Free Speech and My Contract?

I’m a steward and was on the bargaining committee for our contract. We reached a tentative agreement that the agent and majority of the team signed off on.

A couple of us couldn’t support it and put out a flier opposing the contract. My BA said I couldn’t oppose the agreement because the boss was claiming we had bargained in bad faith. Is that right?

— No in Northridge

Dear No,

It’s great you were on the committee and learned a lot about bargaining.

You don’t give up your free speech or union rights once you’re on the inside for negotiations or after. You may speak out against the contract.

You are protected under the Landrum-Griffin Act LMRDA section 101(a)(2). A similar situation in the public sector would be protected by language that mirrors the LMRDA under state statutes.

Members can hear from the majority on the committee as well as your dissenting view, and make up their own minds. Teamsters have a legal right, protected in the IBT Constitution, to vote by secret ballot on their contract. That vote should be an informed vote, where members have access to all the proposed language to read, and with discussion or debate on the proposed contract.

With Teamster contracts now often longer than three years, and sometimes containing concessions, voting on a contract is a very important decision. Your speaking out helps make the right to vote meaningful.

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