“That fund is not 100 percent funded. When that fund gets to 100 percent based on their rules, they’ll do the right thing.”
Tom Keegel, IBT Candidates Forum, Aug. 25, 2007
“The Plan’s vested benefit liabilities are 100 percent funded.”
Memorandum to Local Union Officers from Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust
More than nine months ago, the Hoffa administration promised Teamsters that the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust would end the pension cuts when the fund was 100 percent funded. But the cuts continue even though the plan is 100 percent funded.
The Hoffa administration’s promise “to do the right thing” was always an empty one. Before General Secretary Treasurer Tom Keegel even made it, the WCT Pension Trust had already issued a memo to local union officers in the West that, “The Plan’s vested benefit liabilities are 100 percent funded.”
The fund issued another letter on Nov. 13, this one from employer chair Bernard T. Eilerts—reaffirming that the fund was 100 percent fully funded.
Three days later, the fund announced a change in the multiplier. But instead of restoring members’ benefits as promised, the fund raised the multiplier only slightly. The new rate was only 1.65 percent, nearly 40 percent lower than the historic minimum rate of 2.65 percent.
IBT Vice President and union trustee Randy Cammack announced at a recent Local 63 meeting that the multiplier will be increased. That’s long overdue. As a result of the cuts, the annual pension of UPS, freight and many warehousing Teamsters in the West has been reduced by more than $6,000 a year.
The UPS contract will set a new record for pension contributions into the fund. That money must be used to restore the benefits that Western Teamsters have lost and restore the multiplier.
UPS has been the number one player behind the scenes pushing Teamster pension plans to lower benefits. Before they vote on any early deal, UPS Teamsters deserve to know how much of their pension benefits will be restored and what the pension multiplier will be going forward.
June 8, 2007: University of Chicago Teamsters are organizing a grassroots contract campaign to win better wages and benefits.
The Local 743 contract with the University expired on Feb. 28, 2007, but the local has extended the contract covering over 1,000 Teamsters.
Our local officials are sitting on the sidelines—they haven’t done anything to win us a stronger contract.
Taking Matters into Our Own Hands
Bypassing the union bureaucracy, Teamsters at the UofC have taken matters into our own hands.
We’ve organized meetings throughout the campus to educate ourselves on the contract.
Over fifty members attended one of the meetings—that’s several times the size of a typical local meeting.
“My one voice doesn’t matter too much, but all of us members have a strong, collective voice together,” said Sydney Simmons, a steward for service and maintenance workers at the University of Chicago.
“Many of the business agents are in the university’s pocket and it’s no good for the membership,” said active union member Glenda Pence. “The current BA doesn’t even return my call.”
Members are meeting with each other to talk about what tactics would be most effective with their co-workers, and what the university would respond to.
“Voting No on the contract is one way to show your dissatisfaction with what we get,” said Adrian Esquivel. “It will send a message to the union and the university that the members want more.”
Sometimes discussion at these meetings also turns towards the corruption in our local, and our upcoming election.
In 2004, after the New Leadership Slate won the local election, the current officers allegedly stole several hundred ballots in a do-over election that Hoffa called. While the Department of Labor lawsuit is still in court, many are looking to the fall to finally clean up this local.
When we get fair, supervised elections this fall, the members will finally have an opportunity to vote in better people, instead of the corrupt officers currently in power.
If we can already involve more people in their contract than the officials can, imagine what we can do leading the local union.
Joe Sexauer is a Local 743 member at the University of Chicago
June 8, 2007: Provident Hospital is laying off members of Local 743 in Chicago, but Secretary-Treasurer Richard Lopez is missing in action.
“I paid union dues and get nothing for it,” said Diane Davis, one of the Teamsters laid off by Provident.
Lopez, the business agent for Provident, has refused to return calls of laid-off workers.
“Where are my union dues going?” wondered Yvette Gardner, a laid-off unit clerk.
The 743 New Leadership Slate helped organize Teamsters and local residents to protest the cuts. They joined nurses, doctors, patients and others to fight the cuts. Rev. Jesse Jackson showed up on the picket line. But Local 743 union officials were nowhere to be found.
June 8, 2007: Local 396 Teamsters at Waste Management in Chino and Corona California were told that their new contract would pay them for all of their meal breaks, including the second meal period that is required by California law after 10 hours.
During negotiations for the new contract, Waste Management officials told the union negotiators that the new contract would give Teamster members paid meal periods.
But after the contract was ratified, Waste Management said it had made a mistake.
In a letter distributed to Local 396 members, the company said that the language wasn’t supposed to cover the second meal break—and the company wasn’t going to pay for any meal breaks.
Local 396 filed an unfair labor practice with the NLRB. But then the local dropped the ULP after Waste Management agreed to pay for the first meal break.
Wage and Hour Suit
Meals and breaks are a concern for all WMI Teamsters. Waste Management routinely forces Teamsters to work off the clock during their meals and break periods.
