June 13, 2014: International vice president Bill Hamilton has apparently cost up to 166 Philadelphia Teamsters their jobs, good paying jobs at the Pennsylvania Convention Center (PCC). Six labor unions were employed there. The Teamsters can no longer count themselves among them.
Was it because of tough negotiating, or a refusal to take concessions? No! Bill Hamilton has never had an issue capitulating to management. We need to look no further than his coercive campaign during the YRC/New Penn concession votes. Virtually every contract in Local 107 is stagnating or concessionary. He’s negotiated contracts as low as $11 an hour.
Hamilton and the 107 BAs lost these Teamster jobs because they could not deliver a signed copy of a contract addendum prior to a May 5th deadline that they knew about for 10 months.
Their inability to deliver the contract was due to the fact that, on May 5th the entire 107 Executive Board was either in Alaska, or golfing with Hoffa in Las Vegas at the “Unity Conference.” The PCC Board and venue management company, SMG, renegotiated a labor arrangement with the six unions called the “Customer Service Agreement” (CSA).
The purpose of the CSA was to make it more amenable to vendors. All unions were aware of the deadline. It wasn’t as if Hamilton was taking a hard line against the deal, because he signed the CSA. He just didn’t get it in on time. What is tragic is that the concessionary language in the CSA didn’t pertain to the Teamsters.
Having read the CSA, the highlights were; a 10-year contract with a 30 percent raise, and the creation of more Teamster jobs. These members lost their jobs needlessly.
In the aftermath of this debacle, Local 107 filed a ULP Charge against the PCC for bargaining in “bad faith.”
In their charge they admit: “The CSA was the product of joint negotiation by the six labor organizations.” They then go on to say: “On May 9, 2014, Local 107 signed the, offer” and that it “was rejected as untimely.”
Philip Harvey, professor at Rutgers School of Law commented that Hamilton has a “weak position” and, “There’s no real principle of law in dispute here.”
Hamilton’s reign has coincided with Hoffa’s. That’s no coincidence, he’s Hoffa’s man. The only growth Local 107 has experienced since is due to merging with locals 470 and 837.
This is a systemic problem in this union. Hoffa rewards his key yes men with multiple salaries. They in turn, surround themselves with yes men who sell the doctrine of Hoffa. In addition to monetary remuneration, rubber stamping Hoffa’s agenda apparently can garner you immunity. Ron Carey took Hamilton out with a trusteeship in 1996. Hoffa returned him. Despite 107 being cited by the IRB and NLRB multiple times for patronage and discriminatory hiring practices, Hamilton, under Hoffa’s protection, remains unscathed.
Given Hamilton’s dubious history and actions here, one question remains; were those jobs lost because of complicity, or stupidity?
By Ed Taylor, Local 107, Philadelphia
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