Defending Our Rights
“I was amazed at the support and solidarity from my fellow Teamsters at my first TDU Convention.
“Back in New York, we’re working with our brothers at Elmhurst Dairy to fight illegal layoffs and defend their union rights. We’re building a network to educate more members, distribute Teamster Voice, and spread the TDU message in the local.”
Stephen Mohan, Tuscan Beyer Farms, Local 584, New York
Building Teamster Unity
“What I saw at the TDU Convention was a great demonstration of unity and strength, two ingredients of real unionism.
“The only way we’re going to survive is if we’re more united to take on the employers. I’m sharing the info I learned with members on my dock and bringing more members with me to next year’s Convention.”
Tyrone Turner, YRC, Local 667, Memphis
Get the Facts
“TDU doesn’t hide the facts. You get the straight story, and expert help from Teamster leaders, labor educators and the best labor attorneys around.
“In Spokane, we’re running to take back our local and use TDU resources to empower and educate more members.”
Derick Apatang, UPS, Local 690, Spokane
At the Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) convention last week, local officers and rank and filers dissected bargaining now underway with UPS, by far the largest employer of Teamsters at 250,000 members.
To an observer who's seen nasty concessions foisted on dozens of unions, it was remarkable to hear members focused instead on advances their union has vowed to win.
Even profitable companies like Verizon and GE have forced workers to pay more for their health care and to give up defined-benefit pensions for new hires.
There are two reasons UPS workers may not get hit with such demands this bargaining round.
One is that the truck drivers and package sorters and loaders who make profits for UPS ($1.66 billion in the third quarter this year) have leverage—their jobs can't be shipped overseas. Technology is enabling tremendous speedup, but workers can't be automated out of existence.
The other reason is TDU. Teamster officials are inclined to be quite bendable when it comes to the demands of their largest transmitter of dues money, but they know that TDU is publicizing their every move. At contract time tens of thousands of UPSers rely on the reform caucus for information and for analysis of why givebacks aren't necessary.
At a September 21 meeting of officers from all UPS locals, the Teamster leader in charge of UPS, Ken Hall, was rather vague on the union's goals, but officials did attack TDU five times from the mike.
Rank-and-File Opinion Counts
Because Teamsters have direct elections for officers, top officials have to pay attention to rank-and-file opinion, at least at UPS, where members are most likely to vote. Hall plans to succeed Hoffa as president. "Hall doesn't want to look like a turkey," said TDU organizer Ken Paff. A bad contract would certainly be remembered next election.
That's why the talk at the TDU convention was not of staving off health care cuts—as in just about every other union's contract fights in the last five years—but of how to enforce the contract and beat back harassment.
The five-year contract doesn't expire till July 31, 2013, but Teamsters President James Hoffa wants to get it out of the way by March. Hall has said he will not settle early unless harassment is dealt with to the union's satisfaction.
That would mean enforceable protections against excessive overtime—UPS drivers routinely work 10- and 11-hour days. And bosses' right to discipline workers based on monitoring would be restricted. Every second of a driver's day is now surveilled, using 200 sensors in their trucks and information continually transmitted through their hand-held tracking devices.
The anti-harassment demands put on the table by Teamster leaders mirror those made by TDU.
Concessions by Other Means
Big Brown is not asleep at the wheel, when it comes to squeezing more out of the workforce. After all, its execs need to hold up their heads at the country club, when all their corporate brethren are bragging about their own workers' concessions.
So UPS has chipped away at pensions in a subtler way than making new hires take 401(k)s. With the blessing of the Teamsters International, half the company's full-timers have been shifted out of a multi-employer pension fund and put into a UPS-only fund that saves the company money (while weakening retirement for non-UPS Teamsters).
And the company has long enjoyed one of the ugliest two-tier wage set-ups anywhere, with part-timers who move boxes from trailer to truck starting at just $8.50 an hour, with no health care for a year. Turnover means UPS pays very little in benefits for half its workforce.
Still, the full-time driver in brown who humps boxes to your door makes about $31 an hour, has family health insurance fully paid by the company, and gets a decent pension. There was some talk at the TDU convention that supervisors on the floor are talking up a two-tier wage. But no one believes UPS will go for 401(k)s.
The concessions its strategists are planning look far down the road. They want to give the work of over-the-road drivers to the lower-paid UPS Freight division.
But that may not happen in 2013, because organized rank-and-file workers at UPS can make a difference in their contract terms.
November 7, 2012: Voters have spoken and re-elected Barack Obama as President of the United States.
No matter which candidate you voted for, the most important days for political action may just be ahead of us.
Unions, including the Teamsters Union, were key to the election outcome. They donated money and powered get out the vote efforts that carried key states: Ohio, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, among others.
With the election behind us, our union needs to remember a basic principle: the only thing that keeps politicians standing up straight is pressure from both sides.
