April 2, 2014: Members of Los Angeles Local 396 are talking, networking and starting to raise money to put the rank and file power back in the drivers seat. Even former supporters of secretary treasurer Ron Herrera are climbing aboard the movement for change.
Most of the 10,000 members of Local 396 work at UPS. Herrera showed his colors in the UPS contract; instead of working with members for a better contract, he sold every PR line coming down from Hoffa and Hall.
In the first vote Local 396 UPSers voted 4-1 No, sending a clear message and winning enhanced health benefit levels, which the new health plan in the west has to match. In the second vote, Herrera sold it by telling members if they vote Yes, they would get their retro checks in time for Christmas. He knew that was a lie because many contract supplements were nowhere near settlement, and still aren’t today, four months later.
UPS Teamsters are networking and reaching out, and including sanitation drivers as well, who make up a big part of Local 396.
Herrera continues to try to sell the company line. At the February union meeting, he endorsed UPS’s need for a 4-10 work week (Saturday through Tuesday) to compete with new programs from the postal service. After feeder drivers reacted with a hell no to that, Herrera did a 180 and now opposes it!
That’s not a leader. That’s a politician.
If members want leaders who are accountable to the rank and file, now is the time to get involved to make it happen. The local election will be held this fall.
April 2, 2014: Local 745 members held a TDU meeting in El Paso, Texas to talk about enforcing their contracts, the future of the union and rebuilding Teamster Power.
Teamsters in El Paso are members of Local 745 in Dallas which is 635 miles away!
That kind of distance takes the “local” right out of local union. So members decided to cook up some Teamster Unity of their own and organized a TDU meeting in El Paso.
The meeting was organized by Teamsters at UPS and UPS Freight. Different generations of Teamsters came together with the common goal of building a stronger union for the future.
Members shared strategies for dealing with contract violations, including seniority,
supervisors working, excessive overtime and production harassment.
How to stop concessions at UPS and UPS Freight was another hot topic.
“When we spoke up at the contract vote here in El Paso, they told us, ‘If you don’t like it, get out of the union,’” one UPS Freight Teamster said. “No way are we getting out of the Union. We’re getting even more involved.”
Rebuilding Teamster Power by informing and involving members. That’s what TDU is all about.
April 2, 2014: Hoffa and his number two Ken Hall raked in more than $300,000 a piece in total compensation last year according to the IBT LM-2 financial report reviewed by TDU.
Hoffa gave himself a Cost of Living increase of $4,000. Most Teamsters don’t see anything resembling that.
Hoffa’s “housing allowance” ballooned to $67,358, bringing his total compensation to $381,409. Ken Hall also gets that outsized perk. They work in the Marble Palace; do they live in one too?
Hall’s total compensation was $301,519.
Our union remained the same size as the year previous: 1.258 million.
The Teamster Rank & File Education and Legal Defense Foundation (TRF) will research all Teamster LM-2 (and LM-3 and IRS 990) forms and will publish the results later this year.
If you have questions, comments, or want to help change our union’s financial priorities, contact TDU.
April 2, 2014: Legislation is expected to be introduced soon that would allow the Teamster Central States Plan and other “deeply troubled” pension plans to slash pensions.
This makes the fight-back to stop this legislation and push for more positive alternatives all the more urgent.
As TDU has reported over the past year, the National Coordinating Committee for Multi-Employer Plans (NCCMP) has been lobbying both the House and Senate for a bill that would revoke the anti-cutback language in pension law.
The bill is currently being drafted by Republicans on the House Education and Workforce Committee. Because of the Congressional elections this fall, it will either move forward soon or likely be delayed until next year.
The NCCMP includes employers like UPS and ABF, pension funds like the Central States, unions like the Teamsters, and other affiliates. The Central States Pension Fund has become the poster child for funds in “troubled status” and is the main focus for the proposed changes. Tom Nyhan, executive director of the Central States, testifying last October, called on Congress to allow Fund Trustees to be able to make cuts on pensions for those already retired as well as reductions in benefits for those Teamsters still working. Currently, pension law protects retirees and active participants from any cut in already accrued benefits.
Concerned Teamsters are organizing opposition to the proposed NCCMP changes.
In northeastern Ohio, a meeting of over 120 initiated a Pension Action Committee to spread the word in Akron Locals 24 and 348, Cleveland Locals 407 and 507, Canton Local 92 and Mansfield Local 40. In St. Paul, Minnesota a similar meeting of over 80 decided to continue the work initiated by the meeting organizing committee. They formed a group consisting of Teamsters from Locals 120, 638 and 1145 to make plans to visit retiree groups, local membership meetings and area congressional offices.
