September 28, 2010: These Teamster bus workers make less than the minimum wage!
Now they’re uniting with TDU to enforce their rights and win the pay they deserve.
The Department of Labor is investigating outrageous wage and hour violations at a Brooklyn-based bus company represented by Teamsters Local 854.
Under their Teamster contract at Outstanding Transportation, bus aides, called matrons, make as little as $175 a week to monitor the safety of the physically and mentally disabled adults they transport every day to programs around the city.
The contract defines the work week as 40 hours in five days. The company claims that matrons work only five hours a day. The matrons, who are tracking their working hours, say they work much more.
“It’s Not Fair”
“It’s not fair, and we’re coming together to enforce our rights,” said Kim Session, a shop steward at Outstanding. “If we don’t stand up for ourselves, we can’t get what we deserve. TDU has opened our eyes and we’re more united than ever before.”
Members from other Local 854 bus companies and other concerned TDU members reached out to the workers at Outstanding with leaflets.
More than 90 members attended an organizing meeting. Workers formed a committee to keep members informed and mobilized to enforce their rights.
Dozens of workers have testified as part of the DOL investigation. And more than 100 drivers and matrons have signed group grievances demanding minimum wage, overtime, and extra pay for field trips which is guaranteed in the contract.
The Daily News, one of New York’s biggest papers, has run a series of exposes on the scandal.
Under state wage and hour laws, the Teamster bus matrons at Outstanding are entitled to weekly pay of $315 for a 40-hour week—$140 more than the starting pay of $175 a week in the union contract. Teamster drivers at Outstanding make as little as $360 a week.
Some drivers and matrons work more than 40 hours a week—with no overtime pay. In addition to doing morning and afternoon runs, they do field trips in the middle of their work day.
“Sometimes I work four field trips a week, plus Saturdays,” said bus aide Elaine Mallard. Even when she works six days, Mallard is paid less than minimum wage and gets no overtime pay. She has been a Teamster for nearly three years.
Denials and Excuses
The company, of course, denies it is doing anything wrong. They have even denied that the DOL is investigating. The DOL has publicly confirmed the investigation.
More incredibly, Local 854 officials have defended the situation in the press. They told the Daily News that the contract, which pays less than minimum wage, “improves a bad situation.”
“It’s the same kind of treatment that we’re getting from 854,” Pierre Jerome, a school bus driver and 854 member at Empire Bus Transit, told the Daily News. “The union is in bed with company.”
Jerome, a TDU member, helped workers at Outstanding start organizing. His boss at Empire, John Curcio, is the father of Charles Curcio, who owns Outstanding.
Local 854 has always been a family affair. A third Curcio—Joseph Curcio—was able to organize into Local 854 because of his relationships with organized crime family members. This is according to a report put together by former federal prosecutor and Teamster anti-corruption watchdog Ed Stier.
Today, the mobsters who controlled Local 854 are dead. But the Curcio family continues to dominate Local 854—employing many of the local’s 2,500 members under substandard contracts.
With the help of TDU, workers at all of the companies owned by the Curcios are uniting for change.
“The companies and our own union have treated us like second-class citizens for too long,” said Angel Garces, a TDU member at Consolidated Bus Transit. “It’s time for change.”
September 28, 2010: Teamsters at the UPS hub in Syracuse knew they needed a show of unity to counter all the grief they get daily from UPS management. So they held a rank-and-file day of action to educate members on how to enforce our contract.
“Our action brought package drivers and part-timers out front so UPS could see we’re in this together,” reported 22.3 Teamster Bill Shaughnessy. “We’re tired of supervisors working and the package guys have had it up to here with 9.5 grievances,” added steward John DePietro.
“We wanted to send the message that there’s solidarity out there as we face management on the issues,” added Shaughnessy. Both reported members responded positively to the action so they are considering making it a monthly event. DePietro said, “We hope that the idea of a rank and file day of action at UPS spreads to other hubs and centers throughout upstate New York and elsewhere.”
