September 3, 2013: Members are saying NO to contract givebacks and weak representation, and YES to rebuilding union power.
Employers and the Hoffa administration have served up a steady diet of concessionary contracts. But members are starting to organize for change. And it's catching on.
The industries and contracts may be different but the pattern is the same. Members have organized Vote No campaigns to fight contract givebacks at Gate Gourmet, Republic Airways, ABF, UPS and UPS Freight.
Some national contracts, including Gate Gourmet and UPS Freight, have been rejected entirely. Elsewhere, the national contract has squeaked by but members have rejected contract supplements and continue to fight for improvements.
Maybe most importantly, members are finding their voice and getting organized. They're distributing bulletins, building committees and teaming up with other Teamsters.
After joining the Teamsters to win respect on the job, 2,500 Rhode Island Hospital workers had all but given up on the idea of union power. Their assistant business agent was a leader of the original management-backed committee that tried to keep the union out of the Hospital.
Instead of giving up, they teamed up with other Local 251 members and are running to take back their local as the United Action Slate.
Members are charting a similar course in Philadelphia. After overwhelmingly voting NO to reject givebacks at UPS, Local 623 members are organizing for contract improvements and a stronger local.
"Members want union leaders that will stand up to UPS," said Bobby Curry, a Vote No leader who is now heading the Integrity Slate. "We're tired of being disrespected by this company and by our own union officials."
By saying No to contract givebacks and weak union representation, members are saying YES to rebuilding union power.
Teamsters for a Democratic Union is Teamsters helping Teamsters to defend our contracts and benefits and organize for our rights.
Contact TDU to find out what's happening in your area or how you can be part of a growing movement for change.
August 20, 2013: Hoffa and the Freight Division are parroting management's line, aiming to divide, discourage and defeat members.
In early August, ABF Teamsters in the Central Region, Carolinas, Western Pa., and a couple of other supplements are voting again on the contract.
A number of Teamsters are speaking out against the concessionary deal. Some have made up leaflets comparing the concessionary deal to what Hoffa initially said they would bargain for.
The initial contract vote was mishandled and suspect, with members getting UPS ballots, no ballots, wrong ballot instructions and with the results being looked into presently.
Meanwhile Hoffa and the Freight Division are parroting management's line, aiming to divide, discourage and defeat members.
Maybe they can get a contract passed that way, but they cannot build Teamster power like this. They cannot organize. They cannot defend our pension plans.
They misled ABF Teamsters and sold management's deal.
They lied to UPS Freight Teamsters and when the members rejected their deal, Hoffa-Hall went into hiding for two months.
It looks like a secret deal with YRC may be in the works, and Hoffa cares more about his hedge-fund pal Harry Wilson than YRC Teamsters.
Worst of all, there is no plan to organize in freight or build Teamster power in trucking.
Teamster power is not just about numbers. It's about a strategy to leverage our power across the supply chain, at ports, plants, rail, trucking, warehousing and distribution, and use that power to grow and diversify our union.
Hoffa wouldn't recognize Teamster power if it stole his golf clubs. We need a new leadership with the vision and commitment to make it happen.
ABF Teamsters: Stand Up
"Teamsters at ABF in Chicago Heights voted overwhelmingly against the proposed contract. We know it will take all of us and many more Teamsters around the country to make sure the vote on supplements addresses the real issues. We're passing out a vote NO leaflet in the Heights but also sending it on to other terminals to build support.
"Somebody needs to stand up for our rights, and that somebody is you!"
Bret Subsits, ABF, Local 710, Chicago
Get to the TDU Convention
"We need to recapture the pride and solidarity that we had in the union when I started out. Freight Teamsters were the backbone of our union and we need to restore that power.
"The TDU convention is a great place to recharge your batteries and get informed and organized for the fights ahead. I'll be in Chicago and encourage all my brothers and sisters to join me."
Larry Capesius, ABF, Local 238, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
August 9, 2013: Teamsters in Providence, R.I. have been building a movement for change in Local 251. Now they are running for office as the United Action Slate.
Earlier this year more than 1,200 members joined a United Action petition drive to reform the Local 251 bylaws and give members the right to elect their shop stewards and contract negotiating committees, and to vote on officer salaries.
