December 22, 2009: At the beginning of 2009, the head of Local 896 tried to merge his 3,000 members into Local 848—a local with a history of bargaining substandard contracts for SoCal beverage Teamsters.
Local 896 members got organized, spoke up and stopped the merger.
Local 896 is based in Los Angeles and represents 3,000 brewery and soft-drink workers across California.
In 2008, Local 896 principal officer Rene Medrano and Local 848 head Jim Santangelo began talks to merge their two unions.
Local 896 members at Coke and Pepsi had bargained side-by-side with Santangelo before. They had seen first-hand that he negotiated inferior contracts in their industry—often undercutting their own agreements.
Members formed the Committee to Save Local 896.
The committee produced educational bulletins that explained to members what they could expect in a local headed by Santangelo.
They let members hear from Local 848 members. They circulated information from the Independent Review Board and Election Officer that showed Santangelo made an illegal loan to himself and intimidated members who disagreed with him.
In January, when Santangelo showed up at a Local 896 meeting to sell the deal, members peppered him with tough questions.
When it was clear members wouldn’t accept the deal, Medrano tried to back away from it quietly. In February, members had to ask him point-blank if the deal was still on—and he admitted that the merger was off.
The Local 896 members who worked so hard to keep their local proud and independent are a good example of what members can do when they get informed and get organized.
This story is the second in a series on TDU.org. Click here to read about other Teamsters Who Made a Difference in 2009.
You can help TDU members keep making a difference in 2010. Click here to join TDU and support our work.
Read about Teamsters who made a difference in 2009—stopping bad mergers, protecting your right to information, and electing new leadership.
Let's resolve to work together to make our union stronger in 2010.
You can help TDU members keep making a difference in 2010. Click here to join TDU and support our work.
804 Members Unite for Change
Three years ago, Local 804 members launched a grassroots movement to fight benefit cuts and contract concessions. In December, their hard work paid off when the 804 Members United Slate swept their local union election with 68 percent of the vote. Read more...
North Carolina Teamsters Speak Out for Freedom of Speech
For two years, UPS management has tried to stop Teamsters in Lumberton, North Carolina from distributing Convoy. This summer, the rank-and-file members of Local 391 won a victory that strengthens the rights of all members to read and distribute TDU literature at work. Read more...
New York Movers Choose A New Direction for Local 814
After years of sell-out contracts and benefit cuts, members of New York Local 814 have voted for a new direction and a reform slate in their local union election. Read more...
Local 896 Members Save Their Union
At the beginning of 2009, the head of Local 896 tried to merge his 3,000 members into Local 848—a local with a history of bargaining substandard contracts for SoCal beverage Teamsters. Local 896 members got organized, spoke up and stopped the merger. Read more...
848 Members Tell Santangelo: “You Gotta Go!”
For years, Jim Santangelo ruled Joint Council 42 with an iron fist. But when Santangelo used union resources to settle a sexual harassment suit against him, hundreds of members organized and forced him to resign. Read more...
TDU.org is running a series of stories about Teamsters who made a difference in our union in 2009. Check back to read more about other members who made a difference.
December 18, 2009: For years, Jim Santangelo ruled Joint Council 42 with an iron fist. But when Santangelo used union resources to settle a sexual harassment suit against him, hundreds of members organized and forced him to resign.
Until this Fall, Santangelo was one of the most powerful and well-paid Teamster officials in the union: the principal officer of Local 848, the head of southern California Joint Council 42, and one of Hoffa’s International VPs. He made $317,398 in total compensation last year.
For years, he threatened members in his local that they would lose their jobs if they spoke out against him or his contracts.
Then in September, TDU.org broke the news that Santangelo settled a sexual harassment suit from one of his clerical staff for $500,000. Santangelo didn’t pay one cent of the settlement even though he admitted to outrageous misconduct.
Santangelo tried to keep the settlement quiet, and JC 42 officials congratulated him on his years of service. But the members of Local 848 organized to force him out.
On Oct. 25, nearly 500 members packed into a Local 848 meeting. The crowd chanted “You Gotta Go!”
Santangelo resigned all his positions four days later.
“Santangelo used fear and intimidation to keep members quiet. Look where that got us,” said Bulmaro Alcazar, a US Foods driver in Local 848.
“As a member of this union, it’s my responsibility to make my voice heard. Jim Santangelo’s horrible actions send the wrong message about what our union is all about.”This story is the first in a series of TDU. Check back to read more about other Teamsters who made a difference in 2009. You can help TDU members keep making a difference in 2010. Click here to join TDU and support our work.
For over three decades, hundreds of thousands of Teamsters have turned to Convoy Dispatch as the most reliable source of news about what’s really happening in our union.
Now that same reliable information you count on has a new name: Teamster Voice.
This November, members at the TDU Convention voted to approve the name change.