September 28, 2010: They used to make $8 to $10 an hour with no benefits. Now after a five-week strike, they’re celebrating big raises and union benefits.
Workers at ATM Enterprises had no union and were making $8 to $10 an hour with no benefits.
Now they’re Teamsters and celebrating big raises and union benefits—thanks to a five-week strike, a giant rat, a committed crew of Teamsters, and a joint organizing drive by New York locals 814 and 805.
The fight started when Local 814 discovered that commercial movers at TOPS, a Local 814 shop, were working side-by-side with nonunion workers making poverty wages.
Management claimed the nonunion workers were working for an entirely different company—ATM Enterprises. They just happened to work out of the same building and had all the same customers.
The workers at ATM came together, voted to join the union, and demanded better pay and health benefits. The company said no deal, so the workers dropped their dollies and picked up picket signs.
“If we had let these nonunion conditions keep spreading, eventually it would have brought all of us down,” said Keith Temple, a Teamster at TOPS who went on strike for a new contract at the same time as the ATM workers hit the streets.
Strikers reached out to customers and told them about the disruption in the company’s business. They followed scab trucks with mobile pickets and showed up at job sites with a giant inflatable rat.
Building managers on Wall Street and in New York’s financial district were not amused.
“We stopped enough jobs that the boss started losing money,” Temple said. “It was a lot of fun chasing trucks. I hope I never have to do it again. But if someone else needs help, we’re ready.”
September 3, 2010: Teamster leader Sandy Pope talks about the challenges facing working Teamsters and the labor movement in GritTV’s Labor Day feature.
Sandy, the President of Teamsters Local 805, talks about saving our pensions, organizing the unorganized, and the power of union democracy in her interview with Ed Ott, the former Executive Director of the Central Labor Council in New York.
Click below to watch the video. You can fast forward to 1:34 in the video where the interview with Sandy begins.More GRITtv
September 2, 2010: It took over a month on strike. But New York movers in Local 814 have won their strike—and now workers who were making half union wages with no healthcare will be getting a big raise.
Read about how they did it in this story from Labor Notes magazine.
Rat Company Routed by New York Movers
by Jane Slaughter
It’s 12 feet long, with a tail, claws, and sharp teeth. It’s only a gray balloon, but the rat strikes fear in the hearts of New York City building managers.
The inflatable rat helped Teamsters Local 814 win a big victory for non-union movers who struck for a month for recognition and fair pay. Movers for ATM Enterprises were angry that they had no union and made $8 an hour with no benefits. Most of them did the same work as Teamster movers at Trucking Office Products System (TOPS) and worked right alongside the Teamsters--who made $16-$22 delivering the furniture to downtown office buildings. The fact that ATM and TOPS had different names but the same owners didn’t fool the ATM workers.
The inside warehouse workers won raises of $5 an hour and medical insurance for the first time. ATM movers got a $5 raise, healthcare, and a pension. The already-union workers at TOPS won $1 an hour and vastly improved health care.
They did it by handbilling and picketing the buildings where TOPS was using scabs to deliver furniture. “The building manager would come running out,” said business agent Walter Taylor. “’No, no, no, not in front of my building!’ they’d say. ‘I can’t have this rat in front of my building.’ We’d get the subcontractors tossed out.”
Taylor said the Manhattan office buildings in question are “high-profile, nice, marble-looking buildings” on Fifth Avenue and Lexington Avenue. Many have a union harmony clause in their contracts with tenants. If the tenant disturbs labor peace—say by employing a scab mover—the building manager can intercede to work out an agreement. In this case, stop using scabs and take down the rat.
“We developed a reputation because of the strike,” Taylor said. “Now they’re talking about the 814 guys: ‘They don't care. They’ll put up the rat.’”
By Jane Slaughter. Reprinted from www.LaborNotes.org
August 20, 2010: A Teamster hero was honored yesterday when New York City unveiled Ron Carey Avenue.
New York City officially unveiled Ron Carey Avenue, renaming the street near the home of the Teamster militant who changed the direction of our union.
