That’s what happened in Boston Local 82 when more than 300 Teamsters turned out, on St. Patrick’s Day no less, to vote on a series of proposals that would strip them of democratic rights they won just one year ago. Each one of the proposals went down in defeat.
“The members stood up for their rights and democracy ruled the day,” said Kevin McNiff, a Local 82 steward.
Local 82 members work in the Boston Trade Show and Commercial Moving industries. A year ago, they voted to amend their local union bylaws to expand members’ rights.
Unhappy with the reforms, Secretary-Treasurer and IBT Trade Show Director John Perry backed a series of new amendments that would strip members’ of many of the rights they won last year including:
- The right to elect all shop stewards
- The right to an informed vote on contracts, including the chance to review all proposed contract changes in writing before any vote
- The right to a membership vote to approve proposed officers’ salaries
- The right to veto who the local executive board names as trustee to the union’s benefit funds
So for the second consecutive year, a secret ballot vote was held. Local 82 Teamsters voted by a 64 to 36 percent margin to defeat each of the Perry-backed amendments.
“What you saw today is that Teamsters are not willing to vote their rights away,” said John Corboy, a Trade Show Teamster.
“This was the biggest union meeting I can ever remember and it was a great thing to see,” said Joe Wright, a mover with Casey and Hayes. “No matter how members voted, the most important thing is that so many Teamsters were participating in the democratic process. That’s what a strong union is all about.”