The union has been weak at my job for a long time. The shop steward and I have been trying to bring members together to enforce the contract. Now management is cracking down. They gave the shop steward and the assistant steward (me) a letter threatening us with discipline, up to termination. Management said the shop steward is “too aggressive” because he raised his voice to a manager.
When management gave us the letter, all our business agent could say was, “I’ll have to look into this.” Since then, we’ve heard nothing.
– Not sitting down and taking it in New York
Two Local 174 Waste Management members, (D.J.) Thomas (South Sound)and Jeff Michalak (Northest) attended Waste Management's annual Shareholder Meeting in Houston Texas May 3rd to protest the giant firm's attacks on workers including slashing health benefits for members of local 813 in New York who have been on strike since April 3.
The two Local 174 members met with members of Local 813, New York and Local 639 in Washington D.C. "There was a lot of information sharing between the locals, and good media coverage," Michalak said. Thomas said, "Our brothers in New York told us Waste Management is spending at least $22 million on strike breakers and surveillance of our picketers, but it would cost them less than half a million dollars....$53 per driver...to settle that strike."
Teamster members joined by supporters from other unions held a demonstration outside the shareholders meeting which attracted substantial attention from the press and the public. A Teamster proposal to elect the Waste Management Board of Directors by majority vote instead of plurality was passed by the shareholders. Teamster speakers also criticized Company CEO David Steiner's $1 million bonus in 2005 for "improving company performance."
Steiner was forced to respond to issues raised by the Teamsters both during the shareholders meeting and afterwards in the press. Michalak said that getting together with other Waste Management Teamsters from across the country was especially valuable. "It's a good way to see what the company is doing and what might be coming our way, and makes us all stronger if we're all working together," he said. "I think we should be doing this on a regular basis from now on."
The fight by Local 174 Teamsters shows that coordination and solidarity can beat back employer demands for healthcare concessions. The attack on Teamster health benefits is national, strategic and coordinated. The fight back has to be the same.
As we go to press, Waste Management Teamsters are on strike in New York City fighting for affordable healthcare. Members in Washington, D.C. were recently forced to end their strike and accept healthcare concessions at Waste Management. More Waste Management Teamsters will face giveback demands in the coming months as their contracts come up for bargaining.
Our International Union needs to apply the lessons of Seattle and fight the national attack on our health benefits with coordination, solidarity and a plan to win
It’s not just Teamsters in the waste industry whose benefits are on the line.
Members of Local 1150 in Sikorsky stood strong during a six-week strike at the military contractor—but ultimately were forced to accept healthcare givebacks.
The IBT held a major rally at Sikorsky and coordinated some political pressure—but these efforts were not launched until after members were already out on strike. Teamsters who stand united like the members of Local 1150 deserve to be backed by thorough strike preparations and a plan to win before they’re called into the street.
Coca-Cola is another major Teamster employer that is demanding that members leave Teamster benefit plans and pay for a percentage of company healthcare plans. Too often local unions are left taking on national employers like Coke one local at a time, and the company is winning givebacks.
Some locals have bucked this trend. When Coke demanded that Local 1035 members in Connecticut switch to a company plan, members were ready. The local leadership began preparations a year in advance. They worked with locals in New Jersey and Los Angeles to build a solidarity front. When it came to crunch time, the International dragged its feet on sanctioning a strike extension, but finally did so. On the very day that the strike was to move to New Jersey, the Local 1035 Teamsters won. They remained in their Teamster plan and they don’t pay a dime toward their monthly premiums.
“By working together, we saved our Teamster medical plan with full maintenance of benefits,” said Local 1035 shop steward Bob Elliot. “But you shouldn’t have to fight management and the International at the same time.”
Teamster locals are proving that solidarity plus coordination equals power. Our International Union can and must do more to back up members and locals in their fights against national and multinational employers.
Mitchell’s divinity has also been noted as he changes work rules, seniority rights, and contract language with impunity. It is rumored that he walks on water in his spare time! Whether divine authority or divine stupidity, Mitchell’s above the law management style alienates employees, reduces productivity, and subjects UPS to liability. —Michael A. Savwoir, Local 41, Kansas City
shifter jobs with combo positions is out of the question. It is also a
violation of Article 22.3 of the contract, which states that new full-time
jobs will be created out of “existing part-time” positions. At least one
other local in Philly has signed off on the deal. UPS management continues to try new ways to undermine the creation of full-time jobs, which is no surprise, but the lack of coordination from the IBT in countering these attacks continues to be a factor making it harder for members to defend rights and conditions.
New I.D. Card Coming Soon
Officials from the Department of Homeland Security are making plans for issuing transportation worker identity cards. The requirement may be in place as early as 2007, depending on Congressional action. The program will be modeled along the lines of how the Transportation Security Administration handles hazmat endorsements.