The new leadership of Teamsters Local 804 joined members of the Carey family at the ceremony.
Carey made labor history in 1991 when he teamed up with Teamsters for a Democratic Union and led a reform ticket in the first one-member, one-vote election for top Teamster officers.
Working Teamsters swept the Ron Carey Members First Slate into office. During his tenure, Carey reversed a 16-year decline in Teamster membership and led members to victory in the historic UPS strike in 1997.
Carey stepped down from office after the strike and was later barred from the union for a fund raising scandal in his reelection campaign. He was later exonerated from charges that he had any role in the fund raising scandal.
For the rest of his life, Carey remained a reform supporter and vocal critic of the Hoffa administration—including the givebacks in the recent UPS contract.
Ron Carey died on December 11, 2008.
Click here to learn more about Teamster reform history and the Ron Carey era.
Click here to watch the video, “The UPS Strike: America’s Victory.”
August 11, 2010: Standing up is paying off for Juan Carlos Rodriguez and other school bus drivers.
Standing up is paying off for Juan Carlos Rodriguez and other school bus drivers.
Consolidated Bus Transit (CBT) was recently forced to pay Rodriguez $140,000 in back pay and benefits for illegally firing him.
When Teamster drivers at CBT got together to enforce their contract, they faced threats and retaliation from their employer and Local 854 officials.
TDU helped Rodriguez and other members take legal action—and win. After returning to work, Rodriguez was elected to the contract negotiating committee.
“I’m glad to have the money. But respect—and the right to stand up for change—those are things you can’t put a price on,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez generously donated several thousand dollars of his back pay award to TDU to help other Teamsters fight back and win.
Can’t Put a Price On Respect
“I’m glad to have the money. But respect—and the right to stand up for change—those are things you can’t put a price on.”
Juan Carlos Rodriguez Consolidated Bus Transit Local 854, New York
August 11, 2010: Teamster school bus drivers in New York City demand an end to a substandard union contract.
For years, Teamster school bus drivers and escorts in New York City have received substandard wages and overtime pay compared to ATU Local 1181 members who do the same work for the same owners.
Now, Local 854 members at Consolidated Bus Transit are uniting to put an end to their substandard union contract.
“We’re tired of being treated like second-class citizens,” said Local 854 driver Angel Garces.
Members put forward proposals demanding that Teamsters make the same wages as ATU drivers. They’re also demanding the same overtime rules as the ATU contract, with overtime pay after 10 hours. Teamsters at CBT only get overtime if their split shift spans 10½ hours.
The two-tier structure of New York’s school bus industry is a legacy of union corruption. The Genovese crime family historically controlled ATU Local 1181. The rival Gambino crime family controlled Local 854 and negotiated a substandard contract with friendly employers so they could bid on lucrative school board contracts.
CBT boss Joseph Curcio owns multiple companies that operate out of the same yard performing the same work for the Department of Education—but Teamsters get substandard pay.
The Teamsters Union has made the school bus industry a major organizing target.
Putting an end to second-class treatment for Teamster school bus drivers in New York City will send a message to our members—and to unorganized school bus workers—that our union won’t let employers keep Teamsters at the back of the bus.
“We’re tired of being treated like second-class citizens.”
Angel Garces Consolidated Bus Transit Local 854, New York
August 11, 2010: They work side-by-side with Teamster movers who make a living wage and get decent benefits. But some workers at ATM Enterprises are making $8 an hour with no healthcare.
On July 19, more than 40 workers at ATM Enterprises and a related company, Trucking Office Products System, dropped their dollies and picked up picket signs—to transform these poverty-wage jobs into decent jobs with a living wage.
ATM workers voted to join Teamsters Local 814 in June. Their strike has been supported by area locals and New York Joint Council 16.
“They work at the same location. They help move the same furniture,” said Frank Rotundo, a mover at Trucking Office Products System who’s been on strike since July 19. “But ATM apparently wants to keep some workers at poverty pay and pocket the difference for itself. That’s not America.”