August 23, 2007: Teamster employers are on the offensive, attacking our master contracts. Their goal is to win givebacks that will strip away historic gains, threaten our pensions and weaken our union.
Concerned Teamsters are responding to the warning signs that the Hoffa administration is going along with the employers.
Rank & File Action Beats Givebacks
When Teamsters at DHL learned that the Hoffa administration was negotiating a concessionary contract, angry members sprung into action.
Across the country, DHL Teamsters mobilized to flood the International with petitions, postcards and phone calls. Their united action forced the Hoffa administration to scrap its concessionary deal and instruct local unions to hold contract proposal meetings.
The fight at DHL is far from over. But Teamsters there have shown we can defeat givebacks when we work together.
That’s a lesson other Teamsters are taking to heart as secret negotiations come to a head on a new UPS contract and the future of the Central States Pension Plan.
Hoffa and chief negotiator Ken Hall announced that UPS has reached a tentative agreement with Central States that could pave the way for the company’s withdrawal from the pension fund.
Industry experts watching the UPS talks say that Central States assets and members’ pension benefits are on the rise and a pullout by UPS will undermine members’ retirement security as well as Teamster power.
Teamsters at UPS need to be prepared to evaluate any offer carefully.
The Make UPS Deliver network and TDU will get UPS members the facts so they can make an informed decision.
Fight for Your Future
Freight talks may begin as soon as October. Freight wages have fallen measured against inflation, and members are building a network to fight for overdue gains.
Contract talks are coming to a head that will forever shape the master contracts and pension plans that are the foundation of union power. Fight for your future.
For more information, contact TDU today.
August 23, 2007: Freight wages have fallen drastically, measured against the cost of living, in the past ten years.
In April 1997, a freight Teamster (Central Supplement) made $18.11 per hour.
If that wage rate had just kept up with inflation, today it would be $23.55. The wage today is only $22.11. That’s a $1.44 per hour wage cut in your standard of living.
It’s time for some catch up.
August 23, 2007: The assets of the Central States Pension Fund are on the rise and our union will lose long-term power in dealing with management if we let UPS split from the fund. Those are the findings of pension experts and industry observers according to areport in this month’s Traffic World magazine.
That’s exactly why our union should reject UPS’s bid to break up the Central States fund. Instead, we should be negotiating benefit improvements that will immediately restore affordable healthcare and provide a roadmap to higher pension benefits as Central States continues to improve.
Consider these facts reported by Traffic World, a leading industry publication read by shippers and investors:
- “The Central States Pension Plan shows significant increase in assets” with an estimated “$700 million increase in assets through the first six months of the year.”
- “Central States’ total assets—about $21.4 billion—represent a significant increase over the $18.7 billion reported by the fund in 2005....The total could tally $22 billion by the year’s end.”
- “The ratio of active Teamsters to retirees has almost stabilized. There are 212,000 retirees and 146,000 active (full-time) Teamsters.”
These figures all come from the June Central States Fund’s Financial and Analytical Information report—and they have pension experts optimistic.
UPS Teamsters who suffered pension cuts and saw our fund’s assets drop might wonder, “What’s happening here?” Part of the answer is that the 2003 benefit cuts helped restore the fund’s assets. But pension experts also say “Multi-employer funds usually run in cycles.”
“They’re working their way back,” from the post 9-11 stock market slump, says pension expert Michael Cagnina, who manages $199 billion in pension assets for nearly 500 clients.
UPS wants to break out of the Central States plan to save billions in benefit costs—a move that would reduce our union’s long-term power in dealing with the company.
“It is the Teamsters’ pension—and particularly the multiemployer plan—that gives the union much of its draw and power,” industry analysts told Traffic World.
“It would take away from the union’s voice—the workers’ voice,” pension manager Michael Cagnina said.
August 23, 2007: We’re overdue for important contract improvements in wages, benefits and job protections.
