Chicago Power Play
August 22, 2012: Chicago Teamster honcho John Coli has used his muscle to install pal Becky Strzechowski at the helm of a 12,500-member local.
It's the latest power grab by Coli who has set his sights on succeeding Hoffa.
Teamster power broker John Coli has done it again. He's ousted the president of Chicago Local 700 and installed pal Becky Strzechowski to take the helm of the 12,500-member public sector local.
Coli also dissolved an entire Joint Council, merging nine locals and 16,000 members into Joint Council 25.
Not a bad month's work. But it's been that kind of year for the ambitious Teamster politician.
In the spring, Coli used his leverage to land an even bigger prize for Strzechowski—the seat on the General Executive Board of the International Union that was vacated by the tragic death of Local 705 President Steve Pocztowski.
Strzechowski's appointment to the GEB was a shocker and something of an insult to other Chicago Teamster leaders. Strzechowski's only Teamster experience is serving as Coli's aide and inheriting positions he lined up for her.
Strzechowski's fortunes show it's not what you know, it's who you know. Come to think of it, so do Coli's.
Coli inherited Local 727 from his father, James Coli, who was barred from the Teamsters because of organized crime accusations.
Coli has been dogged by similar charges. He famously had Hoffa fire anti-corruption czar Ed Stier to stop his investigations into corruption in the Chicago Teamsters.
Coli's checkered past hasn't kept him from eyeing the General President's chair.
Ken Hall is the Hoffa administration's presumptive heir apparent. But other officials covet the job, and not just Coli. Boston's Sean O'Brien and Northern California's Rome Aloise harbor not-so-secret ambitions of their own.
Teamster leadership should be earned, not inherited.
TDU brings members together to defend our contracts, benefits and rights. Our union needs more Teamster power builders and fewer Teamster power brokers.
UPS Freight Teamsters Discuss Contract
August 22, 2012: Negotiations for the next UPS Freight contract are set to commence in late September. When the contract was signed in 2008, we were told it was only a first contract, and the big issues would be dealt with next time.
Now is the time!
Negotiations are set to begin this fall. Most locals have held meetings to gather member proposals. That's a start, but the key is to build rank and file unity behind some key issues.
TDU members and other concerned Teamsters at UPS Freight have been meeting by conference call. We established a new website, UPSFreightTalk.org, for members to exchange information and develop a plan for winning a better contract.
Here are some of the key areas of the contract that members agree need to be addressed. This is not a complete list, but some key issues that need to be dealt with in this contract.
Eliminate contractors taking Teamster work. We need language and penalties that lead to more union jobs. The language from the NMFA could be a model.
Pension and Health and Welfare
Join the United Parcel Service Health & Welfare and Pension plans, or match the benefit level. Same benefits for all UPS Teamsters, no matter what division.
Establish clear timelines and deadlines for the resolution of grievances.
The probationary period for all job classifications should be 30 work days. Eliminate the "casual" job classification and board.
Layoffs and Jobs
Create a "trigger" or formula for overall overtime hours that shall lead to recall or hiring. It protects full-time jobs and will protect against the abusive use of contractors.
Existing Practices—Work Rules
Negotiate them. Get them established as proposed supplements or riders prior to ratification vote. Separate vote on supplement or rider.
Improve the schedule. 1-3 years = 10 days. 4-7 years = 15 days. 8-15 years = 20 days. 16-30+ years = 25 days. No blackout weeks for vacations. 15 percent of seniority board may be off a week. Increase discretionary or sick days and personal holidays.
Following ratification, those currently in progression immediately go to top rate. Substantial hourly and OTR wage increases.
Click here to download these issues as a leaflet and spread the word to other members.
Subcontracting Takes Our Work
Local 222, Salt Lake City
In Salt Lake City, the main issue for the road is subcontracting. We have several contract carriers that run more regularly than our Teamster drivers. They run trips to Reno, and Fontana, Calif. Sometimes they pull our trailers loaded and empty, like AV Carriers who run east and then back through Denver.
