April 4, 2011: TDU interviewed TDU members who are mobilizing against the anti-union attack.
Our Labor Movement Is Reignited!
“I never thought I’d be part of this kind of labor history in my lifetime.
“It was great to see public workers, Green Bay Packers, purple haired punks, management people, firefighters and cops on the same picket line, along with Teamsters (old guard and TDU) from all over the country.
“When even EMTs and police take a pay cut, guess who’s next. Now you’ll see how trickle down really works and you won’t have to wait long.”
Paul Host, ABF, Local 200, Milwaukee
Public and Private Sector Workers Come Together
Public and private workers came together for a rally in North Carolina for workers’ rights to organize, including Local 391 UPSer Nichele Fulmore (above, left).
“Collective bargaining is completely against the law for public sector workers here in North Carolina,” said Nichele Fulmore. “But that anti-worker law hasn’t stopped them from organizing on the jobs and sticking up for their rights. They deserve to have a voice on the job.”
We Stopped Anti-Union Law
“Corporate America has a plan to destroy our union movement and not just in Wisconsin or the public sector.
“Here in Missouri they’re trying to pass a ‘right to work’ law that would undermine every union in the state.
“Our Local 688 leadership has worked closely with other unions and supportive state Senators and Representatives to counter this attack for now. Teamsters around the state need to be organized and at the ready should this legislation come to a vote again.”
John Youngermann, UPS, Local 688, St. Louis
Michigan Teamsters Protest Anti-Union Legislation
If we do not protest when they come for our neighbors’ union, no one will be left to protest when they come for our union.
About 30 Local 299 members and retirees went to the state capital, Lansing, to protest the anti-union legislation on the agenda, joining up with about 1,500 other union members.
We need more. Our union rights are under attack. Michigan and across the nation, no member will be left unchanged.
You can no longer sit on the fence and let someone else protest for you. If you think it’s a waste to use a vacation day to protest then you have forgotten how you came to have those vacation days.
The time is now. If your local isn’t marching in D.C. or your state capital ask them why. Regardless of whom you support, we must come together and change the current course.
By Joe Medrano, Holland, Local 299, Detroit
BNA Daily Labor Report: Good Relations Between Unions, Employers Said to Help EU Weather Economic Crisis
March 9, 2011: Good labor relations between employers and trade unions helped the European Union through the economic crisis of 2008-2010, a European Commission report said March 3.
Employers and trade unions agreed to minimize job losses by shortening working hours, which enabled companies to retain skilled workers over the severe economic downturn, the report said.
The annual Industrial Relations Report 2010 also said continued good relations are needed to improve weak competitiveness in some EU countries.
“The member states where social partnership is strongest are those that are successfully overcoming the crisis,” EU Employment Commissioner Laszlo Andor said in a statement.
Economic powerhouse Germany is seen as the prime example of successful cooperation between employers and unions. German export companies retained their qualified staff through Kurzarbeit programs, shortening the workweek while the government provided partially unemployed workers with benefits for the rest of the time.
“We have to emerge from the crisis with more and not less social dialogue—this will also help bolster the competitiveness of Europe's economy,” Andor said.
Industrial Relations Vary Among EU Nations
However, he noted that the industrial relations traditionally have varied among the 27 EU member states.
“Social dialogue is still very weak in many of the countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007, yet building solid partnerships between workers' and employers' representatives is precisely what will help these member states on the road to recovery,” the employment commissioner said.
Twelve countries, mostly ex-Communist nations in Central and Eastern Europe, joined the European Union in 2004 and 2007.
In six of them—Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—the crisis led to employers and trade unions signing national cross-industry agreements for the first time.
In total, 18 EU countries saw trade union federations and national employers' organizations signing agreements, either between each other or with the government. Besides the six eastern EU countries, the other 12 were: Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Finland, Austria, Bulgaria, and Slovenia.
The report also noted the continuing trend of further decentralization of wage negotiations toward the company level and not at a national, sectorial level. Collective bargaining is still strong in Europe and two thirds of all workers are covered by a collective agreement.
Trade union membership of workers continued to decline slowly, the report said, down to 31 percent in the EU in 2008 from 37 percent in 2000. The variations among the 27 member states were significant, from 69 percent union membership in Sweden in 2008 to below 8 percent in Estonia. Membership of employers' organizations remained stable.
About 2 percent of EU workers had been involved in a strike each year of the 2000-2008 period. This level was lower than the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, the report said.
Figures varied greatly among EU countries, with very high numbers of strikes for Greece, Italy, and Spain, and very low figures for Germany, Poland, and Sweden.
Text of the report may be accessed here.
