March 15, 2013: Many members think that union meetings are just a place you go to hear long reports or to listen to beefs that you don't understand by members who work at other companies. And sadly, many union meetings are not much more than that.
Local unions can and should make meetings informative and a forum for ideas and questions. Expert speakers and workshops can be alternated with union business and contract issues.
But even when union meetings seem to be almost designed to keep members away, rank and filers can turn them in something positive. Here are some tips.
Keep it Positive
There's nothing wrong with getting angry when members are getting the short end of the stick. But if you are trying to build unity and support in your local, you need to have some positive proposals.
For example, members in some locals, fed up with the lack of organizing, have proposed that their locals dedicate a percentage of the budget to organizing the unorganized.
Publicize and Mobilize
Getting members to union meetings can be a challenge.
But members are more likely to attend a particular meeting if you help them see why their attendance at that meeting would make a difference. For example, a few years ago TDUers mobilized members to attend in a number of locals in the Midwest and South about unfair pension reemployment rules. As a result, a number of local officers started to take a stand. And, we won a rules change.
So you need a way to tell members why attending a specific meeting is important. Leaflets can help. So will volunteers to spread leaflets and talk it up. Phone lists, texts, and e-mail lists are also effective ways to turn people out to meetings.
Pick and Choose Your Battles
We can all think of dozens of changes that are needed to improve our locals or our working conditions. But there is a danger in taking on every issue that comes along. First, you can't win them all. Second, you run the risk of being seen by your fellow members as all over the map.
So, when possible, pick a single issue that is widely understood and an issue that directly affects a lot of people and/or can attract wide support.
Members in Local 251 have proposed three bylaws changes, including one to require elected rank and filers on all contract negotiating committees. That's an example of a positive proposal which can unite members to build a stronger union.
Work as a Group
While one person working alone can often make a difference, the best way to be successful at union meetings is to work with a team or a small group.
Ideally you can assign each person a job at the meeting. One person can be lined up to make a motion. Another can hand out flyers explaining the motion. A third person can be ready to appeal a ruling by the meeting chair, if they try to shut you down.
The more people you get to do something, the more support you are likely to get. This is because you are showing people right off the bat that a number of people care about the issue or proposal.
Here are some jobs that your people can take on:
- Who will work on the flyer about the issue?
- Who will distribute the flyer?
- Who will speak on the issue or line members up to speak?
- Who will call or text members to get them to attend?
- Who will make the motion or proposal?
- Who will second or support it?
Won't They Just Shut us Down or Use the Rules Against Us?
Maybe. The chair of a meeting can do many things to use the rules against you.
For example, once when members of New York Local 854 organized a group to read proposed changes to the local bylaws, the local officers went to their supporters at the meeting and asked them to leave—so that there would no longer be a quorum. They hastily adjourned the meeting.
The chair may try to just rule you out of order when you want to speak or make a motion. There are a few ways to counter this:
Raise the issue under "new business." This is the point in the agenda where other issues can be raised.
If the chair says the issue can't be brought up at this time, ask, "When exactly can this issue be brought up on the agenda?"
Prepare supporters in advance to demand that you be given the chance to speak. Sometimes that pressure will work. If not, members can even formally appeal the decision of the chair by saying, "I appeal the decision of the chair." Such an appeal is not debatable, does not need a second and is passed or defeated by a simple majority vote. (This is part of Robert's Rules of Order and is contained in most local union bylaws).
The best way to overcome tricks by the chair is to have several members ready to speak up ("let her speak") and vote to overrule the chair.
Mistakes to Avoid
- Don't have the same people always speak. Ask others to help out.
- Have people prepared to speak. You may want to practice in advance. Talk it over.
- Don't make it personal. Stick to the issues.
- Don't speak too much. It's not how much you say, but how you say it and how you organize to back it up. Keep it short and to the point.
Use Meetings to Find Allies
Speaking up at union meetings is important. So is listening. Make a point of talking to other members who raise issues at a meeting. And be sure to get names and phone numbers. Many TDU members have found important allies by listening to other members and following up with them.
Follow Up by Informing Others
What do you say when a member asks, "What happened at the union meeting?" The most common response is, "If you wanted to know, you should have been there."
That won't help get other members involved in building a stronger union.
