Dozens of members signed petitions in favor of bylaws reforms that would establish the following new rights for Local 82 members:
• The right to elect shop stewards
• The right to elect rank-and-file representatives to contract negotiating committees
• 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 fair local union elections that are conducted by mail ballot and supervised by an impartial outside agency
• The right to a membership vote to approve proposed officers’ salaries
• The right to approve or veto who the local executive board names as trustee to the union’s benefit funds
“We want to put more decisions in the hands of the members,” said Joe Wright, a commercial mover at Casey & Hayes who helped introduce the reforms. “When people feel like they’re just being dictated to, they stop coming to union meetings. We want members to feel like their voice counts so they get involved and our union gets stronger.”
While the proposed changes would establish sweeping new rights for Local 82 members, these rights are hardly new to the Teamsters Union. Each of these rights is already exercised by Teamsters in other locals that have adopted these practices as part of their bylaws.
Every Teamster local has bylaws which function as the local’s constitution. Locals are also governed by the International Union Constitution which trumps all bylaws.
The right of Local 82 members to approve or veto the union’s trustee to benefit funds is being proposed just as a scandal is coming to light involving the failure of current fund trustees and local union officials to secure proper payment into the funds.
When a Local 82 employer failed to make more than $200,000 in benefit contributions, lack of action by Local 82 officials left it up to the Massachusetts Attorney General to pursue the unpaid funds.
In January the Attorney General won a settlement that forced the trade show employer Will-Work Inc. to pay $260,000 in back benefits and interest. Under the terms of the settlement, the recovered funds will be paid directly to the employees, which will drain negotiated contributions from the Teamster funds.
The amendments were introduced at the January membership meeting. They will be read again at the February meeting and voted on at the March membership meeting.
The decision cuts wages by 6.5 percent and reduces sick leave, holidays, vacations, and eliminates union health care and pension plans. Teamsters who previously had union benefits are forced into a company health plan that costs $363 per month for families.
For many workers who don’t make much over $8 per hour, this means 25 percent of their income will go to paying for coverage, or they give up health care.
The jobs of thousands of Teamsters have literally been destroyed. The International Union negotiated a deal to send all contract issues to an arbitrator, who then handed down this concessionary national contract.
No Gate Gourmet Teamsters were allowed to vote on their contract, or on the decision to hand bargaining off to an arbitrator.
Members in Los Angeles Local 572 are furious at the International.“We never would have settled for this contract,” says shop steward Luis Ramos, one of the leaders organizing the fightback. “We voted to reject a similar offer by 90 percent and now with no vote we are stuck with this contract. The International leaders should be ashamed of themselves. By agreeing to arbitration our leaders took away all our power to fight and have left us hung out to dry. Now we are being told there is nothing we can do. It’s despicable.”
“Even though the local officials are telling us there is nothing we can do and to go find jobs elsewhere, we are organizing to fight back,” says Raul Nieves. “We are refusing to take the concessions laying down.”
Instead of giving up like the International and local leadership, the workers have decided to resist. One of the first things they did was inform other members of their fight by demonstrating at the Local 572 membership meeting on Jan. 22.
“At first the officials made fun of us and tried to push us away from the entrance, but when more workers kept coming they stopped laughing and got very upset,” says Concepción Espinosa.
“We submitted a resolution condemning the arbitration decision and demanding the leadership fight for a fair contract,” says Gerardo Rosales.
The next day 100 Gate Gourmet workers demonstrated and handed out leaflets at the Los Angeles airport protesting the cuts. While the demonstration was taking place, Martin Nuñez and other workers were speaking to the airport commission about the cuts, pointing out that they violated airport living wage requirements.
Says Gate Gourmet worker Ana Campos, “We know it’s a tough battle but we are willing and ready to fight.”
Since you are reading Convoy you may already know some information about Wal-Mart, but after seeing this movie you will know ALL the dirt! For a small investment of $12.95 and 98 minutes of your time you can be a part of stopping this huge worldwide greed machine. This film was created to get the word out to our friends and families about the true facts on Wal-Mart, not just the low prices and smiley face on TV.
