Winter’s here. Dispatch has the idea that there is no such thing as road conditions too bad to drive. Am I on thin ice if I refuse to drive in dangerous conditions?
— Slipping and Sliding
January 10, 2009: James Hoffa took office ten years ago, promising to Restore Teamster Power.
Instead, we’ve suffered a decade of decline.
How can working Teamsters get our union back on track?
It’s been ten years since James P. Hoffa took the oath of office as Teamster General President. Instead of delivering the Teamster Power he promised, Hoffa has managed our union through a decade of decline.
Hoffa promised “Real 25 & Out Pensions.” He delivered the biggest pension cuts in Teamster history. He gave the worst concessions to UPS in decades even though the company was making more than $4 billion in annual profits.
Our union has been reduced to a shadow of its former self in the freight and carhaul industries. Employers are calling all the shots and dictating whatever concessions they choose.
It would be foolish to blame every problem our union faces on Hoffa. The economic crisis means tough times for all of labor.
But ask yourself this: what kind of leadership do these times demand and what kind of leadership do we have?
The Hoffa administration failed to win strong contracts, protect our pensions, or organize the nonunion competition when times were good.
Do you think they have a plan to protect Teamster members and rebuild our union’s power now?
Our union is on the wrong road. It’s up to Teamster members to take the wheel and change the direction.
Teamsters for a Democratic Union is about uniting members to make that happen. And our movement is growing.
Freight Teamsters are getting involved because they’re concerned about the future of unionized trucking. UPSers, carhaulers, bus drivers, waste workers, and every kind of Teamster that wants to return our union to the members are coming together.
TDU isn’t growing because change is easy. We’re growing because change is needed. If you agree, then get involved.
What do you think we need to do to turn our union around? Click here to send us your ideas and opinions.
Find our more about TDU. Read more about who we are, what we've won, and where we stand.
Become a part of our movement. Click here to join TDU.
January 10, 2009: Under a contract loophole, UPS and the International Union have agreed to new restrictions that will make it harder for drivers to file grievances against excessive overtime.
Our contract is supposed to protect package car drivers from unwanted excessive overtime. But in a memo dated Dec. 18, the International Union announced that it had negotiated new guidelines that will make it tougher for members to file excessive overtime grievances.
Click here to download a copy of the memo.
The new guidelines make it more difficult for members to get on an Opt-In list which gives them the right to file a 9.5 grievance—and some drivers on extended routes will not be allowed to get any relief from excessive overtime.
Article 37 of the contract gives eligible drivers the right to file grievances if the company forces them to work more than 9.5 hours a day on any three days in a work week.
In the last contract, UPS agreed to raise the penalty for 9.5 violations to triple time pay. In exchange, the company insisted that the contract require drivers to sign an Opt-In or Opt-Out list. Only drivers who sign the Opt-In list would be able to file 9.5 grievances.
The company’s goal was to limit the number of drivers who could enforce their protections against excessive overtime. But it didn’t work. Most drivers who were given the choice signed the Opt-In list and protected their right to file grievances.
In many areas, UPS never bothered to post the Opt-In lists. That made all drivers eligible to file 9.5 grievances.
Under the new guidelines agreed to by our union, no driver will be eligible to file a 9.5 grievance until they have signed an Opt-In list. A driver can only add their name to the Opt-In list after they have worked three days over 9.5 hours in a workweek. Then they can go to the Center Manager’s office and request to be added to the Opt-In list. The list will not be posted. It will be kept in the Center Manager’s office.
Once a driver signs the Opt-In list, they must stay on the list for five months. After that the driver will be removed from the list. The driver will have to work more than 9.5 hours on three days in a work week again before they can sign an Opt-In list gain.
Until now, drivers in the Central Region have used Article 12 of the Central Region Supplement, which makes no mention of Opt-In / Opt-Out lists. As we go to press, there is no definitive word on whether members will continue to be able to file under the supplement without qualifying under the new 9.5 guidelines.
The new guidelines also contain a loophole that allows the company to keep drivers on extended routes from grieving excessive overtime. Under the rule, drivers on extended routes are entitled to relief from excessive overtime “provided the company can reasonably dispatch work to other drivers.”
UPS has been insisting that drivers on high mileage routes cannot file 9.5 grievances. You can bet they will use this vague language to their advantage.
Many members are asking how the 9.5 rules could be changed in the middle of the contract.
A loophole inserted in the new contract created a 9.5 Committee and gave it the power to “adopt guidelines” over the implementation of the 9.5 language. (See Article 37, Section 1(c).) The new guidelines were agreed to by our Union Representatives on the 9.5 Committee.