Bob McNattin, a Minnesota Local 120 retiree said, “We were made promises and are owed the same considerations and protections that Congress gave the bankers when they faced their meltdown in 2008. TARP money was found to save their skins. Now those same bankers can help Central States make good on the pensions we earned.”
TDU is in this battle along with the AARP, the Pension Rights Center, the International Association of Machinists, Steelworkers, and others—now including the Teamsters International. We all are calling for the continued protection of those already retired and have raised positive alternatives to slashing retiree benefits.
We will ally with all Americans who care about the future of pensions in this country, for private sector and public sector workers. It’s time for federal government to defend the
people who gave a lifetime of honest work and earned a pension, rather than Wall Street bankers.
If you are ready to organize in your area or want to learn more about the campaign to defend Teamster pensions, contact TDU.
April 2, 2014: Teamsters are getting active to defend pensions and oppose legislation which would allow retiree benefits to be slashed.
“We’ve formed a committee in the Cleveland area, and we’re going to make our voices heard,” said Alex Adams (speaking in the picture), retired past President of Local 407. “It starts with contacting Teamsters and retirees, who are worried about the future, and letting them know that something can be done if we get together.”
An initial small committee met and with the help of TDU held a March 8 meeting of 120 retired and active Teamsters, where the committee was expanded. The meeting was built by reaching out to retiree clubs, talking with the media, the internet and leafletting. Now the expanded committee is planning to:
- Continue to outreach to Teamsters and retirees
- Talk with every retiree club and local union in Northeast Ohio
- Set up meetings with Congressional Reps and Senators during the April recess
- Prepare to later send a delegation on a bus or van to Washington to lobby
Help Defend Our Pensions
Teamsters—retired and active—are organizing to defend our pensions and stop legislation that would cut accrued benefits and retirees’ pensions. TDU can help initiate a committee in your area or organize a meeting to inform other Teamsters and their spouses. Click here to contact us.
April 18, 2014: Thinking like an arbitrator will help you win your contract language grievances—even if you don’t go to arbitration.
When a member, steward, or union rep prepares a contract language grievance, a useful skill is learning to “think like an arbitrator.”
Almost all local Teamster contracts, and some national ones, have arbitration as the final step in the grievance procedure. So just as an attorney has to think like a judge, you need to put yourselves in the arbitrator’s shoes.
Thinking like an arbitrator will help you get the facts and evidence you need to win your case—hopefully without having to go to arbitration.
What do Arbitrators Look For?
Arbitration hearings are different than grievance hearings between the union and employers, and require different kinds of preparation. Here are some important tips on what arbitrator’s think about when considering your case.
Clear contract language. The first thing arbitrators will consider is whether the case can be resolved on the basis of clear and specific contract language. An arbitrator is
not interested in what seems fair or just, but primarily what the contract says.
The more clear the contract language the better. General language such as the employer “will assign work by seniority” is subject to interpretation. Specific language regarding daily overtime, weekly overtime, bidding, vacations, etc is more useful.
- Taking the contract as a whole. Arbitrators don’t consider just one contract section, but they consider the contract as whole. You may think you have a slam-dunk based on one clause but come to find out it’s contradicted by language in another article or a separate Memorandum of Understanding. You can’t cherry-pick the most favorable contract clause. And where there are conflicts in language, clear specific language will trump general or ambiguous.
- Bargaining history of the contract. Arbitrators sometimes look at the bargaining history of contract language. More recent language often trumps older or original language that has been amended or added to. The “intent” of the bargainers—and not just the contract language itself—can also come into play where the union and employer cannot come to terms on interpreting contract language. Good bargaining notes and the use of information requests will help you develop a fuller interpretation of the contract.
- Past practice. Arbitrators will generally look at past practices, particularly if they have been consistently recognized by both parties and consistently applied. For example, a contract may not mention paid breaks, but if workers have been allowed a 15-minute break every shift for years, and the company suddenly cuts the break to 10 minutes, an arbitrator would likely consider that a violation, absent language to the contrary. The longer a practice has been going on and the more consistently it has been applied, the better it is for your case.
- Laws and Regulations. Arbitrators will also consider the case on contract language in dispute in light of state and federal laws: wage and hour laws, EEOC, OSHA, etc.
Preparing for Arbitration
Arbitrators have a stricter standard for evidence than employers at a lower-level grievance hearing usually do. Preparing your grievance from the very beginning as if you’re going to an arbitrator will help you build a stronger case.
You might get away with hearsay evidence in a local grievance hearing if management knows you can back it up. Not in arbitration. Witnesses need to be prepped so you can directly establish the facts.
Use information requests to obtain info related to the case. Anticipate the arguments from the employer. What are the background facts and contract language supporting your case and what facts and language support the bosses? Make a list of the employer’s strongest arguments, and your best refutation. Use the Arbitration Checklist and keep a grievance file to assemble your evidence and build your case.