One of the best parts is when they interview ex-managers of Wal-Mart who have done such evil things towards the workers and society that they must confess so as not to take it with them to their graves. For example, they would ride through town and bet how long each Mom & Pop store would last before going under.
You see how towns brace and prepare to battle the onslaught of the huge greed machine Wal-Mart, but then find their own state and federal taxes are used against them.
This is a true story that proves we all must work together and stop this corporate dog and tame it with the power of the union.
Be sure to go to www.walmartmovie.com or call 800-525-8212 to buy the movie or find film screening nearest you. You will never shop the same way again. Also go to www.walmartworkersrights.org to hear the Garth Brooks tune “I’ve Got Friends with Low Wages.”
In mid January the Eastern Region freight grievance panel awarded over $230,000 to Pittsburgh DHL drivers, but the company continues to defy the decision. Incredibly, it appears that the Hoffa administration is in cahoots with the corporation in refusing to comply with a binding decision and in undermining the union’s own grievance procedure.
Thousands of DHL Teamsters are being used as pawns in a union power struggle, with control over the highest levels of the grievance procedure going to Tom Keegel and International Rep Brad Slawson of Minneapolis, away from the Freight Division of the IBT.
DHL management was not happy a few months back when they lost a grievance over their subcontracting of some Teamster work loading and unloading planes at the Pittsburgh airport. The company was ordered to pay some $90,000, split among several Teamsters who were deprived of overtime work by the contract violation.
Instead of paying up, the company went to Hoffa, who then allowed them to do an end run around the grievance procedure to get better deals. As a result, DHL will now be part of the MCLAC (Motor Carriers Labor Advisory Committee) grievance procedure, where management feels they will fare better. And at the national level, Slawson, the company’s favorite Teamster leader, will be in charge. The company claims that Slawson told them he would reduce the grievance award down to $16,000.
When DHL refused to pay the $90,000 awarded, Pittsburgh Local 249 filed under Article 7 for penalty pay, which led to the additional award of $230,000. That penalty pay increases every day the company refuses to comply.
Who are Hoffa and Slawson working for? The members and the local unions that filed the subcontracting grievances, or management?
Contract Reopener April 1
The union leadership in 2003 negotiated a reopener clause in the contract for April 1, 2006. Now union officials such as International Vice President Chuck Mack are trying to use this good clause as a scare tactic against members, telling them the company will somehow use it to gut the contract. Since we have the right to strike in a reopener, concessionary talk should be completely off the table. Instead of just giving up and not reopening the contract, the union should be bargaining over important issues such as the status of the independent contractors used to get around the union.
If the union and company don’t reopen the agreement, that will be a convenient excuse to not let the members vote on the change in the grievance procedure.
The DHL fiasco is one reason Hoffa has lost support not only from freight Teamsters but many officers and leaders within the Freight Division. A number of Teamster officers believe Hoffa has written off not only the Freight Division, but the future of the freight industry in our union.
Meanwhile, the Hoffa campaign ad in the February magazine boasts that he “restored the hammer” to the freight grievance procedure. This is from the man who is helping management undermine already-won grievances, and whose only freight strikes ever called were the disasters at Overnite and Red Star. Apparently the hammer is for use against Teamster members and leaders who stand up to the company.
Turning up the heat could be welcome, but is that really the case or is this just because of the International Union election this year? The contract has been in effect for three and a half years, so why has it taken so long?
Members, stewards and officers on the ground know the real story.
“FedEx is kicking UPS’ butt in some corridors,” Kansas City feeder driver Michael Savwoir explained. “This is about improved time in transit, that is where feeder jobs are coming from.”
For some time now UPS has been shifting volume off rail and onto trucks. Rail congestion and delays are one reason for the move. Another reason is the trend within the trucking industry to offer shippers ever-tighter transit time guarantees. A royal battle has resulted, with freight and small package trucking companies competing over this profitable sector of the market.
In Atlanta, UPS is adding 60 feeder positions, most as a result of a shift from rail to truck. UPS is also shifting its feeder network in the Northeast. Work is moving from the Alexandria, Va., rail facility to Parsippany, N.J., where numerous feeder jobs will be created. Providence, R.I., is also picking up feeder positions.