Our freight wages have fallen, measured against inflation, since Hoffa took office. It’s time for some catchup. Major nonunion carriers pay almost as much.
It’s time for benefit improvements. In the Central States Fund, we need restoration of affordable retiree health care, and we need improvements across the board to protect and improve health and pension benefits.
It’s time for improvements in job security, protection against unnecessary changes of operations, and upgrading conditions in supplements to the highest level.
It’s time to eliminate some past concessions, like the tiered wage. Full wages for all freight Teamsters.
There is no excuse for any concession bargaining in this round. We’ve given more than enough. Yellow Roadway has consolidated its dominance in LTL long haul, and is moving to improve its position in short haul and premium service. ABF seems to have $650 million on hand that they want to pay to bust our Teamster pension funds. They can use that for contract improvements instead.
The IBT Contract Survey sent to all freight Teamsters didn’t seem to get this picture. Right up top, in question two, the survey asked which concession you would rather give: healthcare, pension, or wages! There was no choice of “none.”
It will be up to rank-and-file freight Teamsters to get informed, get involved and get ready. This is our contract.
August 23, 2007: Sept. 19 will mark the one-year anniversary of the most secretive UPS contract negotiations in Teamster history. Before the month is out, Teamsters at UPS may have a contract to vote on.
Teamsters at UPS need to be prepared to evaluate any offer carefully to make sure it includes the improvements in wages, benefits and contract language that members deserve.
UPS management has a proven track record of floating weak offers to see if we’ll bite. In 1997, we rejected management’s “Last, Best and Final” offer and won 10,000 new full-time jobs and record wage and pension improvements.
In 2002, Hoffa and Hall settled two weeks early. Their “Best Contract Ever” resulted in the worst benefit cuts in Teamster history.
The slow pace of negotiations and the “Brownout” on information have been designed to lower membership expectations. But the pressure is on the company, not us. Shippers and stockholders are pressuring UPS to settle early. This gives us leverage.
If UPS comes up short, there is no reason for us to accept a weak contract. With our current contract in place until July 31, 2008, we can vote No and send our negotiators back to the table.
Last contract, we settled two weeks early and came to regret it. We should not settle many months early this time unless we’re sure we’ve made UPS deliver.
Our future is on the line. Get informed and get involved. As contract talks heat up, TDU and Make UPS Deliver will be sharing information. When a tentative deal is reached, we’ll get you the facts so you can make an informed decision.
August 23, 2007: In August, ABF pulled out of Trucking Management Inc. (TMI), which bargains the National Master Freight Agreement, to bargain separately.
ABF management has let it be known for some time that they would split. ABF CEO Bob Davidson earlier stated that he wants to pull out of Teamster pension plans and force ABF employees into a 401(k).
We need to let him know this isn’t going to happen: ABF always has been part of the NMFA and always will be.
In the past, other carriers have split off. Yellow Freight quit TMI and bargained separately in 1994, but signed exactly the same agreement. The union held them—and all split-off carriers—to the NMFA. This unity has always been Teamster policy, through many General Presidents. ABF needs to hear that this policy still stands.
Hoffa Signals Weakness
DHL management also informed the union that they would try to break from the NMFA. DHL Teamsters responded with unity and action—flooding IBT headquarters with petitions, postcards and phone calls.
This strong answer by the Teamster rank-and-file forced the Hoffa administration to scrap a draft sellout contract. But DHL has detected weakness at the top of our union and will no doubt keep the pressure on.
That’s what corporations do: they go after a weak leadership. ABF is no exception. It’s up to us to get show rank and file unity and strength.
What do you think our union should do to win a strong contract in 2008? Call TDU at (313) 842-2600, or go to www.tdu.org/powerinfreight.
August 23, 2007: DHL Teamsters are organizing nationally to defend the National Master Freight Agreement and win a good contract for all DHL Teamsters. They’ve already scored one major victory when they forced the Hoffa administration to scrap a “Draft National Agreement” that was riddled with concessions.
