Nearly all of the 50 members on hand are preparing to run for IBT convention delegate in early 2006. The meeting was an opportunity to share ideas and strategies for the elections.“We need to take steps now to show Hoffa the way out of office in 2006,” Nashville Local 327 member Matt Studd said. “And then we need to shut the door behind him for good.”
Dan Scott, secretary-treasurer of Seattle Local 174, was a featured speaker at the meeting. Workshops addressed how to run for union office and how to overcome apathy and get members involved in the union.
“This was a terrific event,” Local 391 retiree Frank Bryant said. “We brought a couple of carloads of people from North Carolina. We learned a lot and had a chance to meet many other excellent members and officers from other areas.”
“At the conference, we brought together Teamsters from across the South who share the same goals,” said Willie Hardy, a retired Local 667 member and TDU staff organizer. “We want to dump Hoffa in 2006 and build a stronger Teamsters union. We’re building the rank and file network we need to make that happen.”
June 6, 2005: In May, concerned Teamster officers announced that we were forming the New Leadership Committee, to put together the program and leadership team that can defeat Hoffa in next year’s IBT election.
Since then, messages have poured in from Teamster members who want to be part of the effort to beat Hoffa in 2006 and rebuild Teamster Power.
We want to hear from you with your concerns about our union’s future and your ideas about how we can work together to dump Hoffa in 2006.
Get in touch with the New Leadership Committee by dropping us a line at P.O. Box 3392, Bayonne NJ 07002 or email us
at: newleadership2006 [at] gmail.com.
Here’s a sample from this month’s New Leadership Committee mailbag. . .
“It is getting closer and closer to start something, and if you are going to be honest about the bottom line, it will be MONEY. I was a big part of the Ron Carey effort and even worked for him and still feel that he got screwed by the government.
“Money is always the little man’s problem, as we do not have a job making two and three salaries as a lot of the others do.
“It will take at least a million in my opinion to pull off an upset. Thanks.”
Concerned Southern Region Teamster
“I wish to be involved in getting rid of Hoffa!!! I am a shop steward in Local 170. Thank you.”
Wanting Change in Worcester Local 170
“Please let me know what I can do to help. We are in the process of forming a Delegate slate in my local for the purpose of opposing Hoffa at next year’s Teamster Convention.”
Local 804 Teamster
“Mr. Hoffa has never had the members’ best interests in mind, only his own. He likes to create smoke screens and talk tough but we all know that money talks and bullsh__ walks. Hoffa is going to run this union into the ground if he is not stopped. I am a UPS employee and we members hate Mr. Hoffa with a burning passion. UPSers whom I talk to want Hoffa out! Best ever contract, my a__! Not best for the members! But UPS management sure is happy.
“I agree 100 percent that a grassroots army of good hard working Teamsters that care about what it means to be a Teamster can and will take down Hoffa.”
Metro Philly Area Feeder Driver
The way I see it, the Hoffa administration is a threat to my livelihood and to my pension. Putting my money toward electing strong Teamster leadership is an investment in my future.
That’s why I’ve donated $100 to the New Leadership Committee. I’m asking you to do the same.
Our goal is to have 500 Teamsters make that $100 donation. That would give us $50,000 in seed money to jumpstart our campaign to dump Hoffa.
How much is a stronger Teamsters union worth to you? $100 is nothing compared to what we will lose if we don’t act now. Donate to the New Leadership Committee today.Allen Bunch
Local 549, Yellow-Roadway
June 6, 2005:It's no secret that United Parcel Service wants to pull all their employees out of Teamster pension funds. Like any corporation, they'd rather have unilateral control over their employees' pensions and convert them to 401(k) plans.
UPS took a step forward on that plan in May with the acquisition of Overnite. Now they have 10,000 less-than-truckload freight workers who are not in any Teamster plan, and they plan to grow that number as fast as they can.
Already outside our pension funds are at least half of UPS Teamster part timers. We can’t let this balance reach a tipping point: we need to bring Overnite workers into our funds now, and the rest of the part timers in 2008.
That’s why we have to organize UPS-Overnite, into our union and into our Teamster pension funds. Doing that would:
- Bring 10,000 new Teamster participants into our pension funds;
- Greatly improve pensions for Overnite workers and their families;
- Provide strong protection against a UPS pull-out from the funds; and
- Strengthen our funds by improving the ratio of active Teamsters to retirees.