In the Midwest, UPS has added sleeper and mileage runs in the Kansas City area, including a 682-mile turn to Dallas. The Earth City building in St. Louis is getting new mileage runs.
“While hard to track fully, subcontracting is basically the same,” Savwoir said. “Members and stewards in many areas have kept the heat on UPS and the IBT about the problem for years. By getting better at documenting subcontracting, stewards in some areas are winning monetary settlements on grievances. But UPS still subcontracts.”
Some subcontracting grievances have been won, and every victory is welcome. But it will take a lot more of that to end the subcontracting. In some areas UPS is routinely using Mail Contractors of America to move trailers from rail yards to UPS buildings. Grievances are still pending over this contract violation.
Sometimes what is missing tells an important part of the story. A related issue, not mentioned in the Teamster magazine, is how and when UPS plans to integrate nonunion Overnite Transportation into its operation. Trucking analysts note that in the long run, it makes no sense to keep the operations separate. FedEx has been very successful in integrating its freight, package and air operations.
The Teamster leadership needs a plan to bring all UPS divisions into our union.
The growing number of mileage and sleeper runs, and their effect on the whole feeder operation is another issue for the future. UPS has a long-term plan for transforming the way feeder work is done.
Global Warming 2006: UPS Teamsters need to brace themselves for a major warming trend in 2006. Hoffa’s PR machine has started pumping hot air. The forecast for 2006, at least until the IBT election, is for the hot, sticky conditions to continue. The only relief will be an organized and informed Teamster membership.
Both Hoffa and the Tom Leedham Strong Contracts, Good Pensions Slate have campaign pages in the February Teamster magazine and on their websites. But the similarity ends there.
While Hoffa is struggling to keep defectors in the fold and put a glossy sheen on his failed record, Tom Leedham is drawing in new support and building a grassroots network of Teamster campaigners.
Leedham has built on the vote he got in the last election—picking up support from Teamster members and officers who are disaffected with
Hoffa because of the decline in Teamster power during his seven years in office.
Hoffa may be his own worst enemy. He is haunted by his broken promises of “No Dues Increase,” “25-and-Out,” and “No Corruption”—and by his broken pledge that “Health and pension benefits are guaranteed” under the master contracts he negotiated.
The Hoffa “Unity” that was formerly rock solid among Teamster officials is cracking, if not crumbling. It took an all-out pressure offensive to hold together his Unity Slate when Freight Director Tyson Johnson launched an aborted third slate in December. While Johnson is back in the fold, other key Hoffa supporters have turned against him or dropped away from active campaigning.
Third Slate?Johnson, who announced his candidacy for Teamster President on Dec. 12, abandoned that campaign just two weeks later. Reportedly Johnson will retire from office. At the eleventh hour, Hoffa vice presidents and consultants convinced Johnson to drop out, all using the argument that Leedham would surely win a three-way race.
Some Teamster officials would rather let the union continue to go downhill under Hoffa than risk a Leedham victory.
But many officials, including several in the Freight Division, refuse to come back to Hoffa. Some allies who helped put Hoffa in office are no longer with him. Even his former Executive Assistant, Carlow Scalf, is working against Hoffa’s reelection. Former Freight Director Phil Young, International Vice President Tom O’Donnell, New Jersey Joint Council President Don DiLeo, among others, have split from Hoffa.
To many officers it looks like Hoffa has not only abandoned Teamsters in freight, but he relies more on his consultants and handlers than the local officers who put in power.
Whether these developments will lead to a third slate, a coalition with Leedham, or something else, remains to be seen. In any event, they show that Hoffa has lost key support, at the same time that Leedham is reaching out to draw leaders who formerly backed Hoffa into the campaign and slate.
With no positive record to run on, Hoffa’s strategy is to go negative. Hoffa’s campaign ads call Leedham a “loser,” because Leedham lost to Hoffa in 1998 and in 2001.
But that approach may fall flat: thousands of Teamsters feel like they have been the big losers under the Hoffa administration.