For months, some DHL Teamsters have heard about secret bargaining between DHL management and Brad Slawson, an assistant to James Hoffa. Then on July 25, the stinky stuff hit the fan when TDU obtained and posted on www.tdu.org the “Draft National Agreement,” all 77 pages of it. The dirty deal that would gut the NMFA was exposed.
DHL members started to network, by phone, email, in barn meetings, stewards meetings and through TDU’s network. Calls, postcards and petitions poured into IBT headquarters.
The rank-and-file campaign worked. The Hoffa administration has scrapped its “Draft National Agreement.” At a meeting in Detroit on Aug. 20, local unions were instructed to hold proposal meetings for DHL. Teamsters can use those meetings to put forward the DHL network’s demands:
- No surrender of the NMFA.
- Shop stewards should be on the bargaining committee.
- A union fight to upgrade all white paper contracts to the best level.
As more Teamsters learn what’s happening, they are coming on board. The DHL network is growing fast. DHL Teamsters United issued a national leaflet on Aug. 20. A first national conference call was held. A new web forum was opened. And this is just the beginning.
It shows what happens when Teamsters put any political or personal differences aside and get together to defend our national master contract.
Interested Teamsters can call TDU at (313) 842-2600 for the latest info and how to get involved.
August 23, 2007: Teamster contracts and benefit funds are under attack—and our union’s power is on the decline. But salaries for top Teamster officials remain on the rise, draining dues that could be used to organize the nonunion competition and rebuild Teamster Power.
Those are the findings of a comprehensive analysis of Teamster financial documents and officer compensation by the Teamster Rank and File Education and Legal Defense Foundation (TRF).
In 2006, the Hoffa administration shattered its previous records in several categories including:
- total pay going to the union’s highest paid officials;
- number of officers making more than $150,000;
- the number of multiple salaries paid by the International to officers already making at least one union salary.
The great majority of Teamster principal officers of locals make less than $100,000 a year. But there are numerous exceptions—and you’ll find all of them here. In addition to the $150,000 Club, we list every Teamster official who has a total salary over $100,000. No partisanship and no exceptions.
This year’s analysis reveals that more than $20 million in Teamster dues was paid last year to the highest paid Teamster officials, each of whom bags $150,000 or more a year.
In all, 96 Teamster officials now belong to this $150,000 Club—a 23 increase in the last year alone. Twenty-five officials now make more than $200,000 a year.
Twenty-two members of Hoffa’s General Executive Board are in the $150,000 Club—along with numerous Hoffa appointees.
For the last 30 years, members and concerned officers have organized to reform our union’s financial priorities. Multiple salaries have been at the center of that struggle.
In 1990, when TDU printed the multiple salaries of several candidates for International office, they were quietly dropped from their slate and retired. In 1993, General President Ron Carey eliminated 65 multiple salaries in one day by abolishing the Area Conferences. By 1998, only 16 officials on the IBT payroll got a multiple salary.
Since taking office, Hoffa has reversed that trend. Last year, 179 officials on the International Union payroll received multiple Teamster salaries—a new record and a 1,018 percent increase during Hoffa’s tenure. Altogether, the International paid more than $8.5 million in multiple salaries.
Hoffa uses these multiple salaries to reward his political supporters—and to punish dissenters. Last year, Hoffa fired Larry Brennan—the Michigan Teamster who made Hoffa eligible to run for General President by giving him a no-show job—for showing insufficient loyalty during Hoffa’s reelection campaign.
Hoffa also fired Eastern Region Freight Director Dan Virtue in retaliation for running for Eastern Region Vice President. That retaliatory firing is now under review by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Cost of Hoffa’s Broken Promises
When Hoffa first ran for General President, he promised to “cut and cap” Teamster salaries at $150,000 a year, but when the Hoffa train left the station, the platform stayed behind. Reform delegates to the 2006 Teamster Convention tried to amend the constitution to include these reforms, but Hoffa directed his supporters to vote against his own campaign promise.