UPS management is not to going to volunteer to pay better pensions to UPS-Overnite workers. Certainly they’re not going to be eager to strengthen our Teamster funds when management’s plan is to bust out of those funds.
UPS management has a three-point plan to undermine Teamster retirement security. Part one is a legislative attack. Part two is a campaign to soften up Teamsters with false promises of wonderful pensions from the company. Part three is taking advantage of the IBT failed leadership on pension issues.
The IBT needs a plan, too. A campaign to organize Overnite and bring those members into the Teamster benefit funds is a good place to start.
If UPS Ran Your Pension, You Would Lose $1,000 a Month!
$2,394 per month after 30 years of full time service: That is what UPS management would pay you for a pension, according to calculations performed by TDU. The calculation was based on UPS Senior Vice President John McDevitt’s testimony last year to Congress.
That’s about $1,000 per month less than Teamster plans provide.
What this means: If the same amount that UPS contributed into the Teamster pension plans since 1974 had gone into a 401(k) plan instead, and earned 7.5% a year, you would have an inferior pension today.
We calculated this figure by using the amount UPS paid into the pension fund each year since 1974 for a full timer who worked every day.
We used McDevitt’s own figure of 7.5% annual rate of return and UPS’ conversion formula from a lump sum to a monthly pension.
The calculations can be provided by TDU to interested members.
Of course spun information is better than none at all. Thanks to member pressure over the last two years, the fund is finally releasing more information to members. Its important for Teamsters to keep informed and learn more about what’s going on with our pension and health and welfare contributions.
Click Here to See the Letter for Yourself
The new is not all good. The restrictions on 25-and-out and 30-and-out pensions before age 57 remain in place. New England Teamsters who did not have enough years of credit by July 31, 2005 will not be eligible for 25- or 30-and-out until age 57. Unlike in the past, the changes did not include grandfathering provisions to protect Teamsters who were close to making their 25 or 30 years and were planning to retire soon. Members are calling for the fund trustees to grandfather existing negotiated promises. Teamsters who were close to qualifying under the old rules should have their contracts honored.
Change #1: No Punishment for Continuing to Work
Under the original changes, Teamsters with 25 years who continued working after July 31 would have their pension frozen until they reach age 57. Then, at 57, the pension would snap back to the full rate. A member who had to retire before 57 because of injury or the closure of their company would get no additional benefit for their extra time worked.
The Trustees have now eliminated this “Snap Back” provision. If, and only if, you had 25 years on July 31 and were eligible for a special service benefit, then you will continue to earn the additional $150 per year and be eligible to retire at any age.
Change #2: Honoring Promises in Existing Contracts
Under the original cuts, Teamsters would have suffered a reduction in their pension accrual if they were covered by contracts that did not include annual increases in their pension contributions of 5 percent. This would have meant pension cuts for many New England Teamsters covered under multi-year contracts that were negotiated before the pension rules were changed.
The Pension Fund Trustees have backed off of this unreasonable rule. Now, the Pension Fund will honor all existing contracts by maintaining the accrual rate. When these contracts expire, the new contracts must include increased pension contributions of 5 percent a year to maintain the accrual rate.
Pension Reform, Accountability Needed
Both of the reforms to the original cuts address problems that were first reported by TDU. It remains to be seen whether membership pressure can convince the Trustees to introduce stronger grandfathering provisions that will protect Teamsters who were planning to retire under the old rules.
Teamster members and officers won these improvements by putting pressure on the Pension Fund Trustees. This is an example of how our union trustees on the pension fund are indirectly accountable if we apply enough heat. What is really needed is direct accountability.
The New England pension cuts show the need for us to elect delegates to the 2006 Teamster Convention who will back reforms to the Teamster Constitution to hold benefit fund trustees directly accountable to Teamster members–and to support candidates for International office who will defend our pensions from attacks by the employers and corporate politicians.
April 25, 2005: While Hoffa prepares to release a report justifying his shutdown of RISE investigations into organized crime, government investigators and the press are pursuing the leads Hoffa claims are a dead end:
- Joint Council 25 President John Coli is under investigation by the FBI based on the leads Hoffa chose not to pursue including allegations of organized crime influence and benefit fund scams in Local 727.