These issues struck a chord. More than 800 Teamsters turned out for the largest union meeting in years.
The majority voted with United Action in favor of bylaws changes. But the incumbent officers blocked the reforms with a provision that required a two-thirds majority to change the bylaws.
"The members spoke loud and clear. They'll have a chance to speak again this fall and we won't need a two-thirds majority to win the election," said Matt Taibi, a UPS Teamster and United Action candidate for Secretary-Treasurer.
United Action is running on a reform platform involving members and rebuilding union power, including:
Stronger Contracts and Union Representation. Business Agents regularly at the shops to represent members and enforce the contract, and stewards and contract negotiating committees elected by the members.
Cutting Excessive Salaries. Cut officer salaries by a total of at least $250,000 a year and put that money to work on contract campaigns and educational programs for members.
- A Strong Union Involves Everyone. Union rights workshops and making union information available in English, Portuguese and Spanish and starting a Women’s Committee.
The largest employer in Local 251 is Rhode Island Hospital. Paul Santos, the United Action Candidate for President, is one of several members of the original organizing committee that brought 2,500 employees there into the Teamsters.
Ironically, their Assistant Business Agent was a member of the management-backed Vote No Committee during the union organizing drive. No wonder members feel that she's on management's side and not the members'!
"I've been a union guy my whole life. I helped get the Union in to Rhode Island Hospital to give everyone a voice. To see us in a union that doesn't act like a union doesn't sit well with me," Santos said. "I want people to be respected again. This is why I organized to begin with and this is why I'm running now."
Find out more about the campaign at www.251unitedaction.org
August 9, 2013: Women Teamsters continue to emerge as leaders and activists in our union. Meet them at the TDU Convention this November in Chicago.
"I'm very excited to meet all the fellow TDUers from all over the country, to see my extended Teamster family in Chicago. I'd love to see more and more females attend. I like to share stories and learn about how other people have dealt with issues. I can't wait for the workshops. Knowledge gives us power, as members and as a union," says Sandra Cabral, a Local 251 Teamster at Rhode Island Hospital.
TDU is Teamsters helping Teamsters. The convention is a place to learn and it's a place to get empowered.
"TDU takes action to bring women into full participation in sharing equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities. With a company like UPS, who think they're above the law and don't show their workers any kind of respect, we need to organize to keep up this fight," says Rozalind Coleman of Local 688 in St. Louis.
At the TDU Convention, Teamsters meet, network, and share strategies for addressing workplace issues, building power on the job and becoming more active in the union.
"A lot of members don't know anything about what's going on because our union and our locals like to keep us in the dark. Unless you go seeking the knowledge for yourself, you're not going to get it. TDU is a great resource of information. The people who attend the TDU Convention are more educated than most. I look forward to getting knowledge and information I can bring back to help my co-workers," says Rhonda Hanshaw of Columbus, Ohio, Local 413.
TDU and the TDU Women's Caucus encourages women Teamsters to attend our convention in Chicago on November 1-3. Click here to learn more.
August 9, 2013: A 69% No Vote and a company that made billions in profits adds up to a strong bargaining position for our Teamster negotiating committee.
But after the members did the heavy lifting in the coast-to-coast rejection of the first offer, Hoffa and Hall went missing.
Hall sent a short memo to local officials saying the Negotiating Committee had met, but reports from that meeting indicate not much happened.
Hoffa and Hall hired a telemarketing firm to survey members, but the issues have been clear all along. And they are even more clear following the rejection of management's first offer.
UPS Freight Teamsters need:
- Language banning subcontracting of Teamster work, and no substandard LHD board.
- Pension improvements: raise the accrual to keep pace with inflation.
- No premiums for health insurance: Why is our contract the only Teamster trucking contract that forces members to pay premiums?
- Raises of $1/hour each year—or at least match the UPS package raises, as we did in the first contract.
If Hoffa and Hall think the silent treatment will put the members to sleep, they are mistaken. Members are showing visible solidarity and are taking pride in building unity to win a good contract.
