April 10, 2009: New Jersey Local 177 bargained groundbreaking contract language on supervisors working in the new contract.
Now that language is being put to the test.
Representing more than 8,000 Teamsters in New Jersey, Local 177 is one of the largest and most powerful UPS locals in the Eastern Region.
Local 177 is one of a handful of large locals with its own supplement to the UPS national contract. In the last bargaining round, the local used its clout to negotiate new supplemental language that imposes stiffer penalties for supervisors working than the national contract.
Now the local is headed to arbitration on cases that will put this language to the test.
Under the Local 177 Supplement, UPS has to pay two times the hourly rate for the actual time worked by the supervisor. This is the same language as the national contract.
But the Local 177 Supplement imposes stiffer penalties on subsequent violations. The second time the same supervisor is caught doing bargaining unit work, the contract imposes a penalty of double-time pay for a minimum of two-hours—or the actual hours worked, whichever is greater.
The third time that the same supervisor is caught working, the minimum double-time pay penalty is increased to four hours at double time—or the actual hours worked, whichever is greater.
Local 177 stewards, members and business agents have worked together for months to document supervisors working violations. Business agents even have photos of repeat violators—which will make it pretty difficult for the company to deny the violations.
To protect members from discipline, only local union staff photograph violations.
The local has a number of arbitrations coming up, each one targeting multiple violations by individual supervisors. Focusing on individual supervisors will enable the local to use the 2-hour and 4-hour minimum double-time penalties negotiated in the supplement.
The first arbitration is scheduled for April 24.
April 10, 2009: Drivers and our families are being hurt by the new Opt-In/Opt-Out guidelines agreed to by the Hoffa administration. The new system has led to more intimidation, more excessive overtime and more layoffs. It’s wrong.
In my building, intimidation is a major factor in keeping drivers off the 9.5 Excessive Overtime list. Drivers have been told they will be subject to extra reports and will basically have a camera in their face if they go on the list.
This causes many drivers who don’t want the excessive overtime to just suck it up. They don’t want to sit down with the center manager to get on the 9.5 list.
This isn’t the way it was supposed to work. The contract we voted on stated that we sign a list twice a year to opt in or out of excessive overtime.
Safety in Numbers
There is safety in numbers, especially when an aggressive center manager is involved. A group list is the union way to go, not forcing drivers to sit down with their center manager. What the hell was our International Union thinking when they agreed to that?
With the economy down, I think the union caters to management even more than usual. Management cuts jobs and sends the rest of the workforce out with a 10 or 11 hour day and our union’s response is to weaken excessive overtime protections instead of strengthening them.
If the excessive overtime list was more user-friendly, drivers who want more time with our families could be protected from unwanted excessive overtime. And more Teamsters could be working instead of being laid off.
That’s the kind of pro-Teamster solution our union should be fighting for.
By Aaron Nightingale, Local 150 Package Car Driver, Sacramento.
April 10, 2009: Good full-time jobs are at a premium in this economy.
Enforcing Article 22.3 would make UPS create thousands more full-time jobs.
So why isn’t the International Union doing it?
In 1997, UPS Teamsters went on strike to tell the company, “Part-Time American Won’t Work.” Today, UPS Teamsters are teaming up in a national petition drive to make UPS create the full-time jobs we’re owed under the contract.
The 1997 strike forced UPS to combine 40,000 part-time jobs into 20,000 full-time “combo” positions by August 1, 2008.
Article 22.3 of the contract requires the company to maintain the 20,000 full-time combo jobs no matter what. Declining volume does not allow UPS to lay off combo Teamsters or to eliminate these full-time positions through vacancies and attrition. But UPS is doing just that.
The International Union has left it up to individual members and local unions to file grievances. Management is deadlocking these grievances and eliminating more full-time jobs.
The International Union has the power to put a stop to this by filing one national grievance and demanding that UPS fill all 20,000 full-time combo positions immediately. The result would be an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 more full-time jobs for Teamsters who need them.
National Petition Drive
Members have launched a national petition drive that calls on the International Union to file a national grievance and to conduct a national audit to document full-time job elimination.
The contract requires UPS to give the International Union a detailed list of the 20,000 combo jobs the company is maintaining under Article 22.3. The International Union should give every local union a copy of this list to document the status of each of these jobs.
That way the International Union can present indisputable evidence to win the national grievance and force full-time job creation.
The next national grievance panel is June 8-11 in Philadelphia. The International Union has plenty of time before then to put a national grievance on the docket and complete a national audit.
Good full-time jobs are at a premium in this economy. Our union is in the unique position of having contract language at UPS that legally requires the company to create more full-time positions. Enforcing this language is a no-brainer. It’s time for the International Union to act.
Do you have question or a comment about the petition drive? Would you like to set up a meeting or conference call in your area with other UPS Teamsters? Click here to send us a message and we will get back to you.
Click here to download the petition and an informational leaflet to pass out to other Teamsters.
“Part-timers deserve a chance at a full-time job and a real career. There’s no excuse for not enforcing the contract and making UPS create all 20,000 full-time combo positions.”
