Leaving AFL-CIO Threatens Union Solidarity
We’re very active in labor solidarity here in Washington, DC, including street heat actions, rallies, disaster relief and solidarity with strikes and contract campaigns. And when Local 96 has asked for support from the AFL-CIO, they have always been there for us. It’s been working this way for years. When we’ve been in bargaining, the local Central Labor Council has stood with our members and offered to back us in putting pressure on our employer. Solidarity is a two-way street. We’ve supported unions all over the country through the AFL-CIO.
Leaving the AFL-CIO has a direct, negative impact on Local 96 members. We’re gas utility workers and for years we’ve coordinated with other gas unions through an inter-union gas conference where we share information on bargaining trends and how to meet the challenges union gas workers face. That conference is our bridge to building solidarity with other utility workers.
By pulling us out of the AFL-CIO, Hoffa has threatened Local 96’s ability to participate in this conference because the bylaws state that it’s only open to AFL-CIO unions. My understanding is that construction locals face problems also in coordinating with other unions in the building trades.
At Local 96 we believe in solidarity and we’re continuing to build it at the local level. I’m also all for pushing for change in the labor movement to make it stronger and more responsive. That’s why I’m a member of TDU. I just don’t see why the Teamsters couldn’t have pushed for positive changes from inside the AFL-CIO—working to make it better instead of dividing the house of labor.
We’re all in the same boat. Regardless of what union you’re in, we’re all in a fight against corporate thugs and the politicians who do their bidding. If we try to fight separately, we’re just playing into the companies’ hands. Whatever happened to “Solidarity Forever?”
Click here: Changing to Win at Overnite?
Click here: Coalition Launches Rival Federation
Click here: AFL-CIO Split? No One Asked Rank and File Teamsters!
Court Rules Against Retiree Rights
The appeals judges upheld a decision that favored the Central States Fund, which a few years ago started to crack down hard on retirees taking jobs at boat marinas, golf courses, family farms, auto repair shops, or hardware stores.
The trustees of the fund, including union chair Fred Gegare, admitted that their goal was to make it harder for Teamsters to use the early-retirement options that we all fought hard to win.
The case was backed by the Central States Pension Improvement Committee (CSPIC), the movement of Teamster members and retirees working for pension justice. The movement has already been successful in winning major changes to the reemployment rule, and now Central States retirees can work in all the fields mentioned above, and most others outside certain listed Teamster core industries.
CSPIC supporters across 25 states are proud of winning that victory, while angry about the anti-worker decision coming out of the court.
The lawsuit, filed by eight Teamsters and pursued by attorney Ann Curry Thompson, aimed to improve the rules and bring justice to Teamsters who have been wrongly penalized under the harsh old rules.
The Central States Trustees argued that the court should require the plaintiffs to pay their legal fees, but the judges shot that down. They ruled that the case raised important and legitimate issues.
The battle for pension justice continues. “We only won some of what we wanted on the reemployment rule,” said lead plaintiff Dick Herman. “But without organizing, we wouldn’t win anything. And we’re not going away until we reverse the pension and welfare cuts and get union trustees accountable to Teamsters and retirees.”
Teamster Families Fight Driver Fatigue
Red Star Teamsters Press for Rights
Seven million dollars is on the table as the proposed WARN Act settlement to pay off Teamsters put out of work when USF Red Star closed its doors last year.
This figure was reached in negotiations with Yellow Roadway, USF’s new owner. The settlement means roughly a minimum payment of $3,200 for each Teamster who worked in a terminal of 50 or more employees and about $1,000 for each Teamster who worked in a smaller Red Star facility. It’s about 40 percent of the amount owed under the WARN Act.
For over a year, a diligent group of former Red Star Teamsters has organized to win justice. Without this effort, it’s doubtful any WARN Act suit would have been filed. These rank and filers have fought for their day in court and it comes on Sept. 22 when a Philadelphia judge will determine whether or not the $7 million settlement is appropriate.
