By: John Brose, East Liberty, Ohio
Retired, Local 413
I'm a retired truck driver of thirty years. I worked for Smith Transfer in Columbus, Ohio, in 1977 till they went bankrupt in 1988. I went to Consolidated Freightways till they went bankrupt in 2002. Then Roadway Express until they merged with Yellow Freight and I was laid off never to be called back. So I had to retire in 2009 with over thirty years of service.
Every week I worked 70 hours driving in all weather. Every week these companies put money in the Central States Fund for my pension.
I worked hard and even took less in wages for more pension benefits.
We had no vote on the Central States Pension Trustees or their policies. I've heard all their excuses but these pension fund trustees keep drawing their enormous salaries, for what? They even let UPS pull out of the pension fund.
I ask officials of the NCCMP to come up with a plan that does not cut our pensions down to as low as $1,100 per month! I wish you had to live under our pensions; then this plan would not exist.
When you bring this scheme to cut our pensions to Congress, I would like to be invited to speak for all of the retired men and women and show Congress how destructive this would be. When a truck driver has been retired for a few years, it is almost impossible to get another driving job. If you cut our pensions, it will be devastating to us and our families.
August 15, 2013: There's a rerun election in the 5,000-member Local 848 in Los Angeles in progress, as a result of a federal lawsuit brought by the U.S. Labor Department due to serious election violations. The Labor Department is conducting the election.
The sad truth is, the exact same violations were brought before Joint Council 42, headed by International vice president Randy Cammack, and then to the International union. Instead of enforcing the members' right to a fair vote, JC 42 whitewashed the violations. Then the Hoffa administration did nothing.
The incumbents in the election had counted the votes of ineligible voters, and had illegally posted bulletins on union bulletin boards denouncing their opponents because they didn't like what their opponents said. On appeal, Hoffa told the local to take down the notices, but they left them up.
Those are clear violations of basic democracy. But Cammack and the Hoffa administration are more interested in keeping friends in office than fair elections.
August 5, 2013: The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has upheld all of the new Hours of Service regulations for DOT-regulated trucking operations, except one: the requirement of a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of work for short-haul drivers.
This is of particular note to some UPS package car drivers, who may want to take their lunch break at the end of a shift to escape some measure of forced overtime. The new Hours of Service regs had outlawed this practice, but now the court has restored it.
The new hours of service regulations make three changes: the 34-hour restart can only be used once per week; that 34-hour time off must include at least portions of two nights; and road drivers must take at least a 30-minute rest stop during the first eight hours on duty.
These changes primarily affect nonunion drivers, as few Teamsters are compelled to use the 34-hour restart, and most Teamster road drivers do take a rest or lunch stop.
The latest court ruling ends several years of legal wrangling over the HOS regulations. The American Trucking Associations was the primarily force behind seeking to kill the new regs.
The August 2 court decision is available here.
August 22, 2013: Teamsters at UPS, UPS Freight and ABF have questioned their contract voting procedures, but consider the crap which 2,000 Teamster flight attendants have been fed.
Their contract was deemed "ratified" on July 31 by a vote of 646-440 under these conditions:
The ballots were to be returned in a single envelope, and no name or ID was required on it. Anyone with an envelope and ballot could mail in one, two or many ballots.
The ballots could easily be read by holding the envelope up to the light.
Hundreds of members did not get a ballot, and when they requested one, were told No.
No impartial monitor or observer was used for the count.
Complaints to Local 135 (which represents all 2,000) and the Airline Division director were ignored.
August 14, 2013: After 8 months without a contract, Teamsters and UNITE HERE members at Gate Gourmet rejected a tentative agreement by the lopsided margin of 2,179 No to 742 Yes, in yet another national Hoffa-administration contract which the members think is a stinker.
The number one issue is wages. Yet IBT Local 528 in Atlanta, which represents a large number of Teamsters, says they will not pursue wage increases beyond what's been proposed but they will bargain to get one more sick day!
Gate Gourmet Teamsters prepare food for airlines where workers haven't had a raise since 2011. Other issues include unaffordable healthcare costs, too much overtime, supervisor harassment, and winning back double-time pay on seniority dates and birthdays, a concession from the 2010 negotiations.
The company and the union have jointly filed for federal mediation.
