April 2, 2010: The 2009 financial reports for Teamster locals, joint councils, conferences and the International Union are now available.
The International Union form, which is 432 pages long, shows some big cuts made:
- Representation spending is down by 15 percent.
- Political activity is down 43 percent
- Grants to locals and strike benefit expenditures are down, too.
But Hoffa took a raise. Last year his total compensation was $362,869. With members hit by wage cuts or freezes, pension cuts, and layoffs, do you think Hoffa could have at least frozen his salary?
To find out how to get a copies of the LM-2 forms, call TDU at (313) 842-2600, or go to www.TDU.org/lm2
April 2, 2010: The Teamsters Union, like all major unions, raises voluntary political donations from members (the DRIVE program), and uses the resources to inform voters and influence legislative and regulatory measures affecting Teamster members.
Unions can never match corporate money, but do spend a fair amount. The best bang for our buck is when our union mobilizes members to join in campaigns to protect our pensions and pass laws to protect workers’ rights.
Do you want to know where the Teamster money goes?
You can look-up which candidates got DRIVE funds in each election cycle here.
You can learn a little about Teamster lobbying efforts here.
This same website can help you learn about corporate money and its vast influence, and the “revolving door” between key government officers and the lobbyists and consultants.
This information is compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), which is a nonpartisan research group based in Washington, D.C. that tracks money in politics and the effect of money and lobbying activity on elections and public policy.
Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) is the reform movement of Teamsters working to make our union stronger and more democratic. TDU does not endorse political candidates office in federal, state or local elections.
March 25, 2010: Every local in the South is being forced to pay tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars to bankroll big extra pensions for Teamster officials.
It’s a case of misusing union members’ money to provide outsized perks to officials, instead of to build our Teamsters Union.
The locals are paying about $1.7 million this year to the Southern Region of Teamsters Pension Fund, which covers only the full-time officers and staff of local unions in the Southern Region. All of them already are covered by other pension plans.
The new fee went into effect three months ago, on January 1, and is 14 percent of the total local union payroll. Here’s how it is affecting some locals:
- A small local of about 1,000, on a tight budget, is hit for about $25,000 a year.
- A large local is hit for up to $150,000 a year, enough to hire two organizers.
- Some locals, such as Georgia Local 528, had to lay off a business agent, so members get less representation.
The local unions apparently have no choice about paying the fee.
In 2004 this fund cut benefits going forward, so the big pay-outs are going to long-time officials who retire and collect a huge extra pension, on top of their other pensions.
T.C. Stone, the former head of Dallas Local 745, got a check for over $1 million from this fund, after he was kicked out of our union in 1997 for signing a sham contract and advancing union funds to himself.
The three Trustees who head this fund are Tyson Johnson, Ken Wood, and Willie Smith, who will each draw a third lucrative pension in retirement.
Due to the 2004 cuts, newer officers and union employees are not going to collect anywhere near as much, and are forced to contribute six percent of their own salary, up to $60,000 per year, to the Fund. So most full-time officials must contribute $3,600 per year and will not receive a fat pension from this fund.
In 1993, Teamster president Ron Carey stopped any further benefit accruals in yet another officers-only pension fund, the Affiliates Plan. He also abolished the wasteful Area Conferences, and their officers-only pension boondoggles. These reforms saved our union some $30 million per year. This Southern Fund was then so well funded—over 200 percent funded—that no contributions were required. Later, under the Hoffa administration, it was depleted.
Our union’s precious financial resources should go toward winning better contracts and organizing to build a stronger Teamsters Union. This kind of waste of dues to buy a rich lifestyle for a few officials has no place in our union.
What do you think? Click here to send your comments to Teamsters for a Democratic Union.
February 26, 2010: On trial for assaulting a member. Caught using thugs to dole out jobs under a sham contract. Under grand jury investigation.
IBT Trade Show Director John Perry is out of control. But Hoffa tells members there’s nothing he can do.
The International Union’s Trade Show Division Director is on trial for assaulting a member after he filed a grievance. So is his number one enforcer, a violent criminal named JoJo Burhoe who is on trial for beating a union member unconscious and sending him to the hospital.
