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
December 7, 2009: The Teamsters campaign to pressure GM and Chrysler to stop eliminating good Teamster jobs continues. GM and Fiat Chrysler have been targeted because they are aggressively trying to replace Teamster carhaul jobs with low-paid nonunion labor.
Both corporations received billions in taxpayer bailouts. That money was to help preserve the industry and good jobs.
The IBT has called on Teamster carhaulers and others to help handbill targeted dealers. Find out more at www.carbuyersbeware.com
December 7, 2009: The IBT Carhaul Division seems to be operating a concession-stand where anything goes. It’s open season for mileage cuts, percentage pay deals, hourly cuts, border agreement waivers, you name it.
Most Cassens drivers are working for 11 percent under scale. Several locals have agreed to wage-cuts for certain traffic. The Canada-USA border agreement has been scrapped in Michigan and Buffalo.
The worst thing is that it is all being done without a union plan or any accountability. It’s being done terminal-by-terminal and local by local.
Sometimes it’s even local against local. Detroit Local 299 has given Jack Cooper a 15 percent wage cut to open a shop in Detroit. Teamster mechanics at other Jack Cooper shops, who will lose work, have been offered the right to transfer; that is, to relocate and take a wage cut.
Some of the “votes” are not even by secret ballot, and often with nothing on paper to vote on, simply a “take my word for it.”
A number of locals have approved a 25 percent of revenue deal for hauling used cars. In most cases, nothing was on paper and the “votes” were done by calling or visiting people one at a time.
A deal on hauling used cars may be a good idea, to try to take some business from nonunion operators. But it should be done nationally, on paper, with a plan to organize, and approved by a legitimate Teamster vote.
The time for a real union plan is long overdue.
December 7, 2009: Two Teamster officials are under fire for allegedly sexual harassing their staff and other Teamster members. One has already resigned.
These shocking cases are a wake-up call that our union officials can’t tolerate sexual harassment.
In September, TDU.org broke the news that Jim Santangelo, the head of Joint Council 42, used members’ dues to settle a $500,000 sexual harassment suit filed by an employee at the Joint Council.
Last year Santangelo made $317,398 in total compensation as head of the Joint Council, head of Local 848, and one of Hoffa’s International Vice Presidents.
The plaintiff, a former secretary at JC 42, alleged a long list of despicable acts were committed against her.
For example, she alleges that when she asked for a raise, Santangelo would only meet to discuss it at a hotel restaurant, where he stated “What if I said you can make $700 a week more if all you did was pass through those doors and go to a room with me?”
“You Gotta Go!”
Santangelo tried to hold on to his job. 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 of 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.”
Local 995 President Fired
In Las Vegas, the alleged victim is a Teamster officer, Helen Green, the elected President of Local 995.
On Nov. 13, she filed a complaint in court alleging that Local 995 Secretary-Treasurer Mike Magnani “engaged in a concerted effort to harass and intimidate her in retaliation for her refusal to have sex with him.”
Before filing suit, Green complained to the head of Joint Council 42—Jim Santangelo. He promised to take action, but only if Green dropped her discrimination complaint. Instead, Magnani fired Green from her position as business agent.
Green is suing the local union, joint council and IBT for reinstatement into her full-time position, and back pay and damages that total over $600,000.
A Wake-Up Call
Some of our union’s top officials are sending the wrong message to women about what our union stands for. Not one of Hoffa’s 26 voting members of the General Executive Board is a woman.
These two cases should serve as a wake-up call that our Teamsters Union needs to live up to its best ideals of respect for women, and of a zero-tolerance policy against sexual harassment and discrimination.
It’s time for members in L.A. and Vegas to get involved and take back their locals.
“The new head of Local 848 has refused to say how he would be any different from Santangelo,” Alcazar said.
“We’ve got to bring members together and clean the local out, top to bottom.”
Nationally, we need a leadership that is more interested in working for ALL members than covering up for cronies.
December 7, 2009:On Dec. 1, Reddaway Teamsters in Washington and Oregon narrowly rejected a proposed contract which the IBT and YRC agreed to.
By a 214-208 vote the Teamsters at YRC’s regional carrier said No, and will retain their contract wages and benefits until a contract is ratified.
The union bargaining committee, which includes a number of stewards, has been willing to consider concessions but not everything the company wants. Three months ago Hoffa appointed International Rep Bob Paffenroth as Chairman of the bargaining in a move to try to get a deal done.