Finally, the pros and cons of even going to arbitration have to be weighed. An unfavorable ruling might establish a bad precedent for you and your co-workers. If you think an arbitrator will likely rule against you, is there another way—bargaining, or organizing a campaign—to win what you want?
Use this checklist to prepare a grievance file with evidence, arguments and background material that support your case.
- Issue and remedy sought
- Contract language. All the relevant contract articles that apply to my case, history of the language from contract to contract, and any letters of understanding.
- Background facts supporting our case
- Background facts supporting the company’s side
- Relevant points the union and the company can likely agree on
- Company’s argument and our refutation of it
- Our argument and the company’s refutation of it
- Exhibits. Records, documents, disciplinary files, etc. from information requests.
- Witnesses. Are witnesses prepped to provide direct testimony?
Have a question about your grievance or arbitration case? Contact TDU to get educational materials or for specific questions.
April 8, 2014: Three Teamsters who helped blaze the trail for Teamster reform have passed away. They had vision, courage and determination and put solidarity ahead of self-advancement.
They, and Teamsters like them, built Teamsters for a Democratic Union. It’s up to us to carry on their legacy of organizing Teamster-to-Teamster to build a powerful, democratic union.
Steve Kindred 1944 - 2013
Founding TDU Member and Hell-raiser
Steve was a founder of TDU in 1976 and one of the initial spark plugs and builders of this movement.
In 1975, Teamsters took up a collection, bought a pass on a Greyhound bus, and sent Steve across the country to recruit freight stewards and activists to a national meeting of Teamsters for a Decent Contract.
One year later, TDU was born.
Steve remained active in TDU for the rest of his life as a carhauler, a TDU staff organizer, a business agent and later as a retiree.
Steve passed away in December, 2013 from cancer.
"Steve was an educator, a radical, and a hell-raiser. He believed ordinary people could make history and he helped make that happen. He inspired so many of us to carry on, because he was never discouraged and never defeated.”
Ken Paff, co-founder of TDU and friend of Steve’s ever since.
Les Cadman 1930-2014
Fighting Concessions & Building TDU
A Teamster steel-hauler out of locals in Youngstown, Gary and Detroit, Les was active in an earlier movement, the Fraternal Association of Steel Haulers.
In 1979, Les joined TDU during a month-long wildcat strike of steelhaulers that shut down steel transport across the Midwest and won a better contract than the International Union had signed.
He remained active with TDU for the rest of his life, and in retirement he did volunteer work in the TDU Detroit office with his wife, Lorene. Les was struck down by a hit-and-run driver, and passed away in March 2014 in Detroit.
"The steelhaul strike changed my life. I saw what an inspiration that Teamster power could be, and the commitment of working Teamsters like Les Cadman. They convinced me that this was what I wanted to do with my life. As unionized steel haul collapsed in the 1980s, we were fortunate that Les stayed in the movement and continued to build TDU.”
Sandy Pope was a young volunteer organizer in the 1979 steel haul strike and went on to be a truck driver, organizer, International Rep and Local 805 President.
Pete Camarata 1946 - 2014
Standing Up to the Mob & Winning the Right to Vote
Pete was a young protégé of James R Hoffa in Local 299, but no friend of Hoffa’s successor as Teamster president, Frank Fitzsimmons, also from Detroit Local 299.
When Fitzsimmons called a “blow off steam” strike for two days in the freight industry in 1976, Pete led a brief wildcat strike in Local 299 in defiance of the sell-out deal.
In 1976, Pete Camarata rose as the only delegate at the Las Vegas IBT Convention to vote against Frank Fitzsimmons for Teamster General President. Later that day, he was beaten unconscious by Teamster goons.
Pete was a founding member of TDU and was TDU’s candidate for General President at the 1981 IBT Convention. His protest candidacy at the 1981 IBT Convention helped pave the way to TDU winning one-member, one-vote election for International Union officers
Pete served on the Steering Committee of TDU for many years and remained active in TDU and the labor movement after he retired. He died of cancer in February 2014 in Chicago.
"When Fitz’s goons beat Pete, they figured they wouldn’t see Pete or TDU again. Wrong. Five years later, Pete was again elected a convention delegate and accepted the nomination for Teamster General President. TDU kept building rank and file power, won the Right to Vote in 1989 and we’re still here in 2014 and we ain’t going away. Pete never stopped fighting the good fight, and the planet is a better place because of him. Pete, with your inspiration we’re keeping the faith. Solidarity Forever.”
Dave Robbins, a member of Providence Local 251 and Pete’s friend for over 30 years, spoke at a packed memorial event at the Chicago Local 705 hall.