You're better off answering the question. Don't miss the opportunity to talk about issues that are important to you and draw other members into participating in the fight for a stronger union.
Interested in using union meetings to advance members' rights? Contact TDU to discuss your specific situation. Click here to send us a message.
March 15, 2013: More than 150 Teamsters gathered in New York City on March 9th for a day of educational workshops and stewards trainings.
The conference, organized by the N.Y. Chapter of Teamsters for a Democratic Union, brought together UPS workers, construction workers, school bus workers, dairy workers, and food warehouse Teamsters for workshops on grievance handling, legal rights, and just cause.
Commercial movers met in a special workshop on picketing rights and tactics to prepare for their contract fight, and UPS inside workers held a training on contract enforcement for part-timers.
More than 15 members from Providence Local 251 made the trip down to attend—they're planning their own education conference for May 4.
Sharpen Your Skills
"I needed to be there to sharpen my skills. The grievance handling workshop was a good refresher and the class on just cause provided great tips on defending members."
Kenny Yuen, Steward, Tops Moving & Storage, Local 805, New York
Learning Our Rights
"I learned a lot about my rights on the job at my first TDU conference. I brought along two co-workers and I’ll be working to get more members involved in TDU."
Evette Colón, Consolidated Bus Transit, Local 854, New York
"I was overwhelmed with the atmosphere of the conference—so many Teamsters from different industries, all working for change. I was impressed with the knowledge and skills many of my fellow TDU members have."
Lookman Thomas, Rhode Island Hospital, Local 251, Providence, R.I.
SAVE THE DATE!
2013 TDU CONVENTION
November 1-3, Chicago
The biggest Teamster educational and reform event of the year will once again be hosted by the Chicago Chapter. Save the date so you can join Teamsters from across the country who are organizing to win stronger contracts, enforcing our rights on the job and taking back our union.
5 Things Teamsters Can Do When the Contract Comes Down
1. Read Between the Lines
Last time, UPS walked away with concessions from the union and contract loopholes they've used to crush Teamsters. Make sure you study the fine print on harassment, technology, full-time jobs, subcontracting and other issues.
Freight Teamsters are on the watch against any concessions to their healthcare and wages.
2. Inform the Members
Carry a copy of the proposed contract with you. Organize parking lot or contract review meetings to go over the contract with other members and see if the proposals match up against the improvements we deserve.
3. Attend Local Contract Meetings
Attend the contract meeting called by the local. Make sure you get all your questions and concerns addressed. The companies have been putting out their propaganda—working Teamsters need to have a discussion of the real facts.
4. Don't Settle Short
If the contract doesn't deliver on our crucial issues, we have to come together, speak up, and be prepared to send our negotiators back to the table.
5. Join TDU
TDU and its UPS and freight networks are the only source of independent information about our contracts and pensions. Teamsters need these rank-and-file networks to push our union negotiators and the employers to deliver stronger contracts—and to help us enforce them once they're in place.
"The union and company need to see rank-and-file members paying attention and getting mobilized. The contract will only be as strong as our involvement.
"Study the proposed contract and read between the lines. Get informed now—read the updates from TDU, Make UPS Deliver, and the freight networks—so that we're not bamboozled by PR when the contract hits and so there can be resources to educate others when they have questions."
Michael Savwoir, TDU Steering Committee Co-Chair
TDU on the Move
See You On the Picket Lines
"We just held our first TDU meeting of the year in New York to make local organizing plans. Our first project is a Teamster Education Conference that's set for Saturday, March 9.
"We'll be holding workshops on everything from effective grievance handling to organizing 'street heat actions' to back organizing drives, strikes and contract campaigns.
"See you in these workshops and on the picket lines."
— Sandy Pope, Local 805 President, New York
A Movement For Change
"In Providence, we're holding monthly TDU meetings and building a movement for change in Local 251.
"More than 1,200 members signed our petitions to amend the Local 251 Bylaws to give members the right to elect our shop stewards and our contract negotiating committee, and to vote on officers' salaries.
"Informed and involved members make a stronger union. That's why we're organizing an education conference this spring. TDU is about putting information in members' hands so they can enforce their rights and have some power and dignity on the job."
— Matt Taibi, Local 251, UPS, Providence, R.I.