December 7, 2009: In an unprecedented power grab, Hoffa has claimed the authority to abolish the Chicago-area freight contracts, and imposed the National Master Freight Agreement on 2,000 Teamsters, most of whom work for YRC.
The five affected locals—179, 301, 673, 705, and 710—were apparently not even consulted, nor were the members given a vote on abolishing their contracts. The attack came on Nov. 24 via a three paragraph memo.
How can this memo overturn a signed and binding contract between a local union and the employers, which does not expire until 2013? Chicago Teamsters are demanding an answer to that question.
The reason for the power grab became clear a week later when International Vice President Pat Flynn and Freight Director Tyson Johnson showed up at the Chicagoland YRC and Holland terminals to give the members a hard sell to approve concessions.
Essentially it came down to this: vote Yes or YRC will close its doors. The Dec. 8 vote will be after we go to press.
The Chicago locals have bargained separately for 45 years, generally getting the same wage increases but setting a better standard on some terms.
This has benefited all freight Teamsters, because higher standards in one area make it easier for others to win those improvements in the next round.
The late James R. Hoffa once stood in front of the Local 705 membership and urged the freight members to give him the power to bargain their contract. They voted No.
Another Hoffa now wants to deny them any right to vote.
But Chicago Teamsters are not ready to take it lying down.
December 7, 2009: VP Kemp said they’re happening. Tyson Johnson denied it. Who do we believe?
he company and Hoffa’s team have never shown much interest in how working Teamsters make ABF tick. They want to take it out of us in lean times but they never give us bonuses or improvements when their profit margins are fat.
Why the big comparison with YRC? We were always told by management that ABF wasn’t interested in the same accounts or freight that Yellow and Roadway went after. ABF was content carving out our own piece of the market. That’s why our numbers have been pretty stable and consistent over recent years.
Now, management says YRC got theirs, we want ours. Well, what’s in it for Teamster members? We need more than pleas for helping ABF compete with YRC. Remember, when Bear Stearns went down the drain, they kept pushing that on us as a reason to give up our pensions.
Let ABF open their books. I bet they’re far from the YRC situation. Sure, ABF numbers are down just like many other freight carriers. But they’re not catastrophic like YRC. ABF profits will bounce back with an upturn in the economy.
ABF and the IBT may want to dance around the topic of negotiations. Working Teamsters can bring their word games to a halt. Tell them loud and clear—we won’t vote for givebacks. Period.
By Paul Host, ABF Local 200, Milwaukee
December 26, 2009: UPS Freight drivers and dockworkers had high hopes when they signed on with the Teamsters.
Now, a couple years later, they’re looking at what needs to be improved.
UPS Freight Teamsters got a national contract, and some grievances have been won. But in key areas like subcontracting and written work rules, grievances have been filed but little progress has been made. The company is having its way, something that UPS is good at.
“A big issue at the South Holland terminal is the amount of subcontracting going on,” commented Rick La Fever, a road driver out of Chicago Local 710.
“The company has cut so many runs, giving the work to Covenant, Bison and Transport America. We could probably add 6-12 bids between Chicago and Minneapolis if we could get rid of the subcontracting.”
“I hear it’s going on other places so this is a serious problem. I know there are grievances filed but they’re bogged down in the process. So the company gets its way while good Teamsters are on layoff.”
Subcontracting of union work destroys jobs and weakens our union. But the IBT seems asleep at the wheel.
Other UPS Freight Teamsters report work rules are an issue. The contract states that within 60 days of ratification, the company and the union were supposed to establish a Joint Committee to document agreed upon work rules and practices in existence at the terminals. Any disputes were to be referred to the chairs of the company and union negotiating committees. It’s been nearly two years and no language is in place.
Management wants rules by region. Members and their stewards want work rules by terminal. Local officers say any decision on a procedure for establishing work rules needs to be resolved nationally. Ken Hall, the union chair of the committee, has said nothing.
In fact, the International Union has had little to say about UPS Freight since the ratification of the contract.
“The IBT made a lot of noise about bringing us into the union,” said La Fever, “but they haven’t shown much fire power in standing up for us.”
“I’m a second generation Teamster so I know our union is more than the officers. It will take the membership getting organized in the terminals if we’re going to make UPS Freight live up to the contract and get what we deserve.”