“When the rank and file voted to approve this contract, the membership gave union leaders (who do not have to work under this language) and the company the right to ‘adopt guidelines’ concerning 9.5, without insisting on the right to vote on any new changes,” said Nichele Fulmore, a shop steward in North Carolina Local 391.
“The devil’s in the details in these contracts and as the rank and file we have got to pay more attention to these details,” Fulmore said.
Enforcing Our Rights
In practice, many drivers do not file 9.5 grievances. Some want all the overtime they can get. But others fear they will lose all their overtime or face production harassment if they file a grievance.
Interviews with drivers and stewards across the country show that results vary widely. In some areas, members consistently win 9.5 grievances and have gotten overtime relief as a result. In others, very few grievances are ever filed.
Local 278 Vice President Jerry Gibson says the key is talking the issue up among drivers and relentlessly grieving violations so management cannot single out members who enforce the contract.
“Virtually all the package car drivers in Local 278 signed the Opt-In lists. We file hundreds of 9.5 grievances. Now they’re changing the rules to try to make it harder for people to fight excessive overtime, but it’s not going to stop us from enforcing our rights,” said Gibson.
“The real solution is for UPS to create more driving jobs. Until that happens, we’re going to keep filing grievances and make the company pay the triple time penalty for 9.5 violations.”
Click here to download a copy of the memo on the new excessive overtime rules.
What's the situation with excessive overtime in your building? Click here to send a confidential report to Teamsters for a Democratic Union.
A Wake-Up Call
Brothers and sisters it is time to wake up. When the rank and file voted to approve this contract, the membership gave union leaders (who do not have to work under this language) and the company the right to “adopt guidelines” concerning 9.5, without insisting on the right to vote on any new changes.
The devil’s in the details in these contracts and as the rank and file we have got to pay more attention to these details.
Nichele Fulmore, Shop Steward
Local 391, North Carolina
January 10, 2009: UPS will shut down the night sort operations at Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) in February—a move that could eliminate 70 or more full-time Article 22.3 jobs. The midnight sort at the Columbia, S.C., air hub will be shut down around the same time. UPS previously eliminated more than 30 Article 22.3 jobs in Seattle at Boeing Field.
The contract requires UPS to maintain a minimum of 20,000 Article 22.3 full-time jobs nationwide at all times. The company is thousands of jobs short of the required number because positions were never created or have been allowed to go vacant.
No Article 22.3 Teamsters should be laid off unless the company is meeting its obligation to maintain 20,000 full-time combo jobs.
Members have filed grievances demanding that UPS create all 20,000 jobs and pay full backpay to Teamsters who have been laid off or unfairly denied the opportunity to go full-time because of the company’s nationwide violations of Article 22.3.
The next National Grievance panel will be held Feb. 2-5 in Ft. Lauderdale.
Is UPS eliminating 22.3 jobs in your area? Click here to send a confidential report to the TDU UPS Committee.
January 10, 2009: YRCW Teamsters have spoken and the 10 percent wage cut is now a fact. Its impact will be felt in ways beyond the loss of income for 40,000 Teamsters.
More TDU Freight Coverage• Freight Teamsters Coming Together to Make a Difference
ABF is waiting in the wings. Management is bombarding ABF Teamsters with the need for a “level playing field” with YRC. They don’t want the same deal as YRC, but they do want comparable concessions. And they continue to make noise that they want out of the Teamster pension funds, which should be completely off the table from consideration.
Some groups of YRC Teamsters rejected the concessions. Several one-terminal contracts covering small groups of mechanics or office Teamsters voted No. Because they are separate white paper contracts, YRC should not be able to impose the concessions on those groups unless the union revotes those contracts (vote till you get it right).
Special thanks to those rank-and-file Teamsters from Philadelphia Local 107 and Baltimore Local 355 who served as independent rank-and-file observers at the January 6-8 vote count, pursuant to a lawsuit won by members of Teamsters for a Democratic Union.
Freight Teamsters talk about what they are doing to make a difference in our union.
We Need a Union Plan That's Different Than Management's
We look at the Yellow Roadway merger and we wonder what’s next for Holland. Yellow buying Roadway and Holland has done nothing but make a mess of things for working Teamsters. There’s a lot of anger and frustration.
That ten percent cut better mean more than lining the pockets of upper management. We’re all for the companies surviving but we need a union plan that’s different from management’s.
Real payback could start with winning our grievances at the panels and enforcing the contract for the membership, not always for the companies.
Jon Lustig, USF Holland
Local 364, South Bend, Ind.
Hold ABF to a High Standard
ABF was making noise about getting in on the 10 percent wage cut. They didn’t push it but I’m sure they’re looking for ways to get what Yellow got.