January 3, 2011: In early December, a bill was introduced in Congress that will escalate the attack on public employee pensions.
This little-noticed bill is a shot fired at the pensions of millions of American families.
In early December a bill was introduced in Congress that will escalate the attack on public employee pensions.
The Teamsters Union represents 200,000 public workers and we need to respond.
The bill, sponsored by Representative Devin Nunes (R-Calif), would force states to report pension fund liabilities in the strictest possible way. A change in pension accounting may not seem significant, but the impact will be huge.
The legislation would dramatically increase state and municipal debt by forcing governments to exaggerate the money needed to finance public employee pensions. The goal of the legislation is to make public workers a target and increase pressure on governments to slash public employee benefits.
The legislation is even stricter than changes that helped undermine workers’ pensions in the private sector. States and municipalities who don’t comply would lose their ability to issue tax-exempt bonds. No city or state can function without issuing bonds.
This little-noticed bill is a shot fired at the pensions of millions of American families.
The Teamsters Union and the whole labor movement and our allies need to mount a campaign to defend workers’ pensions, including the 200,000 Teamsters who work for local and state governments.
Shredding the Safety Net
The safety net of pensions earned for a lifetime of work is being shredded. Too many workers are being forced into 401(k) plans, and many of those took a beating when the stock market tanked in 2008.
The corporate attack on pensions almost certainly contributed to the severity of the Great Recession and the slowness of the recovery. More people over 60 are working, and fewer people under 60 can find jobs. People who lost pensions are not spending, and thus consumer demand continues to slump.
We need to defend the pensions of public service workers: the hard-working people who repair our roads, protect our public safety, pick up our trash, bring us safe drinking water and operate our schools, parks, jails, and transit systems.
And we need a movement to defend their pensions, and to win pensions for all working Americans.
Time to Stand Up and Defend Good Pensions.
“Public employee pensions are next on the chopping block. The Teamsters Union needs to stand up and defend good pensions—in both the public and private sector.
“Under Hoffa, Teamster pensions are getting steamrolled. We need to stand up and defend our retirement security before it’s too late.”
Erik Jensen, University of Minnesota
Local 320, Minneapolis
Hoffa Won’t Do It.
We Have To.
“Public employees have taken wage freezes and lousy contracts to protect our benefits. Now our pensions are under attack.
“There are more than 20,000 public employees in Local 237 alone. We’re the biggest local in the Teamsters. Hoffa has never stood up for us. We need to stand up for ourselves.”
Vincent Lattimore, School Safety
Local 237, New York
March 5, 2010: Mayor Daley today shook off a 3-to-1 strike-authorization vote by city of Chicago truck drivers and vowed to keep O’Hare and Midway Airports open even if the drivers walk off the job.
“You know what? There’d be 50,000 people applying for these jobs,” Daley said. “I mean, there’s so many people out of work. If you were ever to open employment, there’d be 50,000. These are good-paying jobs. Everybody would like to not work and get two hours’ pay.
Click here to read more at the Chicago Sun-Times.
October 5, 2007: Mayor Daley’s plan to bolster his Olympic dream by guaranteeing labor peace through 2016 is back on track, thanks to a “no-privatization” guarantee.
By a vote of 997 to 134, Teamsters Local 726 voted Thursday night to accept the unprecedented, 10-year deal that locks in prevailing wages for 8,000 members of the building trades.
September 21, 2007: For the second time in three weeks, the 2,100 Teamsters who move the City of Chicago have rejected their contract.
On Sept. 20, they voted 560-519 to reject a ten-year contract that would put their future at risk.
"The members are getting it-they're informed. That makes this battle a lot easier," Vince Tenuto explained. Tenuto is a leader in the Fighting for the Future movement in Local 726. Fighting for the Future is calling for job security, and protection against privatization of Teamster jobs. Tenuto summed it up: "If we don't get that, how many jobs will be left in ten years!"
The contract was rejected on Aug. 29, but the Local 726 leadership negotiated only very minimal changes after that, including the right for trash haulers to wear shorts in the summer. On the big issue of job protection, a very weak letter was offered.
After the close vote was announced, members celebrated. Fighting for the Future leaders offered to meet with the union officials to convey membership needs to them, in hopes of getting an acceptable contract for the members.
Other city unions have agreed to ten-year contracts that Mayor Richard Daley claims will deliver "labor peace" as part of Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympics.
On Oct. 1, Fighting for the Future will nominate a slate of candidates to replace officials who have lost the confidence of working Teamsters.
You can learn more about this movement at www.fightingforthefurture.com
Local 237 launched an internal probe after Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) brought the improper payments to light.