Landy Butler, UPS Local 804 Shop Steward, New York
Hope for Our Future
“The company has eliminated some full-time combo jobs by not filling vacant positions. Now management is talking about layoffs. I’m worried about the future. The petition drive and the information from TDU gives me hope that we can enforce the contract and win full-time jobs.”Freddy Avila, UPS Local 952, Aliso Viejo, Calif.
April 16, 2009: UPS’s attack on full-time combo jobs has moved to Chicago. Local 705 Teamsters are fighting back to protect the jobs we won in the 1997 strike.
UPS has laid off 13 full-time combo Teamsters in Chicago Local 705 and eliminated more than 20 other full-time combo jobs by not filling vacant positions.
The layoffs and job eliminations directly violate Local 705’s contract, which requires UPS to maintain 1,100 full-time combo jobs in Local 705’s jurisdiction. Local 705 negotiates its own contract covering 10,000 UPS Teamsters—which is separate and independent from the national agreement.
The 1,100 combo jobs that UPS has to maintain in Chicago are over and above the 20,000 full-time combo jobs that UPS has to maintain under Article 22.3 of the national agreement.
Local 705 has filed grievances and is demanding that the company immediately fill 1,100 full-time combo positions with full backpay for members who have been denied full-time work in violation of the contract.
To back up the grievances, Local 705 is conducting a local-wide audit to track the status of each and every one of the 1,100 combo jobs required by the contract. As we go to press, management has signed off on grievances and begun to put vacant 22.3 jobs up for bid.
April 10, 2009: We believe we can, even in these difficult times.
But carhaulers need a national plan and national leadership.
It may not be realistic to shut the door on all concessions because of the situation that we, and the companies, find ourselves in. If concessions are given, there needs to be a plan to survive the present and build union strength for the future. Part of any concessions should be a plan to protect union jobs, and a plan for a snap-back provision when the economic situation improves.
Instead we have Hoffa and other IBT leaders taking raises for themselves while they sit back and let companies break up our national contracts and destroy our jobs.
There has never been a time when a national plan of action from our union leadership has been so important. Tough times call for tough leadership.
Giving concessions on a terminal-by-terminal basis, with Teamster pitted against Teamster, while the union leadership hides in Washington—that is the opposite of leadership. That is the failure of the Hoffa administration.
April 10, 2009: The Local 804 Health Fund has lost another $1.9 million in assets, according to documents obtained by 804 Members United.
The Local 804 Health Fund has lost nearly $20 million over a five-year period. Its assets have dropped from $32.2 million in 2003 to just $12.5 million on May 31, 2008—the most recent figures available from the Fund.
The good news is that the Fund’s losses have started to level off. The Fund lost less than $2 million in the 2007 plan year, compared to losses of $4.5 and $6.8 million the previous two years.
In the fall of 2007, Local 804 officials voted with UPS to hike members’ co-pays. It remains to be seen whether those cuts and the contributions negotiated in the current contract will be enough to restore the Local 804 Health Fund to fiscal health.
Some Executive Board members have started blaming the cost of retirees for the Fund’s problems.
What Local 804 officials don’t tell the members is their own role in creating the financial problems at the Fund. The money negotiated in the 2002 “Best Contract Ever” was not enough to pay for members’ health benefits. For years, officials spent down the Fund’s reserves to make up for the shortfall.
With the Fund losing millions of dollars a year, Local 804 officials poured gasoline on the fire by voting with UPS to divert contributions from the Health Fund to the Pension Fund. After the diversion, the Fund’s assets nosedived—dropping a whopping $11.3 million in two years.
The Local 804 Executive Board never told members a word—about the losses or the diversion of funds.
“At both the Pension and Health Funds, the Executive Board kept the membership in the dark until the problems were out of control,” said shop steward Tim Sylvester. “Now they point fingers and pass the buck. That’s damage control, not leadership. And a lot of members have had enough.”
April 10, 2009: More than 50 Local 804 members turned out for a day-long educational seminar sponsored by 804 Members United.
The conference focused on the problems UPSers are facing at work and what members and our union can do about them.
“This is exactly the kind of thing our local should be doing,” said feeder driver Neil O’Brien. “Sharing information, building unity and making plans to build union power. That’s what it’s all about.”
Local 804 represents over 7,000 UPS Teamsters in New York City, Westchester County, and Long Island. Drivers packed a workshop on Working Safe and Working Smart.
“Management is cracking down on drivers, riding guys. We talked about what drivers can do to protect themselves,” said shop steward Chris Sabatino.
In another workshop, inside employees talked about the epidemic of supervisors working and strategies that other Teamster locals are using to stop the violations and make UPS pay.
Another hot topic was the elimination of the full-time combo jobs—across the country and in Local 804. Members made plans to participate in a national petition drive to make UPS create all 20,000 full-time jobs that the membership is owed under the contract.
Building a Movement For Change
This year is an election year in Local 804. Teamsters at the Education Conference made it clear that the membership is ready for change.
Shop steward Tim Sylvester told the crowd, “804 Members United will be putting forward a leadership team that can lead this local, strengthen representation and unite members to defend our contracts and benefits.