They need to open their books and show us they’re losing lots of money if they want any changes. We know ABF’s in pretty good shape and hard working Teamsters are a big part of that success.
Let’s hold the company to the high standards they expect from us.
Marion Gresham, ABF
Local 728, Atlanta
A lot of guys left here in Winston-Salem have all transferred here through previous changes. Once again, we find ourselves having to possibly uproot our lives and families to “follow the freight” for some type of job security.
The mood is somber, and morale is low, as each of us weighs our options, and looks to an uncertain future. But we are not giving up on our union or fellow members. We need a strong union now more than ever. I’m working with other members here to organize a TDU meeting and get our union back on track.
Gary D. Carota, Roadway
Local 391, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Observing the Vote Count
I would like to thank TDU for asking me to serve as an observer at the wage concession ballot count. When you attend one of these events, you can clearly see why it is imperative that Teamster members beyond IBT insiders bear witness to the process, be it an election, contract ratification, or concession vote.
Despite the results, it was an honor to sacrifice our time and money to represent the rank and file. I speak not only for myself, but for my fellow observers as well (Ed Brogan, Jim Price and Mike Ward from Local 107, Philadelphia and David Russell from Local 355, Baltimore).
This union is in free fall and only volunteerism will help buffet us from what seems to be an inevitable crash. I encourage all my brothers and sisters to get involved and not blindly follow.
Ed Taylor, USF Holland
Local 107, Philadelphia
I'm Proud to Be a Teamster
I’m proud to be a Teamster, and proud of all the Teamsters at UPS Freight who made it happen.
Before this year, management was judge, jury, and executioner. Now that’s changed. When UPS Freight tried to take away our holiday pay for Christmas, we took action through our union and got our pay. There’s nothing like working under a union contract and getting everything in writing.
It’s important that we have an organization like Teamsters for a Democratic Union, to make sure things are done fairly in our union, and to give members a voice when we need to speak up. That’s why I joined TDU.
Darrold Heyward, UPS Freight
Local 509, Charleston, S.C.
Get Involved. Make a Difference
Can you help us move our union in a new direction? Here’s how you can help:
Join TDU. TDU provides Freight Teamsters with information you don’t get anywhere else and we unite members to work together for positive change in our union. Click here to join.
Keep Members Informed. Do you want to start getting Convoy Dispatch and other freight materials to distribute to your co-workers? Click here to order Convoy.
Meet Concerned Freight Teamsters. The TDU Freight Committee is holding meetings across the country to bring together freight Teamsters to talk about what we can do to start to turn our union and our industry around. Interested? Contact TDU for what’s happening in your area.
January 20, 2009: Workers who try to join our union get threatened and sometimes even fired by employers who want to stay union-free.
|In December, workers at the Smithfield meat plant in North Carolina voted to unionize after a 16-year long campaign. The Employee Free Choice Act would enable more such victories.
Click here to sign a petition supporting EFCA.
Share your thoughts on EFCA with TDU.
In December, workers at the Smithfield meat plant in North Carolina voted to unionize after a 16-year long campaign.A proposed law called the Employee Free Choice Act would make it easier for workers to join a union—and make employers pay when they break the law.
The Employee Free Choice Act would give workers the right to join a union after a majority of them sign cards saying they want representation. Employers who retaliate against pro-union workers and delay bargaining a first contract would face harsher penalties.
The proposed law has the support of Barack Obama and a majority of new Senators and Congressmen.
What the Law Will Do
Right now, workers who want to organize a union have to go through a lengthy election procedure where employers are free to spread lies about unions, intimidate pro-union workers, and delay the process.
A study by Cornell University researcher Kate Bronfenbrenner found that when workers try to organize, 25 percent of employers fire at least one pro-union worker and 51 percent of employers threaten to close down the worksite.
Even after workers vote to join a union, many employers try to keep workers from gaining a first contract by bargaining to impasse—32 percent of new bargaining units fail to get a first contract within a year of voting for the union.
The new law would strengthen protections for workers trying to organize. Here’s how:
- Workers fired for organizing will get triple back pay, and employers could have to pay up to $20,000 per incident when they break the law.
- The boss must recognize the union after a majority of workers sign cards.
- If the company tries to prevent workers from getting a first contract, the union can send the contract to an impartial arbitrator after one year.
Reversing Union Decline
U.S. unions have been shrinking. In 1980, 23 percent of workers were in unions. Now that number is down to just 12.1 percent.
The Teamsters Union is in a strong position to grow. Our core industries of trucking and warehousing can’t be sent overseas.
Our union has already used card-check neutrality agreements—deals similar to the proposed new law—to bring new members into our union at UPS Freight, First Student school bus drivers, and wastehaulers in Minneapolis. This past year 40,000 new workers joined the Teamsters.