Why? “Our newspaper has been the voice for working Teamsters for over three decades,” said Michael Savwoir, a member of Local 41 and a co-chair of TDU’s International Steering Committee. “It was time for a new name that speaks to all Teamsters. When we saw the name Teamster Voice, we knew this one was it.”
We intend to be a voice for Teamster members, and Teamsters need a stronger voice in our union. If you agree, spread the Voice to your fellow Teamsters. And give us your ideas, so we will be your voice.
TDU published the first issue of our newspaper back in 1976, under the name Convoy. The name changed to Convoy Dispatch in 1979 when TDU merged with PROD, an organization formed to promote drivers’ safety and health.
Members submitted over 300 suggestions for the new name. Thank you to all members who participated in our contest and helped give our movement’s newspaper a new name.
December 7, 2009: In a speech at the TDU Convention, Butch Lewis talked about what it will take to get our union on the right track.
We all know times are tough. The country faces the worst recession any of us has seen. Members are angry and frustrated. Over the past year we’ve seen our wages cut by 15 percent. YRC is no longer paying towards our pension. Members are anxious to know what’s next. That’s not a great situation to be working under. And it’s not something we can live with over the long haul.
So what do we do? How can things be turned around? Hoffa talks about Teamster power and pride but those are just empty words coming from him. The membership isn’t experiencing any sense of power or pride. Real power and pride have to be earned—and that takes a tremendous amount of hard work and commitment.
Hoffa and many of our officers like to strut around and act big but they’re really just a bunch of blow hards and stiff suits. We’ve had ten years of their so-called leadership and I’m not sure if we can survive another two. We need change badly.
Start at the Grassroots
Now whether or not you voted for Obama, and we can discuss how that’s going over dinner or beers this evening, you have to recognize that he and his team organized a grassroots effort during the primaries that gave people a sense of movement and hope. People responded because they wanted change and they saw somebody giving direction.
We need to learn from that experience and bring it into the Teamsters. Regular folks can make a difference if they can organize a grassroots effort that makes sense.
A couple months back, I said to myself, if not TDU, who? And that’s the question and challenge I pose to other Teamsters. Who is going to help us turn this dire situation around? We need to challenge our brothers and sisters to get off the sidelines and into the game. TDU gives us the best odds for winning.
TDU has the track record of getting the information and the know-how out to Teamsters that want to make a difference. Many, many Teamsters read the website and count on TDU for what little information and perspective we can get. That knowledge is crucial as the basis for forging our campaign to change this union.
Build an Army
We need to take those readers and turn them into an army of thousands of Teamsters who are a galvanized force in our union. Those thousands can reach out to thousands more. We need to focus all the discontent out there into a positive movement to retake our union.
Hoffa Junior play acts at leadership. We’re serious about how necessary and important real leaders need to be. It starts with a commitment and then a plan. Our message to all those frustrated and angry Teamsters is, YOU and WE—the membership—are the leaders we’re looking for.
In these tough times, it’s up to us to make it happen in our workplaces and our locals. It’s now or never as far as I’m concerned and I’m heartened and gratified I’m in this fight with all of you.
“We need to challenge our brothers and sisters to get off the sidelines and into the game. TDU gives us the best odds for winning.”
By Butch Lewis, Holland Local 100, Cincinnati
Teamsters came from across our union to the 34th Annual TDU Convention.
They attended over 20 workshops and meetings, heard from members who are making a difference, and set the course for our movement for 2010.
We Can Rebuild Our Power
“The problems at YRC and in our benefit funds didn’t come out of nowhere. The crisis we’re facing today is the result of ten years of misleadership at the top of our union.
“The last bargaining round of master contracts was the most concessionary in our union’s history. Instead of seizing the opportunity to unite UPS, UPS Freight and freight Teamsters in a common cause, Hoffa took the easy way out.
“In the absence of a union plan, Hoffa went along with UPS’s corporate plan—concessions, a pension pullout at UPS and a weak deal at UPS Freight that undermined the NMFA and our benefit funds.
“The decisions we make have consequences for our future. We’re paying the price for those bad decisions now. It’s not Monday morning quarter-backing if you were warning the coach about the game plan before the team took the field.
“I know that Teamster Power can be rebuilt. It starts with activating Teamster members. That job is up to all of us.”
Tom Leedham, Secretary-Treasurer, Local 206, Oregon
“I joined TDU so I wouldn’t feel like I was all by myself. TDU is the only organization out there for Teamsters to get the training and education we need to protect our rights and change our union. That’s why I donated $500 this year.
“I’m proud we raised over $36,000 in Cleveland, especially in the times we’re in. If you’re a TDU supporter, chip in. Every bit will help.”
John Youngermann, UPS Local 688, St. Louis
Taking the Lessons Home
“We came to TDU to get help to prepare for our contract negotiations. TDU members have showed us how they’ve organized contract campaigns that won better wages and working conditions. Now we’re putting some of those strategies to work for us.
