August 30, 2013: Labor activists got an early start on Labor Day weekend this year—from fast food strikers to Teamsters standing up to contract givebacks.
Fast-food workers launched a one-day national strike to demand a living wage and the right for form unions. This as the largest Fast Food strike in U.S. history
We celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the March for Jobs and Freedom and union members and community organizations marched on Washington again demanding equality, jobs, voting rights, and more.
The Teamster rank-and-file is keeping the Labor Day spirit alive and well in our union—by standing up to corporate greed, benefit cuts and contract givebacks.
ABF Teamsters in the Central Region voted down their contract supplement for the second time.
UPS Teamsters are preparing for second contract votes in the Central Region, Southwest, Philadelphia and New Jersey and are organizing to stop healthcare cuts and win contract improvements.
UPS Freight Teamsters rejected their contract too and members are passing out stickers, leaflets, and petitions to keep building solidarity.
Retirees and active members are working with TDU to form a Teamster Pension Defense Committee to challenge legislative attacks on multi-employer pension funds.
Rank-and-file Teamsters and other working people are stepping up and standing together for a better future. That's something to celebrate this Labor Day.Issues: Labor Movement
Thousands of fast food workers walked off their jobs in 58 U.S. cities yesterday, an indictment of an economy that’s producing little more than McJobs. Some picket lines turned into temporary occupations, and several stores closed.
From a McDonald’s in Peoria, Illinois, to a Burger King in Durham, North Carolina, the one-day strikes hit businesses in dozens of new cities and towns. Organizers estimated a thousand restaurants were affected.
It was a significant escalation: previous fast food strikes had hit eight cities.
The strikes shut down some restaurants. In others only a few workers walked off the job, leaving managers scrambling to fill shifts. A Jimmy John’s sandwich shop in Seattle was staffed entirely by managers and had to suspend deliveries, while a Burger King in Houston closed for lunch when most of the shift joined the picket line.
In Memphis, 50 workers and supporters picketed a McDonald’s as cars honked and pedestrians shouted their support. “McDonald’s makes $5 billion a year,” said Anthony Cathey, a striker from the store. “They treat us like slaves. We can't make ends meet.”
Another striker, Latoya Jones, said, “I’ve been here almost a year; $7.25 is not a living wage. I’m a single mom with three kids. I’m living paycheck to paycheck.”
In New York, workers picketing a midtown McDonald’s were joined by politicians and sympathetic clergy.
“They’re not letting workers that have been there awhile get enough hours,” striking Bronx worker Bianka Ramirez told the crowd of 300. If corporate managers had to work in her store, she said, “before long I guarantee they’d be asking for $15 and a union.”
Keeping Your Job
Laws on strikes have become so anemic that they provide workers hardly any protection. Only if strikes are primarily to protest a narrow range of “unfair labor practices” does the law protect workers from being “permanently replaced,” a euphemism for fired. (Wage theft doesn’t count as a ULP, and neither does discrimination or sexual harassment.)
The organizers of the strikes for “$15 and a union” have not spent much time emphasizing the ULP angle. An online “how to go on strike” kit includes a letter to the boss explaining that the one-day strike is “to demand a $15 an hour wage, for the right to join a union without intimidation, and to protest interference with our protected workplace rights…” But many signs don’t claim the strikes as ULP-related.
This direct approach has its advantages. For one, it doesn’t muddy the water with labor board jargon that could distract from the main point. Workers know they’re out for more money and a say on the job. And arguably, not much is lost—since the board, at best, takes years to reinstate workers illegally fired.
Instead, the fast food workers have relied on community supporters, including city council members or clergy, to walk them back into their jobs after striking. This approach has had a great deal of success so far in minimizing the risk of getting—or staying—fired. In St. Louis, for example, workers fired for striking were quickly reinstated after community delegations brought pressure.
The crowd briefly occupied the restaurant, then marched downtown to picket another. Strikers from across the city converged at an afternoon rally at Union Square where hundreds of fast food workers were addressed by more politicians and union leaders.
Not all large cities had large strikes. In Los Angeles, a crowd of 300 union members and supporters assembled outside a McDonald’s, but only a few were striking workers. They marched to a Subway and briefly occupied it; managers and employees hid in the back.
In Seattle, by contrast, workers struck around 30 locations, including Jimmy John’s, Subway, and Specialty’s Café and Bakery. A Qdoba Mexican Grill was entirely shut down when a crowd occupied the store. A Subway was unable to stay open because of a large crowd out front.
Striking Seattle workers started the morning fanning out to restaurants to try to convince more co-workers to walk out. They were often successful if they had already discussed the strike. Few to none walked out without earlier discussion, however.
Striking workers are winning the PR war. They shone a spotlight on McDonald’s much-ridiculed budgeting tool—the second line of which assumed the worker they were “helping” with their budget had a second job.
When confronted about its low wages, McDonald’s blames franchise owners. But when asked about the roughly 20 percent of stores it runs directly, company flacks acknowledge workers there also start at minimum wage.
Fast food companies have also claimed stores provide a ladder to managerial jobs or franchise ownership—but workers say promises of advancement are so much smoke.
John Valdez, who walked out of a McDonald’s in midtown Manhattan, said he has now worked for three McDonald’s locations over four years, and knows all the jobs. He worked his way up from $7.25 to $7.55 an hour—but when he changed stores, they bumped him back down to $7.25 again. “It’s not fair, that’s why everybody’s here today,” he said.