“The slate will answer to a reform platform and will work hand in-hand with a rank-and-file network of members from every building and classification in the local,” Sylvester said.
That network has been building since the members voted down the last contract.
Upholding a Proud Tradition
Local 804 has a proud history of being one of the strongest locals in our union, and the home of Ron Carey, the first democratically-elected Teamster president.
Carey’s son, Dan Carey, addressed the Education Conference and congratulated members on keeping his father’s fighting spirit alive in the local.
Local 804 Members United brought members together to vote down a concessionary UPS contract and save 25-and-out pensions for new employees.
“804 Members United is about more than a slate. We are about building a rank-and-file movement for a stronger union. And we want every member to be a part of it,” said Jim Reynolds.
Doug Corbett, a package steward from 43rd Street, was one of dozens of members who filled out volunteer forms at the Education Conference. “If you want change, you’ve got to get involved,” Corbett said.
For more information visit www.804MembersUnited.org
April 10, 2009: On April 6, former Local 743 President Richard Lopez went on trial for his part in a scheme to steal Local 743 elections and defraud the members of their right to vote.
Former union reps Thaddeus Bania and David Rodriguez also stood trial.
Testifying against them is former Teamster official Robert Walston, who pleaded guilty to his part in the scheme. Walston also pleaded guilty to drug trafficking, which was his side-job while he was president of Local 743.
With help from Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU), Local 743 working Teamsters exposed Walston’s plot. And in October 2007, Richard Berg and the New Leadership Slate swept the criminals out of office for good.
Walston’s 35-page plea agreement reads like an instruction manual on how to try to steal a Teamster election (and get caught). Their actions included: u Examining past election voter records to determine which members were unlikely to vote, as targets for ballot-diversion.
Secretly changing the addresses of members, and utilizing the TITAN database terminal at the local union to divert ballots to friends, relatives, and employers.
Collecting said ballots and then marking them while wearing latex gloves and using multiple pens, then mailing them at various mailboxes and on different days.
Fraudulently obtaining a key to the postal box for undeliverable ballots, and illegally making a copy of the key to steal those ballots and vote them.
Using the pretense of an election protest to stop the ballot count and invalidate the election, while Richard Berg was ahead of Walston in the count.
Calling the election supervisor to give members’ names and social security numbers, but the addresses of cronies, to illegally obtain additional ballots. Despite all those stolen ballots (as detailed in his plea agreement), they could barely beat the rank-and-file challengers in the 2004 election, in which they had to run twice. Working with committed members, TDU has the know-how to defeat election fraud.
Their actions were ratified by Chicago Joint Council 25 and the International, which refused to investigate or overturn the bogus election. Walston, Lopez and his gang were key Hoffa supporters.
According to the guilty plea agreement, Walston will serve about 5 years in prison, and make restitution to Local 743 in an amount determined by the judge. He also agreed to testify against his co-defendants if they choose to go to trial.
The Justice Department contends that the officials embezzled $2.2 million from Local 743, in the form of their illegally-obtained salaries and perks.
Walston’s cocaine trafficking plea implicates another conspirator, Victor Matos, the cousin of one of Walston’s business agents. He was caught in Texas with $135,000 in cash, which Walston intended to use to buy cocaine and transport it back to Chicago.
“For years, members weren’t paying attention, and our officials were getting away with stealing our elections, stealing our dues, and more,” said Gail Isenberg, a working Teamster in Local 743.
“We changed that. We gave members information and got them to pay attention. That’s how we got these crooks out of office.”
April 10, 2009: The LM-2 financial report for the International Union is now available. This report was filed with the U.S. Department of Labor on March 31, and covers the year 2008.
A quick review of the report indicates that:
- The union had a net loss of 22,000 members in 2008.
- Hoffa and other IBT officers received a substantial raise in salary.
- The IBT lost $47 million in assets during 2008. Spending exceeded income, there were losses in investments, and liabilities for officers’ pensions increased.
The Teamster Rank & File Education and Legal Defense Foundation (TRF) will conduct a study of union finances and officers salaries in the coming weeks and months. This will cover the locals and other Teamster affiliates as well as the International Union.
Click here to see the International Union’s 373-page LM-2 report, and for information on how to find out how much your local union spent on salaries and expenses last year.
By the Numbers
- $22,000 Net number of members the IBT lost in 2008
- $23,344 Raise given to Ken Hall, UPS Director, in 2008
- $47 million Assets lost by the IBT in 2008
Laying the Foundation For Change
The upcoming international election is only two years away. It’s none too soon to lay the initial foundation for the campaign.
We need to educate every member with cold, hard facts that the International cannot deny. Getting vital information to the membership—particularly newer, younger members—is very important.
We can put Hoffa and his cronies out to pasture. It will take hard work, long hours, serious fundraising, and other challenges along the way—but just think of what is at stake: a strong union that guarantees our job security and our future.
I had the honor of working in the beginning stages of Ron Carey’s presidential campaign in North Carolina. I am aware that things have changed since 1991, but the need for fair and honest representation, open dialogue with the rank and file, and the pride that goes with the Teamster name has not changed a bit.
Consolidated Freight, Retired
Local 71, Charlotte, N.C.