But those companies are the exception, not the rule. “I’ve seen bosses use every dirty trick to try to keep the Teamsters out,” said Enrique Martinez, a union representative with Local 805 in New York, who has participated in several organizing drives.
“They tell workers the shop is going to close down. And they fire the most pro-union workers to scare the rest.”
The new law could make it easier for the Teamsters Union to target the nonunion competition in our core industries—companies like FedEx Freight and Con-way. We need a union plan to make that happen.
“We need to make employers pay when they break the law,” Martinez said. “But even with the new law, organizing won’t be easy. You have to train new members about how the union works and why they’ve got to participate. When members are educated and united, they can fight for contracts that match our Teamster standards.”
One Million Strong
Corporate America has already launched a campaign to stop the new law.
Unions and community groups have launched a national campaign to send one million signatures to the new Congress and President in support of the Employee Free Choice Act.
Our union has joined the effort. You can too.
Click here to sign the petition and find out how you can support the new law and help our union rebuild Teamster Power.
January 10, 2009: Local 848 Secretary-Treasurer Jim Santangelo is pushing to absorb Local 896, the California brewery and soft drink local.
But Local 896 members are fighting to keep their local proud and independent.
Local 896 Secretary-Treasurer Rene Medrano supports the merger, and he says the local will be stronger as a part of Local 848.
But members are skeptical. In 2003 and 2005, the two locals bargained together for contracts with Pepsi and Coke. In both contracts, Local 848 settled short for a weaker contract than Local 896 won.
“Local 896 has a long history of winning good contracts,” said Bill Booth, a retired member of Local 896.
“Why should we merge with a local that doesn’t have the same tradition of winning strong contracts in the brewing and bottling industries?” Booth is the former chief brewing steward at the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Los Angeles.
Supporters of the merger say that without the merger, Local 896 will go broke. But that isn’t true.
Local 896 has assets of $4.7 million. Local 848 has twice as many members, but only $5.2 million in assets.
Last year, Santangelo was the seventh highest-paid Teamster official—with three salaries and a total compensation of $309,437.
The highest paid official of Local 896, on the other hand, made total compensation of just $103,626 in 2008.
Local 848 principal officer Jim Santangelo has a history of using intimidation to get his way in Teamster politics.
During the 2006 campaign for Teamster general president, Santangelo told one member who didn’t support him: “You don’t even know what I am going to do to you. I am going to f*** you up.” The Teamster Election Supervisor found that Santangelo used threats of violence to silence his opponents (2006 ESD 392, Dec. 20, 2006).
“I know Jim Santangelo is willing to lie and threaten to get his way—I’ve experienced it firsthand myself,” said Howard Palmer, a Local 848 driver at Vons. “Local 896 members should get to know the real Jim Santangelo before they give up their local.”
Concerned members have formed the Committee to Save Local 896 to work together to stop the merger.
Members have distributed leaflets debunking myths about the merger and calling for a secret ballot election if the merger goes to a vote.
The Teamster Constitution guarantees members the right to vote on a merger. It’s up to the local to say how that vote will be run.
“I want the best possible outcome for the members,” said Booth.
“This merger is a bad idea. But if it does go to a vote, we need to make sure that it’s a totally secret ballot so that there’s no intimidation and members have confidence in the outcome.”
What do you think? Click here to send your comments to Teamsters for a Democratic Union.
January 16, 2008: James Hoffa sent a memo to all local unions offering their officers the opportunity to get hotel rooms for the Presidential Inauguration, at local union expense. The cost to the local union: $3,201 per room.
Hoffa’s letter states that the union will not be able to provide tickets to the Inaugural or any other events, but they still anticipate a “large demand” from locals for the rooms.
President Obama’s inauguration is an historic occasion in America, and many Teamsters would love to be there. Some are going, at their own expense. But we hope that struggling local unions are not sending many officers on the union tab at this price.
January 10, 2009: Teamsters in Las Vegas and Buffalo have new officers in 2009.
In Las Vegas Local 631, members voted in a slate led by Kevin Hardison and John Phillipenas. The local represents 6,500 Teamsters at UPS and in freight, waste, convention services, and more.
Earlier this year, members in the Las Vegas convention industry blew the whistle on a scheme where the union set up a nonunion hiring hall inside the union hall.
The membership in Buffalo Local 375 voted for change in their recent election. Mike Wach, a city driver out of New Penn, and his entire slate won office. The local represents freight Teamsters, as well as over 400 ambulance drivers and EMTs at Rural/Metro. These Teamsters have been involved in a months-long contract dispute that has gone to a federal mediator.