And there’s hardly any room at the top of the ladder. Only 2.2 percent of jobs in fast food are professional or managerial, said a recent report by the National Employment Law Project, “Going Nowhere Fast.” Front-line occupations like cooks, cashiers, and delivery drivers make up 89.1 percent of fast food jobs, with a median hourly pay of $8.94. Their supervisors make $13.06 per hour, but only comprise 8.7 percent of fast food jobs. And franchise owners have to prove assets of three quarters of a million dollars in most cases, the report said—so working your way up to ownership, on minimum wage, doesn’t sound realistic.
Burger King striker Tamara Green, in her 30s, said she’s close to finishing her college degree—but she knows, as good jobs are destroyed, a degree is not the ticket it once was. “I have college grads standing next to me and making a burger,” she told the New York crowd.
The Service Employees have been backing the effort, starting with 40 organizers in New York, the first city to hold fast food strikes, last July.
The union at first kept a low profile, but in recent weeks, as interest spread nationally, union officials started taking credit for the effort. There are signs SEIU is putting substantial resources, with as many as 10 full-time organizers each in several cities, and they recently announced they’re hiring researchers for the campaign.
In Memphis the union recruited fast food workers through a social media ad campaign, following up with a live organizer, which led to the first participation in fast food strikes there.
The city is iconic for the sanitation workers’ strike that drew Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s support right before his assassination. Labor history was alive and being created anew on Thursday. Some Memphis workers held signs reading “I Am a Man.”
The strikers ended their march at the civil rights museum, at the site of the Lorraine Motel where King was killed. To get there, they marched up Beale Street, following the same route sanitation workers often marched in 1968.
The short strikes don’t seem to be aimed at stopping production and costing the companies money, although they certainly have done that in some stores. Instead, the main targets are high-profile brands and low minimum wage laws.
They do seem to have revived a discussion of low wages and high corporate profits, reminiscent of the talk spurred by Occupy Wall Street.
The path forward is unclear. Squeezing more out of franchise owners makes little sense when McDonald’s, for example, rakes in much of its profit through fees and mandatory sales to franchisees.
A possible model comes from farmworker organizing. Both the Farm Labor Organizing Committee and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers have conducted multi-year campaigns to eventually win three-party agreements among farmworkers, growers, and produce buyers. CIW, in particular, has extracted money for tomato pickers directly from fast food companies like Yum Brands, which owns Taco Bell. They did it by public criticism and boycotts of the carefully-cultivated fast-food brand names, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway and Chipotle.
SEIU seems more focused on the political arena. In a planning meeting for the strike in Seattle, the only thing on the calendar after the strike was the city’s mayoral election.
In New York City, mayoral candidates Christine Quinn (endorsed by SEIU 32BJ) and Bill DeBlasio (endorsed by SEIU 1199) spoke at separate fast food rallies.
Quinn said she would introduce city council legislation to force fast food companies to provide workers with fixed schedules and notice of changes at least a week in advance. Workers say they are unable to go to school, arrange childcare, or plan their lives because they don’t have set shifts. “Every week my schedule changes,” said Valdez. He is often sent home early, he said, or called when staffing is short.
But Quinn’s record, blocking and then watering down New York City living wage legislation indicates that such election-time promises will dissipate quickly.
Nationally, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry seemed to focus on building momentum for a higher federal minimum wage. She told The New York Times that the demand “is moving people to understand that $15 is increasingly reasonable.” President Barack Obama has proposed a federal minimum that would gradually increase to $9 an hour, but Congress has not moved on it.
“$7.25 isn’t enough, I can promise you that,” said Shakira Campbell, a New York McDonald’s worker. “I need my money. Where is my money?”
With reporting from Steven Payne in Memphis, Josh Sturman in Seattle, and Slobodan Dimitrov in Los Angeles.
August 30, 2013: We're celebrating Labor Day weekend with 25% off TDU memberships. Join the group that gives Teamsters reliable news on our contracts and union, and helps members unite against givebacks.
This Labor Day Weekend only, a one-year TDU membership is just $30. A three-year membership is just $75.
Already a member, register online for the TDU Convention and get $25 off your Convention registration.
Join TDU for 25% off. Offer expires after Labor Day.
Get FREE registration to the TDU Convention by recruiting five new TDU members by Oct. 1.Issues: TDU
Workers at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles were probably surprised yesterday to see groups of truckers chasing trucks making deliveries and setting up temporary picket lines in front of them.
Port truck drivers went on a 24-hour strike early Monday evening to protest alleged union-busting by Green Fleet, one of the port's biggest trucking companies. The Green Fleet drivers say that the company harassed and intimidated workers who were trying to organize with the Teamsters, and hired a union-busting law firm to block unionization.
The strike is the latest salvo in an ongoing campaign to organize port truckers, who say that despite playing a key role in the global supply chain for some of the country's largest corporations, the trucks they drive amount to "sweatshops on wheels." Many drivers make poverty wages and complain of subhuman working conditions, like being denied access to bathrooms.
Organizers say 30 of the about 80 full-time workers at Green Fleet, who move merchandise for companies like Skechers and Huffy, walked out early Monday evening and successfully returned to work Tuesday. The strike follows last year's successful union drive for port truckers employed by Toll Group in Los Angeles and New Jersey, as well as a trucker strike in Seattle.
It's also the latest use of the strike as a short-term, offensive tactic against low-wage employers—a technique that seems to be spreading across the country.