As part of our preparations of the $150,000 Club, our annual report on Teamster salaries, TDU uncovered that Haynes received a $54,500 "stipend" in 2006 from the Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York (HIP). Further investigation has revealed that Haynes received more than $106,000 in payments from HIP and Emblem Health since 2005—not including payments he received in 2007.
Following an investigation by outside counsel hired by Local 237, Haynes will return the payments. The final amount is still being determined.
"Did Local 237 officials really need to pay for an outside investigation to realize that it's wrong for our President to take $100,000 in payoffs from a health insurance company? That just shows how out of touch they are with the members," said Bernadette Bradley, a Local 237 member and leader of the reform group, Members for Change. "Thankfully, we've got TDU to be a watchdog for us."
It remains to be seen what, if any, action our International Union will take on the matter. This is the second time that TDU has caught Haynes taking improper payments. In 2003, Haynes was forced to pay back thousands of dollars after he took total salaries in 2001 in excess of the General President's salary—a violation of the Teamster Constitution.
"Making a millionaire pay back the money he was caught taking is not much of a deterrent," TDU Organizer David Levin told The Chief, a weekly newspaper for New York public employees. "What happens to him is going to send a message to other Teamster officials. Will Hoffa's message be, 'You will be held accountable,' or 'Go ahead, take your shot at the cookie jar because nothing really bad happens if you get caught'?"
Click here for The Chief's report "Ex-Local 237 Head Got Improper Fees"
There's a fly in the ointment that threatens to disturb Mayor Daley's carefully crafted plan to guarantee labor peace through the 2016 Summer Olympics.
By a vote of 279-172, Teamsters Local 726 voted Wednesday night to reject the unprecedented, 10-year deal that would lock in the prevailing wage for 8,000 members of the building trades.
The contract apparently fell victim to a power struggle within Local 726. The union represents 2,000 city employees, including truck drivers, equipment dispatchers, foremen, booters, garage attendants and cashiers.
Employees fighting to unseat the union's existing leadership team lobbied against the deal, arguing that it undermines seniority and opens the door for massive layoffs at a time when Daley's new 21st Century Commission is exploring the idea of privatizing garbage collection and the city's water filtration plants.
"We're all truck drivers. We always had citywide seniority. Now, they want to make it departmental seniority. If a guy has 30 years on with Streets and San and they decide to privatize sanitation, all those guys with all those years are gone," said truck driver Vincent Tenuto Jr., who lobbied against the contract and is among those hoping to unseat the union's executive board.
"There's a clause in there that says the mayor could subcontract our jobs out. We want that removed. We have 2,100 jobs in 2007. We expect to have 2,100 jobs in 2017. They're also taking away our seniority so they can put anybody they want wherever they want. It feels like legalized clout."
Jim Franczek, the city's chief negotiator, could not be reached for comment, nor could Chicago Federation of Labor President Dennis Gannon.
The Teamsters' thumbs-down vote was disclosed hours after Daley bragged to reporters about his ability to guarantee labor peace.
"Many of your articles said, 'This is going to be a very, very difficult year. Oh my God. We've got the CTA unions. We've got the city unions. We have unions from the Board of Education. Oh, there's going to be chaos. There's going to be a crisis. They're not going to work together. There's a difference between the mayor and all these unions,' " Daley said sarcastically.
"What happened? . . . . It all worked out because we sat down with the belief that we can work with our unions -- a 10-year agreement. It's amazing. They want stability. We want stability," he said.
Click here to read the article on the Chicago Sun-Times Website.
On August 29, the 2000 Teamsters who move the city of Chicago rejected a ten-year contract that would have put their future at risk. Now they are demanding Local 726 hold a meeting to hear what the members want fixed to protect their jobs.
"The Local 726 leadership agreed to terms that would put our jobs and seniority in jeopardy," said Vince Tenuto, a leader of the Fighting for the Future movement, which has informed and organized Local 726 about the contract and their rights as Teamsters.
"Master seniority would be weakened. And there is no protection against privatizing jobs. Ten years! We need job protection so in ten years, our jobs won't be gone." said Joe Vercillo.
Local 726 Teamsters work in sanitation, at Chicago's airports, and in electrical, water, sewer and transport departments. They do skilled and sometimes dangerous work, and provide critically important services for three million Chicagoans, and deserve a contract that provides them job security.
Other city unions have agreed to ten-year contracts that Mayor Richard Daley claims will deliver "labor peace" in the run up to the 2016 Olympics.
Fighting for the Future is a movement of Local 726 members who will nominate a slate in October to replace officials who have lost touch with working Teamsters.