Teamsters in Local 251 just ratified a new contract with the contractor for DHL Express in Rhode Island after waging a months-long strike.
Teamsters in Local 251 have won a new contract with massive improvements at Northeast Transportation, a contractor for DHL Express in Rhode Island.
The new contract delivers $5 an hour in wage increases, more vacation and paid time off, and a union healthcare plan that massively improves members’ benefits.
The new contract also includes more holidays and vacation, stronger overtime language, and strengthened job protections.
The contract victory didn’t come without a fight. Members took on union busters in a strike that lasted eight months.
Members turned up the heat on Northeast Transportation owners by picketing their million dollar home in South Carolina and picketing businesses owned by the owner’s relatives.
“They could not run and they could not hide from Local 251 Teamsters,” said Jason Lopes, a Northeast Transportation driver.
The strike got rough. Police waited until political leaders and public supporters left a union rally and then attacked members on the picket line.
Striker Tiffany Thompson was pushed to the ground and given a concussion by police and thrown in a cell for three days. She was standing up for another Local 251 Teamster who police slammed to the ground, breaking his ribs.
Members stuck together, and Local 251 and the International Union turned up the heat on DHL and Northeast Transportation.
The International Union coordinated with unions in Europe to dog DHL internationally.
In Rhode Island, the owners of the company were fined $40,000 for misclassifying scabs as subcontractors and for workers compensation violations.
Business plummeted by 30% and the company threatened to shut down operations.
Now, members are back to work and celebrating a contract victory and union pride.
Thompson spoke at the TDU Convention in October. “Being in a union means that someone always has your back,” she said. “It’s amazing to be part of something that’s trying to change the world for working people.”
“Before the strike, the company’s healthcare cost up to $350/week. The company didn’t pay a dime toward family coverage. People went without healthcare because it was too expensive.
“Now, the company pays 70% of my family healthcare plan. I can finally afford healthcare for my family,” Thompson said.
“The logistics industry is increasing its attempts to use contractors to undercut our standards,” said Local 251 principal officer and IBT Vice President Matt Taibi. “Local 251 Teamsters showed we’re not going to let that happen without a fight.”
“The eight month strike proved that members had the unity and perseverance to win,” Taibi said.
Striking Gets the Goods
“It took everything out of us. It was a long few months. We endured police brutality and jail time. But it was worth every single minute of grief and stress that we went through to finally get a union healthcare plan and improvements in our pay.
“It takes a lot of work, but hard work pays off. With education and support anything is possible.
“I’m all about being part of the labor movement at this point.”
Steward, Local 251, DHL/Northeast Transportation