Now, a grand jury is investigating them for intimidating witnesses to try to get the assault charges dismissed.
And an embarrassing affidavit has been leaked in which Perry, the Secretary-Treasurer of Boston Local 82, details how he put Burhoe and other thugs in charge of doling out trade show jobs under a sham contract.
Local 82 members have repeatedly contacted the International Union for help. Hoffa’s response? A signed letter saying the International Union can’t investigate members’ complaints or protect them from violent threats made by union officials.
In fact, Perry remains on Hoffa’s payroll to the tune of sixty grand a year.
TDU has obtained a confidential NLRB affidavit signed by Perry that reveals a scheme that puts Burhoe and other Local 82 enforcers in charge of doling out trade show jobs from nonunion employers.
According to Perry’s own testimony, a nonunion trade show employer contacts Perry about doing work in the local’s jurisdiction. Perry instructs the company to contact Burhoe who lines up the workforce. Burhoe’s friends are then put to work paid by “Union Payroll” which advertises itself as providing weekly “payroll processing and timely payroll delivery” in keeping with union contracts.
Under the scheme, Local 82 members who work or shape for legitimate trade show employers have no chance of performing this work. Union Payroll is, in fact, signatory to a collective bargaining agreement with Local 82. But the hiring procedure outlined in Perry’s affidavit makes a mockery of that agreement.
Local 82 members cannot shape for Union Payroll. Their only chance at employment is being on the private list of JoJo Burhoe or another of Perry’s enforcer pals.
Thugs, Assaults & Threats
The Union Payroll scam is just the latest example of what members say is a devil’s pact that Perry has made with a Boston goon squad. They provide Perry with muscle to control Local 82, in exchange for their control over who gets to work lucrative trade show jobs.
Burhoe’s rap sheet includes a conviction for armed bank robbery. Court documents reveal he has served as an FBI informant since his release from prison. He is currently on trial for violently beating Local 82 member Eddie Flaherty, who criticized Perry.
Perry himself is also on trial on charges he assaulted a Local 82 member.
A grand jury convened on Feb. 23 is investigating allegations that Perry and Burhoe threatened and intimidated witnesses to try to get the assault charges against them dropped.
The intimidation of witnesses included threats from Burhoe that he would “put them in a trunk of a car” or otherwise cause them severe bodily harm.
In January, Perry used the same threats in a letter to Local 82 Teamster Dave Corbitt who wrote to Perry that he was facing intimidation and retaliation for testifying before the Independent Review Board.
“To help clear up your stated confusion,” Perry wrote, “what would actually constitute intimidation or retaliation would, for example, be, someone threatening to put someone in a trunk of a car, intimating severe bodily harm; being followed and battered and punched for engaging in protected activity; having your ribs broken and being hospitalized for freedom of speech.”
Hoffa Turns a Blind Eye
Coming in the context of the legal proceedings against Burhoe for his threats against witnesses and his brutal assault of a Local 82 member for criticizing Local 82 officials, Corbitt took Perry’s letter as a threat and contacted the International Union.
In response, Hoffa sent Corbitt a signed letter saying, “the International Union does not have agents in the Boston area to provide protection to you or your family” and “does not have the capacity to investigate all of your numerous complaints.”
The Independent Review Board (IRB), the independent panel set up to investigate corruption in the Teamsters, is interviewing Local 82 members.
Local 82 Teamsters have shown they will take action to straighten out their local and build a strong union. They need protection to make it happen. They’ve asked Hoffa for help and been turned down flat.
Local 82 members will clean up their union.
February 2, 2010: The IBT has added one new International Vice President and is preparing to lose another, Central Region VP Pat Flynn.
Rick Middleton was sworn in as the new Western Region Vice President on Jan. 27. Middleton was appointed to replace Jim Santangelo, of Los Angeles, who retired in disgrace after TDU revealed that the union paid $500,000 to secretly settle a sexual harassment lawsuit involving him.
Middleton is the Secretary-Treasurer of Local 572 in Los Angeles.