We have 72 road drivers and four are currently on layoff. Because of the bid runs available, we have several "one trip Omaha" which is 1,800 team miles and takes about 30 hours. That leaves all the drivers on that bid on the extra board before and after their one trip.
Most of us just want some regularity to our work and to move all the work that's ours.
Equality on Pensions and Health Insurance
Charlie Newman, City Steward
Local 150, Sacramento
Management at UPS Freight expects us to work like UPS package. We got the same wear and tear on our backs, knees, and every joint. It's time to give us health and pension benefits that match the package contract. We need our current pension rolled into the Teamster pension funds that UPS contributes to with the package contract. We need credit for our years.
UPS Freight: Second Class Teamsters?
August 30, 2012: In 2008, when we got our first contract, the International Union told us that it was a "foot in the door" and real gains would come next time.
Now it's next time.
UPS Freight Teamsters can win parity and plug the holes in our contract, if we unify and say NO to any substandard contract.
Dan Campbell, a retired experienced Teamster officer who was on the 1997 National Negotiating Committee for UPS, when the Teamsters decisively won a three-week strike, points out that some parts of the UPS national contract provide a template to use.
"The union chair, Ken Hall, is the same for both contracts. Many of the union negotiating committee members are the same, also. They know the UPS contract, and that there are many clauses that can be used as models for UPS Freight.
"The operations are different of course, but there are many areas to copy. Benefit levels, wage improvements, subcontracting language, as well as language on such things as excessive overtime, and the union's right to information."
When the Teamsters asked UPS Freight workers to join the union, the slogan was "One company, one union." It's a good principle.
The communications hub for UPS Freight Teamsters who want to share information, build rank and file unity, and win a better contract.
Click here to check it out. Get on the list for updates.
Freight Teamsters: Don't Be Fooled
August 22, 2012
Frank Rogers, YRC
Local 41, Kansas City
When Hoffa, Johnson and Sweeton proposed the first round of concessions at YRC, some of us did some research. Our wages have not kept up with the cost of living, even before the concessions. And there never was any real "shared sacrifice."
Good Teamsters fought in the streets and some sacrificed their lives for the standards that we as Teamsters enjoy today. We at YRC are now working under a substandard contract because our elected union officials have not done what they have been elected to do: to maintain our wage/compensation packages and freight contract, yet they have taken raises for themselves.
Now, more than any other time in our history is the time for us, the rank-and-file members of this, the greatest union in the world, to rise up, stand united and demand that our elected union officials do what they are paid to do: fight for us, our families and our future.
Has ABF Pulled Out of NMFA?
UPDATED August 24, 2012: Some members are hearing from reports in industry journals that ABF has made a bargaining change. The answer is clear: the ABF bargaining split from YRCW happened in 2007, so zero has changed on that front.
What has changed is that since the 2008 contract, on three occasions YRCW was given concessions, and the 2010 concessions extended the YRCW contract until 2015. While YRCW Teamsters will be impacted by the ABF contract, that impact is indirect.
In 2008 the IBT first bargained with YRCW, then held ABF to the same deal, under threat of a strike.
Now the IBT is going to negotiate with ABF, but the negotiations and contract will have far-reaching implications for YRC Teamsters, UPS Freight Teamsters, our ability to organizing trucking in the future, and certainly our pension plans.
The future of freight is on the line. Solidarity among freight Teamsters is crucial.
International Union Surveys Locals on ABF Contract
August 22, 2012: In late August the International Union sent a survey to all freight locals, asking the principal officer or freight BA to respond to 11 questions about the upcoming contract.
Some questions are fairly standard. Other questions anticipate concessionary bargaining (for example, do you think it would be better to give concessions to ABF on wages or benefits?). One question asks if the union has handled the freight industry problems appropriately; but the only option other than agreement was that the IBT should have given more concessions to help the companies.
No word yet on a when a survey will go out to Teamsters working in the industry.
On Aug. 13, ABF sent the IBT a letter requesting negotiations "at your earliest availability."
