May 1, 2008: Most of us hired on at UPS for the same reasons. Good pay, good benefits, job security, a chance to make a life for our families. The company knows these reasons for you wanting to work for them, and they use them to create a highly motivated work force.
Nothing is more fearful to a person than the prospect that his or her mate or children will go without food, healthcare, or a roof over their head. Management works this fear to push their people.
Very often management is feeling the very same fear. Management’s push comes from their own same desire to provide for their family and survive within the UPS environment. The fact remains that UPS continues to manage with fear as a dominant part of their program. Your question should be, “How do I deal with the fear?”
If you look around you, there are many drivers and other employees that have been at UPS for years. The fact is these employees have come to a very simple realization. “If I do my job by the book I do not have to live in fear.”
Sounds simple doesn’t it? “If I am careful to perform the job as I have been trained, I am in little danger of losing my job.”
But if you take shortcuts because of fear that you are not meeting the arbitrary performance standards, you have good reason to be scared. There is every possibility that you may be fired.
Methods first!!! Production second!!!
Learn these lessons, or you do have something to fear!
Reprinted with permission from www.DenverBrown.com
by Bob Newhouse
UPS Package Car Driver
Local 455, Denver
May 1, 2008: UPS announced its profit rose 7.5 percent in the first quarter, though it was affected by the weakening U.S. economy. After-tax profits rose to $906 million, or 87 cents a share, for the January-March quarter, compared to $843 million, or 78 cents a share, for the same period last year.
Revenue in the quarter rose 6.5 percent to $12.68 billion, compared to $11.91 billion last year. UPS said it benefited from strong gains in its international operations. But UPS said it doesn’t expect the U.S. economy to strengthen in the second quarter.
During the first quarter, UPS delivered total consolidated volume of 968 million packages, unchanged from a year ago. UPS said the slowing U.S. economy reduced average daily volume in the U.S. by 0.3 percent for the quarter. It saw volume declines in next-day air shipments.
May 1, 2008: Local 804 has a proud history as one of the most powerful locals in our union. Local 804 members were pioneers in the fight for strong Teamster pensions—winning 25 & Out pensions before the rest of the country. The Local 804 supplement is one of the strongest at UPS.
“Brown can’t move a package in New York City without a Local 804 Teamster. That gives us power, and our local used to use it to win top contracts and pensions,” says Tim Sylvester, a 29-year Teamster and Local 804 shop steward in Queens.
“Local 804 members used to feel that power,” Sylvester said. “We want to bring the pride and the power back.”
Local 804 has faced a series of setbacks since the historic UPS strike.
The local’s legendary president Ron Carey, the first democratically-elected General President of the Teamsters, stepped down shortly after the strike after an illegal fundraising scheme by his campaign aides was revealed. Carey was later barred from the union even though he was found not guilty in court of any role in the scandal.
After Carey’s removal, Local 804 officers threw their allegiance behind Hoffa and have gone along with his closed-door bargaining style.
“That was a big blow,” said Pete Mastrandrea, a feeder driver and 33-year Teamster. “Local 804 had always been about standing up. But our Executive Board started to take the path of least resistance.”
Pension Cuts, Concessions
“We went from a local where information was power to members basically being kept in the dark,” said Jim Reynolds, an alternate steward.
In November 2006, members were completely blindsided when the Local 804 Pension Fund announced a 30 percent cut in pension accruals. One year later, Local 804 officials negotiated a concessionary contract with UPS.
“That’s when it really hit the fan,” Reynolds said. He and other Teamsters started holding meetings of concerned members from across the local. They launched a Vote No campaign and helped defeat the contract by a three to one vote.
Local 804 negotiators and UPS were forced to return to the bargaining table. UPS agreed to reverse the 2006 pension cuts, and took other concessions off the table, including its demand to eliminate 25 & Out pensions for new Teamsters.
After the contract vote, leaders of the Vote No campaign got together to propose positive changes.
“We wanted to get to the root of the problem, one of which is the lack of information members were getting from our union,” Reynolds said.
Volunteers circulated petitions to change the Local 804 bylaws to require officers to keep members informed during bargaining and to report on the pension and welfare funds at every membership meeting. Two thousand members signed each petition.
Last month, the bylaw changes were approved by more than 90 percent. Even Local 804 president Howard Redmond endorsed the proposals.
“After such an overwhelming number of members signed, the changes were pretty impossible to oppose,” said Mark Cohen, a package car driver from Brooklyn.
“There’s a lot of frustration. Not everybody is ready to take the next step and get involved. But more and more people are saying things have got to change,” said Cohen.
“The good thing about the petition was that members got over the fear of putting their name on something, the fear that if you speak out then somehow you’re going against the union. We’re behind our union and we want to make it better.”