Mario Hernandez has driven trucks at the Port of Los Angeles for 15 years and has worked for Green Fleet for four. He says he and his coworkers are paid not by the hour, but by the load, meaning they never receive overtime pay despite being forced to work overtime hours.
"I'm struggling. I can't even take my kids to the dentist," Hernandez says. Adding his family onto his just health insurance plan—not including dental—would have cost an additional $120 per week, "and I can't afford that."
Hernandez has a friend working for Toll, whose successful union drive led to a contract with employer-paid healthcare. "We do the same job; we move the same kinds of containers that they do," he says. "Why shouldn't we have the same benefits?" Inspired by Toll workers' victory, Green Fleet workers began organizing in January.
Hernandez is a full-time Green Fleet employee, but the company also employees 35-40 independent contractors, according to the organizers, in Los Angeles, who as "owner-operators" of their trucks receive no benefits and are responsible for the cost of upkeep of their vehicles. The contractors form a kind of hyper-exploited second-class workforce throughout the trucking industry that owners use to keep wages low.
No independent contractors are on strike, as they cannot file unfair labor practice charges, but organizers did say some of them did not show up to work today. Independent contractors face even more abusive conditions than full-time employees. In a 2011 open letter from independent contractor port truckers in multiple cities, drivers described "keep[ing] empty bottles in our cabs" to urinate into, as some trucking companies do not provide basic facilities for contractors, and numerous costs for basic operation. "Everything comes out of our pockets or is deducted from our paychecks," the letter reads. "The truck or lease, fuel, insurance, registration, you name it."
Nick Weiner, campaign coordinator for the Change to Win federation (of which the Teamsters are a member) ports campaign, says port drivers "sit on the bottom of port economy." "Misclassification of full-time workers as independent contractors is at the heart of the business model of trucking companies," Weiner says. Such misclassification is a widespread practice across the American economy that allows companies to avoid paying benefits and escape some taxes.
"Misclassification is a scourge of this country," says Rabbi Jonathan Klein of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), a faith-based worker rights organization in Los Angeles. "It hurts working people's ability to have fair conditions on the job. In this case, it creates wage theft, and allows them to be abused."
Klein is one of 10 religious leaders accompanying workers back to work post-strike on Tuesday.
Ambulating to the win
Hernandez also says that after a group of workers delivered a petition to management demanding recognition of the union, Green Fleet management never responded; instead, they brought in a union busting law firm to intimidate union supporters.
"Why is [management] paying them so much money to avoid a union rather than sitting down with us to form our union?" Hernandez says.
Truckers walked off at 4:30 P.M. on Monday, and immediately began "ambulatory picketing." Since truckers travel throughout the workday, strikers follow "scab" trucks and picket them near their final destination.
According to organizers, one strikebreaking driver was attempting to make a delivery when he noticed strikers were following him. He stopped, put on his hazard lights, and jumped out of his cab to begin talking with the strikers about their decision to walk off the job. He returned to his cab and wrote the drivers a note in Spanish (pictured right), explaining he was too scared of getting fired to join, but supported the strike.
Workers were joined by religious leaders and local politicians, including the mayor of the city of Carson, Calif., where the Port of Los Angeles is located, and U.S. Rep. Janice Hahn (D). One city council member, Mike Gipson, spent much of the night with the workers, from midnight to 4:00 A.M.
On Tuesday, workers returning to work accompanied by community members were initially turned away from the company's entrance. But after a half hour outside the gates, the company eventually agreed to the workers' return to work today—leading the union to declare victory.
A growing wave
The Los Angeles truckers are the latest low-wage, non-union workers to walk off the job, engaging not in a traditional strike after an impasse in bargaining but as an offensive measure, walking off over alleged unfair labor practices (ULPs) before becoming formal union members—what Labor Notes' Jenny Brown calls a "strike first strategy."
Fast food and retail workers continue to make headlines for multiple strikes since last fall, in an effort backed by the Service Employees (SEIU). Beginning in October, Wal-Mart workers organizing with OUR Walmart, affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), walked out several times. Warehouse workers in a Chicago suburb struck in September, staying out on the picket line for weeks and shutting down a key Wal-Mart distribution center for a day before winning most of their demands. Soon after, warehouse workers struck in Southern California.
Such strikes are quickly gaining traction across industries and various unions, particularly within Change to Win (though since backing the Wal-Mart workers' first strikes, the UFCW has returned to the AFL-CIO). As I wrote earlier this year for Dissent, even though these walkoffs do not always significantly hurt companies' profits—the key power of the strike, according to Joe Burns's recent book on the subject—they do serve to legitimate the act of striking to wring concessions out of employers at a time when strikes are at an all-time low. Tentatively, more unions and more workers seem comfortable with taking militant action on the job.
Victory breeds victory
The port truckers returned to work Tuesday afternoon, accompanied by community and religious leaders to protect them from retaliation, as many fast food and retail strikers have done in the past. Organizers say the 24-hour walkoff is just the beginning of the Green Fleet campaign, and that further battles with other nonunion port trucking companies are also likely.
Gonzalez says he is sure other drivers will support future strikes if this one brings gains, as he was galvanized when he saw the unionized Toll drivers win union recognition and a contract.