ABF Lawsuit Dismissed, Focus on Negotiations
ABF's lawsuit against the Teamsters Union and YRCW, demanding concessions similar to what the IBT granted to YRCW companies, was dismissed on Aug. 1 by federal district judge Susan Webber Wright.
Now the focus for the future of the NMFA and ABF Teamsters shifts to the upcoming national negotiations. The new website, NoFreightConcessions.org, has more information on that matter.
ABF said it may consider an appeal to the federal court of appeals, which earlier directed the district court to re-hear the issue. The suit was filed in November 2010, alleging that the International Union violated the terms of the National Master Freight Agreement by giving YRCW concessions, but not ABF.
In other news, ABF reported a second quarter net profit of $12 million.
Click here to visit www.NoFreightConcessions.org
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Speak out for a stronger contract.
Your Right to Get a Copy of Your Contract
UPDATED September 4, 2012:
So. Cal Teamsters: Two Year Wait—No Contract Books
The Southern California master grocery contract, covering 5,000 Teamsters, was ratified in October 2010. But after two years, members still can't get a copy of their contract.
How can members enforce their contract if they can't even get a copy?
|Phil Richards, Unified Grocers|
Local 630, Los Angeles
"This has to be a record for delaying giving us our contract," said Phil Richards, a warehouse worker for Unified Grocers in Local 630. "When members ask for a copy, we get an excuse. In every local, the excuse is different; but the result is the same: we don't have the contract books, so we can't hold the employer to the agreement."
Many other Teamsters have been given the runaround when they've tried to get a copy of their new contract. Sometimes even our national contracts are delayed by the International Union for a year or more.
Fortunately, members' rights to their contract is backed up by federal law. Knowing and using this legal right can help you enforce your contract.
Your Legal Rights
Union members have a right to have their current collective bargaining agreement—no ifs, ands, or buts. If the actual contract book is not yet printed, federal law requires that the local union provide a photocopy to any member who requests the contract.
This is part of the federal Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA).
If local union officers put you off when you ask for a copy, your request should be put in writing and mailed certified mail.
What About Side Letters?
Union members also have a right to get a copy of any amendments, riders, side letters, or memoranda of understanding.
Some union officials give members the runaround in providing those agreements too. Just ask Rhode Island Hospital Teamsters.
For two months, Local 251 officials have stonewalled members and refused to give them copies of these side agreements.
In the meantime, hospital management has repeatedly pulled out side deals they've cut with the local union and used them to deny members' grievances.
Under the Teamster constitution, members also have the right to vote on any mid-contract changes that amend the contract. (Local officers can reach side agreements that clarify existing language, but not to implement a side agreement that changes the contract without a ratification vote by the members.)
As we go to press, TDU members at Rhode Island Hospital have contacted the International Union's Legal Department and are preparing to take legal action, if necessary, to enforce their right to a complete copy of their contract, including all side agreements.*
Are you having trouble getting a copy of your contract? Or do you have other questions about your legal rights? Contact Teamsters for a Democratic Union at 313-842-2600 or click here to send us a message.
*Updated Sept. 4, 2012: Persistence pays off! With help from TDU, Local 251 members have enforced their legal rights and gotten Local 251 to provide them with copies of all the side agreements between union officials and Rhode Island Hospital management.
Could the Central States Pension Fund Go Insolvent?
August 22, 2012: It's an ugly question, but one that has to be faced. And then our union needs to take action to deal with the problem, to prevent it from happening.
The Hoffa administration has all but given up on the Central States Pension Plan. This decision could have dire consequences for 280,000 Teamsters and retirees, numerous Teamster officers, and the financial viability of hundreds of Teamster locals.
What can be done to prevent this train wreck for Teamster pensions and Teamster power?
The key turning point came in late 2007 when James Hoffa and Ken Hall gave UPS management their long-sought concession: pulling out 44,000 full-time Teamsters—and said good-bye to the $800 million (and growing) that UPS would be contributing annually.