Safety Expert Challenges New Crash StudyA recent study issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration determined driver error or other failure by passenger vehicle was the “critical reason” in 56 percent of two-vehicle crashes, with trucks responsible for 44 percent. However, Jerry Donaldson, senior research director for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, disputes the findings. “The study violates everything that is known as peer accepted principles of good research design and data collection,” according to Donaldson. Donaldson contends appropriate research would have required using a control group and objectively gathered data. The FMCSA study relied predominantly on interviews retroactively examining individual crashes. Donaldson asserts this creates a “hindsight bias.” He added, “for the $20 million (the study cost), the public has gotten a virtually scientifically worthless piece of work.” Challenges to the current regulations covering hours of service are based on separate, previous safety research on trucker fatigue.
Allied Systems, the largest carhauling corporation, is going to court on April 26 to void the contract covering 4,000 U.S. Teamsters and impose a 10 percent wage cut. Management claims that the company will suffer irreparable harm as soon as May if they don’t get the cuts immediately. They are also demanding that the June 1 contractual raise be eliminated.
In mid-April, the company advised all U.S. Teamsters that they anticipate court approval and that they will cut all wages by 10 percent on April 30 if this approval is granted.
The International Union responded by demanding more detailed financial information from the company on its financial status. While a good start, this response seems entirely inadequate to the situation, which threatens to shatter a national Teamster contract.
In a similar situation with the largest auto supplier company, Delphi, the United Auto Workers (UAW) has threatened to strike if their contract is voided in bankruptcy court, and the tactic has brought General Motors into the bargaining picture. GM cannot afford a strike that will interrupt its product flow.
Our union needs a plan to fight back. And the entire labor movement and our allies need to take on this corporate scam, which is already infecting two major industries and could spread to more.
The 2005 financial reports for Teamster affiliates, including the International, are finally public. These LM-2 reports reveal for the first time the astonishing high cost of Hoffa’s PR.
Three consultants alone were paid nearly two million in members’ dues money—not bad money for non-Teamsters who didn’t bargain a single contract, settle a single grievance, or organize a single member into our union.
Two of the richest PR fatcats are Greg Tarpinian and Richard Leebove. Tarpinian got $471,636 in members’ dues.
Leebove made off with $301,379. Both worked for numerous local unions as well as the International. As the LM-2 filings for more locals become available, these figures will likely rise even higher.
Tarpinian gets big money for writing Hoffa’s speeches and producing PR videos. Leebove is Hoffa’s long-time designated attack dog and media man. In 2005 he was paid big money to attack members who were organizing against pension and benefit cuts. He’s also on the payroll of—you guessed it—the Hoffa Campaign.
Tarpinian and Leebove have been on the Hoffa payroll for years. Their Teamster income is available for the first time because of changes in Department of Labor report filing requirements.
$1 Million for One Press Release
But as much dues skim as these guys get, Ed McDonald did them one better. McDonald took in a whopping $727,299. McDonald’s assignment? To attack Ed Stier, the former Teamster anti-corruption director.
Hoffa hired Stier for five years to run the RISE program—but then pulled the plug on Stier’s activities when he started to investigate organized crime influence in Hoffa’s Chicago power base. After Stier and the RISE staff resigned from their jobs in protest, McDonald was hired to do a job on Stier.
McDonald was also on the IBT payroll in 2004, but those consultant fees were never disclosed. He almost certainly made more than $1 million in all.
McDonald doesn’t just make money from members’ dues. His website lists his clients, including “…a member of the Saudi Royal family, the former chairman and deputy chairman of the Russian Securities Commission, the Mayor of Bridgeport, Conn., and many other businesses and individuals throughout the world. He has regularly represented one of the nation’s largest waste management companies [major Teamster employers!]”
So nearly $2 million in Teamster dues money went to these there non-Teamsters in just one year.
That $2 million a year would put 20 full-time organizers in the field working to organize UPS Freight and other threats to our union.
But then who would puff up Hoffa or run smear campaigns against members who are fighting pension cuts or investigators who blow the whistle on corruption in the Hoffa camp?
Click here: Hoffa Rep Gives Members' Money to Wal-Mart
Click here: Membership Declines
As of Jan. 31, the Hoffa campaign reported raising nearly $1 million. Incredibly, some 96 percent of the money is from Teamster officials, and 30 percent is directly from Hoffa staffers and appointees, with much more from their own appointees and associates. Of $987,000 raised, $784,000 (80 percent) came from donations of over $500, and 61 percent came from donations of over $1,000. Only four percent came from donations under $100, where rank and file Teamsters enter the picture.
$282,000 came directly from persons who get paychecks signed by James Hoffa and Tom Keegel, on the IBT payroll. Many of them in turn collected bundles from their own appointees.
When Hoffa first ran for office, he could rally working Teamsters—inspired by the memory of a growing Teamsters Union under his father—to chant his name and donate. Very few working Teamsters are interested in doing either anymore, so he relies on his extensive network of payrollers.