"Once they see us back at work, they'll lose their fear," he says.Issues: Labor Movement
PORTLAND, OR (AUGUST 29, 2013) – An Administrative Law Judge for the National Labor Relations Board issued a preliminary decision and recommended order on August 28 that the ILWU is not legally entitled to perform disputed work that is covered by the ILWU’s 80-year-old collective bargaining agreement with the union’s West Coast employers. The work was awarded to IBEW-represented electricians last year in an NLRB ruling that has since been vacated by a federal judge who found that the Board acted outside the clear legal mandates of the National Labor Relations Act when it issued a decision awarding work to the Port’s electricians because the Port’s public employees are excluded from the Board’s jurisdiction.
The ALJ’s preliminary decision and recommended order is based on a grossly flawed assumption that the Port controls the disputed work of monitoring refrigerated containers at Terminal 6 in the Port of Portland. However, the evidence and the law make clear that the work is under the ultimate control, not of the Port, but of the employers of International Longshore and Warehouse Union members, including the steamship carriers.
“The ALJ’s error about who controls the work, and his reliance on a now-vacated Board decision, will ultimately lead to a court reversal in this case and the ILWU securing the work we’re entitled to under the collective bargaining agreement that ICTSI agreed to follow when it took over operations at Terminal 6,” said Leal Sundet, a longshoreman from Portland who serves as ILWU Coast Committeeman in San Francisco. “His decision and recommended order is contrary to decisions of industry arbitrators who understand the work at issue here as well as ICTSI’s obligations to both Pacific Maritime Association internal labor standards and to the collective agreement that PMA has with the ILWU.”
The ALJ’s decision is not a surprise to the ILWU, given that the Board has been on a campaign to weaken it ever since the Union defied the Board’s orders in the widely reported fight to protect longshore jobs at the EGT grain terminal in the port of Longview, Washington, in 2011. The ILWU’s plan has always been to find justice in the appeals court. Yesterday’s ALJ decision and recommended order is not binding legal precedent unless and until it is enforced pursuant to a judgment of a federal court.
ICTSI is a voluntary member of the Pacific Maritime Association, the employer association that employs ILWU members on the West Coast. The entire longshore industry, consisting of more than 70 employers, agrees with ILWU’s position on this matter.
Sundet said, “ICTSI is a rogue foreign company that wants the protection of a multi-employer contract but refuses to accept the collective obligations of such a contract. We believe a neutral appellate court will hold this company accountable where the Labor Board has been unwilling to do so.”
August 29, 2013: Top Teamster officials want UPSers to give up, go home and cry in their beer. They say there's nothing members can do to stop healthcare cuts.
They say there’s no point in Voting No again in the Central Region, Philadelphia Local 623, Metro Philly, New Jersey Local 177 or in the West.
Are they right? Only if we believe their healthcare hype.
A No vote in these supplements will force Teamster negotiators back to the bargaining table—and it will increase our leverage.
UPS and the IBT don't want to risk a third No vote which would require a strike authorization vote per the International Teamsters Constitution. Management wants the contract settled without even talk of a strike.
That gives us leverage—not enough to win everything, but enough to win a better contract.
What We Can Win
Members can win better health benefits. UPS can put increased money into TeamCare to match and maintain current healthcare coverage.
UPS made $4.5 billion in profits while paying those benefits last year; they can afford it.
Other Teamster contracts have a maintenance of benefits clause that says, "No health benefits presently in effect shall be reduced during the life of this agreement." Why not UPS?
Members can also win some improvements in the supplemental contracts.
Members in the Western and Central Regions and in Philadelphia Local 623 are all campaigning for specific reasonable improvements—from more full-time jobs at the massive airport hubs in Philadelphia and Ontario, Calif. to eliminating 17(i) in the Central.
Ken Hall has called a national meeting in Chicago on Wednesday, Sept. 4 where they will go over the new TeamCare health plan.
Local unions with rejected supplements in the Central Region, Metro Philly and Philadelphia Local 623 have been told to hold contract meetings to push the new plan in preparation for re-voting the supplements.
This movement needs you—your ideas, your questions, your help in informing and mobilizing other Teamsters. Click here to volunteer to help in your area or to send in your question or comment.Issues: UPS
Click here to get a leaflet on those proposals. Copy and distribute widely.
Teamster officials now claim that in September they will reveal to members what healthcare benefits will be included in the next offer, and then will bargain with UPS over other vital issues.
We need to stay united and be prepared to Say No One More Time to win gains and protect our healthcare benefits.
August 30 Day of Action
Some UPS Teamsters in the Southwest are organizing rallies and gate-leafleting for tomorrow, August 30. This marks two full months since the historic No vote.
We encourage all UPS Teamsters to get the word out in the weeks to come.UPSMake UPS Deliver
On Thursday, fast-food and other low-wage workers in more than three dozen cities will boost their campaign for a living wage and justice with a nationwide one-day strike. The workers and the faith, community and labor groups that back them are calling for a living wage of $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation.
The mobilization began in November with a handful of walkouts and grew even larger in July. Steven Ashby, a professor at the University of Illinois School of Labor and Employment Relations, tells Time.com:
It’s absolutely going to continue to grow. I see no signs from all the people I’ve talked with that it’s going to falter. At this point, it hasn’t reached its peak yet. The energy of the workers, their passion, their commitment, is very, very high. They basically feel like, ‘We’ve got nothing to lose.’
Fast food is a $200 billion a year industry and retail is a $4.7 trillion industry, yet many service workers across the country earn minimum wage or just above it and are forced to rely on public assistance programs to provide for their families and get health care for their children. The median age in the fast-food industry is older than 28, and more than one-quarter of fast-food workers are raising at least one child.