“The union is more than the officers. It will take the membership getting organized in the terminals if we’re going to make UPS Freight live up to the contract and get what we deserve.”
Rick La Fever, UPS Freight Local 710, Indiana
December 7, 2009: A new pension bill is working its way through Congress which could provide some needed relief to Teamster pension funds, but there are possibilities of changes that could cut some Teamster pensions.
The time for Teamsters to get informed is now, because this bill could soon be on a fast-track to become law. It is HR 3936 in the House, sponsored by Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) and Pat Tiberi (R-OH). Hearings on similar bills will soon be held in the U.S. Senate, and there could be various bills under consideration.
What is HR 3936?
The Pomeroy bill, HR 3936, has four parts that pertain to multi-employer plans, such as our Teamster pension plans.
It is strongly backed by the IBT, as well as by industry and major pension plans. Backers of the bill include Con-Way, ABF, Kroger, and YRCW.
Much of the bill provides some relief to pension plans hit by the stock market. The first two sections allow more time for pension plans to recover from their recent losses and extend the rehabilitation or funding improvement period for plans in the red or yellow zones, and provide other relief from the strict requirements of the Pension Protection Act of 2006.
These sections of the bill are widely supported and should become law. A third section makes it easier for pension plans to form alliances or possibly to merge operations.
The fourth section of the Pomeroy bill is the one we need to keep an eye on. It would allow troubled pension plans, in danger of insolvency, to “partition” their liabilities attributable to bankrupt or closed employers to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC).
Many thousands of retirees could get all or part of the pension from a new fund created within the PBGC, to cover so-called “orphan” participants, who worked for companies that have gone out of business and no longer contribute to our pension plan.
Who are the so-called “orphans” who would get some or all of their pension benefits from the PBGC?
They are good Teamsters who worked for Consolidated Freightways, Preston Trucking and hundreds of other companies that went out of business due to deregulation, mismanagement or corporate union-busting.
Teamsters presently working for YRCW, Allied Automotive Group and others, despite our best efforts to save those carriers, could possibly be labeled “orphans” in the future.
The goal of the bill is to save pension plans in danger of becoming insolvent in the future by shifting some liabilities to the PBGC. This is a good goal—but only if members don’t suffer big pension cuts in the process.
It would only affect Teamsters in very troubled plans, perhaps none at this time, but Teamsters and retirees in the Central States Fund could possibly come under this provision at some point.
Protect our Pensions
The PBGC was set up to insure workers’ pensions, but unlike the FDIC it guarantees only a fraction of what you’ve earned, especially in multi-employer plans.
The Pomeroy bill properly provides that affected Teamster “orphans” covered by the PBGC would receive the full benefits due to them. But bills often get changed or watered down as they go through Congress. That is the danger that we have to safeguard against.
The bill is already coming under attack by anti-labor Washington insiders. The Washington Times recently ran an Op-Ed denouncing the bill as a “bailout for struggling union pensions,” and a “sop to unions” that would “shovel” taxpayer money into failing funds.”
The anti-labor crowd conveniently forgets that the PBGC has never paid a dime to a retiree from our Teamster multi-employer plans because historically our funds have been more stable than single-employer plans.
Pressure will run high to water-down the bill’s protections. If that happens, and a troubled pension fund comes under the provision, then some Teamsters who worked for companies that have gone out of business could see their pensions slashed to a maximum of $13,000 (the Pomeroy bill would raise this maximum to $20,000). That is what we must prevent from happening.
The Pomeroy bill may very well be split into two pieces, to allow the financial relief portions to gain quick passage, and then hold aside the language providing for partitioning of troubled plans for consideration in 2010.
Stay Informed. Be Prepared to Act
It is vital that Teamsters stay informed. We support a positive bill—one that helps keep pension funds from failing by having the PBGC help finance the pensions of some retirees. But the PBGC needs to provide workers with real, not token, protection.
Safeguarding workers’ hard-earned pensions is in the interest of all Americans—and a matter of basic fairness. For decades, Teamsters have accepted lower wage gains in exchange for higher employer contributions to earn a good retirement.
We must be ready to contact every Congressman and Senator and organize visits to Washington to stop any legislation that would cut the pensions of Teamsters who earned them.
Get the latest pension news, sign up for email updates.
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
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