One of my co-workers was suspended for a customer complaint. Last month, our boss let another employee skate by for the same thing with just a verbal warning, because they like his numbers. What can we do to stop management from playing favorites?
— Never the Teacher’s Pet
July 21, 2009: Fed up with contract givebacks, benefit cuts & empty promises, members are launching a movement to elect new leaders and set a new course for our Teamsters Union.
As we go to press, 50,000 freight Teamsters at Yellow-Roadway Corp. (YRC) are voting on whether to accept the worst concessions in Teamster history.
If accepted, the givebacks will bring wage and benefit concessions at YRC to $11 an hour—and freeze members’ pensions through the end of 2010.
There is a growing sense that our union needs new leadership to rebuild Teamster Power.
That conviction doesn’t end with YRC or the freight industry.
Hundreds of thousands of Teamsters are fed up—including many local officers. The Hoffa camp has never been more discouraged or divided.
But anger alone won’t be enough to get rid of Hoffa. It will take organization.
That’s why TDU is launching 10,000 Teamsters to Dump Hoffa.
The campaign to elect new International Union leaders will begin next summer. We have one year to build the campaign army it will take to win.
It comes down to simple math. It will take just 175,000 votes to win the next IBT election. A campaign army of 10,000 Teamsters can make it happen.
The Hoffa road is at a dead end. It’s time for Teamster members to take the wheel and set a new course for our union.
Click here to check out the Teamster election timeline and what it will take to win the election for top Teamster officers.
Click here to join the campaign army of Teamsters working together to elect new officers at the International Union.
Click here download the Dump Hoffa leaflet.
July 21, 2009: The year was 1976. The Teamster president was Frank Fitzsimmons, who enjoyed golfing with President Nixon and trucking employers. It was a fateful year for reform in our union, as Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) was born.
It was also long before cell phones. Truck drivers had made CB radios part of the national culture, and the song “Convoy” became a #1 hit and by 1978 there was a movie of the same name.
The Teamsters who formed TDU, mostly at that time from the freight industry, called their new reform publication Convoy.
Another strand of Teamster reform was centered in Washington D.C., in the form of an organization called PROD. PROD was formed to promote drivers’ health and safety, but soon expanded its concerns to the democratic rights of Teamsters. They started a publication called The Dispatch.
The groups started to compete for members, but also started to learn from each other and work together. In November 1979, the groups merged together, and the Teamster reform publication took on the name Convoy Dispatch.
Over the years, the movement grew and helped bring the Teamsters Union into a modern era. TDU members took on corruption and fat cats, and stood up for good contracts and membership rights. Great victories were won. And Convoy Dispatch became the number one reliable source of information for concerned Teamsters.
TDU also expanded well beyond the truck drivers who formed it in the 1970s, to bring in Teamsters from every field. And so, the time has come to change the name of Convoy Dispatch.
July 21, 2009: Some 50,000 freight Teamsters have been forced to make a terrible choice, thanks to a decade of misleadership at the top of our union.
In mid-July, ballots arrived at members’ homes asking them to choose to accept the biggest concessions in Teamster trucking history, or risk pushing YRCW into bankruptcy and closure.
Teamsters were put into this position by top union leaders who are more interested in their careers than in the membership or rebuilding Teamster power.
Hoffa took office ten years ago promising to Restore Teamster Power in freight. Instead we got a decade of PR and union decline. Just look at the Hoffa years: CF. USF Redstar. Letting UPS pull out of the Central States Pension Fund. A substandard contract at UPS Freight. A lack of organizing. Concession after concession.
This is a leadership that has no plans but plenty of excuses. At the July 14 meeting of officials where they rolled out the tentative agreement, Hoffa administration officials actually tried to blame Ron Carey for their own failures! Carey left office nearly 12 years ago.
Many good Teamster members and officers feel the lesser evil is to accept the concessions deal—to have a shot at saving jobs and maintaining a base in the freight industry to build from.
Many other good members and officers feel that givebacks won’t save YRC and these drastic concessions will only weaken our union’s power and drag us down to nonunion standards.
There is wide agreement that Hoffa has to go, and be replaced by a leadership committed to organizing and building Teamster power in our core industries. That’s why a movement to Dump Hoffa is being launched now.
However YRC Teamsters vote, they deserve the solidarity of all Teamsters. Freight is at the center of Teamster power. We are all in this fight together.
The ballots for the YRC tentative went out in mid-July. YRC Teamsters face a huge decision, for themselves and their families, and for our union in the freight industry.
YRC Teamsters, who voted in January to accept a ten percent wage cut, were asked to approve additional big concessions. The new agreement contains an 18-month pension contribution termination period, an additional five percent wage cut, and a small reduction in the employer health and welfare contributions.