After Election Day, What's Next?
Political action can't just be about election day.
Employers and corporate politicians are already preparing to come after social security, medicare and education.
The labor movement needs to be ready to respond with an agenda that looks out for working families.
The Teamsters Union can help lead the way by mobilizing members and teaming up with other unions and community groups, not only to elect politicians, but to hold them accountable and to fight for good jobs, social security, pension protection and union rights.
Hold Our Union Officials Accountable Too
The same rules apply to Teamsters when it comes to holding our elected union leaders accountable.
At contract time, members have a right to know what's going in negotiations and to have a say in the contracts we have to live under.
With TDU's help, Teamsters are getting organized with Make UPS Deliver, UPS Freight Talk, No Freight Concessions, and in local contracts too, to fight for the contract protections we need.
Take the first step and join TDU. You can sign-up online by clicking here.
Learn more about how you can get involved by clicking here.
Sign up for email updates, send us a message, and visit these websites to learn more about TDU's membership networks:
Our hearts go out to all those who have been hit by Hurricane Sandy. You can help Teamster families by donating to the Teamsters Disaster Relief Fund.
The Teamster Disaster Relief Fund is accepting claims from Teamsters in areas that have been declared a "Federal Disaster."
You can help these union brothers and sisters by making a donation. Click here to make an online, tax-deductible donation.
Your donation will make a difference in the lives of Teamsters and their families.
If you are a Teamster in an area that has been declared a Federal Disaster, you can submit a claim to the Teamsters Disaster Relief Fund.
Click here to see a list of states and counties that have been declared a Federal Disaster.
For more information, contact the Teamster Disaster Relief Fund at:
Teamsters Disaster Relief Fund
c/o Human Rights Commission
25 Louisiana Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20001
November 2, 2012: Chicago Teachers strike leader Karen Lewis headlined a TDU Convention that brought together Teamsters from across the country for a weekend of education and union-power building.
In her address, Lewis, the President of the Chicago Teachers Union, told a riveted audience how she went from being the member of a small union reform group (the Committee of Rank-and-File Educators) to leading the biggest and most successful strike victory that the labor movement has seen in years.
"When you own your contract, your process, your democracy, you change the rules and win."
Karen Lewis, President, Chicago Teachers Union
The Vice President of the New York State Nurses Association, Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, told members that TDU had helped inspire her and other nurses to build a successful movement to reform their union of 35,000 nurses.
It was all part of TDU's 37th annual convention, which focused on the challenge of rebuilding Teamster power in tough economic times.
Teamsters attended more than 20 workshops on pensions, healthcare, grievances, contract campaigns, legal rights, running for union office, and rank-and-file organizing.
UPS Teamsters held a meeting on contract negotiations as did UPS Freight and Freight Teamsters. Teamsters from other industries met also, and workshops were held on winning better local contracts.
Members elected a new Steering Committee of 18 to lead TDU for the coming year.
The committee includes four new members: Kangela Moore, a public employee from New York Local 237, Nick Williams, a hospital Teamster from Rhode Island Local 251, Leonard Stoehr, a union rep from Oregon Local 206, and Claudette Begin, from California Local 2010.
Following Lewis's keynote address, inspired members donated $46,000 to TDU and the reform movement. Members who were not able to attend the TDU Convention are sending in donations with the goal of bringing the fundraising total over $60,000.
"The workshops and information at the TDU Convention are amazing. And I was inspired to meet so many Teamsters who share the same vision of what Teamster members need today and where our union needs to go.
"That's why I stepped up to donate $250. And I'll be back next year too."
Tony Medeiros, Local 251, Rhode Island Hospital
June 28, 2012: Corporate profits are up. Wages are falling. It's time to draw the line against corporate greed.
The pundits love to blame unions for wrecking the economy. The economy is a wreck alright—but for workers, not the corporations.
Corporate profit margins are actually at an all-time high. Companies are making more per dollar of sales than any time in history.
But wages as a percentage of the economy are at an all-time low. These numbers got worse with this recession, but they've been trending the wrong way for decades.
Income for the bottom 90 percent has been flat since 1973. Over the same period, the income of the top 1 percent has tripled.
In a bad economy, unions have been under attack and on the defensive. Upcoming national contract negotiations are an opportunity to start to turn the tide.
UPS is the biggest union employer in North America and with $4 billion in profits last year it's also one of the richest. Brown has quadrupled its CEO's compensation while freezing starting pay and cutting full-time jobs.
The country needs more good jobs, not less. The UPS contract can be a rallying point for our union and the public. Let's raise the flag.
The freight contract is another place to draw the line. ABF hauled in $1.9 billion in revenue last year and gave its CEO a 35 percent raise. But the corporation wants working Teamsters to take a pay cut.