Activists are encouraging former Red Star Teamsters to attend this “fairness hearing.” They see this as an opportunity to speak out on Yellow’s settlement as unjust. Teamsters are circulating a petition to deliver to the court. They believe the 1,700 Teamsters deserve more, especially considering the millions former Red Star management honchos took with their golden parachutes.
Members also continue to press unfair labor practice charges regarding their lost jobs. USF Holland has re-opened terminals in many of the areas formerly serviced by USF Red Star. The IBT worked out an agreement where former Red Star Teamsters would get an opportunity to work for USF Holland, but at reduced wages. A number of Teamsters have hired in at USF Holland but contend that they are doing the same work they did prior to the USF Red Star closure. Many are concerned that the WARN Act settlement may cause the dismissal of these charges.
You can learn more about how former Red Star Teamsters have organized at www.redstarteamsters.com
Go Teamsters: ATT Workers to Vote on Union
Auto Truck Transport (ATT) drivers across the country will soon get a chance to vote to become Teamsters. In mid- September the NLRB issued the election decision for 1,300 drivers in a nation-wide unit.
ATT is controlled by Dennis Troha, the CEO of Active Transport, which is covered by our national carhaul contract. ATT was created a decade ago as a union-busting device, and Troha has been able to evade the language against double-breasting in the contract.
Management has used ATT to underbid Active and throw Teamsters out of work in more than half a dozen cities. Active and ATT together transport the majority of heavy trucks made in the U.S. and Canada, as well as those made in Mexico and moved by ATT out of Laredo.
ATT workers will have the chance to end this division and improve their benefits and conditions. The Teamsters are competing against the International Association of Machinists (IAM). Unfortunately, the IAM has allowed itself to be used by management in their campaign to bust the Teamster contract.
Carhaulers can help by volunteering on the Teamster campaign or by talking to ATT drivers to support the drive.
Why No Fizz in the UPS COLA?
Why No Fizz in the UPS COLA?The UPS contract has a cost of living allowance (COLA), which was played up in selling the contract as the “best ever.” Why then do we never get anything out of this clause?
An examination of the details of Article 33 shows why. There are three fine-print facts to know about the clause. First, before the COLA kicks in, the inflation rate has to exceed 3 percent on a May to May yearly basis. From May 2004 to May 2005 that rate was 2.9 percent, so no COLA. Second, even if it got a little over three percent, it would still pay zero, because the formula has to get to a five cent raise or it doesn’t count. This means inflation has to exceed about 3.5 percent to get that five cent wage adjustment.
If inflation rises over 3.5 percent in the specified yearly period, we would get COLA increases, starting with that nickel an hour. If inflation would go way up, we would get more than the nickel, based on a formula which covers about one-third of inflation. Thus if inflation jumped to five percent, unlikely but always possible, we could get a 19 cent per hour COLA adjustment.
The International officials who negotiated the agreement have a superior COLA formula. They automatically get the same percentage increase in union salary that the cost of living goes up.
Fighting the Overtime Blues
A long hot summer has been even longer and hotter for the thousands of UPS package car drivers who contend with constant and excessive overtime.
The short-term impact of this problem on Teamsters is tremendous. Weekday family life is nonexistent. Weekends are for recovery. The long-term effects include more injuries, more accidents and difficulty making it to retirement age. TDU spoke with a number of stewards and business agents about this issue and what can be done to protect members.
"Everyone is upset,” according to Des Moines Local 90 steward Todd Hartsell. “We are seeing people who have never filed a grievance filing them now. Standards are being cut, stop counts and overtime are up.”
“Over five hundred grievances have been filed on 9.5 violations in Local 688,” St. Louis steward Gil Clark reported, referring to violations of a rule limiting how often a driver can be forced to work more than 9.5 hours a day. “On paper management says routes are 8.5 hours, but drivers are coming back in with 11 hours day after day.”
