May 22, 2012: The Central States Pension Fund last issued a quarterly financial and analytical statement for the second quarter of 2011, which is nearly a year behind.
The Independent Special Counsel to the Fund prepares these reports, and they are provided to Paul Alan Levy, counsel to TDU members and retirees who went to court to end the secrecy about this information. Teamsters for a Democratic Union makes the information available.
But late last year, there was a change in the independent counsel: Frank McGarr stepped down and then passed away last January, and retired federal judge David Coar took his place.
TDU contacted Judge Coar in mid-May, and he assured us the delay is only because of the transition, and that he expects to get out the third and fourth quarter 2011 reports very soon.
May 22, 2012: The amount of members' dues money that goes to an officer-only pension fund will nearly double next year to $9 million. And an even more exclusive plan, which is reserved for International officials only, is taking another $12.5 million in dues.
This announcement came in the April Funding Notice of the Teamster Affiliates Pension Plan. The International Union will pay $5 million in dues money in 2012, and increase the annual payment to $9 million in 2013.
The $9 million in dues money represents four times more than the total spent on the members’ strike and defense fund benefits last year (according to the IBT's LM-2 financial report). And it represents approximately half of what was spent on organizing (according to the IBT audited financial statement).
The Affiliates Plan is an officer-only pension fund. The plan was frozen in 1993 under IBT president Ron Carey so any Teamster who became a full-time officer or business agent after 1993 will not receive any pension from the fund.
If not for the freeze, the plan would be costing many millions more by now.
The International also pays millions of dollars into a separate fund, the "Family Plan," which provides pensions and huge lump sums to International officials.
In most cases, the International official getting the big lump sum is covered by multiple pension plans. The International union poured $12.5 million into this plan last year (according to the LM-2 report), and likely will increase that in 2013.
May 22, 2012: Freight Teamsters need to get organized into a national contract network before the upcoming negotiations, to defend what we have and improve what we can.
Freight Teamsters are starting to come together. It's no secret we've been on a rough road. Now is the time to get involved and put an end to concessions in our industry.
If we sit back, we'll continue to slide downhill. But we don't plan to sit back.
The National Master Freight Agreement (NMFA) expires on March 31, 2013, just ten months away. And the Hoffa administration is fond of giving the companies early bargaining, so you can expect negotiations to start later this year.
ABF is the lead dog in this bargaining round, because YRC has a concession addendum until 2015. But YRC Teamsters will be affected by this contract, too.
YRC wages are pegged at 85 percent of the contract wage, and so will go up (or even down) with the contract. YRC health benefits, working conditions and job protections (or lack thereof) are on the line, too.
No More Concessions
The TDU Freight Committee is bringing Teamsters together to say No Concessions—period. ABF is coming after givebacks. Freight Teamsters need to make clear early on that we will Vote No and reject any contract that includes concessions.
When management sees that, we will get a reasonable settlement.
The pension issue at ABF is going to be a lot easier this time around, because changes adopted by the Central States Pension Fund dramatically reduced ABF’s future pension costs.
In 2011 the Central States Pension Fund changed its rules so that no new contribution increases are required for contracts in Class 18, including ABF.
In the last contract, ABF paid increased pension contributions of about $3 per hour into the Central States. This time you can expect increases of zero. That is what was negotiated in the national carhaul agreement, and amounts to a big savings in labor cost.
Of course there are other pension funds that will require increased contribution levels, but the majority of ABF Teamsters are in Central States.
There is persistent talk that ABF will again demand to pull out of Teamster pension plans. This is a company scare tactic—and a non-starter. Teamster members at ABF will never vote to accept a contract with a pension pullout.
When we make that clear, it will be pushed off the bargaining table just like it was the last time around.
No concessions. No pension theft. And no distractions from the ABF lawsuit.
A National Contract Network
ABF and YRC Teamsters need to put any divisions aside and work together. In the short term, we've got to put a decisive end to the string of contract concessions in our industry.
In the long term, we've got to rebuild a strong national freight division.
Freight Teamsters and the TDU Freight Committee are planning local and national conference calls to launch a contract campaign to share information, defend our rights, and put forward contract proposals that can unite freight members.
Stay tuned for an upcoming website and Facebook page too.
Click here to contact TDU's Freight Network. Or call (313) 842-2600 or send an email to: freight [at] tdu.org with your questions or ideas, to sign up for contract updates and to get involved in the national freight
May 22, 2012: Subcontracting remains rampant throughout the UPS Freight system, and the International Union seems unwilling or incapable of protecting jobs.