If approved in a membership vote, the additional pay cut (approximately $1.16 per hour) will go into effect immediately; the pension termination period will begin July 1 and end Dec. 31, 2010; and the contractual health and welfare contribution increase due on August 1 will be reduced to 20 cents per hour.
The temporary pension termination is the biggest item, a cut of $7.60 per hour in pension contributions for the first year of the 18 months, and $8.20 for the latter part of 2010.
With 32,000 Teamsters working, the 18-month pension termination would save YRC about $772 million. The 15 percent pay cut (previous ten percent cut plus additional five percent cut) would save YRC about $290 million per year. The union hired experts from MergeGlobal to review YRC’s finances, and they report that this level of relief is necessary to save the company.
With this agreement in effect, YRC would have a labor cost advantage over ABF of over $11 per hour. ABF management is now clamoring to get some concessions of their own.
The ballot count is scheduled to begin on Aug. 6, and will be monitored by independent concerned Teamsters. The union gained an appointee to the YRC board of directors, a corporate turnaround expert in place at YRC, and the ability for members to obtain more stock options.
Additionally, some of the job protections put forward by Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) were added to the tentative agreement: extending recall rights of laid-off Teamsters to ten years; return of Teamster office work that was subcontracted to India; improved “card check” rights to make it easier to organize nonunion units; and some limit on work subcontracted out through YRC Logistics. Unfortunately the diversion of work to YRC Logistics is referred to as “alleged” in the proposal (section 14).
Leave of Absence: Gone
One element of the agreement was retracted before the voting even began. The agreement states in Section 19 that “Bargaining unit employees who are participating in this Revised Plan will be permitted to take a leave of absence without pay.”
But two days later, the IBT issued a “clarification” that states that this only applies if a Teamster secures another job with an employer who participates in a Teamster pension plan. Anyone out there see a lot of hiring by union truck lines?
The clause, which could have at least provided a way for some laid-off Teamsters to get work at zero cost to YRC, was essentially deleted.
You can see the full YRC Memorandum of Understanding here
July 21, 2009: Hoffa’s Trade Show Director John Perry heads to court on charges of assaulting a Teamster member for filing a grievance.
In the meantime, Perry’s assault on Local 82 members’ seniority rights continues.
Working Teamsters in Boston Local 82 are standing up to violent intimidation and attacks on their seniority rights in the Trade Show industry.
As Convoy Dispatch goes to press, IBT Trade Show Director John Perry is heading to court on charges he assaulted a member who filed a seniority grievance. Perry’s enforcer, Joseph “JoJo” Burhoe, will be in court the same day. Burhoe is accused of brutally beating a trade show Teamster who criticized Perry’s refusal to enforce members’ seniority rights.
As the International Union’s Trade Show Director, Perry is supposed to coordinate our union’s efforts to defend members’ rights in the Trade Show industry—including seniority.
The problem for Perry is that enforcing seniority rights would make it impossible for him to put his enforcers and friends to work while long-time Local 82 members sit at home. That’s why Perry has refused to process seniority grievances.
Violating Voting Rights
Now, Perry has bargained the seniority language out of Local 82’s Trade Show contracts altogether—by violating members’ voting rights.
After members at Freeman Decorating and Champion Exposition Services voted to reject contracts that eliminated the seniority language, Perry held new votes on the same contract offers. But this time, only members approved by Perry or his enforcers were allowed to vote.
At Greyhound Exposition Services, enforcers and an off-duty cop barred some members from entering the hall to vote. At Champion, Perry let some supervisory personnel vote on the contract while other Local 82 members who work at Champion were denied their right to vote. Perry played the same game of pick and choose at balloting on the Freeman contract.
With the votes stacked, the contracts passed. Teamsters at another company, Nth Degree, have filed internal union charges against Perry for refusing to hold a proposal meeting and having elected rank-and-file members on the bargaining committee—as required by the Local 82 bylaws.
Perry is also under investigation by the Independent Review Board, the panel set up to investigate Teamster corruption.
The Boston media has begun to seize on the story playing to stereotypes that all Teamsters are dangerous criminals.
To try to defend himself, Perry has told the press, “What’s wrong with trying to provide jobs” to people with criminal records? The answer is: nothing. The problem in the Boston trade show industry is not anyone’s past criminal record, but the criminal behavior that is happening right now—including Perry’s.
Time for Hoffa to Act
The International Union has the power to put an end to the goon tactics, protect seniority language in the Local 82 contracts and enforce members’ rights to a voice in bargaining and fair contract votes.
It’s time for Hoffa to stop protecting his political appointee and start protecting working Teamsters.
July 22, 2009: John Perry and Joseph "JoJo" Burhoe appeared in court today in separate hearings on their assault charges against Local 82 members. Both Perry and Burhoe—a career criminal who has served as an FBI informant since his release from prison for armed bank robbery—were represented by the same attorney! Their next court dates are set for Sept. 18.
After 30 years, Convoy Dispatch is getting a new name.