This sell-out set off a cascade of events. Other companies pulled out; added withdrawal liability to YRCW's balance sheet; and a ratio of retirees to actives which is now over 3:1. Then the stock market, which the fund became heavily dependent on, took a tumble.
It gave UPS workers some short-term security, but now their pensions are in the hands of the company for decades to come. It also endangered the local unions that UPS workers belong to.
In late August, Hostess Brands Teamsters are voting on a proposed national contract which would pull thousands of more Teamsters out of the Central States Fund (and other Teamster pension plans). Hostess is in bankruptcy.
The 2011 Financial and Analytical Reports for the fund show that it ended the year with $17.7 billion, down $2.2 billion in a year. The fund depends on investment returns to pay benefits, and now must earn 12 percent a year on investments to tread water. This is not viable.
Fund Director Thomas Nyhan testified two years ago before Congress that the fund could be insolvent in a decade, without a lifeline of relief.
Over 213,000 retirees depend on the fund for their promised retirement after a lifetime of Teamster work. Another 67,000 active members have been promised a pension in the future.
If the fund becomes insolvent, Teamsters would be dependent on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), which has a maximum payout per month of $1,080 for a Teamster with 30 years credit.
That tells you how devastating this would be.
Officers and Local Unions
Among the biggest losers would be Teamster local officers and business agents throughout the Central and Southern Regions and the Carolinas. Most of them retire with high seniority and a good pension.
For most of them, Central States provides their only pension, and it stands to be slashed to about $1,000 per month. (Officials in the South have an additional, officers-only pension plan.)
And if the fund fails, who then will want to become a union officer? The local unions cannot leave the Central States Plan, because the withdrawal liability payment would break them financially.
Our local unions would then be financially burdened and weakened.
Incredibly, most of these officers campaigned last year for James Hoffa and Ken Hall, the architects of the disaster in their own pension plan.
Concerned Teamsters need to stand up and speak out. It's not too late to save our pensions and union but the clock is ticking.
The International Union needs to take a firm stand that no more corporations will be allowed to pull out. Hoffa has done the opposite, and in fact just bargained the National Pipeline Agreement to allow more companies out of Central States.
In addition, we need a political movement to save pensions in this country, initiated by the Teamsters but with a broad coalition of support. That won’t happen in this election year, but its time to start laying the basis for it.
Two years ago Senator Robert Casey of Pennsylvania sponsored a bill to help protect pension plans, and strengthen the PBGC and increase its guarantees. It had some bipartisan support, and was announced at the YRC terminal in Carlisle, Pa.
There was talk among Teamster members and officers about a march on Washington and building a broad coalition in defense of pensions. Members and retirees responded very favorably to this kind of action. The Hoffa administration poured cold water on it, in favor of lobbying politicians behind the scenes.
It's time to put protection of pensions front and center on the Teamster agenda and on the national political agenda.
Coli Takes Over Local 700
UPDATED August 24, 2012: Teamster power broker John Coli has ousted the president of Chicago Local 700 and installed Becky Strzechowski as head of the 12,500 public sector local.
The losers in Coli's latest power grab are the Teamsters who work for the City of Chicago, Cook County and other public entities.
Coli and Strzechowski are now positioned to trade concessions to politicians in exchange for perks, appointments and political deals.
Coli created Local 700 in 2010, merging together Local 726 (mostly Chicago city employees) and the corrections and law enforcement units of Local 714, the old Hogan family local, which was dissolved. Local 700 became one of the largest public sector worker locals in the Teamsters.
Coli installed his long-time employee and associate, Strzechowski, into leadership. He appointed a second assistant trustee, Billy Logan. But Strzechowski couldn't win an election there, so she ran for the number two spot on a slate headed by Logan.
The takeover happened when Coli and Strzechowski pressured Local 700 President Billy Logan to resign, and he did so. Executive Board members initially resisted the takeover. Coli countered by having Hoffa assign a personal rep, threatening internal union charges and dangling job offers as carrots. Most of the resistance crumbled at that point.