"Our officers say they don't know a thing but members aren't waiting around for more bad news," commented Kurt Kronemberg, a city driver in Local 707 in New York. "We're wearing Vote NO stickers and sending management a clear message. We expect a decent contract with substantial improvements and we won't vote it up until we get it."
UPS Freight Teamsters control their own destiny. The path to winning a strong contract leads through member activity. Keep talking up the issues. Keep building solidarity. Keep the pressure on.
Members Aren't Waiting Around
"Our officers say they don't know a thing but members aren't waiting around for more bad news.
"We're wearing Vote NO stickers and sending management a clear message. We expect a decent contract with substantial improvements and we won't vote it up until we get it."
Kurt Kronemberg, Local 707, New York
Stay Informed. Win a better contract. UPSFreightTalk.org: The national discussion board for rank-and-file UPS Freight Teamsters.
TDU is looking for concerned UPS Freight Teamsters who want to work together to win contract improvements. Click here to contact TDU with your questions or to get involved today.
|Hoffa waives Ken Hall's "surprise"
neutrality agreement with UPS Freight
while Hall celebrates in the background.
August 26, 2013: This is not the first time Ken Hall has played politics with members' contracts and turned contract negotiations into a scripted performance.
In the last bargaining round, Hall made a surprise announcement at the Teamster Convention that he had just reached a neutrality agreement to unionize UPS Freight.
Hoffa-Hall supporters immediately said the announcement proved there shouldn't be an election for International Union officers and called on opposition candidates to drop out.
When the smoke cleared, members learned that Hall's agreement only applied to one UPS Freight terminal in Indianapolis and it only went into effect after Hall had ratified a concessionary contract at UPS.
It all went according to plan. UPSers got concessions and UPS Freight Teamsters got a weak first contract.
This time, UPS and UPS Freight Teamsters didn't follow the script.
August 8, 2013: Reports indicate that YRC executives have asked Hoffa and Freight Director Tyson Johnson for a two-year extension to the present five-year deal, with a wage and pension freeze extending until 2017. And Hoffa's appointee to YRC's board, Harry Wilson, is trying to broker the deal.
An August 7 press release, following YRC's second-quarter earnings announcement, referred to a potential refinancing of debt arranged by Credit Suisse and the Maeva Group. This announcement was tucked away under the heading "Other."
But Credit Suisse is apparently looking for a longer term deal with the Teamsters before they extend credit.
Maeva's CEO is Harry Wilson, who already has made over $5 million advising YRC, so Hoffa's appointment has been very lucrative for him. And he has millions of more reasons to keep the deals rolling.
Are informal talks being held with YRC about a contract deal? We think if such talks could lead to a proposed contract extension, then members should be informed and consulted. YRC members have sacrificed plenty to keep the company operating—they shouldn’t have to give away all their union rights to secret deals with hedge fund millionaires.
|"We're not paying $90. We're not
paying $9. We're not paying 9¢.
We're not paying premiums
for health insurance for a company
that made $4.389 billion."
— Ken Hall, Conference Call with
UPS Shop Stewards, Feb. 2, 2013
|"What we need to be doing is
sending a message and making
sure that our members understand
that we're not going to be talking
about concessions, we're going
to be talking about improvements."
— Ken Hall
Speech on UPS Contract
June 30, 2011
August 9, 2013: The UPS and UPS Freight contract negotiations were supposed to be the opening act in Ken Hall’s bid to succeed Hoffa as Teamster General President. But the show did not go according to script.
Hall started out talking tough. He vowed, "We're not going to be talking about concessions." Hall added that he hoped UPS made $10 billion in profits because, "the more they make, the more we take."
Members were ready to follow his lead. They turned out in huge numbers at contract rallies across the country to oppose healthcare concessions where Hall led chants of, "No way, we won't pay."
How did all the tough talk turn to contract concessions so fast?
Smoke and Mirrors
From the beginning, both UPS management and the Hoffa administration knew that Teamster members were never going to accept paying healthcare premiums—not when UPS is making nearly $4.5 billion a year.
But the company wanted to cut healthcare costs and control them for the future—and Hall wanted a contract that he could use to run for General President.
So Ken Hall scripted a UPS contract campaign designed to make him come out looking like the hero who stopped co-pays by "forcing UPS" to put members into a union health plan: Teamcare.