Help decide what it will be.
Thousands of Teamster members know Convoy is the most reliable source of information about our union. That same information will continue—under a new name to be nominated by Convoy readers and chosen by TDU members.
TDU started out largely as an organization of truck drivers. Today we’ve expanded to cover every field in the union. TDU’s newspaper needs a new name that reflects our entire union. Click here to read how Convoy Dispatch got its name.
At their last meeting, TDU’s International Steering Committee voted unanimously to change the name. Now we’re asking concerned Teamsters like you to help decide what it will be.
The winning entry will be picked at the 2009 TDU Convention, Nov. 6-8 at the Cleveland Airport Sheraton. The winning entry will be voted on by the ISC, then go to the TDU Convention for a final vote.
The winner will receive a TDU jacket and a three-year TDU membership, which includes a subscription to our newspaper.
Click here to enter the contest. Send in as many suggestions as you like.
July 21, 2009: What does Tyson Johnson, the International Union freight director, based out of Dallas, have to say about concessions he just bargained for YRC Teamsters?
See below, and decide if you would buy a used car from this man.
Tyson Johnson on Concessions:
“We told management, this is their one chance to get relief. We will not reopen the contract again.”
— Tyson Johnson, December 2008 (first round of concessions)
“We had a team of experts review the company’s finances. We know exactly where they are. We know exactly what they need. And we set our bench mark in negotiations not to give the ship away but to achieve those levels that keeps the company in business even through an extension of the current downturn in the economy of the United States.”
— Tyson Johnson, July 16, 2009 (second round of concessions)
Tyson Johnson on Equality of Sacrifice:
“So the plan is very precise on the shared sacrifice and there is a total freeze on their opportunities to give themselves bonuses, wage increases or anything else.”
— Tyson Johnson, July 16, 2009
“Merit increases and performance-based incentive plans (for management) will be re-instituted in 2010.”
— YRCW CEO Bill Zollars, July 14, 2009, Memo to supervisors
Tyson Johnson has taken no salary cut, nor any cut in his lucrative pensions accruals.
Would you buy a used car from this man?
July 21, 2009: The Local 804 Members United Slate is running to restore the pride and power in New York Teamsters Local 804 the home of Ron Carey and one of the largest and most powerful UPS locals in the country.
In the last two years, Local 804 members have been hit with pension cuts, healthcare hikes and a concessionary contract—all while UPS was making record profits.
The Local 804 Members United Slate is running to move their union in a new direction.
“Local 804 used to stand up to UPS management, bargain strong contracts and protect our benefits. We can be that kind of union again,” said Tim Sylvester, a Local 804 shop steward and the presidential candidate on the 804 Members United Slate.
Ballots won’t go out in Local 804 until November, but candidates are already out on the campaign trail.
In the first two weeks of the campaign, slate members hit the gates at UPS hubs from Long Island to New York City to the suburbs up north to talk to members. The slate has also launched an online survey to hear from members about their concerns.
“We will run a positive campaign on the issues,” said Pete Mastrandrea, a feeder driver and the 804 Members United Slate’s candidate for Vice President.
“We’re going to lay out a positive program for what we’re going to do to beef up representation and contract enforcement and rebuild Local 804’s power,” Mastrandrea said.
July 21, 2009: Teamsters have a right to discuss union issues and exchange union-related literature at work.
TDU is at work defending and expanding that right.
Teamsters have the right to distribute Convoy Dispatch [now Teamster Voice] and other union-related materials at the workplace, during nonwork times and in nonwork areas. Most Teamsters take these rights for granted. But some employers need to be reminded of this fact, via legal action to protect the rights of all Teamsters.
Anheuser-Busch (InBev), at its Los Angeles brewery, needs a reminder that its Teamster workers do have rights. NLRB charges are pending after the company denied workers the right to distribute leaflets opposing a proposed merger to dissolve their Local 896. Workers successfully stopped that merger, but A-B management insists they have the right to “approve” literature that members distribute in the break room and other nonwork areas.
UPS management in Lumberton, North Carolina, illegally told steward Nichele Fulmore that she could not distribute Convoy Dispatch near the drivers’ counter, before work starts, when drivers are off the clock. The NLRB has issued a complaint against UPS and the case is set for trial soon.
The UPS case is important because it involves a so-called “mixed” area in the workplace, which may be a work area during work hours, but is also an area where workers can visit or drink coffee—and distribute TDU and other union-related materials—during nonwork times there, even though the same area becomes a work area at other times.
“We can not allow anyone or organization to control the flow of information,” said Fulmore, a package driver in Local 391. “Those in power—including UPS—would much rather keep you ignorant because they realize that ‘Knowledge Is Power.’”
TDU counsel Barbara Harvey has taken both cases, to ensure that all Teamsters retain the right to discuss union issues and distribute TDU and other union-related materials in nonwork areas during nonwork times.