April 24, 2009: Is the Hoffa administration quietly raising the dues of road drivers without a vote? It looks that way.
“We got a pay cut, now our dues go up?! Maybe it’s time Hoffa and his appointees took a cut,” Cliff Roberts, YRC road driver in Local 407, told us.
Road drivers in Cleveland Local 407 have just been hit with a big dues hike this month, just three months after hundreds of them took a 10% pay cut because they work for YRC.
Frank Burdell, Local 407 president (and also on Hoffa’s payroll) issued a March 23 letter that Local 407 had a “directive from the IBT to calculate the effective hourly earnings rate using the members annual earnings for all Local 407 mileage drivers.”
Thus, instead of 2.5 hours pay, Burdell will estimate the average yearly gross income of road drivers, and base dues on that figure, resulting in a hefty dues hike.
Burdell refers in the Local 407 letter (which he declined to sign!) to the dues hike as merely an “inconvenience.”
If members take this lying down, you can bet that this sneaky dues hike will spread to tens of thousands of mileage-paid Teamsters, who work under freight, carhaul, UPS, tankhaul, grocery distribution, and various other contracts.
Violates Hoffa’s Own Guidelines
The dues hike explicitly violates the International Union’s own guidelines.
On June 12, 2002, the International Union issued guidelines which state that “For those members whose earnings are calculated on the basis of mileage, the equivalent hourly wage rate stated in the contract for work performed shall be used.” These guidelines were signed by General Secretary Treasurer Tom Keegel.
That’s the way it has always been since Hoffa increased dues to 2.5 hours pay at an IBT Special Convention in April 2002. Nothing has changed whatsoever in the IBT Constitution to warrant this hike.
Hoffa administration officials have given themselves raises and COLA increases every year. Now they want more money from drivers who are taking concessions. It comes down to greed. And whether or not members will say No.
Local 604 Says No
In January 2009 St. Louis Local 604 was apparently told to raise the dues of all of its carhaul drivers, using the same excuse.
Local 604 secretary treasurer John Thyer sent a letter to the International in January, informing them that Local 604 is in compliance with the constitution and 2002 guidelines, and sees no need to raise dues.
The International never bothered to reply to the letter. And Local 604 members have not had to pay any dues hike. (Information available at www.teamsters604.org)
Is Local 407 the “test case” to see if other Teamsters will take the dues hike lying down? If so, it’s time for locals and Teamsters to say No. It’s time for top Teamster officials to do the belt-tightening for a change.
Click here to see the Local 407 letter regarding an IBT directive to raise all mileage-paid Teamsters’ dues.
Click here to tell us what you think about this dues hike.