Can Hoffa Deliver on His Campaign Year Hype?
Critical UPS Freight Battle Looms
“This agreement between the Teamsters and UPS Freight is a letter for card check and neutrality at Overnite.”
James P. Hoffa, June 27, 2006
IBT Convention, Las Vegas
With those words, Hoffa promised Teamsters that he won an agreement to let our union organize Overnite (now UPS Freight) without the union-busting tactics we’ve seen from management in the past.
Will Hoffa’s agreement really deliver this promise? We hope so. Organizing UPS Freight is an issue that rises above politics. It’s critical to our union’s future at freight and UPS—and to the future of our pensions and benefits too.
We hope Hoffa’s deal gives us the ability to organize. But we have questions, too.
Agreement Still Secret
When it comes to agreements, the devil is in the details. And we’ve learned the hard way that what Hoffa promises and what he delivers aren’t necessarily the same thing. In 2002 and 2003, Hoffa guaranteed that his agreements at UPS, freight and carhaul would protect our pensions and benefits for six years. We know how that turned out.
So far, Hoffa has not shared the agreement, even with Teamster leaders. But serious questions are being raised since the BNA Daily Labor Report revealed that the agreement is limited to just one UPS Freight terminal out of hundreds.
Hoffa failed to mention this detail at the Teamster Convention. So did the IBT’s press release and Hoffa’s letter to local leaders after the convention.
Under a normal “card check” agreement, an employer agrees to voluntarily recognize the union if a majority of its employees sign a union card. This eliminates the need for an NLRB-run union election. In the past Overnite has used illegal tactics to bust Teamster organizing drives during the NLRB process.
“Neutrality” means that management agrees not to oppose unionization efforts and to let workers decide for themselves.
Hoffa’s card check and neutrality agreement applies to just one UPS Freight facility of the IBT’s choosing. After that, the IBT will have to go terminal by terminal. At this point, there is no agreement from the company to extend card check and neutrality to any other location.
From Card Check to Union Contract
What does this mean for our goal of organizing all 15,000 UPS Freight employees under the National Master Freight or UPS contract and into our pension plans? That’s not clear.
The IBT’s plan is to choose one facility and organize it. The next step, according to Ken Hall, will be to win a contract at that one facility.
What is the IBT’s plan for winning a strong contract at one UPS Freight terminal when the vast majority of the company remains unorganized? So far the IBT is not saying.
On July 1, 2005, Hoffa first announced he would unveil a “comprehensive plan to organize UPS Freight.” More than one year later, local leaders and members are still in the dark about what the plan is to win.
Organizing this long-time union-buster is critical. So is bringing it under a strong master contract and into our Teamster pension and benefit plans.
It will take the unity and involvement of the Teamster membership. All Teamsters should be ready to help.
It’s time for Hoffa to level with the members about the plan for organizing UPS Freight. Concerned Teamsters jumped at the opportunity to take on Overnite before—and we’ll do it again given the chance.
Teamster Spending By the Numbers
Ø Amount collected in new money from the July 2002 dues hike in four years: $638 million
Ø Amount of that money spent on organizing by the International Union per year: $14 million
Ø Percentage increase in the International Union's income because of the dues hike (most of the dues hike went to the International): 75% increase
Ø Percentage increase in amount paid by International for multiple salaries to officials: 764% increase in pay to multiple salaries
Ø Amount of dues money saved if top officials accepted $150,000, and multiple salaries paid to International appointees were eliminated: $8.7 million per year
Ø Number of new Teamster organizers that would pay: 124 new organizers
Ø Net loss of Teamster members since Hoffa took office, not counting mergers: 150,000 members lost
Ø Number of multiple salaries paid by the International in 1998, just prior to Hoffa taking office: 16
Ø Number of multiple salaries paid by the International Union in 2005: 164
Ø Amount that the International paid in multiple salaries in 2005: $8.4 million
Ø Amount of Teamster dues paid to Hoffa consultants Richard Leebove and Greg Tarpinian in 2005: $773,000
Ø Days that Tarpinian and Leebove ever worked as Teamsters: 0
Ø Amount that International Vice President Chuck Mack, his brother Steve Mack, and brother-in-law Rome Aloise received in multiple union salaries in 2005: $618,444
Ø Amount that Rome Aloise was caught by the Election Supervisor in August laundering from dues money into the Hoffa-Mack campaign: $15,720
Ø Amount of the daily International staff meal allowance, after it was raised in June: $100/day
Ø Number of Big Macs that daily meal allowance will buy: 37
Click here for the 2006 $100,000 Club
Click here for Bloated Salaries Again on the Rise
Click here for How the $100,000 Club and TDU Have Changed Teamster History
How the $100,000 Club and TDU Have Changed Teamster History
TDU, Members Beat Dues Waste, Build Power
October 18, 2006. TDU began publishing the “$100,000 Club” 27 years ago. Armed with this information, and the Right to Vote, Teamsters have demanded financial reforms and won them.
