November 20, 2012: On October 4, a bunch of New Penn Teamsters near Boston showed up for work wearing skirts. Long skirts, short skirts, even plaid ones. The unusual attention-getting fashion choice of Teamsters was a protest against management harassment and pettiness.
Article 12 of the National Master Freight Agreement says that “The Employer has the right to establish and maintain reasonable standards for wearing apparel and personal grooming.” Teamsters who interact with the public understand the need for maintaining a professional appearance. What is an ongoing source of aggravation is the rigid requirement in the NMFA that shorts may only be worn “during the period May 1 through September 30.”
Every Spring and Fall there is a tug of war between members who feel they are capable of deciding when to wear shorts and management, which gets all uppity about their desire to exert their control.
A Boston Teamster might wonder if other trucking management applies this petty rule in, say, South Florida and Arizona.
Teamster members at the New Penn terminal in Billerica, Massachusetts decided they were fed up with the harassment and micro management on wearing of shorts. Article 12 has no prohibition against wearing of skirts, so Teamsters organized to buy and be fitted for skirts. Needless to say when Teamsters turned up for work in skirts there was some consternation in the ranks of management!
Despite there being no formal surrender on the issue of management rights, at this time shorts look preferable to skirts. Teamsters look forward to the day when grown men can decide, as adults, on when to put away the shorts.
The Teamster rank and file won’t be “short changed” when it comes to creative tactics.