Arm Yourself With Information
"The Chicago chapter of TDU is looking forward to participating in the upcoming regional Labor Notes Troublemakers School and involving Teamsters.
"I've been glad to participate in Local 705's education program and attend a three-year labor studies course at DePaul University.
"The TDU Convention is a great place to learn, too. It gave me an opportunity meet other Teamsters and see how other locals are. I even got to meet and talk with some of the Wal-Mart strikers. I am excited to go to the one this year."
— Mike Bauhmart, Local 705, UPS Part-time Steward, Chicago
NY-NJ TDU Education Conference
Saturday, March 9
CUNY Law School, Long Island City, Queens
Join Teamsters and TDU members for a day of workshops to learn strategies for enforcing your rights and building a stronger union. For more information call NY TDU at 718-287-3283.
Southern New England Labor Education Conference
Saturday, May 4
Save the date for a day of labor education and solidarity. For more information contact Matt Taibi at 401-935-1663.
2013 TDU Convention
The biggest Teamster educational and reform event of the year will once again be hosted by the Chicago Chapter.
Save the date now so you can join Teamsters from across the country who are organizing to win stronger contracts, enforcing our rights on the job and taking back our union.
January 23, 2013: Know your rights and stay informed with resources from TDU.
$20. This comprehensive guide covers building your team, campaign do's and don'ts, phone and email lists, flyers, mailers, websites, Facebook, fundraising, negative attacks, observing the vote count, and much more. Click here.
$27.95. The indispensable survival manual for labor's frontline troops.
$8. The mechanics of the grievance procedure and organizing tips to involve members. Click here.
$10. This handy, clearly written guidebook is a roadmap to understanding and using one of the most effective tools available to transportation industry workers to enforce truck safety. Click here.
$22. Just Cause. Covers how to prepare and win discipline and discharge grievances, focusing on seven principles of Just Cause: fair notice, prior enforcement, due process, substantial evidence, equal treatment, progressive discipline and mitigating and extenuating circumstances. Click here.
Click here to order at TDU's online store.
Prices do not include shipping. Contact TDU for discounts on orders of five or more copies.
Make UPS Deliver with T-Shirts, Stickers and Tools to Help You Enforce the Contract
|UPS Driver Daily Log Book||End Part-Time Poverty at UPS Gear:
January 18, 2013: The annual TDU Convention will be the weekend of November 1-3, in
Chicago. The biggest Teamster educational and reform event of the year will once again
be hosted by the Chicago Chapter.
Save the date now so you can join Teamsters from across the country who are organizing
to win stronger contracts, enforcing our rights on the job and taking back our union.
The Steering Committee of Teamsters for a Democratic Union made the decision to return to Chicago, after considering options in Detroit, Cincinnati and Cleveland. The Committee has expressed interest in holding the 2014 convention in a new location.
Click here to get more info on the Convention and let us know you’re interested in attending.
You haven’t joined TDU yet? Click here to join today.
In 2012, TDU launched new campaigns to win stronger contracts, hold the line against concessions, take on corporate greed and rebuild Teamster power.
TDU wishes you and your family a warm, happy and healthy holiday season.
In the coming year, Teamsters and workers everywhere will face new challenges. TDU will be there. We’re proud to stand with you—and wish you and your families the very best in this holiday season.
The first "$100,000|
Club" in 1976.
(Copies of this
historic book are
available from TDU.)
November 26, 2012: It started in the mid-1970s, with an organization called PROD, the Professional Drivers Council. PROD collected hundreds of LM-2 financial reports on Teamster locals, joint councils and the International and began to analyze them, tracing all the multiple salaries, family connections, and more.
The "$100,000 Club" was born.
In 1979 PROD and TDU joined hands in one organization. TDU has published "The Club" annually ever since.
A look at the history shows how this research has changed Teamster financial priorities for the better.
By the mid-1980s, top Teamster officials were pulling down salaries of up to $609,000. Indexing this to the cost of living, that would be $1.28 million in today's dollars!
|Teamster President Jackie|
Presser makes an entrance
at the 1986 IBT Convention.
It was obscene. Along with that, they had private jet planes to ferry them to resorts.
TDU was exposing all of it with hard facts, and members were mad.