But when Teamster members realized the deal would hike their healthcare costs, they refused to follow the script—voting to reject a record 18 contract supplements and nearly overturning the national contract.
Since then, Hall has gone from talking tough about management to getting tough on Teamster members—telling members that healthcare is a done deal and making a full-court press to push through the rejected supplements.
Lessons for the Future
Winning good contracts takes more than a scripted contract campaign. It takes a plan to mobilize the union's power and pressure the employer.
UPS is no pushover. But they depend on Teamsters to deliver their packages. They worry mightily about their public image and the threat of shippers bolting to nonunion competitors.
That gives UPSers leverage to win better contracts. But only if our union is willing to use it.
The UPS and UPS Freight contracts exposed the empty talk of Hoffa-Hall and other top Teamster leaders.
But the contract has also taught us something about ourselves.
Teamster members have shown we are ready to stand up to
contract concessions—more ready than the IBT.
Teamster members have shown the power of grassroots organizing—using leaflets, petitions, rallies, meetings, Facebook and the internet to share information and mobilize against givebacks.
And Teamster members have shown the power of linking up nationally. If we had voted down one or two supplements, this would all have been swept under the rug. Teaming up across the country gave members leverage and power.
That's why Hoffa-Hall are working so hard now to convince members they are powerless.
Rebuilding Union Power at UPS
Hoffa-Hall and UPS management want to put the contract behind them and get back to business-as-usual—big profits for UPS, and production harassment and weak contract enforcement for us.
UPS Teamsters can rebuild union power at UPS and the Vote No fight against concessions has shown us how.
TDU gives UPS Teamsters the tools to get organized locally and coordinate with concerned Teamsters across North America.
We don't have to be bystanders in our own union while Ken Hall performs his smoke and mirrors routine.
We can move to center stage and rebuild union power for the members.
TDU is looking for concerned Teamsters who want to work together to win contract improvements. Get involved today. Click here to contact the UPS Network. Contact the UPS Freight Network by clicking here.
August 9, 2013: UPS Teamsters have shown they have more fight than Hoffa-Hall and the International Union when it comes to taking on concessions.
After voting down 18 supplements, members are continuing to organize to rebuild union power at UPS.
Philadelphia: Taking on UPS. Taking Back Their Local.
After rejecting their supplement 756 to 227, Philadelphia Local 623 launched a petition drive to defend their healthcare and win improvements in their supplement, including more full-time 22.3 jobs, language to protect the local’s feeder runs, and a stronger grievance procedure. And they're not stopping there.
Bobby Curry (far right), a leader in the Vote No Movement, is heading up the Integrity Slate a reform team running for local union office.
"Members want union leaders that will stand up to UPS. We're tired of being disrespected by this company and by our own union officials," Curry said.
Southern California: Building TDU and Rank-and-File Power
Teamsters in San Diego say NO to givebacks and YES to getting involved in their union. Local 542 members formed a TDU Committee and are leafleting, holding parking lot rallies, and distributing "Vote No Until UPS Gets it Right" stickers and petitions. A Southern California Organizing meeting will be held on August 25.
Upstate NY Teamsters:
Beating Concessions, Winning Improvements
By Voting No and standing united, UPSers in Upstate NY have gotten the company to pull some concessions off the table. Language that would have allowed four 10-hour day schedules in the feeder department and imposed new restrictions on leaves of absences and job bidding rights have been struck from the contract.
"The language on four 10-hour days and restricting bidding rights should've never been in there in the first place. We still have serious concerns about our pension plan and cuts to retiree healthcare. Members are joining TDU and we're holding our first meeting to work together to protect our rights and benefits."
Mark Greene, Local 294, Albany, N.Y.
Central Region Teamsters Take Aim at Supplement
Central Region Teamsters came into contract negotiations with clear, achievable goals for improving their supplement, including eliminating the dreaded 17(i) catch-all loophole that lets management fire Teamsters for "other serious offenses." UPS Teamsters in Indiana, Iowa and Ohio are holding TDU meetings and organizing against concessions in St. Louis, Michigan, Kentucky and beyond.