In the next contract we need firm language on job protection, as good as in the National Master Freight Agreement. If ABF and YRC can do their road work with Teamster labor, why can't UPS?
The International union has again sent out a memo to local unions regarding the Dallas Local 745 grievance over subcontracting. The hearing has ended, briefs will be submitted by the union and company, and a decision is expected by July.
This is the only grievance we know that the union has arbitrated, and after two years, no result. In addition to real contract language banning subcontracting, we need real grievance procedure changes in the next contract.
May 22, 2012: UPS Freight Teamsters around the country wonder why the UPS Freight Truckload Division isn't part of the union.
Now that the clerks have been organized, it seems obvious that the TL section of the UPS Freight workforce would be the next target to bring into our union.
After all, the slogan for organizing at UPS has been "one company, one union" and these TL drivers can be seen in UPS Freight tractors and that’s the logo on their paychecks.
If you're a UPS Freight TL driver, we want to know your story and the issues you face.
Click here to contact TDU's UPS Freight Network or call (313) 842-2600.
Stay in touch. Have your say. Click here to visit UPSFreightTalk.org and sign up for email updates.
June 22, 2012: Thousands of New York City school bus drivers and aides safely transport kids every day. But many Teamsters work under substandard contracts with lower wages and benefits than other workers in their same industry, and even in their same union.
Local 854 drivers and school aides are working to change that. Workers at Empire State/Allied Bus Corporation started their campaign for a fair contract by circulating a membership survey to get members talking about the contract and find out the most important issues.
"The survey helped us reach out and get members talking," said TDU member and driver Pierre Jerome. "We collected phone numbers and emails and found members who want to get more involved in helping win a better contract."
For the first time Local 854 officials held a union meeting in Brooklyn—and members turned out to talk about the contract.
"Members spoke out about what we want in the contract and we elected a bargaining committee," said Margarette Peck-Adjohda, a bus aide and member of the bargaining committee.
The bargaining committee has adopted the bargaining goals members defined through the survey—raising pay and bringing benefits up to the level of the top school bus contract in the local.
Top pay in the Empire/Allied contract is $822.68 a week, while top pay for drivers at Consolidated Bus Transit, who are also represented by Local 854, is $1,099.70.
At present, the committee has not yet met with management.
Members know their campaign is far from over. "We don't want rumors to circulate and workers to be pitted against one another," said driver Vadim Tsipenyuk.
"Our goal is to build unity and keep members informed at every stage. We're not looking for problems. We're just looking to have the same contract that other school bus workers in our local do. That's not too much to ask."
We Only Want What's Fair
"Our goal is to build unity and keep members informed at every stage.
"We're not looking for problems. We're just looking to have the same contract that other school bus workers in our local do. That's not too much to ask."
Vadim Tsipenyuk, Bus Driver, Local 854, New York City
May 22, 2012: Vermont bus drivers welcome their new boss with a show of rank and file unity.
For years, Teamster bus drivers in Vermont were at odds with their General Manager, including a bitter battle over their last contract which ended in a rank-and-file victory.
So members were happy to get the news that a new General Manager was on the way.
Then, stewards received letters at their homes from management telling them not to interfere with any company investigations.
"That was really the last straw," said Local 597 member Robert Slingerland. "Members were angry and wanted to do something to show that things had to change."
When the new General Manager came on the job, the members decided to show some solidarity.
"We wanted to show the new management that we're united and we're not going back to the way things were before," explains TDU member Scott Ranney.
Members circulated a petition in support of their stewards—56 out of 60 drivers signed the
petition. Slingerland then had 56 buttons reading "SOLIDARITY" made, and distributed them to the members who signed the petition.
When their new General Manager came on the job, members wore the buttons on the job for a whole week.
The show of unity paid off.
"We’re getting more respect and there’s fewer write-ups now," says Ranney.
"Drivers really liked the buttons and are still wearing them," says Slingerland. "Some wear two."
The honeymoon will probably not last long though. The bus drivers continue weekly meetings to discuss workplace issues and prepare to fight for a better contract when their current one expires in July 2013.
We're Not Going Back
"We wanted to show the new management that we're united. We're not going back to the way things were before."
Scott Ranney, Bus Driver
Local 597, Vermont
May 22, 2012: Runaway CEO pay is out of control and inequality is on the rise.
The ratio of CEO-to-worker pay between CEOs of the S&P 500 Index companies and U.S. workers widened to 380 times in 2011. Back in 1980, the average large company CEO only received 42 times the average worker's pay.