The only thing hotter than the issue of overtime is the air coming from the IBT. Hoffa announced at a June meeting that the IBT had a plan. “It almost sounded like an Amway convention,” one BA said of the meeting. “They kept saying that they had a plan and were excited and that they felt positive about getting things done.”
“All we’ve gotten from the IBT is a postcard saying they are going to take it seriously,” Local 89 steward David Thornsberry said. “They’ve got an information gathering form to use, which is fine, but we are way past the stage of needing info. UPS workers know what’s going on. Teamster officials know what’s going on. It’s time for a real plan and action, not surveys.”
The IBT is hinging its approach on the double-time penalty in the contract. Detailed wording was added in 2002 to Article 37 stating that drivers can file grievances whenever they work over 9.5 hours three or more times in a week. Two penalties were set out in the article: double time pay for hours worked over 9.5 and/or adjustment of a driver’s work schedule.
“One problem with this language,” pointed out Local 728 BA Butch Traylor, “is that the penalty is not really that hard on the company. With the penalty kicking in only after 9.5, and taking into account that you already get time and one half for those hours, it works out to maybe $7 a day as penalty, or $35 per week.”
When asked if members in one of the largest UPS locals had ever seen penalty pay, David Thornsberry responded, “We’ve seen it as much as I’ve seen a girlfriend I had back in high school who moved to Canada, and nobody has seen her.”
St. Louis is another location where the IBT is falling short. Members handed officials a powerful weapon by filing over 500 grievances on 9.5. Rather than press for quick action, the local gave UPS a 30-day period to solve the problem. That 30 days will bump right into peak season, when they can disregard overtime limits all over again. (And the local supplement provides the right to strike in certain circumstances—an additional hammer the union is choosing not to use.)
At the same time, Traylor pointed out, “UPS is increasing the stops per car. The number of stops used to be in the 90s, last year it was around 108 and this year 118. That’s about 25 stops extra, that is why we have so much overtime. Even Hoffa has admitted that the company is nearly ten percent understaffed.”
Another factor is the cutting of time allowances. UPS applies production standards even though the contract does not recognize them. The managers plan the routes on those allowances, and when they are cut, routes disappear and more work gets piled on fewer drivers.
“The Albany, Ga., center is a good example,” according to Traylor. “Two years ago there were 44 routes. Now there are 39, even though there is more volume.”
What Can Be done
Despite the IBT’s inaction members have sometimes succeeded in softening the blow of the overtime hammer.
“At the Ashbottom building.” Thornsberry explained, “we started filing tons of grievances. Just recently we got bids put up for four more drivers. A few years ago, we got 20 put on. It takes persistence.”
“To be honest,” Traylor added, “the hassle of dealing with many grievances is perhaps itself a deterrent for management.”
“Lots of members are now filing over 9.5,” Pontiac, Mich., steward Darwin Moore said. “We are getting some relief for the ones who file and even won penalty pay recently in a case that went to the panel in Chicago.
“Really, we should be shooting for an 8.5 hour day,” Traylor said, “with progressive steps to penalize the company. There should be double time after nine hours and triple time over ten hours. And it should kick in automatically, not if you file a grievance.”
This is where the IBT has failed to grasp a great opportunity. The overtime issue bumps directly into larger issues of family life, health for workers and safety for the public. Local unions and rank and file members can take some action on their own, but a national campaign would have the most impact.
Coalition Launches Rival Federation
The other Change to Win unions include the SEIU (service employees), UNITE HERE (hotel and garment workers), UFCW (food and commercial workers), the Carpenters, Laborers, and the United Farmworkers.
The Laborers and Farm Workers remained in the AFL-CIO and will participate in both organizations.