"We collected petition signatures calling on Hoffa and Hall to help us make major improvements in the Central Region. We work far too hard to earn the profits for UPS to be asked to accept a non-stellar contract."
Stu Malcolm, Steward, Local 164, Jackson, Mich.
Getting Organized in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania
"UPSers in Western Pennsylvania came together to vote down our Supplement. Now we're getting even more organized. We've held our first TDU meeting. If we want to be able to stand up to UPS, we've got to get more members informed, involved and united."
Rich Siget, Local 261, New Castle, Pa.
Click here to download a Contract Update and pass out copies to other Teamsters.
UPS Teamsters at the TDU Convention
UPS Teamsters from across the country will meet at the TDU Convention in Chicago, Nov. 1-3 to share strategies for rebuilding Teamster Power and putting new leadership in the IBT.
The Convention features workshops on effective grievance handling, organizing around health and safety, taking on contract violations and production harassment, and more.
A special UPS National Meeting will be held on Sunday morning. Meet activists in the Vote No movement, shop stewards, and local union officers.
"I'll Be There"
"During contract negotiations, I turned to TDU for answers. TDU helped me get organized with other UPS Teamsters to spread our Vote No movement. I'm going to my first TDU Convention to become a more empowered, active Teamster."
Kurt Marchetta, Local 542, San Diego
August 27, 2013: Workers' pensions are under attack. Chicago's mayor says earned pensions must be cut. Detroit has declared bankruptcy, and Michigan's governor says 21,000 retirees should pay the bill for it.
One of the biggest attacks is aimed straight at Teamster retirees, especially the 211,000 in the Central States Pension Fund. And if corporate America gets away with cutting their pensions, it's going to spread like cancer.
And the worst part is, the Hoffa administration is not fighting back. In fact, they are part of the problem.
It's time for Teamsters to stand up and be counted. All Teamsters and retirees have a stake in this. If you think it's only going to affect the Central States Fund, think again. If our Teamster pensions are not guaranteed, but only a suggestion, then yours can be cut too.
The Poison Proposal
As soon as September, a bill will likely be introduced into the US Congress to allow "deeply troubled" pension plans to cut the benefits of all retirees and cut the already-earned credits of active workers.
The proposal from the National Coordinating Committee of Multi-Employer Plans (NCCMP) is to allow such plans, including Central States, to cut existing pensions in extreme cases to 10 percent over the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) limit of about $1,100 per month.
This would remove a basic protection of our federal pension law. And it is being supported by our Teamster leadership and the Central States Pension Fund, along with major employers like UPS, SuperValu and others.
The bill is based on a document called Solutions Not Bailouts. This document has a number of good elements, but the key part of it is a poisonous proposal to slash pensions as a "solution" to the problems of some pension funds.
TDU is joining with others in labor and consumer and retiree advocates who want to make sure our earned pensions are protected.
What Should be Done To Protect Pensions?
- Stop the move to allow the Central States Plan (and other "deeply troubled plans") from slashing retirees' pensions, possibly as low as 10 percent above the PBGC maximum of $1,100 per month for a 30-year pension.
- Propose enhanced protection from the PBGC. It is presently funded by tiny contributions from various pension plans: increase them to provide real insurance for benefits.
- End the discrimination in benefit protection against multiemployer (union) plans by the PBGC: raise the covered benefit level, which is now only about $1,100 per month for a 30-year Teamster.
- Put forward a version of the bill proposed by Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) in 2010, to protect the pensions of workers whose companies have gone bankrupt or moved production offshore. This protection would be a boon to our Teamster pension funds and retirees.
Will You Join the Fight To Protect Pensions?
We are forming a Teamster Pension Defense Committee of interested retirees and active Teamsters. If you are willing to be part of the solution, contact us at 313-842-2600 or click here.
We need people willing to write or visit Congressional Representatives, and people who will travel to Washington D.C. when hearings are held, to be present and demand that Teamster retirees be heard.
"Corporate America has their sights set on pensions, and right now the cross hairs are on Teamsters. It's high time for us to band together, join with other unionists and concerned retirees, and fight back."
Michael Savwoir, TDU Steering Committee
Retiree, Local 41, Kansas City