September 6, 2013: A Local 802 Teamster celebrates her 15th year as a groundbreaking Teamster and "troublemaker" for fairness.
The first Teamster woman at her grocery warehouse, Arlena Dean filed a grievance to force her employer to create a locker room for women employees only to be told that she was forbidden to use it.
Management at her Bronx-based grocery warehouse banned Arlena, who considers herself a "proud African-American lesbian Teamster," from using the women's locker room. The bosses ordered Arlena to change in a broom closet across the hall from the men's bathroom instead.
Dean filed a discrimination grievance and launched a support petition. More than 100 co-workers signed in solidarity.
Dean's persistence and solidarity paid off. The company built a new union locker room for all Teamster women employees—gay and straight.
"I've never lived my life in the closet and I wasn't about to change in one," Dean said. "I've put up with a lot of harassment and discrimination. I wasn't going to stop until I got justice."
September marks Dean's 15th year as a proud Teamster.
"I've proven I can do my job as well as anyone else and I just want to be treated equal to everyone else too," Dean said.
August 23, 2013: TDU is growing, and it's no secret why.
The Hoffa-Hall IBT leadership has failed, and Teamsters who want to do something about it realize that as isolated individuals, we are powerless to change the union. The only way to make it happen is if we're organized: that's what Teamsters for a Democratic Union is all about.
The biggest face plant by Hoffa and Hall has been negotiating the national contracts this year: UPS, ABF and UPS Freight. All three have been done behind the backs of members, and have led to concessions and give-backs.
But you don't have to work under a national contract to see that our union is moving in the wrong direction. Teamsters from every industry are looking for an alternative—and the only way to make change is with a nationwide organization with staying power. The next IBT election is three years away, but the time to start building for it is now.
How to Build TDU and Help Take Back Our Union
We asked a few members who have recruited Teamsters to TDU lately for their own tips on how to do it. Here are few we heard:
One at a Time
Start with a goal of recruiting just one person to TDU. Approach someone you know wants change in our union. Ask them directly to join TDU, and tell them why in your own words. When you get one, keep going. The worst thing that can happen is someone may say no, but even then, they will appreciate being asked.
Make it easy
If they say yes, then ask them to fill in the application, and then you mail it in for them. We're all busy and sometimes we put things off, so make it easy for them. This is key. Some people say yes, but don’t have the money at the time. If you know or work with the person, it's fine to say "pay me after pay day" and take the application and come back later for the money. And of course TDU takes credit cards.
Give a Reason
Give your reasons to join. Such as: do you value having an alternative voice and choice in national IBT elections, help with your rights, and a national network at contract time? Use your own reasons. The key is to be direct and honest.
Want to know more?
TDU will help you with materials, ideas and more. Join and become part of the TDU Builders Network.
"New Chicago TDU members are asking me 'How can I get others to join?' When recruiting to TDU, I tell members about our history like how we won the right to vote. That's what got me to join. And you have to be direct and ask.
"It's important members know their rights and build organizing skills, and you learn those at the workshops at the TDU Convention."
Gina Alvarez, Local 743, Chicago
TDU Steering Committee Trustee
November 1 - 3, Chicago
Get the education and information we need to defend our rights, organize to win stronger contracts and rebuild Teamster Power.
NEW WORKSHOPS include:
Secrets of a Successful Organizer: Learn the best tools for getting members involved, identifying issues and building power on the job.
Stonewalling in the Grievance Procedure—And How to Beat It: Tactics for resolving your grievance when your boss—or BA—is trying to put you off.
Defending Healthcare: As costs rise and companies demand concessions, how can members organize to protect their health care and bargain stronger benefits? The impact of Obamacare on Teamster health plans.
- Special Meetings: UPS, freight, rail, warehouse, bus drivers, public employees and other industries. Plus caucus meetings for African American, Latino and Women Teamsters.
I'll Be There!
"The TDU Convention brings together Teamster officers, stewards and rank-and-file members who want to rebuild the Teamsters as a fighting union.
"It's time for a new direction. I hope to see you in Chicago this November."
Sandy Pope, President Local 805, New York
Save on Convention Registration
Take the Recruitment Challenge
Recruit 5 new members to TDU by Oct. 1 and get a free registration to the Convention. Click here and call 313-842-2600 to learn more.
Register by October 1 and save $25. Register online or by calling 313-842-2600.