Local 700 members have the power to take back their union and elect officers who serve the members, not the Coli family. The next election is just two years away
Coli Takes Over Joint Council 65
Also in August, Joint Council 65, covering the locals in Illinois outside the Chicago area, dissolved into Joint Council 25. Coli's Joint Council now has another nine locals and 16,000 members.
Louisville Carhaulers Fight for Jobs
August 22, 2012: More than 100 Teamsters lost their jobs in a corrupt union-busting deal in Louisville. They're fighting back and may be headed to victory.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has taken unusual emergency action in the case. Instead of waiting endlessly for a complaint to move forward, the NLRB has filed for an injunction in federal court to stop union busting.
If the NLRB's motion succeeds, the Teamsters will be returned to their yard jobs at Ford. They've been out of work for months because of an illegal scheme to gut their Teamster contract.
In February, Ford took the yard work from Jack Cooper Transport, and awarded it to Voith Industrial Services. Then, in a pre-arranged sweetheart deal, Voith signed a cheap contract with a United Auto Workers local union.
To make sure this deal wouldn't be rejected by the workers, Voith refused to hire the experienced Teamsters, except for a token few. Instead they brought in new hires, and told them they would have to join the UAW.
Teamsters Local 89 decided to fight back. They documented what was happening, to get the NLRB the necessary evidence to take action. The NLRB’s motion for an injunction is directed at both Voith and the UAW.
On July 22, Local 89 took out two full page ads in the Louisville Courier Journal, calling on UAW members to ask their union to stop its collusion in corporate union busting.
On July 24, Local 89 mailed a packet of information to every Teamster local union. The cover letter from Local 89 president Fred Zuckerman states that Local 89 has not received labor support in their battle, "including our own International union."
Why No Support from Hoffa?
James Hoffa is a friend of UAW president Bob King. Why hasn't Hoffa asked his friend to withdraw from the cheap contract deal, and settle with the NLRB? When we ask carhaulers this question, we get three different answers.
One, the IBT is ready to write-off carhaulers. They don't vote for Hoffa and they can't be easily manipulated.
Two, Hoffa won't help Local 89 because Zuckerman ran on the Fred Gegare Slate and Hoffa removed him as carhaul director after the election.
Three, Hoffa's current carhaul director, Local 299 BA Roy Gross, allowed Voith to pull the same deal last year at the Ford plant in Wayne Michigan. There the Jack Cooper yard workers lost jobs, and now UAW workers do the work under a cheaper contract. So it's embarrassing to have Local 89 win the issue, when Local 299 gave it away without a fight.
Whichever it is, it smells bad.
Fortunately, the Kentucky Teamsters may win even without help from the International union.
The NLRB motion for an injunction against Voith and the UAW is available here.
What Can Brown Do for Us?
August 24, 2012: We've delivered $4 billion in profits. UPS has taken care of its CEO Scott Davis. It's time to take make UPS deliver for us in the contract.
Headed into contract negotiations, UPS continues to make big profits, especially in the package and freight divisions where Teamster members work. U.S. domestic package business is responsible for 63 percent of the company's profits. Those profits are on the rise and will easily top $4 billion this year.
The company hauled in $2.1 billion in profits in the first six months of the year alone.
As we move toward contract negotiations, management will talk gloom and doom.
We all know the economy is weak. But UPS's profits are up.
CEO Scott Davis
Makes $13.05 million
His pension and retirement package was hiked by $1.51 million last year
His last pay increase was $2.3 million—a 21 percent increase.
Starting pay: $8.50/hour.
The last time starting pay for part-timers was increased was 1997—15 years ago! If part-time pay kept up with inflation since 1997, starting pay would be $12.15 an hour today.
Package Car Driver
Makes around $31 an hour.
Package drivers and other full-time UPSers in the UPS-IBT Pension Plan get $2,500 for 25-and-Out and $3,000 for 30-and-Out. Pensions vary by fund, but this is the biggest group (48,000 full-timers) and they get the lowest pensions in the country.
UPS Teamsters speak out on contract proposals. Click here to see what they have to say, and to see the Contract Negotiations Timeline.