In 1987, Teamster President Jackie presser bagged $609,984 in multiple salaries. In today’s dollars (adjusted for inflation), that would be over $1 million. International Vice President Arnie Weinmeister made $443,612 that year. Others, like Weldon Mathis, took home $305,914. They used union-owned jets to go to golf resorts.
In 1989, Teamsters won the Right to Vote after TDU’s plan was adopted as part of the consent order to settle the racketeering suit against top Teamster leaders. Thanks to TDU, Teamsters had a tool for holding top Teamster officers accountable for their outrageous dues waste. That changed everything. Incumbents like Mathis and Weinmeister were forced to drop out of the race for International Office. Members were not going to elect those millionaires.
The incumbent slate, in an attempt to win the election, even adopted part of TDU’s platform! At the 1991 IBT Convention, they capped the General President’s salary at $225,000 plus an unlimited cost of living clause. No International officer or rep is allowed to use multiple salaries to make more than the General President.
Fat cats Were On the Run.
TDU’s platform was gaining ground. Then it took a leap forward.
In December 1991, Ron Carey won the General President position and took decisive action to change the fat cat life style. The union limo and jet planes were sold. He lowered his own salary to $150,000 and began to phase out multiple salaries. TDU continued to publish the $100,000 Club and press for more reforms.
In 1993, Ron Carey abolished the “Area Conferences” which were a useless layer of bureaucracy. In one day, 65 multiple salaries were eliminated, and millions of dues dollars returned to local unions.
By 1996, even James Hoffa had to support TDU’s financial reforms—at least in his campaign platform. Hoffa promised to “cut n cap” with no International officer allowed to make over $150,000 by using multiple salaries.
When Hoffa won office in late 1998, he abandoned the platform. He raised his own salary, brought back multiple salaries, and pays himself and Tom Keegel a lucrative “housing allowance” to pad their income more.
Despite the setbacks and renewed waste under Hoffa, TDU’s hard-won reforms still have staying power.
Look at the $150,000 Club today. No one is bagging the kind of money they used to get – the members just won’t tolerate it. Our union is more democratic, thanks to the Right to Vote and the fact that TDU is there to get the facts out.
The result is less financial waste and more money for strike benefits and organizing. Can we do better? You bet. But where would our Teamsters Union be without TDU and the $100,000 Club?
Click here for the 2006 $100,000 Club
Click here for Teamster Spending by the Numbers
Click here for Bloated Salaries Again on the Rise
Bloated Salaries Again on the Rise
After Reformers Curbed the Worst Excesses...
October 18, 2006. Reform Teamsters, spearheaded by TDU, have succeeded in directing members’ dues money away from fat-cat salaries and into programs that build union power.
But millions of dollars in members’ dues are still wasted every year on bloated salaries and a patronage scheme of multiple salaries that the Hoffa administration pays to buy political loyalty.
Those are the findings of this year’s analysis of Teamster financial reports by the Teamster Rank and File Education and Legal Defense Foundation. For 27 years, TDU has published these findings in our annual $100,000 Club.
TDU publishes the facts. No sugar-coating and no partisanship: we publish the name of every Teamster official who makes over the limit, regardless of whether they are a friend or foe of TDU, committed Teamster or do-nothing fat-cat.
As a direct result of TDU’s work to cut dues waste and cap outrageous salaries, millions of dues dollars have been saved. Last year, Hoffa’s total compensation was $297,772. At one time, the Teamster General President’s multiple salaries, adjusted for inflation, added up to more than $1 million. (To find out who that president was, see page 7.)
While the salaries of our union’s fat-cats have fallen, 78 Teamster officials still make more than $150,000 a year, and 24 make more than $200,000 a year. Nineteen people on the Hoffa Slate are already in the $150,000 Club and 13 have salaries over $200,000.
Hoffa Buying Votes With Your Dues?