Teamsters at Waste Management in California have filed a lawsuit against the company for wage and hour violations.
Their case is similar to a successful class action lawsuit against UPS that resulted in an $87 million victory for more than 20,000 UPS drivers.
June 8, 2007: What if your employer told you that your raises for the last two years were just a loan? That’s just what happened to rail Teamsters in the BLET.
The proposed national agreement between the BLET and the freight carriers says that cost-of-living adjustments for 2005 and 2006 were just loans from the carriers to the engineers—and the carriers want the money back.
That’s like turning the carriers into a pay-day loan store.
The Railroad Comes Collecting
Even worse, our national negotiating team is helping them collect. The proposed agreement will let the carriers deduct the “loan” from engineers’ retro checks.
If the contract passes, an engineer who worked 160 hours a month for the last two years will owe the carriers $1,749. But most engineers work more than that, and they could owe over $2,000.
Engineers have been waiting since 2004 for a new contract—and a wage increase. COLA raises have helped engineers keep up a little with inflation. It’s a real double-cross to have to pay back that money, especially when the carriers are making record profits.
“When we joined the Teamsters, our leaders said that they’d put Teamster Power to work for us,” said Chad Black, an engineer on the Union Pacific. “Now we’ve got to pay back our wage increases for the last two years. Our negotiators should never have agreed to that.”
Can’t we do better? The negotiators should have pushed to turn the COLA “loan” into a real raise. Instead, rail Teamsters got a weak contract—and a humiliating loan.
June 8, 2007: A strike on the Canadian Pacific Railway has entered its third week.
On May 16, over 3,200 track maintenance and construction workers walked off the job. The track workers are members of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference.
The members say they want higher wages and stronger job security. CP wants to expand job duties.
The railroad has replaced striking maintenance workers with over 1,200 managers. But the strike has put a stop to new construction and expansion work.
This is the second major rail strike this year in Canada. In February, 2,800 United Transportation Union (UTU) conductors struck the Canadian National railroad. Members of the UTU on the CN are leading a drive to join the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference.
June 8, 2007: In 2006, International Vice President Carroll Haynes was paid $54,500 as a “consultant” by the Health Insurance Plans (HIP) of Greater New York. HIP provides health benefits to the members of Local 237, where Haynes was the principal officer in 2006.
Should a Teamster officer and benefit fund trustee be taking $54,500 from an HMO that that makes millions through its contract with our union’s largest local?
In the old days, vendors made payoffs to officials under the table. Today, they pay “consultant fees.” Does that make it right?
HIP’s “fees” to Haynes were properly reported on an LM-30 form—a report that union officials must file to document conflicts of interest.
The Teamster Rank & File Education and Legal Defense Foundation (TRF) discovered Haynes' consultant fees while doing research on the 2006 salaries and perks of Teamster officials.
The recent UPS proposal is shortsighted. Any effort on UPS’s part to withdraw from Central States Pension Fund would devastate Teamster pension funds across the country.
A withdrawal by UPS could be the end of the Teamsters Union as we know it. Pension funds are the glue that holds Teamster members together in solidarity.
Don’t let UPS trick you. UPS thinks in the long term—there’s a “25 year plan” to everything they do. Each word has been carefully chosen in recent contracts.
Don’t forget the 1982 UPS contract where part-time wages were cut by 50 percent to $8.00 per hour. Today, starting wages are $8.50 per hour, which amounts to 50 cents in 25 years, or 2 cents per year. We’re still paying for that today.
Editor’s note: In our last issue of Convoy, we asked if Teamster members should be charged for associating with officials who have been expelled for corruption. Here is one response.
Watch Out for Fleas
There is an old saying, “When you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.” The issue is, should Teamster officers and business agents be held to a higher standard? Of course they should.
Almost every instance of a banned Teamster that I have read about involves the stealing of members’ dues money. Why would any officer or agent want to associate socially or otherwise with a known thief?
The issue should be, why are our leaders upset when they can’t talk to a convicted thief? I hope that the IBT and the locals fight as hard for the next freight and UPS contracts as they do for the right to associate with known criminals.
Local 391, UPS
Carhaul Teamsters are not getting a fair deal. We are paying to work at Allied.
The Teamsters are the reason that there is an Allied. I can’t believe or understand why we have to pay to work there.
What has happened to “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”? We need to start fighting for the future of carhaul Teamsters together.
Local 79, Allied
Here’s how we can get even with Hoffa for the “Best Contract Ever”: next time around, IBT members must vote Hoffa out of office!
He is a wimp when it comes to UPS negotiations, a virtual suck up to carrier demands, and never had the guts to stand up for what’s best for the union the way his daddy did!
IBT members desperately need to realize this. Hoffa Junior will keep giving in to corporate demands, rather than benefits and wages for union members.
Dennis L. Anderson
Local 413, Retired