“Local 597 members took up a collection to send six of us to the TDU Convention. The legal advice from attorneys and the workshops on grievance procedures were great—we’ve already filed a bunch of grievances since the convention and are talking up TDU every day.”
Scott Ranney, CCTA, Local 597, Vermont
Fighting for Black Teamsters
“At the TDU Convention, African-Americans met to discuss issues affecting us in our union and to talk about how we can fight discrimination and develop African-American leadership.
“Are you concerned about what’s happening on the job, in your local and in our International Union? Get in touch.
“Working together, we can build a stronger union for ALL Teamsters.”
Willie Hardy, TDU Organizer, Local 667, Memphis
Be a Part of TDU
“The TDU Convention is the best place for members to learn about the trends and abuses in our workplaces and how to fight them. We need to go back to our locals and share with others the lessons we’ve learned, like the use of telematics at UPS and how to protect yourself from management harassment.
“I’ve been coming to the Convention for years. This year, I felt it was my time to run for the ISC and use what I’ve learned to help TDU reach more members. Members don’t have to be afraid of our companies and TDU has the tools to help members confront the neglect from some officials.”
Craig Karnia, UPS, Local 705, Chicago
Puerto Rico Teamsters ¡Presente!
Teamsters in Puerto Rico are building a new TDU chapter and sent a delegation of 9 members to the TDU Convention. “Teamsters in Puerto Rico are joining TDU to build a movement for change,” said Jose Grajales who delivered 20 new TDU memberships at the Convention.
As we go to press, a National Labor Relations Board trial is underway on charges that Local 901 officials failed to represent fired Coke workers—and expelled three reform candidates—because of their support for a reform campaign in the local union election.
For more details on the this case and how Teamsters in Puerto Rico are uniting for change, go to www.tdu.org/PRchange
Watchdog. Information source. Voice of working Teamsters. TDU is all of those things. But first and foremost we’re a group of Teamster members working together to enforce our contracts and hold our leaders accountable.
Put the YOU in the TDU.
Information You Won’t Get Anywhere Else
Too many Teamster officials want to keep the members in the dark. I’m able to stay on top of issues in my local and in the grocery industry because TDU keeps me informed.
“But TDU is more than just an information source. We’re a group of members all across our union who are working for change and a stronger union. Don’t take that for granted. Support TDU today.”
Phil Richards, Unified, Local 630, Los Angeles
The Tools to Make a Difference
“We’ve been building TDU in Local 814 since 2001. We’ve been through two strikes and run for office more than once. Now that work is paying off. We swept our local election with 72 percent of the vote!
“TDU gives members the tools to make a positive difference in our union. But if you want change, you have to pick up the tools and get to work. What are you waiting for? Join TDU and get involved now.”
Walter Taylor, Commercial Mover, Local 814, New York
Click here to join Teamsters for a Democratic Union today.
Thanks to everyone who submitted names for TDU's newspaper.
The contest is now closed.
Local 89 member Wayne Sharp submitted the winning entry.
November 13, 2009: Teamster members and local officers came from across the country to learn from each other and make plans to change the direction of our union, at the 34th annual TDU Convention.
“I didn’t know what to expect at the TDU Convention, but it was a great experience. The classes, the good Teamsters I met. I will definitely be back next year,” said Fred Avila, a UPS inside worker from Local 952 in Laguna Niguel, California.
Make sure you’re there next year: The 2010 TDU Convention will take place Nov. 5-7 near Chicago at the Wyndham O’Hare Airport Hotel.
The workshops at the TDU Convention are taught by some of the best union leaders and experts around. Join us this Nov. 6-8 at the Cleveland Airport Sheraton for workshops on:Writing and Investigating Grievances
- Bargaining to Protect Jobs
- Legal Rights on the Job and in the Union
- Advanced Grievance Handling
- Preparing the Tough Discharge Case
- Running for Local Union Office
- Using the Family and Medical Leave Act
- The Future of Teamster Pensions
- Working Safe, Working Smart at UPS
- Understanding the Economic Crisis
- Organizing to Dump Hoffa
- And much more, including Q&As with legal experts, industry meetings, and caucus meetings for African-American, Latino, and women Teamsters.
Click here to register for the TDU Convention.
UPS Teamsters: Share Contract Enforcement Strategies
“The TDU Convention is our chance to compare notes with UPS Teamsters from across the country.
“I’m looking forward to sharing strategies on how we can protect members from production harassment and unfair discipline. I also want to hear how UPS is using new technology, like telematics.”
Mark Day, Local 705 Package Car Steward, Chicago
Win Stronger Contracts
“A group of us will be coming out to the TDU Convention together—and we can’t wait.
“TDU workshops in Vermont have already helped give us tools to unite the members and get ready for contract bargaining.
“We’re looking forward to meeting Teamsters from across the country and getting more training on how to win a strong contract and enforce our rights.”
Scott Ranney, Bus Driver, CCTA, Local 597, Vermont
Want to find out more? Call TDU at (313) 842-2600.