Local 804 members once enjoyed the best pensions at UPS. But not anymore. Many UPS Teamsters now have superior pensions, especially for 30 & Out. Most UPSers will see their pension accrual climb over the life of this contract. The 804 pension accrual is frozen at the 2002 level of $144 a year.
Members are using their rights under the Pension Protection Act to request information from the pension plan to look at why the fund developed funding problems and investigate what can be done to improve benefits in the future.
“The last couple of years have been a real wake-up call as far as our pension is concerned,” said Bill Reynolds, a package car driver on Long Island and one of the members who has pressed the fund to release the documents.
“I was told by an Executive Board member that I could sleep sound at night knowing that my pension is safe—and one month later the fund announced a pension cut,” Reynolds said. “Members are realizing we have to be better informed and more vigilant about protecting our benefits.”
Other Teamster pension funds have complied with these information requests—but the Local 804 fund has refused to turn over the documents. Members are now working with TDU pension attorney Ann Curry Thompson to get the information they are entitled to.
Local 804 members are also working together on the shop floor—where strong unionism starts.
“Management is always pushing people to work faster. I don’t like the intimidation tactics or the harassment,” said Rob Glovitz, an inside worker and steward.
“We want things to be done right—to stop supervisors from working as much as possible, to eliminate favoritism, to make people feel comfortable that they can come to work without being harassed,” said Glovitz.
“The union is about more than the union hall. We’re the union—the ones who move the packages. If we want to make things better, it’s up to us.”
Restoring the Power
“We all have a responsibility to leave our union stronger than it was when we got here. That’s what Local 804 Members United is all about,” says Tim Sylvester.
“This board takes the position that if you speak out, you’re trying to divide the union. It’s totally the opposite,” Mastrandrea says. “When members voice their opinion, it strengthens the union because we’re setting our course together. What the membership is saying now is we want to see our local stand up and take action on the problems we face.”
“You hear so many stories about how it used to be, how the company used to fear our local. I don’t see that anymore,” said Mark Cohen. “No one wants a fight at work everyday—but we do want respect. We’ve got to work together and act like a union in the center. That’s where it all starts.”
“It’s up to all of us to take the next step, to hand out information, come to a meeting, to get involved.”
May 1, 2008: Nearly 8,600 working and furloughed mechanics and related employees at United Airlines are now Teamsters, after voting to join our union in March.
Teamsters for a Democratic Union welcomes our new brothers and sisters to our union.
United mechanics have had it rough since 9/11. Since then, United declared bankruptcy, terminated their pension plan, and subcontracted many of their jobs.
Now the turbulence may get worse.
On Dec. 31, 2009, the contract with United Mechanics will become amendable. With rising fuel costs and the company posting profit losses, management is expected to merge with another carrier or spin off its assets.
One of the biggest issues will be outsourcing.
Audits of the company have shown that they are exceeding the amount of outsourcing allowed under the contract—United outsourced 45 percent of its maintenance operations in 2006.
The International Union promised support for United mechanics in their fight against outsourcing.
Reports from mechanics in San Francisco, the largest maintenance base for United, say that our new members there may be split into two locals.
Teamsters with last names starting with A-Led will go into San Bruno local 856. Teamsters with last names Lee-Z will go into Los Angeles Local 986—over 350 miles away!
Hopefully this situation will be corrected and our power won’t be divided. This would weaken our solidarity, our power, and dilute our ability to hold our local officers accountable.
TDU looks forward to working with the new Teamsters at United to win a strong contract and hold the line against more concessions.
May 1, 2008: James P. Hoffa took a $78,000 increase in his income for 2007, by far his biggest raise since he took office nine years ago. His salary, expenses, and “allowance” and “other disbursements” for 2007 total $413,234. General Secretary Treasurer Tom Keegel bagged a big increase also.
Although Hoffa’s and Keegel’s salaries are set by the Teamster Constitution, and go up each year on a generous cost of living formula, they are apparently dodging the limit set in the constitution by taking incredibly high “other disbursements.”
This information comes from the International Union’s LM-2 financial report filed in April with the U.S. Department of Labor.
Top Officers Bag an Extra Million
Each year the Teamster Rank and File Education and Legal Defense Foundation examines hundreds of LM-2 forms filed by Teamster affiliates, to make information and analysis available to members. That report is expected to be available late this summer.
Here are a few quick facts concerning the finances of just our International Union:
- Hoffa’s “other disbursements” jumped from $35,000 to $66,000 in just one year. Most of this is a “housing allowance,” a new invention of General President Hoffa. His predecessor, Ron Carey, paid for his own apartment out of his salary, just as other union presidents do. Hoffa also paid himself an “allowance,” and his “expenses” went from about $27,000 to over $65,000. His base salary went from $268,000 to nearly $278,000; that was all he was permitted to raise it.