- The Independent Review Board is investigating Local 714, the 10,000-member local long run by the Hogan family. At least ten people have been summoned to testify as part of the investigation.
The Independent Review Board (IRB) has already acted on other investigations shut down by Hoffa. Joseph Bernstein, a Hoffa ally and Joint Council 25 Vice President, has been barred from the Teamsters.
In another breaking story, The Chicago Sun-Times has linked former Local 726 president Daniel Stefanski with organized crime figures including “mob bookie Nick ‘the Stick’ LoCoco” who is suspected of taking bribes from working Teamsters who wanted full-time jobs or overtime opportunities.
Stefanski is also alleged to have offered a $20,000 reward to anyone who could provide the address of a mob informant that the Chicago Outfit wants dead.
The Sun-Times revealed that Hoffa knew of these allegations but chose not to pursue them for “political reasons.” Stefanski is a boyhood friend of the Illinois Governor and is now on the state’s payroll.
The collapse of Project RISE last year was a public relations nightmare for the Hoffa administration. With headlines screaming, “Mob stigma again haunts Teamsters,” Hoffa hand-picked corporate attorney Edward McDonald to issue a report and save his image.
One year later, McDonald will finally issue his long-anticipated whitewash.
Incredibly, McDonald’s report barely explores the organized crime allegations, according to the Sun Times, which got access to a leaked copy from the Hoffa administration. Instead, McDonald’s whitewash focuses on personally attacking Stier.
The IBT may not be interested in Stier’s findings. But the feds and the IRB are. TDU will continue to inform members on these breaking stories.
RISE investigators discovered that several funds are giving business to the notorious Group Administrators (GA), an outfit run by David Dorfman. Dorfman’s father Allen is an organized crime figure who was indicted for bilking the Central States Pension Fund out of millions.
Dorfman and GA were dumped from Local 743 in 1995, when an IBT-appointed trustee caught them soaking the fund with excessive fees. So why are Teamster funds still using Dorfman and Group Associates?
That’s what investigators wanted to know. Incredibly, Dorfman and GA are not only working with Locals 714 and 781, but they’re back at Local 743 too!
Another firm, Leahy and Associates served as broker for at least 10 Teamster-affiliated benefit funds in the Chicago area as of 2002.
The head of Leahy and Associates is under indictment in a RICO lawsuit for operating a racketeering enterprise along with members of the Duff family who are considered by Chicago law enforcement authorities to be linked to organized crime.
TDU has obtained a confidential report that Stier issued to Hoffa. It warned of intelligence reports that Chicago mafia figures were exerting influence in the General President’s office to block investigations into their organized crime interests.
The report charges Hoffa with personally derailing investigations into organized crime influence in multiple Chicago locals.
The General President’s office ordered a shutdown of all investigations into corruption and organized crime in Chicago in February, 2004.
In the report, Stier called on Hoffa to reverse course and enable RISE to investigate organized crime influence in Chicago locals and in the General President’s office itself. Hoffa refused and Stier resigned in April 2004, along with his entire staff of investigators.
At the time of Stier’s resignation, speculation centered on the role played by Hoffa’s-then Executive Assistant Carlow Scalf in blocking investigations into organized crime in the Chicago Teamsters, reportedly at the behest of Chicago mob officials.
But the full text of Stier’s 302-page report reveals that Hoffa himself repeatedly derailed investigations into organized crime and protected officials accused of organized crime ties. Included were Teamster power brokers who backed Hoffa in his rise to the General Presidency.
Hoffa Protects Power BrokersHoffa balked when Project RISE recommended that the IBT launch a formal investigation of Local 714, the home local of Billy Hogan Jr., a key Hoffa ally and former running mate. Hogan was barred for life from the union in 2002 for a scheme to steal Teamster trade show jobs in Las Vegas and give the work to a Chicago-based temp agency with ties to Hogan’s relatives.
RISE investigators received information that despite his ban, Hogan continued to exercise control over Local 714. (The local is headed by Billy Hogan’s son, Robert.) RISE investigators also uncovered apparent ties between Local 714 officials and organized crime figures.
