and we’re non-corruptible.

TDU membership is confidential. We never reveal who is a member. Even some of Hoffa’s International Reps have quietly joined. Some of them see a direction they don’t like; and some of them just want to be sure to get TDU materials sent to them.

Most TDU members help spread the word where they work. That choice is yours.

To Join TDU, click here.

To find out more about TDU, click here and a TDU organizer will contact you.

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