TRF’s financial analysis reveals that the cost of this broken promise was $3.75 million for 2006 alone.
Hoffa also promised to “eliminate expensive International Union perks,” including the IBT’s practice of paying the employee portion of social security taxes. This amounts to a 7.65 percent tax on Teamster members and hidden extra compensation for International officials. For the 178 International officials making $100,000 a year or more, this cost Teamsters nearly $1 million last year alone.
If Hoffa had kept his “cut and cap” promises, our union would have saved $20 million during his tenure in office.
Rank-and-File Pressure Can Change Priorities
For 28 years, TDU has published the facts to let members decide for themselves whether our union’s financial priorities are on the right track.
Armed with the facts, Teamsters have mobilized to cut the fat and direct our union’s resources to programs that build Teamster power.
When TDU first published the $100,000 Club, General President Jackie Presser’s salary was over $500,000. In today’s dollars, that would be over $1 million. Those days are past.
These financial savings are the direct result of rank-and-file pressure—but they’re not enough.
With corporations attacking our contracts and benefits, we need to keep the pressure to make sure our dues money is put to work defending working Teamsters—not subsidizing a corporate lifestyle for top Teamster officials.Click here to complete salary data of our union's top-paid officers.
August 23, 2007: Brothers and Sisters,
I am a DHL driver and union committeeman in Pittsburgh Local 249. DHL Teamsters in our local are STRONGLY opposed to any negotiations with the goal of taking DHL out of the NMFA. When we got word that this may be in the works, we shifted into high gear to organize against it.
Thankfully, we gathered a lot of support from other DHL Teamsters around the country who understand the importance of being in a national master contract. Our opposition was heard loud and clear in Washington and the substandard “draft language” was rejected as a starting point for negotiations. This was a great victory for DHL Teamsters.
But is this sham contract dead? DHL still has their bargaining agenda and we need ours. We won round one but now the next fight must be fought. Two things need to happen: Brad Slawson needs to be removed from the bargaining team and DHL stewards need to be in on the negotiations!
What does Brad Slawson know about DHL? He doesn’t even represent a station. He participated in talks with DHL for months with that terrible draft language as the basis for the meetings. That’s no lead negotiator.
Stewards can make a difference. They have the insight into the operations of DHL and know the day-to-day struggles of working Teamsters. They will keep the membership informed and unified.
We need DHL Teamsters to tell your local officials, reps, and Brother Hoffa:
- Keep us in the NMFA. Bring DHL white paper contracts into that agreement.
- Bring DHL stewards on to the bargaining team.
- Remove Brad Slawson as chief negotiator and name a local officer who represents DHL Teamsters under the NMFA.
A unified membership can win a fair and decent contract. That takes organization. Go to www.dhlteamsterforum.com and become part of the network. Together we can win our fair share from this billion-dollar corporation.
Keep the heat on!
Mark Woods, Local 249
August 23, 2007: “It is the Teamsters’ pension—and particularly the multi-employer plan—that gives the union much of its draw and power, industry observers say.” —Traffic World Magazine, August 17, 2007.
Every Teamster officer should know that, and most of them do. So why isn’t there a huge outcry from our union leaders against UPS’s move to split the Central States Pension Plan?
Where are the leaders in the Freight Division and our International Vice Presidents?
Where are the heads of Joint Councils and local unions within the Central and Southern Regions?
The silence from the Teamster leadership is deafening. Why is it left to TDU, the reform movement, to lead the fight in basic defense of our pension plans?
Most Teamster officers know that letting UPS leave the Central States fund will weaken our union’s power against management and hurt our members —but they remain silent. There’s a word for this silence: cowardice. This union was not built on fear. It’s time for officers to stand up and be counted.