Learn more at Low Pay Is Not OK.
See The Reality of Who Actually Works for Minimum Wage Will Shock You from Upworthy.Issues: Labor Movement
It was sadly interesting to see the same tired tactic of simply trying to plant the seeds of doubt and fear, but not being brave enough to even use his own name manifest itself. I have been struck with the way the lack-luster-anti-union "campaign" such as it is, seems to lack the courage and fortitude to honestly and openly debate topics of interest. The champions of the anti brigade seem to run on emotion and anger, and with much consternation refuse to engage in dialogue.
I am pleased to address "Mr. Harriman's" points , with his comments/questions/doubt sowing in italics:
I'll be nice and acknowledge the faults of upper management first.
Upper management has created a culture where merit and experience counts for very little. Nepotism is the law of the land at HDC, and it matters not what you know or how you perform, but who your mommy or daddy is and what position they hold at UPRR. The number of qualified applicants they pass over in favor of their children, spouses, friends, or other relatives is appalling, much like their failure to hold protected minority groups accountable for their actions. I feel as though women, people of a different skin color or sexual orientation, or anybody related to upper management, all receive passes to a certain degree whenever they screw up.
Since they don't have the intestinal fortitude to deal with certain “protected” dispatchers, what do they do? They burden everybody with tedious and stupid new rules and procedures completely UNNECESSARY for all but a few bad apples.
I must admit to being a little taken aback from your characterizations of the the Harriman. I believe they are doing the best they can, they are just unaware they are heading in the wrong direction. The collective bargaining process will help them make the Harriman a better place in general, the dispatchers to be taken better care of, and to insure fair and objective treatment for all.
This is about making things better. It is NOT about being anti UP or anti management. It is not about retaliation, but about progress toward better pay, benefits, and working conditions for the train dispatchers.
Relations with management will be just as toxic. Don't believe me? BNSF dispatchers have 29 cases pending arbitration through the ATDA. That's exceptionally high given the relatively low number of BNSF dispatchers.
Relations with management will only be toxic if management makes them that way. Do you mean to imply that the UP currently has a toxic relationship with 85% of its employees? (That is the number labor relations points out as being represented in the Collective Bargaining Process) Of course not, one only needs to peruse the Labor Relations website to see that they take a positive and professional attitude with dealing with non-agreement employees.
Your comment about the "relatively low number" of BNSF dispatchers is interesting. They are currently the largest group of train dispatchers represented by the ATDA and are comparable to the UP in terms of size.
I spoke with ATDA Vice President David Volz this morning to inquire about this and some other items you raised.
He advised that as of the last report he had, there were 72 cases on the BNSF that were somewhere in the arbitration process.
70 of those cases involved discipline, or the ATDA making sure that the due process rights of those where an allegation of a rules violation has been made are protected.
Only two involved a dispute over the application or interpretation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. This is anything but a "toxic" relationship between the BNSF and the ATDA.
He further shared that there are many good accomplishments on the BNSF from the Joint Leadership Team (JLT) which is a collaborative team made up of ATDA System ("local") officers and management from the dispatcher's office.
The following is a list of accomplishments from the collaborative Joint Leadership Team:
Below is a partial list of accomplishments since the 2008 version of the JLT started...
a. Shift specific days on Regular Relief jobs.
b. What happens when a temporary vacancy goes "no bidders", contained in a Letter of Understanding (LoU).
c. LoU about breaking in on jobs.
d. Standard Dispatcher Qualification Process (how many days allowed to break in on a job on each job in the office).
f. Skills classes
g. LoU - Probationary dispatchers will not train others.
h. LoU about how we break in on Relief jobs.
i. LoU about our exercise of seniority when returning from any absence of 5 or more days.
j. Settlement of $125,000 from the Company about our rights when we return from said absence.
k. LoU's about pay for being held off temporary and permanent vacancies-the time allowed to be held off without penalty, the amount of penalty, and how they are paid. We now get paid by putting the letters "HOT" or "HOP" on the sign-in sheets, we were required to file time-slips.
l. LoU establishing float vacation days after arbitration determination that Agreement did not support a claim for single-day vacation.
m. LoU defining Physical Displacement.
n. LoU establishing GR days and RD for GATDB dispatchers. Prior to this LoU, they were required to work their 2 days prior to vacation, and no guaranteed days off during work week.
o. Dispatchers allowed to use Sick Leave if EAP is needed, if they put themselves in EAP before an incident.
p. Electronic bidding of bulletins.
I can't say I'm surprised the topic of pay and healthcare comes up. I'm not opposed to periodic raises based on merit and cost of living. On the other hand, I'm disappointed you view this in the context of "$35,000 and $40,000 a year shift" in salary increases, also pointing out "that does not include time and a half work."
Greed is corrupting your thought process, Sean. You complain about having to work overtime as a salaried employee, but suddenly it's okay as long as you're being paid overtime for it? Either way it's more time at work and less time with family. No dollar amount is enough to replace the latter.
Ad hominem attacks are never professional "Mr. Harriman," particularly when coming from the perspective of one attempting to argue against the Union. The carrier's principle objection is that it will cost money - and where does the money go - to the Train Dispatchers.
I havent posed a double standard. I've never complained about working. I enjoy what I do, but I know that if we take this step I will make a lot more money than I currently am, by being paid in line with what is the normal framework of running a dispatching office in this industry. We are the only Class One train dispatchers doing business this way.