Since Hoffa took office, our union has lost 100,000 members; hundreds of thousands of Teamsters have had pension and health benefits cut; and many officers feel Hoffa has lost touch with local officers and lost control of our union to inside-the-beltway consultants.
PR Campaign vs Ground WarThe Hoffa Campaign will rely on a big fundraising advantage to bankroll a glossy PR campaign. Hoffa pays some 148 multiple salaries to Teamster officials—not including the hundreds more on the Hoffa payroll, most of whom can be made to pony up big bucks to his campaign.
Leedham is relying on grassroots fundraising to finance a “ground war” campaign based on Teamster-to-Teamster outreach.
The campaign has launched a Strong Contracts, Good Pensions tour that is putting candidates in the field to talk with Teamsters about what it will take to rebuild our union’s strength.
Hoffa can only buy another term of office if we let him. The PR attacks of Hoffa’s consultants are no match for Teamster members if we’re organized in the terminals, hubs, factories, warehouses, job sites, and other Teamster workplaces.
The Leedham Campaign is building a Teamster army. It’s time for you to enlist.
Hoffa campaign operative Richard Leebove has made millions off of Teamster elections with his lies and distortions.
And he’s at it again in this month’s Teamster magazine. Under Hoffa, the Teamsters Union has lost over 100,000 members.
To cover for his failures, Hoffa’s campaign operatives lie about Hoffa’s organizing failures and distort Tom Leedham’s record.
In the February Teamster magazine campaign “battle pages” Hoffa brags, “We have added nearly 200,000 new members.”
He also charges that Tom Leedham’s Local 206 lost 17 percent of its membership over the last five years because of decertifications. Both claims are outright lies.
The Truth Squad is here to present Teamster members with the facts so you can cut through the spin and make up your own mind.
Membership Loss Under Hoffa
- The Teamsters Union has lost over 100,000 members since Hoffa took office.
- In the mid 1990’s, before Hoffa, the Teamsters Union reversed a 16-year decline in membership in the mid-1990s by launching aggressive organizing campaigns.
- When Hoffa pushed through the biggest dues increase in Teamster history, he nearly doubled the International Union’s income. But Hoffa has failed to use these new resources to organize and grow our union.
- The membership additions under Hoffa have come through mergers not organizing. Three mergers added 140,000 members to our union, inflating Hoffa’s numbers and covering for the lost Teamster members since Hoffa took office in 1999.
The Facts: Local 206 Membership
- Like most Teamster locals that are not predominately UPS or public sector locals, Local 206 has lost members due to changes in the U.S. economy. More than 90 percent of Local 206’s membership loss is due to companies closing down or moving to another local jurisdiction.
- Much of the Local 206’s membership “loss” came when Food Service of America, moved into a neighboring local union’s geographic jurisdiction. These members are not “lost.” They are proud Teamsters in Local 324.
- The Hoffa administration has failed to help Teamster locals to organize and grow—despite the largest dues increase in Teamster history. Hoffa’s own home Local 614 has suffered a double-digit membership decline.
Unlike Hoffa, Leedham will take responsibility for rebuilding Teamster organizing—not pass the buck to Teamster officers and blame them for our union’s membership losses.
Employer Donations—A Big Lie
In the same Teamster magazine campaign ads, Leebove and Hoffa claim that the Tom Leedham Strong Contracts, Good Pensions campaign is “linked to employer funding.”
This is another outright lie.
Accepting direct or indirect employer contributions is a blatant violation of Federal Law and the IBT Election Rules.
If Hoffa had any evidence to back up his bogus claims, he would immediately file a charge with the Teamster Election Supervisor and the Department of Labor.
But Hoffa restricts his charges to the Teamster magazine. Why? Because his claims are campaign propaganda and nothing more.
Leebove should know all about employer contributions. The Election Administrator expelled him from the 1998 campaign for making an illegal $167,000 contribution to Hoffa. Leebove was suspended from the 2001 campaign for hinting to employers that they should donate to Hoffa’s campaign.
Source: Decisions of the Election Administrator.
The merger had the endorsement of New York Joint Council 16. But it did not have support of the Local 814 membership. The no vote shows once again the value of the right to vote on mergers. TDU members proposed this constitutional reform for years at Teamster Conventions before it was finally approved in 2001.