In 2011, average wages increased just 2.8 percent and average worker pay totaled $34,053. Average union wages, including Teamster wages, are higher, but in many cases they are frozen or even facing demands for concessions.
Both workers and shareholders have suffered over the previous decade. On Dec. 31, 2010, the S&P 500 Index closed 19 percent below its high on March 24, 2000. U.S. median household income fell $3,719 between 2000 and 2010.
Runaway CEO pay is one reason why income inequality is growing in the United States. A Congressional Budget Office report found that inequality has risen dramatically, with the top 1 percent receiving most of the income growth between 1979 and 2007.
What's more, a new study by economist Emmanuel Saez at the University of California shows that in 2010—the first year of the economy's recovery from the Great Recession—the top 1 percent captured 93 percent of the growth in income.
What can we do to take on corporate greed? First, build stronger unions, and a more aggressive labor movement. It’s no coincidence that inequality is growing as union power is shrinking.
Second, curb Corporate America's political power, so that reasonable regulations and limits will help working people get their share. TDU members are working together to rebuilding our union.
Adapted from the AFL-CIO report "Executive Paywatch" available here.
|TIMES MORE THAN AVG. WORKER
|Matthew K. Rose
|D. Scott Davis
|John F. Brock
|David P. Steiner
|James L. Welch
|Wesley B. Kemp
*Salary information from 2008
Sources: AFL-CIO, Kansas City Business Journal, Oregon Live, Forbes
UPS CEO Scott Davis is a prime example of the inequality between what a CEO makes and what the average worker makes.
He makes in one hour what a worker makes over the course of a year.
"All UPS seems concerned about is profit. UPS hourlies are pushed to their max and real safety concerns do not exist anymore.
"UPS ought to put people before profit and employee safety and customer satisfaction first."
Craig Karnia, UPS, Local 705, Chicago
Coca-cola CEO John F. Brock made over $10.5 million in 2011. The average pay for a worker at Coca-Cola is between $14.62 and $21 an hour.
"Coca-cola made record profits in the first quarter of 2012. Yet last contract here in Syracuse they took away our union pension and we went to a company plan. Our health care costs went up. Instead of retro-pay for the year we went without a contract, we got a $500 bonus."
Scott Alcantara-Thomson, Coca-Cola, Local 317, Syracuse, N.Y.
When former CEO of YRC Bill Zollars stepped down he got $10 million in one lump sum while we took concessions. New CEO Jim Welch made $2 million in his first year.
"After the 15% giveback we've got folks losing their houses. The big wigs aren't doing anything and they're just making way too much money. I'll never make $2 million in my life."
Skip Wones, Holland, Local 957, Dayton, Ohio
May 22, 2012: New York Local 111 is merging into Local 202. Why would a local of office workers in the telecom industry merge into a local based in the big produce central market?
Because Dan Kane Sr. is in the process of turning the family business over to his son, Dan Kane Jr. Kane Sr. heads Local 111, and Kane Jr. heads Local 202. Between them they made nearly $400,000 in total compensation last year.
Kane Sr. is an International vice president, and hopes to turn that position over to Junior when he retires.
The way to build Teamster power is with locals that bring together workers in the same industries, such as construction, warehousing, public employment, trucking, etc. Divide-and-weaken is the employers' game, and our union should not join it.
May 22, 2012: Teamster carhaulers have heard the rumors that Chrysler will start an in-house operation to haul its cars. The fact is that Chrysler has already started at its Windsor, Ontario van plant, and it may well spread to the U.S.
Chrysler has a number of driveaway workers at the Windsor plant, and a small number of Chrysler-owned car carriers, with more rigs coming soon, to move cars over the Ambassador Bridge to Michigan yards. The workers are in the Canadian Auto Workers, not the Teamsters.
It is unlikely that Chrysler will try to take over deliveries to dealerships. But reportedly Chrysler has orders in for some 33 carhaul rigs, and could start using them in the U.S. to move cars from plants to marshalling yards and railheads, as they are doing at the Windsor plant.
We haven't heard one word from the IBT Carhaul Division on this important development, or any plan to ensure protection of Teamster jobs and the Teamster national contract. We need leadership that is pro-active, not merely reactive.
Has Hoffa Abandoned Carhaul?
Most carhaul work in Eastern Canada has been lost by the Teamsters to the CAW, which represents the workers at Allied, Gen Auto, and AWC in Ontario and Quebec. The Chrysler work out of the Brampton, Ontario plant is handled by Teamsters employed by Cassens and CCT.