This gives the Laborers the right to continue to participate in union structures in the Building Trades. What the Teamster pullout will mean for Teamsters in construction is uncertain. Our construction locals rely on these structures to coordinate and settle disputes with other unions in the building trades
The IBT will save about $9 million a year in per capita dues payments to the AFL-CIO. Half of this will now be spent on dues payments to the new Change to Win federation. The Hoffa administration says the other $4.5 million will be spent on new organizing in our union’s core jurisdictions.
Do you have comments on the Change to Win Coalition? Send you thoughts to:
PO Box 10128
Detroit, MI 48210
Click here: Changing to Win at Overnite?
Click here: AFL-CIO Split? No One Asked Rank and File Teamsters!
Click here: Teamster Viewpoint: Leaving AFL-CIO Threatens Union Solidarity
Who Is Running the Teamsters Union?
Tarpinian is a labor consultant in New York. He attached himself to Hoffa back in 1996 when he campaigned for him, along with another consultant, Richard Leebove of Detroit. He’s wiggled upward ever since.
His long time close associates have eased into key positions of power. Leo Deaner, a Tarpinian associate for many years, is Hoffa’s new Executive Assistant.
Another Tarpinian partner for decades is Dan Kane, an International rep with three sons on the payroll. Another is Jeff Farmer, who came from the SEIU to take over the Teamster Organizing Department. Farmer is the brother-in-law of Sue Mauren, director of the Central Region Public Employees Division. Ron Carver of IBT Strategic Campaigns is another decades-long member of the Tarpinian club.
This crew, who were buddies before they ever met a Teamster, have made quite a home for themselves at the top of the Teamster power structure. They move others out of the way when it suits them.
Mary Hardiman, Director of the Teamster Education Department, with the IBT for 28 years, was summarily fired in August as part of a Tarpinian restructure plan.
Tarpinian gets big bucks to do dog-and-pony shows at the IBT Convention and Unity Conferences, and he’ll get a lot more PR and “education” money now. In return, he holds banquets in New York to give awards to Hoffa and Tom Keegel, who sign the checks to his consulting company. What goes around comes around. What’s going around is your money.
Tarpinian wrote the plan and the script for the Teamsters to leave the AFL-CIO and join Change to Win, which also pays Tarpinian big bucks.
Most importantly, he is guiding the direction of the Teamsters Union. Remember when Jim Hoffa charged that Ron Carey had outsiders (“SEIU”, “mineworkers,” etc.) in positions of power?
Now we have a New York consultant running our union, who only bothers to speak to Teamsters when he has his hand out for money.
Submitted by a Teamster official who prefers to remain anonymous.
TDU Wins Changes in Election Rules
On Aug. 31, U.S. Attorney David Kelley submitted revised Rules to federal judge Loretta Preska for approval, with four changes from the proposed rules issued in May.
All four were proposed by TDU and submitted to the U.S. Attorney by TDU counsel Barbara Harvey.
These improvements are:
• Candidates will now have the right to distribute campaign materials by email, under guidelines to be established by the Election Supervisor. This means that Accredited Candidates can send materials to Teamsters using email addresses held by the union.
• Campaign literature from candidates that appears in the Teamster magazine, in the “battle pages” that TDU originally proposed and won in 1991, will now also appear on the Teamster website.
• To Protect privacy, members will not have to sign their full social security or social insurance number on petitions and other forms, but only the last four digits. This victory was announced earlier.
• Election protests can be filed by email, as well as by fax or regular mail.
TDU’s submission, made on June 2, contained other proposals as well. Most notably, TDU called for a debate between the candidates for General President, to be recorded on a DVD and mailed to all Teamsters. Hoffa successfully defeated this positive proposal, which would certainly increase the percentage of members who vote.
TDU counsel received permission in early September to submit additional Rules proposals to Judge Preska.
We urge all Teamsters to get informed, get involved, and participate in the upcoming democratic process that will shape the future of our union.
Click here: Cracks in Hoffa Unity
Click here: Prepare Now for Winter Delegate Races
Click here: Committee for New Leadership Lays Groundwork for Campaign