- The total paid in salaries, allowances, expenses and “other disbursements” to the 29 members of the General Executive Board members went up almost a million dollars in one year, the biggest increase ever.
- The International Union borrowed $10 million from Wachovia Bank for the second year in a row, and at the end of 2007 had not paid anything on the loans. The interest payments currently are at the rate of over $1 million per year.
- The income of the International Union was $185 million, including the $10 million loan.
- The International Union’s assets grew from $99 million to $117 million. The union held $51.7 million in treasury notes, $32.7 million in corporate stocks, and $17.6 million in corporate bonds.
- Strike benefits paid were just $2.5 million, down from $7.2 million in 2006.
May 1, 2008: When an employee at Kraft Foods repeatedly directed the epithet “coon” at Willie Knox, the Local 445 Teamster knew he had to stand up for his rights.
A poster at the company urges employees to call an “Integrity Hotline” to report issues of harassment or discrimination. Knox called the number. He had no way of knowing that call would lead to his termination.
But six weeks after he blew the whistle on racial harassment, Kraft fired Knox and accused him of violating the company’s policy on harassment.
The Teamster trailer driver continues to stand up for his rights. With the help of Local 445, Knox is fighting his termination in arbitration. He has also filed a complaint with the New York State Human Rights Commission.
Slurs, Threats, Termination
When Knox called the Integrity Hotline, he expected his complaint to be investigated and dealt with. “I didn’t want anyone to get into trouble. I just wanted the harassment to stop,” Knox said.
Instead, the problems at Kraft got worse—escalating from verbal harassment to threats.
On February 4, an angry Kraft employee confronted Knox and threatened him for making the complaint. “He went off on me and told me I better ‘watch my f***ing back’ as long as I worked at Kraft,” said Knox.
To make matters worse, the employee who made the threats, Mark Mohammed, had previously brought a knife to the workplace. Knox reported the threat to management. But Kraft manager Pat Sherman just laughed, Knox says.
“After that, I tried to defuse the situation myself by telling Mohammed I had no problem with him or anyone else. I asked him to ride over with me to Penske’s so I could drop my truck off there,” Knox said.
Mohammed refused, telling Knox, “I don’t do favors for Black people because I’m prejudiced.”
“Since You Like To Report Things…”
Later that day, Mohammed confronted Knox for a third time while he was in an office filling out some paperwork. Sherman entered the room and Knox again pleaded with the manager to put a stop to the harassment. Again, Sherman said nothing.
“You ain’t the only one that knows how to use a weapon,” a frustrated Knox told Mohammed.
The Kraft manager, who had repeatedly turned a deaf ear when the issue was racial discrimination and threats, suddenly developed a keen interest in the company’s zero tolerance policy on harassment—when he could use the rules to go after Knox.
Sherman hauled Knox into the office. He told the Teamster, “Since you like to report things, I’m going to have to report this.” On February 6, Kraft terminated Knox for violating the company’s harassment policy.
To this day, no one from Kraft has ever spoken to Knox to investigate his allegations of racial harassment.
The Issue Is Respect
When Knox called the “Integrity Hotline,” they told him that his file read: “The case is resolved. Employee no longer works at Kraft.”
A background check on the “Integrity Hotline” reveals that it is not a Kraft entity at all. The hotline is a third-party service run by Global Compliance—a spinoff from the notorious Pinkerton agency.
For Knox, the case is far from “resolved.” He filed a grievance for termination without just cause, which is headed to arbitration. Local 445 helped Knox find work at another union employer.
After several weeks, Kraft offered Knox his job back with no backpay on the condition that he drop his discrimination complaint with the New York State Human Rights Commission. Knox refused.
“Don’t tell me I have to surrender my civil rights to work at Kraft,” Knox said. “I’m willing to drop my case if Kraft will step up to the plate and do the right thing. Or I’ll return to work without back pay and we can let the Human Rights Commission decide.
“The bottom line is I work hard and do my job right. All I’m asking in return is that I be treated with respect,” Knox said.
May 21, 2008: School bus drivers in New York City are showing that persistence pays off—literally. Ask Juan Carlos Rodriguez, a Local 854 Teamster and member of Teamsters for a Democratic Union.
The National Labor Relations Board is demanding that Consolidated Bus Transit reinstate Rodriguez and pay him nearly $150,000 in back pay and benefits after illegally firing him.
When his rights were violated, TDU helped Rodriguez and other Local 854 Teamsters to take legal action—appealing their case all the way up to the National Labor Relations Board in Washington.