This year’s $100,000 Club raises serious questions about whether Hoffa is using members’ dues to try to buy this fall’s election.
Last year, your dues paid $773,000 to two political consultants, Greg Tarpinian and Richard Leebove, both key Hoffa Campaign consultants.
Hoffa doled out an incredible $8.4 million last year to 164 Teamster officials who already earn at least one other union salary. Multiple salaries have skyrocketed by 764 percent since Hoffa took office. These salaries function as a patronage system to officers who are expected to turn out the vote for Hoffa in return.
Mobilizing for Change
For three decades, TDU has pushed for financial reforms to cut dues waste and build union power. How has the $100,000 Club changed our Teamsters Union? What progress has been made? What remains to be done?
Click here for the complete $150,000 and $100,000 Club listings. (adobe acrobat required)
Click here for Teamster Spending by the Numbers
Click here for How the $100K Club and TDU Have Changed Teamster History
IRB Charges International Rep
Kikes testified under oath to the IRB that he never reads the Teamster magazine; that he didn’t know Hogan had been kicked out of the Teamsters (only that Hogan was “out of the loop”); and that he had no idea why Hogan would just happen to show up at Bally’s Casino in Las Vegas while Kikes was there for a Teamster Golf Committee meeting. He also testified that Steve Mack invited Billy Hogan to visit their table during a meeting of the Golf Committee. Mack denied it under oath.
Hogan, Hoffa’s former running mate, was banned from the Teamsters Union in May 2002 for attempting to implement a sweetheart contract in Las Vegas with a company in which the Hogan family had an interest.
Kikes did not return a call to comment.
Can Teamsters Trust This Man?
July 17, 2006: Hoffa is playing politics with UPS Bargaining and Overnite/UPS Freight.
“We won it—card check, neutrality. UPS Freight. Wow!”
Hoffa kicked off his reelection drive at the Teamster Convention by announcing that our union had won a card check agreement to organize UPS Freight (Overnite).
Hoffa waved a document to the crowd and declared, “This agreement between the Teamsters and UPS Freight is a letter for card check and neutrality at Overnite.”
The delegates at the Convention cheered, and rightly so. Organizing UPS Freight must be a top priority of our union. An agreement that protects the right of UPS Freight employees to freely join the Teamsters without union-busting harassment would be something to celebrate.
Hoffa wasn’t telling the full story about his deal with UPS management.
Hoffa did not reveal that the card check and neutrality agreement applies to only one out of more than 200 UPS Freight terminals.
That is not what most Teamsters understood when Hoffa stood on the Convention podium and puffed, “We won it—card check, neutrality. UPS Freight. Wow!”
Our union must win this organizing battle. It is critical to the future of Teamster bargaining power at UPS and in the freight industry. Failure is not an option. Every Teamster must pledge full support to this effort.
But to win, our leadership has to level with the membership. When it comes to organizing Overnite, Teamster members don’t need spin. We need the truth and a plan to win.
The High Cost of Hoffa’s PR Men
The 2005 financial reports for Teamster affiliates, including the International, are finally public. These LM-2 reports reveal for the first time the astonishing high cost of Hoffa’s PR.
Three consultants alone were paid nearly two million in members’ dues money—not bad money for non-Teamsters who didn’t bargain a single contract, settle a single grievance, or organize a single member into our union.
Two of the richest PR fatcats are Greg Tarpinian and Richard Leebove. Tarpinian got $471,636 in members’ dues.
Leebove made off with $301,379. Both worked for numerous local unions as well as the International. As the LM-2 filings for more locals become available, these figures will likely rise even higher.
Tarpinian gets big money for writing Hoffa’s speeches and producing PR videos. Leebove is Hoffa’s long-time designated attack dog and media man. In 2005 he was paid big money to attack members who were organizing against pension and benefit cuts. He’s also on the payroll of—you guessed it—the Hoffa Campaign.
Tarpinian and Leebove have been on the Hoffa payroll for years. Their Teamster income is available for the first time because of changes in Department of Labor report filing requirements.
$1 Million for One Press Release
But as much dues skim as these guys get, Ed McDonald did them one better. McDonald took in a whopping $727,299. McDonald’s assignment? To attack Ed Stier, the former Teamster anti-corruption director.
Hoffa hired Stier for five years to run the RISE program—but then pulled the plug on Stier’s activities when he started to investigate organized crime influence in Hoffa’s Chicago power base. After Stier and the RISE staff resigned from their jobs in protest, McDonald was hired to do a job on Stier.