It's quite simple, my main responsibility is to look out for my family. I am given with an choice between two methods of compensation at work - the current non-agreement way or what is standard in the railroad industry - being represented. Being represented will mean $35,000 - $40,000 more per year for my family. Why would I choose to make less?
I'm no longer at HDC, but I spoke with one of your guys behind the organizing efforts. I asked him about healthcare, specifically the section of Obamacare outlining the so called "cadillac tax" for the most luxurious plans. He never heard of it. This is alarming for so many reasons. The very people encouraging others to vote YES do not have sufficient knowledge about why to vote yes. In case you haven't heard, labor unions are livid about this cadillac tax because it will very likely reduce their health insurance benefits down the road. The company will have to pay a 40% tax on healthcare plans valued over certain amounts - and they will use this as leverage at the bargaining table. You guys will have to take a cut in benefits, pay more out of pocket, or forego wage increases to preserve the same level of coverage.
It seems improbable that one of "your" (sic) guys had not heard of the "Cadillac tax."
This is what was included in the fax which we all as Train Dispatchers received on April 8, 2013:
What is the National Health and Welfare Plan?
This is the health insurance benefit enjoyed by the
railroad employees who fall under a collectivebargaining agreement.
Is it Obamacare? Absolutely not! This healthcare
benefit is a collectively bargained agreementnegotiated by the ATDA as well as other laborunions who represent craft employees.Under Obamacare is this considered a CadillacPlan and will I have to pay more taxes for having
it? As the law reads now, yes it is considered a
Cadillac Plan but NO you will not pay higher taxes
for having this benefit. Per the current law, in 2018there may be a tax for such plans, but any such taxwill be paid by the company, not the employee.
As far as the labor unions being "livid" your comment does not indicate you understand the situation.
Of course, unions are in business to look out for their members, and if there was something on the horizon that may cost their members money they would, of course, be concerned.
The problem with your story is the health benefits in the National Plan can not be reduced because the company may be paying a tax on the Plan. The company may want to recoup some of that from the employees, but they can't unless the employees agree to it through the negotiating and ratification processes.
The National Plan costs the carriers about $2.5 billion per year now. Using your logic, wouldn't that give the company a leverage to shift more costs to the employees? But yet the company still pays that cost. You simply can not say that wage increases will have to be given up to maintain the current level of benefits.
I've heard all kinds of varying propaganda about what will happen to your pensions. Don't know who to believe. Factoring in future wage increases for the younger dispatchers, your pensions are going to be worth OVER A MILLION dollars if you stay with the company until retirement and live until 80. Don't be stupid and throw that away.
Two points come to mind here. No one is trowing away the Pension. What is a fact is that it becomes part of the negotiations. If you look at the Pension Website two things jump out: (1) that it is not guaranteed, and the UP reserves the right to discontinue or modify it at any time and (2) they point out it is not available to non-agreement employees UNLESS it is included in their Collective Bargaining agreement.
There are some ATDA represented dispatchers who choose in their contract to keep their carriers "Officer's" pension.
I sit close to a young dispatcher who is making around $76,000 a year. For his wage to go up to the $120,000+ range will make a far greater impact on his sum total of quality of life than waiting the 35 plus years for retirement to then hopefully cash in on a pension plan that is not guaranteed to exist.
All in all, I don't think you guys have the bargaining power you think you do. There's far too many people at headquarters and other locations with recent dispatching experience. I can tell you firsthand they are not very sympathetic to your plight and would gladly sit in your chair again should you guys decide to walk out.
I don't think you understand the process.
First, why do you think we will be walking out? Our expectation, if represented, would be for the carrier to negotiate in good faith. Are you suggesting that while now we are termed "valued members of the management team" that suddenly the carrier will be filled with vengeance and spite against the same group of employees they are currently "valuing?"
Second, let's say there is this Cecil B. Demille's cast of thousands ready to step in, and is as motivated as you say, and let's say that they have maintained their qualification to dispatch, (which they haven't), surely you are not suggesting that a solemn procession of Renzneberger Vans will unload a group of capable and functioning dispatchers who will just walk to desks and take up dispatching? Any even so, if this fictional story were to happen, do you think that all the rest of the labor organizations would not honor the walk out?
This is simply not a reasonable point made by you, and also is one that we should never reach. The impact of the train dispatchers is immediate, and their instantaneous integral necessity is obvious.
Another point about this feigned army of former dispatchers, "not very sympathetic to our plight." I understand the organizers have heard from a great number of them with two basic points they make.
First the compensation of the train dispatchers will be greater under the representation of the ATDA than they are making at HQ, so they are very interested in leaning about how they as a former Train Dispatcher can protect their seniority and preserve their right to return to dispatching should they either choose to do so, or their position become eliminated at HQ.
Us being represented gives the very people you allege to be "unsympathetic" great advantage and security, and the from the number contacting the organizers, they are quite hopeful we are successful.
I hope you guys make the right decision.
My hope is that each train dispatcher objectively answers the question, what is in the best financial interest of their family when making this choice. While choosing to be represented will cost more money for the carrier, they pointed out to the stock holders in the last election that even if it were to happen they did not see it impacting the stock price.
It is really a simply matter of the Train Dispatcher's being given a choice and deciding under which model they whish to work, and which model will be in their best interest.
I believe the choice is clear VOTE YES!
August 29, 2013: The largest supplement to the ABF agreement – the Central Region local cartage agreement – was rejected again yesterday, as was the Western Region office supplement. The Central Cartage supplement includes some 1,700 Teamsters.
