Official Testifies that IBT Approved Mid-Contract Concession in New England
February 17, 2005: Boston Local 25 President Ritchie Reardon told Joint Council 10 that the IBT Parcel Division approved a mid-contract giveback to UPS that violates language in the New England supplement. Reardon’s statement was part of his testimony in a hearing on internal union charges over the concession. The testimony marks the first time that anyone has put on the record that the IBT approved the contract concession. Reardon said the approval was not issued in writing.
Sunday to Thursday Without Premium Pay
Local 25 negotiated a side agreement with UPS management, after the company threatened to move some jobs, that allowed the company to establish a Sunday to Thursday workweek with no premium pay for Sundays. The New England supplement recognizes only a Monday to Friday or a Tuesday to Saturday workweek. The UPS contract requires that all mid-contract agreements be approved by the Joint National Negotiating Committee.
The giveback quickly spread to locals 42, 191, 340 and 671.
Other local unions voted the giveback down or refused to hold a vote—even though UPS threatened some locals that they would lose work if they did so.
Members have argued that the change to the regional supplement should have been put to a regional vote—rather than allowing UPS to pit local against local for the best deal.
The impact of this giveback continues to be felt. Recently UPS management at the Worcester hub posted a notice stating that the a.m. sort would be shut down and that the volume would be “moved to other hubs.” Worcester Local 170 was one of the locals that resisted the side agreement.
If the IBT and all New England locals had stayed united it would be impossible for management to pit members against each other in this manner.
A lawsuit filed by members to reverse the concession was dismissed on a technicality Jan. 13. The judge hearing the case ruled that the suit needed to be filed within six months of the change at Local 25, rather than within six months of the date that Local 25 refused to process members’ grievance against the change.
According to Local 25 member David Whitney, the New England Supplement Protection Committee will continue pursuing the issue through charges that are under investigation at the National Labor Relations Board. Also, internal union charges have been filed against officials of all the local unions that made the change without a proper vote of the members
Election Won—Again—in Local 639
November 4, 2004: For the second time in a year the Members United Slate has been elected the officers of Washington, D.C., Local 639. Their election victory on October 27 put an end to one of Hoffa’s more desperate attempts to undermine a local union election.
Members United won their first election last fall, beating out IBT Trustee John Steger and his Concerned Members slate.
While Local 639 members got on with the job of strengthening their union, Steger and Hoffa maneuvered in the background to have the election overturned. This was after the ballots were counted, and later tampered with, while in the Steger group’s custody.
Hoffa ordered a rerun of the Local 639 election and gave Steger another leg up by imposing a temporary trusteeship and reinstalling the old officers.
It didn’t work. When the votes were counted the 10,000 members of Local 639 elected all fifteen officers and business representatives of the Members United Slate. They expect to be installed and working for the members by mid-November.
Newly elected Local 639 Business Agent Anthony Smith, of the Members United Slate, spoke to the TDU Convention on October 23 a few days before his slate’s victory in the Local 639 rerun election. Here are excerpts from his remarks:
I bring greetings from Washington D.C. slate members, 15 strong officers, agents, and trustees—the duly elected officers, agents, and trustees of Local 639. Another story of ‘Vote Till You Get it Right.’
We’re the second largest local in the East with over 10,000 members. Four of the incumbent BA’s split off to form a coalition slate. We came from diverse backgrounds within the union: some leaning Hoffa, some TDU sympathizers, others less familiar with International politics.
As a group, our slate was not running to become a reform local in the Teamsters, in the broader picture of the Teamsters. We were just looking to reform the local, to make the local better for the members.
[Incumbent President] John Steger is on the International General Executive Board. He’s one of the people we beat.
Steger commented on a number of occasions that they would be invincible because after they merged-in Local 246, the local would be too large for anybody to be able to take them on.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the dance—members took a look at their date and rejected them.
As you heard we’re doing ‘Vote Till You Get it Right.’ We ran a stronger, less conservative campaign the second time around, even more face-to-face, out there in the streets, meeting the people. We’re quite confident that we’ve won again.
TDU has earned great respect in our local and I was told to bring thanks from some of those people who would not have even talked to TDU in the past.There will be no support in 639 for Hoffa in this next campaign, there’s no doubt about that anymore.
Local Officials Order Election Rerun—During the Vote Count!
November 4, 2004: When the votes were counted on October 16 in 12,000-member Chicago Local 743, TDUer Richard Berg of the New Leadership Slate had upset incumbent President Robert Walston by seven votes. There were 188 unresolved challenged ballots, but many of them came from workers at Silver Capital, a shop that was solidly behind New Leadership, so the outcome looked clear.
On October 18, the day before the challenges were to be resolved, local officials sprang their trick: They suddenly decided the election was flawed, and ordered a new one just as the final votes were to be tallied.
“We had filed numerous protests,” Berg told us, “but they dismissed all of them. But when we won despite all their violations, they decided to grant one of our protests and order a new election.”
James Hoffa upheld the “vote till you get it right” trick. Hoffa has used this dirty trick often, but so far it has failed every time; members react against having their democratic vote tampered with. This is a new version of the undemocratic move, actually stopping the vote count to prevent a challenger from winning.
It will be up to the members of Local 743 to make sure that democracy prevails. They are up against wealthy incumbents who are spending tens of thousands of dollars and are experienced at dirty tricks. The ballots in the second election will be counted on Dec. 4.