“What Local 814 needs is new, strong leadership that will fight for strong contracts and organize the nonunion competition—not a merger into a weak local with a history of corruption,” said Walter Taylor, one of the leaders of the Vote No effort. “Now that we’ve defeated this merger, hopefully we can get down to the real business of rebuilding union strength in the moving industry and for all of our local’s members.”
Teamster Local 814 members in New York City had a tough year in 2005. First they were hit with concessions and pension cuts after the IBT gave them no strike support in a fight with the Movers Association. Then they were blindsided with a proposed merger into Teamsters Local 810—a local with a long history of corruption scandals, bloated officers’ salaries, and embezzlement.
The anti-merger effort was led by the same members who formed a rank-and-file network to fight for a strong contract during last summer’s negotiations. Some Local 814 officials also opposed the merger, including George Daniello who had ambitions of his own to head the local.
Daniello got his wish. In the wake of the merger defeat, Local 814 President Pete Furtado has retired and Daniello has taken his place.
To defeat the merger, members distributed informational leaflets about Local 810’s record of corruption and dues waste and it’s weak record on organizing—an issue that is critical to the future of Teamster commercial movers whose wages and benefits are being undermined because of growing nonunion competition.
The committee also revealed that president Lou Smith has nearly doubled his salary to $244,845.
Local 810 has lost 2,000 members since 1997. The only organizing Smith is known for is a sweetheart contract he signed with the Cipriani family to undercut a strike by the Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union. That move landed Smith a suspension from union office in 1999.
“The men were fed up. They saw this merger as a dues grab that was for the benefit of certain union officials and not the members,” said Billy Esser, Sr., a Local 814 Teamster at Hanover Moving and Storage. “We don’t want more business as usual. We want real change and we’re standing up for it.”
The Local 814 merger was defeated because rank-and-file members put in action an organized plan to inform and unite the local’s membership. That same combination of rank-and-file organization and unity is what it will take to rebuild Local 814 as a union that delivers strong contracts and good benefits.
January 30, 2006: What Happens When Elections Are Not Supervised! Members Prove Chicago Local Rigged Election January 30, 2006. “We knew the election was stolen from us. But I don’t think we expected to get the black and white proof, and see how they did it,” explained Richard Berg, leader of the New Leadership Slate in Chicago Local 743.
Berg referred to documents obtained by his attorney, Tom Geoghegan, from the U.S. Department of Labor showing that hundreds of ballots were diverted to the addresses of employers, stewards and even a Russian bath house that the union president frequents. Those ballots were then voted and counted in the December 2004 local union election.
The phony ballots, which were mailed in bulk to stewards, employers and cronies, kept Robert Walston in office instead of the New Leadership Slate, which would have won the election. The election was already a “do-over” that Walston called after Berg won two months earlier by seven votes (despite the ballot box stuffing!).
The local leadership was named as corrupt in the April 2004 report by former Teamster anti-corruption czar Ed Stier, before he resigned his position in protest. The officers also use Hoffa’s political advisor Richard Leebove as a consultant. The Department of Labor has gone to federal court against the Local 743 leadership to overturn the vote.
New Leadership Slate is also planning their own legal action in addition to the Department of Labor action. And they continue to build their support among the rank and file. The New Leadership Slate plans to run a slate of delegate candidates to represent Local 743 with honest leaders at the IBT Convention. With an independent Election Supervisor in place, they believe they can get a fair election there.
January 30, 2006: Hoffa is trying to block all opposition candidates from getting on the ballots. Will your local elect delegates who will nominate the Tom Leedham Slate and give members a choice?
Hundreds of thousands of Teamsters have had their benefits cut under Hoffa. Will your delegates support reforms to hold pension trustees accountable to the members?
Strong Contracts, Not Dues Waste
Will your delegates vote to eliminate multiple salaries for Teamster officials and dedicate the savings to organizing the nonunion competition and fighting for strong contracts?
No Dues Hikes
Will your delegates vote to require a membership vote on future increase to the dues formula?