Stier recommended that Hoffa appoint a personal representative to assist with a formal investigation. Hoffa took no action. When pressed by Stier, Hoffa instructed Stier to drop the investigation and turn over the Local 714 issues to the Independent Review Board.
Hoffa also refused to act on recommendations to charge three Local 786 Teamsters, including the assistant administrator of the local’s benefit funds for her association with a barred Teamster and Chicago mob lieutenant. When Stier pushed the issue, Hoffa said the charges were too minor.
Hoffa also removed his personal representative to Local 726 without notifying investigators. They were gathering information about organized crime influence in the local and a “Christmas Bonus” scheme that reportedly extorted members for hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in bribes in exchange for jobs and overtime opportunities.
Crisis PointIn all, investigations into one-third of the locals in the Chicago Joint Council were disrupted by Hoffa and his executive assistant, including an examination of the home local of Chicago Joint Council 25 President John Coli and two other joint council officers.
Hoffa also blocked the investigation into numerous reports that an International Organizer has been an organized crime associate.
The situation reached a crisis point when the General President’s office pulled the plug on all investigations into Chicago locals in February 2004.
Stier submitted a report to Hoffa a short time thereafter, detailing the organized crime allegations that needed to be investigated. The report goes out of its way not to prejudge the targets of the investigations. The issue, Stier wrote, was “whether political forces opposed to genuine anti-racketeering reforms will prevent them from being investigated at all.”
Stier warned, “If the current shutdown of IBT anti-racketeering efforts is allowed to stand, the reason for it will be obvious to both Teamsters and outsiders: the continued influence of the Chicago Outfit [organized crime] and the culture of corruption that has flourished in that area for as long as the union has.”
Rank and File WatchdogUntil now, the only Teamsters with access to Stier’s confidential report were Hoffa and the General Executive Board.
TDU obtained the report and is making this information available to the members because the allegations of widespread organized crime influence stretching from Chicago to the General President’s office have to be dealt with decisively and not swept under the rug.
The truth is that the International Union is millions of dollars in the red. Don’t take our word for it. This data comes from the IBT’s own audited reports and financial reports filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. These reports are signed by Hoffa and Keegel.
International Union Net Assets Are Below Zero
The IBT’s LM-2 financial report revealed net assets of minus $8.5 million. That’s right, the IBT has a negative balance sheet.
So why do Hoffa-Keegel claim in the February 2005 Teamster magazine that the IBT has net assets of $148 million? Are they lying to the Department of Labor—or are they lying to the rank and file?
Hoffa even brags on page 16 that “we have the largest net assets in the labor movement.” When Hoffa claims the “highest net assets” of any union, he must mean highest negative assets! By way of comparison the United Auto Workers has net assets of $1.128 billion. And the UAW is half the size of the Teamsters.
Two terms of Hoffa-Keegel and our net assets have dropped by more than $10 million. They have taken us into the red.
In July 2002 we had the largest dues hike in the history of the Teamsters, enacted by the Hoffa “No Dues Increase” slate. Dues went from 2 hours pay to 2.5 hours pay for Teamster members. The bulk of this new money went to the IBT, not local unions. The International Union’s income nearly doubled.
How Could their Big Dues Hike Lead to Deficit?
Ten percent of the IBT budget goes to organizing and fifteen percent to our strike fund. The rest is for the unrestricted use of the leadership. With IBT income up 79%, salaries and appointments have ballooned.
The IBT also has obligations for special officials-only pensions and retirement health plans, that have put the union into debt. According the IBT’s own LM-2 report, the IBT owes unfunded obligations of $55 million in retiree health benefits for IBT employees and also for IBT officials and appointees.
This is a special health plan, not available to working Teamsters. It provides 100 percent coverage for life, for retirees and their families.
No premiums to pay, ever.
No Cuts for Hoffa Appointees
Does that sound better than your health plan? What happened when health costs went up for your retiree coverage? For Central States Teamsters, retiree coverage for a Teamster and spouse has gone from costing $50 per month to an average of over $1000, under Hoffa’s leadership.
Central States Union Chair, Fred Gegare, says that is necessary due a “perfect storm.” But notice that Gegare has free health care for life for his family.
The IBT could lower that obligation, and get our union out of debt, by instituting cost savings and having Gegare and other retired officials pay some co-pays or premiums for their health care. But they won’t do that.