McDonald was also on the IBT payroll in 2004, but those consultant fees were never disclosed. He almost certainly made more than $1 million in all.
McDonald doesn’t just make money from members’ dues. His website lists his clients, including “…a member of the Saudi Royal family, the former chairman and deputy chairman of the Russian Securities Commission, the Mayor of Bridgeport, Conn., and many other businesses and individuals throughout the world. He has regularly represented one of the nation’s largest waste management companies [major Teamster employers!]”
So nearly $2 million in Teamster dues money went to these there non-Teamsters in just one year.
That $2 million a year would put 20 full-time organizers in the field working to organize UPS Freight and other threats to our union.
But then who would puff up Hoffa or run smear campaigns against members who are fighting pension cuts or investigators who blow the whistle on corruption in the Hoffa camp?
Click here: Hoffa Rep Gives Members' Money to Wal-Mart
Click here: Membership Declines
Taking on UPS from a Position of Strength
April 22, 2006: Hoffa’s administration recently announced that our union will seek early negotiations with UPS. The Teamster officers and members I’ve talked to have all responded with the same questions. Why now? And what’s the plan to win?
These are good questions. And as usual, you won’t find the answers in Hoffa’s PR materials.
The press release says the IBT will push for early negotiations with UPS because “A recent statistical poll of UPS Teamsters shows that they have major concerns about health care and retirement security.”
Apparently, Hoffa is so out of touch that he needed a poll to tell him that members are worried about their benefits!
The truth is Hoffa was aware of the threat to Teamster benefits when he negotiated the last UPS contract. Months before he settled with UPS, Hoffa was warned that the Central States Pension would have to consider cuts unless the union negotiated sufficient increases in employer contributions. The report was buried and members were promised in writing that their benefits would be secure for the life of his six-year “Best Contract Ever.” Since then Teamsters across North America have faced the worst benefit cuts in our union’s history.
Other critical problems were also left unresolved. Like strong limits on excessive forced overtime and the right to organize UPS’s nonunion operations, which now include Overnite.
It’s not surprising that Hoffa’s “Best Contract Ever” failed to deliver what he promised. He gave up critical leverage by settling two weeks before the contract expired. As someone with 20 years of experience negotiating industry-leading contracts, I can tell you that’s not how you get the employer to put its best offer on the table.
Now Hoffa says he’ll get the job done through “early negotiations.” There’s been no indication whether the contract will be opened with the right to economic action by our union.
UPS management may be interested in early talks for its own reasons. UPS’s main rival FedEx plans a major expansion for 2008.
UPS may want an early deal to avoid negotiations and a potential work stoppage when FedEx is completing its expansion—especially a deal at the right price.
How short would Hoffa be willing to settle this time? The Hoffa administration’s statements on early negotiations don’t say a word about organizing UPS Freight—and winning card check recognition and management neutrality. Nor is there any mention of relief from excessive overtime, stronger protections against subcontracting and supervisors working, or other critical work rule issues.
Coming off the 1997 UPS strike, Hoffa had the strongest bargaining leverage we’ve ever had with the company. Why would anyone expect better results from Hoffa now when the pension cuts and the Overnite acquisition strengthen management’s hand?
The strange timing of Hoffa’s announcement has many members saying that Hoffa’s “campaign” to “force” UPS management into early negotiations is just an election year tactic. I’ll leave it to Teamsters to decide for themselves if Hoffa is playing politics with the UPS contract.
The bottom line is, whenever we begin negotiations with UPS, we need to do so from a position of strength. This contract belongs to Teamster members—not to any General President. We’ve all got to fight for it together.
Hoffa Rep Gives Members’ Money to Wal-Mart
April 22, 2006: Hoffa International Rep Rick Middleton, who also heads Los Angeles Local 572, has a little explaining to do. Middleton has invested $20,000 of members’ dues money in the notorious union-buster Wal-Mart.
Many members of Local 572 who work in the grocery warehousing and distribution industry have been hurt by Wal-Mart’s predatory practices and low wages. Why is Middleton putting their money into Wal-Mart?
Ironically, three years ago Middleton was named co-chair of a Teamster anti-Wal-Mart committee.
TDU uncovered this information on Local 572’s new LM-2 financial report, which includes a list of all investments over $5,000. Local 572 has put about $200,000 of members’ money roughly equally into the stocks of ten corporations, including J P Morgan, IBM, Hewlett Packard, and…Wal-Mart!