The other five supplements which were previously rejected were accepted in the second round of voting.
The IBT Constitution (Article XII, Section 2) provides that after two such rejections, "The master national negotiating committee shall return to the bargaining table and attempt to address the issues… in the event no new tentative agreement is reached, or if the members reject the new tentative agreement, the master committee shall conduct a strike authorization vote" in the supplemental area.
This should give the two groups some leverage to win changes to the agreement. But the Hoffa administration will likely try yet another "vote till you get it right" push. Hoffa and the Freight Division's game is to divide, discourage, and threaten 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.
The Record in Freight
They did nothing to increase Teamster bargaining power at ABF, misled members, then sold management's deal.
They lied to UPS Freight Teamsters and when the members rejected their deal, Hoffa-Hall went into hiding for over two months, and counting.
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.Issues: Freight
August 28, 2013: Today marks the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The hidden history of the march may surprise you—and it shows why we need to keep marching today.
Hidden History: The March on Washington was not organized by Martin Luther King.
The march is best remembered for Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech which continues to inspire millions of Americans.
But Dr. King was not the main organizer of the March on Washington—a labor leader was. The March on Washington was the brainchild of A. Philip Randolph, the 74-year-old leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first primarily Black labor union.
Randolph first called for a march on Washington to protest employment discrimination in 1941. That never happened, but he relaunched the project in 1963 and reached out to King and other civil rights and labor groups. The rest is history.
Hidden History: Marchers Demanded Jobs and Economic Justice
Dr. King’s speech is mostly remembered as a call for racial understanding and his dream that one day his children “will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
The marchers demanded comprehensive Civil Rights legislation: the Right to Vote, the desegregation of all public schools, and an end to housing discrimination.
But that was not all. Marchers also demanded a minimum wage high enough to lift a family out of poverty, and “give all Americans a decent standard of living.” They demanded “meaningful and dignified jobs at decent wages.”
These demands for economic justice tend to be forgotten—and are still unmet.
Hidden History: Wages and Income Inequality are Worse Today Than in 1963
The federal minimum wage today is less than it was at the time of the March on Washington. The $1.15-per-hour minimum in August 1963 translates into an inflation-adjusted wage of about $8.80 today. The current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
Marchers demanded an 85¢ increase in the minimum wage to $2.00. Adjusting for inflation, that wage would be more than $13.00 an hour today.
We Need to Keep Marching
Fifty years later, the March on Washington continues to inspire and shows the power that labor and civil rights organizers can have when we work together.
The March on Washington helped win the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act which made racial and gender discrimination illegal in the workplace. Our country is a much better place for the March and the Civil Rights Movement.
But the lack of “meaningful and dignified jobs at decent wages” and growing economic inequality are the March’s unfinished business. We need to keep marching today.
Read more:Black TeamstersLabor Movement
10. "Does anyone know how to drive stick?"
9. "Who wants a Skinnygirl Margarita?"
8. "Overtime Schovertime"
7. "Sorry I'm late -- I was up all night twerking"
6. "Have a Teamster-ific day!"
5. "I get to meet Letterman AND Anderson Cooper? Pinch me"
4. "Hey, boss, mind if I work on Labor Day?"
3. "Where can I meet a nice, burly fellow?" (Woman)
2. "Where can I meet a nice, burly fellow?" (Man)
1. "Thank YOU, Trump University"Issues: Labor Movement
We are asking people to follow Sean's example and use your own name, but that is not a solid requirement, just a request.
As we approach the voting process we'd like to hear from you, and why this vote is important to YOU!
Much of the job growth in America today is in the service sector. The thing about service jobs though, is that they often don’t pay much.
But, there are a few exceptions to that rule, and this story is about one of those exceptions. Namely, the unionized jobs that keep the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit system, known as BART, running.
As you’ve probably heard, BART workers are in the midst of a contract dispute right now, over pay and benefits. BART workers went on strike once this summer, snarling traffic and enraging commuters across the Bay Area. Employees and management are in the midst of a 60-day cooling-off period, but with little progress reported so far, another strike could be coming.
In the meantime, the public debates both sides of BART workers’ demands rage on. Many of the most heated arguments have been over worker salaries. Some say BART workers already get too much, with their pay and benefits some of the highest, compared to other transit agencies, in the country. Others say, after five years without a raise, union workers deserve a bump to keep up with the skyrocketing cost of living in the Bay Area.
But with all the talk of how much BART workers should be getting, there's little discussion about what they actually do. To find out, I spent some time with one BART worker recently -- a “System Service Worker,” named Sharina Pearson.
"System Service Worker" is the technical name for what is basically a BART station janitor. Pearson is assigned to clean two stations, in an eight-hour shift that starts at 6 a.m. When I visit her, she is at the BART station in Fremont, a suburb in the East Bay, downstairs in the men's room. It is her fourth bathroom round of the day, and she is replenishing toilet paper and flushing unflushed toilets.
Next, she is up on the train platforms to sweep, scrape pigeon poop off benches, empty garbage cans and dodge passengers while she picks up trash where it eddies at the top of the escalators. And then, she does all that all over again.
"A lot of what I do," Pearson says, "is repetition."
There is lots of bending, lifting, pushing, pulling. And walking, briskly. At one point, she politely asks if I could pick up the pace.
