November 4, 2004: Local 386 has signed a first contract for workers at Winco Foods, a growing wholesale distributor in Ceres, Cal. The contract undercuts Teamster grocery standards by keeping members out of Teamster pension and health and welfare plans.
The contract was negotiated by Local 386 Secretary-Treasurer John Souza, who just happens to be a trustee of the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust!
Instead of Teamster benefits, Winco workers will be in a company health plan and a company-run Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP). Winco will offer a 401(k), but will not match employees’ contributions. Under the company health insurance plan, the company will pay 85% of covered medical costs.
The union leadership’s initial bargaining position was that members get Teamster pensions and health and welfare. But they dropped this demand when management offered the ESOP and company health insurance.
With about 230 members eligible to vote, the six-year contract was ratified by 70 to 58.
This has come as a shock to Teamster members at the Ceres facility (just outside Modesto) who transferred there from the Winco facility in Salem, Oregon.
As described in the new Teamster magazine, they were leaders in the organizing drive at Ceres. They gathered signatures on union authorization cards and talked to workers about how the union worked for them in Oregon. There they had full Teamster pension and health and welfare benefits as members of Local 324.
They’re glad to be union again, but think the new agreement could have been a lot better. “The plus is that we got a contract,” says Winco driver Rick Denton. “The big negatives are that we did not get a Teamster pension or health insurance. And wages are way too low for new hires.”
New hires will actually make $1.28 an hour less under the new contract than they did before the contract was signed. Under the new agreement, newly hired drivers will be paid $11.72. Management sold members this concession by crediting current drivers with 3120 extra hours on the wage progression schedule.
These concessions came just months after Local 324 in Oregon won major improvements for Winco Teamsters there.
Where is the IBT?
Allowing Winco to operate without Teamster benefits will undercut grocery members throughout California. Major grocery contracts are coming up, and other locals are already being undercut, including nearby Stockton Local 439, which has Safeway, Unified Western Grocers and Ralphs to contend with.
So why was this contract approved by the IBT? All grocery distribution contracts are supposed to be approved by the Regional Warehouse Division Director (Steve Vairma of Denver Local 435), to preserve area standards. The contract also had to be approved by Joint Council 38. This contract should have been sent back to the bargaining table to protect the pension rights of the Winco workers and the standards of thousands of Western grocery Teamsters.
November 4, 2004: Milwaukee Local 200 has won a strong new contract for the 650 Teamsters employed as warehouse workers and drivers at the Roundys grocery warehouse in Wauwautosa, Wis.
The union beat back management demands that members pay for health care, and won model production standards language. It is a big victory for the Roundys members and for the reform leadership of Local 200 that took office less than one year ago.
Under the new agreement, Roundys Teamsters will continue to have zero co-pay for their health insurance. This goes against the trend in the grocery industry, sometimes supported by top Teamster officials, of shifting health care costs to workers. This was management’s number one bargaining demand.
The union also won model production standards language. The new agreement allows the union to have six members, trained by the union, who will function as internal auditors. These members will monitor the company’s use of production standards.
If there is a disagreement between the union and management over a standard, management’s standard cannot be implemented until the dispute is arbitrated. This is a major improvement at a facility where grueling production standards have been a long-term problem.
The four-year contract includes wage increases of $.40-$.40-$.40-$.45.
Preparation and Priorities
In preparation for negotiations, the new Local 200 leadership conducted a member survey to guide bargaining demands. Members identified preserving health benefits and managing production standards as their top priorities. In addition to the bargaining committee of elected shop stewards, the local set up separate member subcommittees to tackle issues like benefits and production standards. The contract was approved by an 85% yes vote.
“We were all expecting that health care would have gotten hit, but we preserved it,” said Don Janz, a warehouse worker at Roundys. “And we got good contract language. We would have liked more on raises, but given the state of the economy we did all right. The majority of the guys are really pleased. In the 26 years I’ve worked here, I’ve never seen a contract so easily voted in.”
November 4, 2004: Sue Mauren is in the Club. Minnesota Local 320 filed their Form 990 tax return late, so we were unable to include Sister Mauren in our $100,000 Club report. Mauren, the secretary treasurer of Minnesota Local 320, received $112,273 in salaries and $126,714 total in 2003. She gets salaries from Local 320, Joint Council 32, and the International Union. Mauren’s brother-in-law, Jeff Farmer, is the International’s Organizing Director.
Additional Scam in the Club: The International Union pays a special benefit—not included in the listed salaries of officials—which is virtually unheard of, even among corporate execs.
The Union pays the employee portion (as well as the employer portion) of FICA tax, meaning that each official’s salary is really about 7.65% higher than reported. This bonus paid to members of the $100,000 costs members an extra half-million dollars per year. Wouldn’t it be better to use it for organizing to build Teamster power?
November 4, 2004: Teamsters and local officers at UPS often want to know if the issue they have grieved has been decided before—and if so, what the decision was. Just as common is the answer “We don’t know.”
Sometimes we are told we should give up on a grievance because the same issue has already been lost in another case.
Now the international union has provided local unions with a compact disk containing arbitration and court decisions.
The digest of cases goes back to 1968, when just a few locals or regions had arbitration in their contracts. Most of the cases in the digest are more recent, stemming from arbitration provisions won in the national contract in the 1990s.
The digest also cites court cases (including NLRB and EEOC) going back to the 1980s.
The next time your local is unsure whether cases have been won or lost, remind them that they can look it up in the IBT digest
November 4, 2004: NetJets Aviation Pilots of Local 284 are awaiting a new election for our Master Executive Council (MEC) after the local botched the first mailing of ballots. The Strong Union slate, which campaigned around the issues of good contracts and establishing an independent Teamster local, was widely expected to defeat the incumbents. The candidates of the slate include myself, Bill Olsen, Greg Rountree, Tim Nelson and Jim Brady. The previous MEC’s term expired on October 31st, leaving a void in leadership just as a strong push is needed to conclude contract bargaining.
Local officials had previously delayed a vote on a tentative agreement in order to allow the MEC to hold 20 “road shows” to promote it. The tentative agreement provides wages so low that many pilots will continue to qualify for food stamps and free lunch programs. Strong Union denounced the weak agreement and it was ultimately voted down by 82% of the nearly 2,000 pilots.
NetJets is the leader in the newly emerging “fractionals” industry, in which wealthy individuals or corporations purchase a portion of an aircraft, similar to a time-share. Strong Union organized in July of this year to unseat the current leadership, which has been viewed as caving in too easily to company demands. Strong Union is supported by an extensive network of over 100 volunteers, including a rank and file advisory committee.
Local 284 has been dismissive of the pilots and uninterested in tackling the complexities of the fractional business and the needs of the members. We want the IBT to charter an independent local for the pilots, and have already established a member-based infrastructure capable of taking on the job of running our union.
Our new non-profit organization, Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (ASAP), will move into office space in Columbus on Nov. 15. All that is necessary now is a Teamster charter. But as the Airline Division continues to drag its feet, some members are becoming disillusioned with the Teamsters. It is necessary for the IBT to call immediate MEC elections and to hold a membership vote to let the pilots establish their own local. Meanwhile, bargaining has ceased.
Local 284, NetJets Aviation