There is an additional $59 million deficiency owed to the pension plan for employees, appointees and officials of the IBT. Do you think they will cut pension accruals in half for highly paid officials? That would help our balance sheet. Central States cut your pension accrual in half.
Will Gegare cut his own?
Old Lies Smell Bad
Once again in the February Teamster magazine they continue to blame the previous leadership of Ron Carey for their own greed and mistakes. Carey left the union in late 1997, nearly eight years ago. At that time, our union had better net assets than it does now, by more than $10 million. Even after all liabilities were accounted for, our union was in the black.
Isn’t it time for Hoffa and Keegel to quit playing the blame game and take responsibility for their own mismanagement?
Hoffa and Keegel recently signed checks for 34 consecutive months to Executive Assistant Carlow Scalf, money that Scalf was embezzling from the IBT. No wonder we are in the red.
The IBT will eventually get out of the red, with that 79 percent increase in income pouring in over $140 million a year. But the money is not being used to build Teamster power as we were promised.
No Teamster should resent paying dues: our union needs money to take on corporate greed. But we have a right to expect our money to be used to build union power, not pork. And, we deserve the truth—not spin or lies—from the officials who manage hundreds of millions of our dues dollars.
February 5, 2005: The contracts that cover about 8,000 Teamster drivers, warehouse workers and office clerks in the Southern California grocery industry are set to expire Sept. 15, 2005.
Coming on the heels of last year’s grueling four-and-a-half month strike and lockout of the UFCW store clerks, these negotiations are sure to be some of the toughest and most demanding in recent history.
Are the employers in a position to take us on like they did the clerks? Is the Teamster leadership prepared to battle the company if necessary? These, and many others, are the questions that rank and filers are asking.
“We will never know exactly what the companies are going to do, and sometimes it is difficult for us to be certain what our Teamster leadership will do. But one thing is for sure: the rank and file grocery industry Teamsters had better be prepared for whatever possibilities we may face,” says Chuck Robinson, a driver for Albertsons.
A New Era
These negotiations mark the end of one era and the beginning of a new one. The long-time union negotiating chair, Jerry Vercruse, passed away last year and the new chair is IBT Vice President Jim Santangelo, who is also the head of Joint Council 42.
Santangelo did an abysmal job during the UFCW strike, so rank and file Teamsters had better be prepared if we want these negotiations to be a success.
I recently contacted the California State Attorney General’s office and obtained a copy of the “Mutual Strike Assistance Agreement” that Ralphs (Kroger), Albertsons, and Vons (Safeway) entered into prior to those negotiations.
Mutual strike assistance? I thought these employers were supposed to be competitors! When it comes to taking on organized labor, these employers are allies and they are united.
Teamster Unity Needed
As Teamsters we need to send the employers a signal that we are just as prepared and united. Management needs to get that message from our leaders—but that’s not enough. The employers need to see the same determination from the ranks. They need to see us getting informed, involved and prepared to take action if necessary to defend our contract and our benefits.
Our union needs a coordinated campaign—with regular contract campaign updates, stickers, petitions, t-shirts, rallies and action days. We need to build a member-to-member communication and mobilization structure to maximize Teamster participation in these activities.
The best way for us to avoid a strike is for the companies to see that we are prepared for one. They need see that members are capable of quickly spreading information and taking rapid action. We can demonstrate that ability by building a strong, effective contract campaign starting now—not waiting until negotiations hit a crisis point.
We also need to make a break with the traditional dinosaur methods of contract negotiations. Rank and filers need to be a part of the negotiating committee, not just officials and business agents.
Rank and file members are the ones most affected by the contract and we deserve a seat at the bargaining table. We should be part of formulating the proposals that are presented to management.
When an offer is ready to be voted on we need to demand that we have an informed vote.
We need ample time to thoroughly review the proposals, and we need everything available in writing. No reading from the podium or side agreements popping up after the vote.
Power of the Rank and File
Teamsters in the grocery industry need to realize the power we possess and the positive gains that we can achieve if we exercise that power effectively. The power of the rank and file is the key to obtaining a quality contract.
It’s our future. Let’s fight for it!
Frank Halstead, Shop Steward
Local 572, Ralphs Grocery Co.