Pat Flynn will reportedly be resigning as Central Region Vice President effective Feb. 28. His resignation will create a second vacancy in the Central Region. Walt Lytle, of Ft. Wayne, Ind. retired on Dec. 31, 2009. Flynn is reportedly retaining his position as President of Chicago Local 710.
Including Flynn, there have been six openings on the General Executive Board in the past year. Thus far, the Hoffa administration has passed on this opportunity to make the union’s top leadership look more like the membership.
The General Executive Board has 26 voting positions. None of those positions are currently filled by women. (Cheryl Johnson was replaced by Brad Slawson of Minneapolis when she retired.) None of these positions are filled by Latinos either.
Only one voting position on the General Executive Board is filled by an African-American—the recently appointed Al Mixon, of Cleveland, who recently replaced Carroll Haynes.
January 18, 2010: The newest appointee to the General Executive Board (GEB) of the Teamsters Union is Al Mixon, of Cleveland. There have been five vacancies in the union’s top body in the past year, providing an opportunity to add some innovative and diverse leadership, but Hoffa has for the most part appointed more of the in-crowd.
Mixon replaces Carroll Haynes of New York, who retired as head of Local 237 in 2007, but held on to his top post until recently. Mixon was first hired in Cleveland by Jackie Presser, who later became IBT president and was indicted for racketeering in Local 507. Mixon became the principal officer of Local 507 in 2003 and serves as the chairman of the Teamster National Black Caucus; he is presently the only African American on the 26-member GEB.
Other 2009 GEB appointees were Rome Aloise of Oakland Calif., who assumed the positions of his retiring brother in law, Chuck Mack, and Brad Slawson of Minneapolis, who replaced the retiring Cheryl Johnson. With Johnson’s retirement, there are no women as voting members of the GEB.
Two other 2009 GEB vacancies remain unfilled. Walt Lytle, of Ft. Wayne, Ind., and Jim Santangelo, of Los Angeles, recently retired. Santangelo departed after TDU revealed that the union paid $500,000 to secretly settle a sexual harassment lawsuit involving him.
December 7, 2009: In a speech at the TDU Convention, Butch Lewis talked about what it will take to get our union on the right track.
We all know times are tough. The country faces the worst recession any of us has seen. Members are angry and frustrated. Over the past year we’ve seen our wages cut by 15 percent. YRC is no longer paying towards our pension. Members are anxious to know what’s next. That’s not a great situation to be working under. And it’s not something we can live with over the long haul.
So what do we do? How can things be turned around? Hoffa talks about Teamster power and pride but those are just empty words coming from him. The membership isn’t experiencing any sense of power or pride. Real power and pride have to be earned—and that takes a tremendous amount of hard work and commitment.
Hoffa and many of our officers like to strut around and act big but they’re really just a bunch of blow hards and stiff suits. We’ve had ten years of their so-called leadership and I’m not sure if we can survive another two. We need change badly.
Start at the Grassroots
Now whether or not you voted for Obama, and we can discuss how that’s going over dinner or beers this evening, you have to recognize that he and his team organized a grassroots effort during the primaries that gave people a sense of movement and hope. People responded because they wanted change and they saw somebody giving direction.
We need to learn from that experience and bring it into the Teamsters. Regular folks can make a difference if they can organize a grassroots effort that makes sense.
A couple months back, I said to myself, if not TDU, who? And that’s the question and challenge I pose to other Teamsters. Who is going to help us turn this dire situation around? We need to challenge our brothers and sisters to get off the sidelines and into the game. TDU gives us the best odds for winning.
TDU has the track record of getting the information and the know-how out to Teamsters that want to make a difference. Many, many Teamsters read the website and count on TDU for what little information and perspective we can get. That knowledge is crucial as the basis for forging our campaign to change this union.
Build an Army
We need to take those readers and turn them into an army of thousands of Teamsters who are a galvanized force in our union. Those thousands can reach out to thousands more. We need to focus all the discontent out there into a positive movement to retake our union.
Hoffa Junior play acts at leadership. We’re serious about how necessary and important real leaders need to be. It starts with a commitment and then a plan. Our message to all those frustrated and angry Teamsters is, YOU and WE—the membership—are the leaders we’re looking for.