Freight Teamsters at ABF are uniting with YRC Teamsters to say NO to concessions in the freight contract, a cornerstone of our union's power. The UPS Freight contract, which covers 12,000 members, will be another key test.
Corporate America has pushed too far. It's time to push back. Click here to contact TDU to find out how you can join the movement to get our fair share.
Source: Business Insider: June 22, 2012
Teamsters from across the country are making their plans to be at the TDU Convention, Oct. 26 - 28 at the Chicago Holiday Inn O'Hare. Save the date and make your plans to be there.
Click here to register online today and get the early bird discount.
UPSers Need to be There
"UPS Teamsters who want a stronger contract in 2013 need to be at the TDU Convention. The Convention brings UPSers together from across the country to share strategies for standing up to the company."
Keith Gary, UPS Local 804, New York
Protecting Our Union
"I was disappointed in the low-turnout in last year's election. But instead of giving in, I'm stepping up and getting active. We need to educate each other and organize to protect our union. That's why I’m going to my first TDU Convention this October."
Don McClure, YRC Local 728, Atlanta
Join Up With Members From Across Our Union
"The TDU Convention is the one place rank-and-filers can go to join up with other members from across our union who believe in the Teamsters and want to rebuild our power."
Phil Richards, Unified Grocers Local 630, Los Angeles
May 22, 2012: Key contract negotiations are coming up and the International Union is gearing up for early bargaining. Members who want good contracts need to gear up too.
A quarter of our 1.3 million Teamsters are covered by national contracts which will be bargained in the coming year at UPS, UPS Freight, and the freight industry.
These contracts set Teamster standards, especially on health benefits and pensions, for hundreds of thousands of other Teamsters.
Employers want early bargaining and to settle the contracts before they expire. The Hoffa administration's strategy is to go along with early bargaining and try to get a reasonable contract offer in exchange for negotiating an early deal.
The problem is, employers only bargain reasonably when they see Teamster members are united and prepared to reject a bad contract offer and to win the contract improvements we deserve.
That's where Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) comes in.
TDU brings Teamsters together to send our employers a united message: we are willing to bargain early but we are not willing to settle short and mortgage our future.
TDU is building contract networks at UPS, in freight, at UPS Freight and in local contracts too.
Working Teamsters are getting involved by signing up for email updates, distributing contract bulletins, participating in conference calls, and using social media to share concerns and swap strategies.
At UPS, drivers are uniting to fight for their pensions and defend themselves from production harassment, excessive dispatch, and management abuse of technology and “dishonesty” language.
Part-timers and inside workers are organizing a national campaign to win higher pay and more full-time jobs.
Freight Teamsters at ABF, along with YRC, are organizing a campaign against any concessions in the next freight contract.
Important local contracts are coming up too, and TDU will lend a hand where Teamsters want to organize a local contract campaign.
Your contract is your future. Negotiations aren't a spectator sport. If you want to get something out, you've got to put something in.
Click here to contact TDU to find out how you can get involved.
The TDU Convention provides Teamsters with the best member education and organizing trainings anywhere. Meet Teamsters from across our union October 26-28 at the Chicago Holiday Inn O'Hare to get the information, advice and skills we need to turn our union around.
Education. Inspiration. Dedication.
"You get more education at the TDU Convention than in a lifetime of going to union meetings. You'll meet hundreds of likeminded Teamsters who are organizing to return our union to the members.
"After last year's convention, we came home more dedicated than ever to keep the fight going. Make your plans today to get to Chicago this October."
John Scoles, URM Grocery Warehouse, Local 690, Spokane
Teamsters from across our union are joining TDU.
We asked some new members why they signed up.
Here's what they had to say.
Educating Members To Fight Back
"At Rhode Island Hospital, we weren't getting the representation we deserve and management had our backs against the wall.
"I joined TDU to get the support and education we need to fight back. Now we're filing grievances and being taken more seriously."
Matthew Martins, Rhode Island Hospital
Local 251, Providence
Informing The Membership
"I joined TDU because I believe a union must be transparent and communicate with its members to be trustworthy and effective.
"TDU provides IBT members with information they won't get anywhere else. A good decision on issues can only be made when members have all the information. Thanks TDU!"
Susan White, Police Dispatcher
Local 2010, California
Uniting Teamsters Across the Country
"TDU works to unite UPS Teamsters all across the country with information members need to enforce our contract.
"I joined to get the education necessary to help other members build our union."
Reginald Harvey, UPS Part-Time
Local 705, Chicago
Organizing to Win Stronger Contracts
"I joined TDU to be part of a network of UPS Freight Teamsters from around the country.
"We're all concerned about our next contract and want to make sure that there are real improvements. That will take an organized contract campaign and TDU is the best place to get started."
Veronica Norton, UPS Freight City Driver
Local 728, Atlanta
Click here to join TDU.