Then, on March 14, 1989, we won the Right to Vote for International officers. The plan adopted by the court tracked what TDU had proposed to settle the racketeering case filed by the Justice Department against top Teamster officials. The settlement came the day before the trial was to start.
TDU went to work, hard and fast. "Wanted" posters were issued, detailing top salaries of the incumbent members of the General Executive Board, such as Arnie Weinmeister, who pulled down $502,276 in 1989.
|These posters of high-living|
Weldon Mathis forced him
to withdraw from the 1991
Weinmeister then withdrew from the election. So did Weldon Mathis, General Secretary Treasurer of the IBT. TDU's "club" report took on new power.
Members were not going to vote for people pulling down these salaries. So the insiders picked R. V. Durham to run for president, an officer from North Carolina who had not yet reached those inflated salaries.
But TDU was on the move. TDU, along with Ron Carey, who was running for General President, proposed to limit salaries, especially multiple salaries. The Carey campaign grew.
So, Durham tried to head off our momentum. He proposed a watered-down version of the TDU proposal for the IBT Constitution, and it was passed at the 1991 IBT Convention. It set the General President's salary at $250,000 (plus a cost of living bump for every year an incumbent stays in office) and a ceiling: no International official could make multiple salaries totaling more than the General President's salary.
The corporate jets were sold. And Carey, after winning the election, sold the limousine they rode around in.
Ron Carey then made other reforms to change the union's priorities. He closed down the "area conferences" which paid 63 multiple salaries. A fresh wind was blowing.
But TDU continued to publish the "$100,000 Club" every year, without fail. Ron Carey was listed, just like everyone else. No salary has ever been left-out or altered.
The Club changed with the times and inflation. At first, the "$100,000" included expenses and allowances. But later, the line was change to $100,000 salary. Later still, it was changed to $150,000.
The Club makes a big difference in how Teamster dues money is spent. But still, too much of it goes to multiple salaries and to cronies, when it could be better spent on organizing, winning better contracts, and educating Teamsters.
TDU provides this information for members, because an informed membership makes a stronger union. It is nonpartisan. It is not an attack on those listed; many are hard working officers.
Click here to download this story as a leaflet.
Click here to download the 2012 $150,000 Club Report.
Click here to download TDU's Annual Teamster Salary Report. This longer report includes all officials who made over $120,000 in salary.
"TDU gives Teamsters information they can't get anywhere else. Knowledge is power, and TDU gives members their power. That's why Hoffa and certain officials hate TDU."
Phil Richards, Unified Grocers
Local 630, Los Angeles
November 21, 2012: Hundreds of members from every Teamster industry attended the three-day 2012 TDU Convention in Chicago, October 26-28.
New activists attended workshops on union rights and grievance handling to build union power. Stewards, officers and local reform committees led and participated in sessions on running for office, contract campaigns and defending healthcare and pensions. UPS and freight members met throughout the weekend to lay out plans for winning stronger contracts in 2013.
Karen Lewis, President of the Chicago Teachers Union, headlined the Saturday banquet with a speech on how she helped build a small reform group into a force that won the most significant strike to hit the labor movement in years.
Members and guests were there from Transport Workers Union Local 100, the New York State Nurses Association, Warehouse Workers for Justice, Labor Notes, and the Pension Rights Center.
TDU members voted to adopt an ambitious strategic organizing plan to grow TDU and build Teamster power through local and national contract campaigns, strengthening local TDU Chapters, and educational programs for new activists.
Members Elect New TDU Steering Committee
Those at the Convention elected the TDU Steering Committee for 2013. The International Steering Committee (ISC) is charged with overseeing the work of the organization–everything from legal and educational work to finances and fundraising–between Conventions.
The 2012 Convention elected 15 members and three alternates to the ISC, a diverse group of Teamster leaders and activists from across North America.
We are proud to welcome four new members to the Committee: Claudette Begin, a long-time leader from Local 2010 in California, and a delegate to the 2011 IBT Convention; Kangela Moore, from Local 237, New York, the largest local in the IBT; Leonard Stoehr, a union rep in Oregon Local 206, and a delegate to the 2006 and 2011 IBT conventions; and Nick Williams, a new TDU activist and hospital worker from Rhode Island Local 251.