Hoffa and his campaign supporters like Middleton recently spread the ridiculous lie that Tom Leedham is funded by Wal-Mart. The Hoffa Campaign circulated smear materials, but did not even file an election protest let alone a complaint with the Department of Labor.
Why didn’t the Hoffa Campaign turn over its evidence? Because it doesn’t exist. The Hoffa smear about Leedham and Wal-Mart is just dirty politics—a big lie with no basis in fact.
The fact that a Hoffa International Rep is signing over members’ money to Wal-Mart is indisputable. Middletown’s own financial report with his signature on it proves it. You can review it yourself by doing a search on the DOL website for Local 572’s LM-2 (or contact TDU).
If someone tries to tell you that Middleton was just buying a share so he could get the stockholders’ report or participate in stockholders actions, let them know that one share would do the trick. Wal-Mart shares are trading at $46, not $20,000!
How about it, Hoffa. Could you ask your staff to pull Teamster members’ money out of Wal-Mart?
The data for this article come from forms filed with the Department of Labor. You can view them on the DOL website or call TDU for a copy.
Member Speaks Out
“Wal-Mart is hurting the Teamsters and all of organized labor.
“When our local officials invest thousands of dollars into Wal-Mart, it sends a mixed message to the membership. Our members should not shop there and our local unions should not invest there.
“The International should be coordinating with locals and the strategic campaigns department about appropriate and necessary investing and not allowing locals to invest thousands of dollars unnecessarily into Wal-Mart.”
Local 572, Ralphs
Click here: The High Cost of Hoffa's PR Men
Click here: Membership Declines
Hoffa’s Vegas Lounge Act
In 2001, Hoffa controlled the vast majority of the delegates and they rubber-stamped his proposals. Speakers crowed that Hoffa unity had restored our power and would deliver huge improvements for Teamsters.
Tyson Johnson guaranteed “the best contract in history for our freight members.” Ken Hall bragged that at UPS, “We're going to finish in 2002 what we started in 1997.” Another Hoffa delegate boasted that because of Hoffa unity, “We will not lose our pensions. We will not lose our health and welfare to UPS.”
Hoffa declared, “I promise you that if reelected I will end government control of the Teamsters Union. That I promise you, that will happen.”
Hoffa also said, “I am not a man who makes idle threats, but today I promise you that if I am elected, we will defeat Overnite. That will happen.”
It was all great election-year theater. But once the ballots were counted, the script changed. Hoffa pulled the plug on the Overnite strike and on his anti-corruption program. He raised our dues without a vote. His “Best Contracts Ever” cut the pensions and benefits of hundreds of thousands of Teamsters.
Why Didn't Hoffa Unity Deliver?
Why did Hoffa’s unity fail to deliver the power he promised? More than 90 percent of the delegates backed Hoffa—many because they sincerely believed that uniting behind Hoffa would strengthen the union. So what happened?
What we all learned from 2001 was that it takes more than tough talk and rubber-stamp unity to beat the employers. It takes strong leadership, mobilized members and a plan to win. Some delegates tried to make this point in 2001.
After the Convention passed a unanimous resolution saying the union would “unite for victory” at UPS, Local 559 Secretary-Treasurer Tom Gilmartin proposed that the Convention “send a message of strength by building a strike fund to get ready to take UPS on with more than resolutions.”
Hoffa ignored Gilmartin and said, “Now we're moving on.” Instead of building a credible strike fund, he went on to settle the UPS contract two weeks early and set a pattern of weak national contracts that gutted members’ benefits.
What’s On Tap in 2006?
With the majority of delegates once again in his pocket, Hoffa plans to replay his Vegas lounge act this June.
Hoffa knows that Overnite, pension cuts, and declining union power have sunk his approval rating to an all-time low with Teamster members. He will pump out PR, videos, speeches and tough-talking resolutions—all funded with our dues dollars—to convince members that he is poised to take action.
We’ll be told that our union is launching campaigns to organize our nonunion competitors and to win a strong contract at UPS through early negotiations. We’ll be promised that Hoffa will fight for our pensions and health benefits at the bargaining table and in the halls of Congress.
Teamster members want and need our union to organize the unorganized, win strong contracts and fight for our benefits.
We have a responsibility to do our part and get involved to make that happen. In return, we have the right to expect our union leadership to present a clear plan to win—not just slogans.
Click here: Teamsters Will Have Choice in 2006