In these tough times, it’s up to us to make it happen in our workplaces and our locals. It’s now or never as far as I’m concerned and I’m heartened and gratified I’m in this fight with all of you.
“We need to challenge our brothers and sisters to get off the sidelines and into the game. TDU gives us the best odds for winning.”
By Butch Lewis, Holland Local 100, Cincinnati
November 25, 2009: In an unprecedented power grab, the Hoffa administration has abolished all the Chicago-area freight contracts and imposed concessions on some 1500 YRCW Teamsters who have decisively rejected them.
In abolishing the contracts, Hoffa imposed the national master freight agreement on 2000 Teamsters, most of whom work for YRC.
The five affected locals – 179, 301, 673, 705, and 710 – were apparently not even consulted, nor were the members given a vote on abolishing their contracts. The attack came yesterday via a three paragraph memo, available here, from IBT Freight Director Tyson Johnson.
The memo states that the General Executive Board voted for the takeover; reportedly, Local 710 secretary treasurer Pat Flynn, who is on that Board, is telling members that he abstained from the vote. He abstained from standing up for the rights of his own members.
How can this memo overturn a signed and binding contract between a local union and the employers, which does not expire until 2013?! Chicago Teamsters are demanding an answer to that question.
Local 705 YRC steward Mike Jordan told us that “We’re proud that we stood strong against concessions, and we did it on our own. Now our own International union comes in and undercuts us. They’ve sold themselves to the company.” Jordan was on the union negotiating committee.
The Chicago locals have bargained separately for 45 years, generally getting the same wage increases but setting a better standard on some terms. This has benefited all freight Teamsters, because higher standards in one area make it easier for others to win those improvements in the next round.
The late James R. Hoffa once stood in front of the Local 705 membership and urged the freight members to give him the power to bargain their contract. They voted no. But another Hoffa now wants to deny them any right to vote. But Chicago Teamsters are not ready to take it lying down.
Click here to give us your comment.
September 18, 2009: There’s been a little shake-up at Teamster headquarters. Whether it will mean anything positive for members remains to be seen.
Leo Deaner, Hoffa’s Executive Assistant, and Todd Thompson, another Hoffa assistant, have been ousted and demoted to be field representatives. Thompson was also Hoffa’s Campaign Manager. Both Deaner and Thompson are known for arrogance in their relationship with members and Teamster officers.
The move comes about after a group of International Vice Presidents met about problems in the Hoffa administration, and demanded changes. Hoffa is trying to quell dissent with the demotions. We have not heard who will replace them.
Both Deaner and Thompson will continue to be living high on the hog, but will probably need to do a little belt-tightening. As Executive Assistant, Deaner bagged $190,784 in salary last year.
Will these changes mean anything to Teamsters struggling to maintain their contracts and benefits? Will they mean anything to Teamster officers and members working to restore Teamster pride and power?
We think it will take a lot more than a little shake up in Hoffa’s inner circle.
What do you think? Click here to send your comments.
September 11, 2009: The highest-paid Teamster officials hiked their pay by more than a million dollars last year.
They’ve got a million reasons to back Hoffa. How about you?
In this special $150,000 Club issue, TDU publishes our annual report on compensation for the top Teamster officials.
You’ll find the full report inside. Here’s the punchline in advance: While tens of thousands of Teamsters are taking benefit cuts, pay freezes or worse, our union’s highest-paid officials hiked their pay by more than a million dollars.
Some of the biggest pay hikes went to the very officials who have overseen the worst concessions and benefit cuts in Teamster history.
Hoffa himself has nearly doubled his compensation in his ten years in office. Last year, he hauled in $383,132.
Building union power in tough times requires the right financial priorities. James Hoffa, the candidate, claimed to understand that.
When Hoffa first ran for General President, he promised to “cut and cap” officer salaries at $150,000. If Hoffa had kept this promise, our union would have $30 million more in the bank.
That’s $30 million we could be putting to work to protect members’ wages, pensions and benefits—and to rebuild our union’s power by organizing the nonunion competition.
Informed members can demand new financial priorities and a new direction for our union. But only if we’re organized. That’s what TDU is all about.
If you're not a member, join today.