Using Your Rights
As a Teamster you have certain rights protected by law, but they are meaningless unless members make use of them. TDU is the organization of Teamsters dedicated to making that happen.
Over the years TDU has led the fight to expand the rights of all Teamsters. Our union is a lot more democratic than it was 30 years ago!
We have the right to majority rule, by secret ballot, on our contracts. In master contracts, we now have the right to vote on regional supplements as well as national language.
We have the right to vote for our International officers, and have done so six times now, in 1991, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2006 and 2011. We have the right to elect our delegates to International Teamster Conventions.
These are just some of the new rights that Teamsters have, in addition to those provided by law.
Be Informed and Organized
TDU makes educational material available so that Teamsters will know their rights and be able to use them. TDU also conducts educational programs which can be held at a TDU chapter meeting or sponsored by a local union. The more informed the members are, the more we can all exercise our rights.
If you have specific questions about your rights, you can call the TDU office at (313) 842- 2600.
Our rights are strongest when we stand together. Whatever avenue you are using, whether filing a grievance, an OSHA complaint, or when bargaining for a better contract, our union is stronger when we work together. TDU can help if you want tips on organizing with others around problems in your workplace or local.
If you're thinking of running for local office, TDU can help with information on your rights and how to run an effective campaign.
Your Rights as a TDU Member
You have the right, protected by federal law, to belong to TDU, to express opinions about union business, to distribute literature, to file grievances under the contract, and to support or criticize union officials. Neither your employer nor your union may lawfully discipline you for exercising these rights.
National Labor Relations Act
Your rights on the job are protected by the National Labor Relations Act. It prohibits both your employer and your union from retaliating against you for engaging in "concerted, protected activity," a legal term meaning actions you do with others relating to conditions on the job or in the union. Concerned, protected activity includes filing grievances, complaining about contract violations, TDU activity and rank and file meetings.
Management and union officials may not harass you by spying on you or interrogating you about rank and file meetings or other protected activities.
You may distribute literature at work in non-work areas, on non-work time. Soliciting TDU memberships or signatures on a petition may be done in working areas on non-work time as long as no literature is passed out.
You may use company-provided, general-use bulletin boards to post literature and notices. Rules that exclude the posting only of union-related literature, or that are created in response to TDU activity, are not valid.
If Your Rights Are Violated
If these rights have been violated, you may file a charge at the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) by mail or in person. If the Board decides your case has merit, it will schedule a hearing and provide a Board lawyer to prosecute it. Your charge must be file within six months of the date your rights are violated.
Inside the Union, Local Elections
You have the right to meet, organize and speak freely, both in and out of the union hall. Union officials may not disrupt rank and file meetings or distribution of literature.
You have the right to an equal opportunity to vote, nominate candidates and run to union office. All union members have the right to an informed vote on union matters.
Under the Teamster constitution and federal law, almost all local unions hold elections for officers every three years. The past administration directed mail-ballot voting in many locals. TDU can provide detailed information on running for office.
You have the right to a secret ballot vote on increases in local union dues, initiation fees and assessments.
You have the right to receive, upon request to your local union, a copy of your contract along with all riders and supplements, written or verbal, and to inspect all contracts that your local union administers. Under the IBT Constitution you have the right to a secret ballot vote to ratify a contract, and that vote must be meaningful and informed. You have the right to discuss the proposal with fellow Teamsters
Union Financial Statements
Every private-sector union must file an annual financial statement with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) containing officers' salaries and expenses and other union expenses and income. The report, known as the LM-2 report, is a public document and may be obtained through the DOL or from TDU.
According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, neither an employer nor a union may discriminate against anyone because of race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin or disability. The law is enforce by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC). The EEOC also enforces the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which protects the rights of employees with permanent disabilities, if the employer can make reasonable accommodations to their needs. Many states have similar laws and agencies.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides the employees of certain employers the right to parental leave and protection for employees who miss work because of their own medical conditions or the conditions of members of their immediate family.
Health and Safety
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) is responsible for enforcing job safety standards, including the right to information about toxic substances to which you are exposed. You may request an inspection of your job site if you think safety violations exist. You may not be fired or otherwise disciplined for making complaints about job safety or for refusing to perform work that presents an immediate danger to your safety.
OSHA enforces STAA Section 405, which provides special protection for trucking workers.
Many states have laws regulating employment conditions, including wages and hours regulations, safety standards, medical examinations, the right to see personnel files and more. State laws regarding tape recording of phone and in-person conversations (for example, with management) also vary from state to state.
Teamster Constitution and Bylaws
The General President has the power to interpret the IBT Constitution and local bylaws, and, although rarely, has done so in some cases to protect members' rights.