The Board overturned on appeal an earlier ruling by an NLRB administrative law judge. The Board also ruled that Local 854 President Daniel Gatto violently threatened TDU member and shop steward Jona Fleurimont.
Local 854 has now complied with the Board decision and promised to respect workers’ rights. But the company continues to dig in its heels. The case is now in the U.S. Court of Appeals.
“TDU has made it possible to stand up for our rights and defend ourselves,” Rodriguez said. “We never would have been able to come this far without having an organization behind us.”
Last month, CBT offered Rodriguez $60,000 and his job back to settle the case. Rodriguez turned down the offer.
“The company’s offer wasn’t serious. They’re making a mistake if they think they’re going to throw me a bone and have me chase it like a dog,” Rodriguez said. “It’s time for the company to show some respect for the law and for their workforce.”
May 1, 2008: Last year it looked like Teamster members on the Brooklyn waterfront would lose their jobs. The mayor of New York had big plans to replace the Brooklyn port terminal with a luxury development.
Now members of Teamsters Local 805 have won their fight to save good union jobs on the waterfront.
Local 805 represents warehouse workers at the Brooklyn cargo port, which handles shipments of lumber, steel, and cocoa bound for New York City and Long Island. The International Longshoremen’s Association also represents hundreds of stevedores who will keep their jobs too.
For the last two years, city officials have been trying to tear down the port and replace it with a cruise ship terminal, a hotel, a beer garden, and luxury housing.
But Local 805 joined with elected officials and members of the Brooklyn community and mounted a grassroots campaign to protect good union jobs with benefits.
In April, the city reversed course and agreed to a deal that will keep the port running for at least ten years.
“There are hundreds of workers who can celebrate today because their jobs are safe at the Brooklyn port,” said Sandy Pope, President of Local 805. “These well-paying blue-collar jobs are exactly the kind we need for the working families of this city.”
May 12, 2008: Those of us who work in transportation don’t have to be the victim of the downward spiral of wages and working conditions that is hitting so many of our union brothers and sisters.
Many businesses are adopting “just-in-time” delivery. The idea is to cut down on inventory and get the goods to where they’re going right when they’re needed—be it raw materials or a finished product going to the store.
Employers are using automation in warehouses and transportation to cut down on jobs. But those of us left standing in the transportation industry are in the catbird’s seat. We’re more critical to the smooth flow of goods across the globe than ever before.
Keep in mind that the transportation sector includes all the support groups from clerks to mechanics to waste haulers.
A Fragile System
It’s no accident that the term “fragile” is always used when talking about just-in-time delivery. One delay can lead to many more delays.
That gives us power.
There is a major shortage of truck drivers in this country. The spiraling cost of fuel is driving a lot of independents under, and the big trucking companies will emerge dominant. The degradation of master freight agreements can be halted and reversed. Union organizers must aggressively exploit this upheaval in the trucking industry.
In rail, we’re in the middle of a five-year cycle during which 50 percent of our entire workforce will reach retirement age. The carriers can’t keep up with new hires—and it seems that the younger generation actually expects to have a life outside the railroad.
Higher fuel rates are fueling higher rail traffic. The Federal Railroad Administration is on the verge of imposing mandatory off days. And customers are demanding scheduled service. This is the perfect storm for major wage and benefit gains!
Sure, we’re in an economic downturn and most Teamsters are not feeling our power right now.
But this is actually a time for optimism for workers in the transportation sector. We are not lucky to have a job—the employers are lucky to have the few of us who are able to meet the demands in this sector. Let’s take our rightful place as the backbone of organized blue-collar labor in the 21st century.
by Hugh Sawyer
BLET Div. 316
May 1, 2008: John Coli, the president of the Chicago Joint Council, has finally gotten his wish: Chicago Trade Show and Movie Teamsters will transfer to his own Local 727. It’s a lucrative prize.
The trade show Teamsters have always been in Local 714, which is run by the Hogan family, who also own equipment and companies operating within the trade show industry.
Coli made the announcement of the switch at an April 29 meeting of affected members. He said the switch was to dodge a recommendation of the Independent Review Board (IRB) to trustee Local 714, where Bobby Hogan was recently ousted from the union.
Coli warmly praised Bobby Hogan. He also stated that the International Union has given its blessing for the switch.
Coli told members that their contracts, health care, and stewards would remain the same, that he would be their business rep, and that they would have the right to vote on their contract, which expires at the end of this year.
The trade and movie show division has long been a breeding ground for payoffs, nepotism and sweetheart deals. The principal officers or International officials in numerous locals have been expelled from the Teamsters over corruption in this division, including in Dallas, Miami, Orlando, Chicago, Tampa, and Las Vegas.