This job earns Pearson about $52,000 a year, plus health care benefits, to which she contributes $92 each month. Though some BART workers accrue lots of overtime on top of this, she tells me overtime is rare with a janitorial position like hers.
Her salary, she says, affords a modest but decent life for her and her four kids, including an $1,800 monthly mortgage payment on a three-bedroom home in a Bay Area suburb where her commute is long, but housing is cheaper.
Pearson says after utilities, car payments and car insurance, food and clothes for her family, she often lives “paycheck to paycheck.” But she says she thanks God for finding what is a rare thing in America these days: A middle class job that does not require a college degree.
“It was nothing but a higher power” that helped her land the job at BART six years ago, she says.
And yet, Pearson is well aware of the critics who think her job is pretty cushy. Sometimes, one of those critics is her ten-year-old son, Malachai, who I met when Pearson was done with her shift.
Malachai says he once visited his mom on "Take Your Child to Work Day", and he wasn’t too impressed.
"I saw her clean the bathrooms," he says. "It looked kinda easy."
His mom laughed and told him: "I probably made it look easy."
Malachai thinks about it for a moment and adds that when he tried helping her, it was actually harder than it looked.
But Pearson would be the first to agree -- her job isn't intellectually challenging or stimulating in the same way as those of the lawyers or software developers who pass her by on their BART commutes.
Still, she says her job takes focus and problem-solving. And a strong stomach -- that becomes clear back on the BART train platform, when Pearson points down to show me something.
"That's where the hot lunch was, right there," she says.
A "hot lunch," I learn, is BART-worker lingo for a bodily fluid that needs immediate clean up. It's pretty common, and Pearson had had to deal with one as soon as she got to work the day I met her. A passenger had thrown up on the platform. When I heard this, I inadvertently made a face.
"It is what it is," she says. "That's what I get paid to do."
It’s not what she wants to do always though: She sees this job as just one step in a journey.
She’s a few classes away from an associate's degree in business administration, and once her kids are a little older — her oldest starts college this fall, Pearson says she plans to go back to school herself.
And then there's her passion -- songwriting.
There, by the escalator, in her blue BART janitor’s uniform, she breaks in to song.
August 27, 2013: The International Union is holding a meeting for all locals with members in or moving into the Central States TeamCare plan in Chicago with representatives from TeamCare on Sept. 4.
The IBT announcement promises, “updated information about the plan” and “educational materials to take back to your Local Union.”
The only “updated information” that affected UPS Teamsters want to hear is that TeamCare will be matching members’ current benefits. UPS is providing those benefits now and made $4.5 billion last year—and has the money for a maintenance-of-benefits clause.
Following the meeting, the International Union is directing all Locals in the Central Region, Western Pennsylvania, Metro Philadelphia and Philadelphia areas where supplements were voted down to hold meetings with UPS members during the Sept. 7-8 or Sept. 14-15 weekends.
Teamster locals in the West and New Jersey Local 177, where supplements were also rejected, are working on a health plan outside of Central States TeamCare.Issues: UPS
August 27, 2013: In response to questions to Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU), we consulted an expert attorney who advises healthcare plans regarding compliance with Obamacare. Here are his responses to members’ questions.
Q. January 1, 2014, is a trigger date for implementation of Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act). Does UPS need to have any new health plans in place prior to that date or face financial consequences?
A. No. It really does not matter when a new healthcare coverage kicks in at UPS because, from the Affordable Care Act’s standpoint, affected UPS Teamsters will be covered with adequate care both in their current coverage and in the newly negotiated coverage.
This assumes that that UPS employees will continue to have the coverage they have in place now until it is replaced by any new coverage that is being negotiated, and assumes that any new coverage meets the Obamacare minimum standards for affordability and provides the minimum value required. The TeamCare coverage meets these criteria.
Q. Can UPS maintain a one-year waiting period for newly hired part-timers to get health care, or does this contract provision violate Obamacare?
A. UPS can maintain a one-year waiting period for part-timers, with certain limitations. Obamacare requires that employer health coverage for full-timers must begin within 90 days of the date they are hired into a classification that was eligible for coverage, but if an employer provides health coverage for part-timers, they can have an eligibility requirement based on the number of hours worked, up to 1200, and the 90-day clock could be started when they reach that eligibility threshold. Such an eligibility requirement would have to be clearly stated in the TeamCare Plan itself.
Q. Are any UPS Teamster health plans going to be affected by the “Cadillac” tax imposed on health funds or employers with high-cost plans.
A. No. In fact, the current cost of TeamCare and the other various health plans covering UPS Teamsters cost about half of the Cadillac cost threshold. Benefits can be improved and maintained and will still be well under the threshold.Issues: UPS
Speaking personally, I am committed to being a Train Dispatcher - period.
I am also proud of my employer the Union Pacific Railroad. I believe there are always ways and means for continuous improvement and making things better. I believe ATDA representation will make things better for Train Dispatching on the UP in general, the train dispatchers of the UP, and also for my household.
I believe not only is Train Dispatching an honorable profession, and one that I am proud to belong to, it is also one that I enjoy. I plan to be a train dispatcher whether we end up represented or not.
I do have a real concern, however, about the direction we are being led by the railroad as train dispatchers, and also the future of our job as train dispatchers, with the minuscule level of input we currently have. One might think that as "managers" we would be helping drive the operation at the HDC - nothing is further from the truth.
As I look at what I consider to be the largely reactionary profusion of cultural and administrative changes in recent years compared to how things were when I came to the HDC in 2001, the direction of the trend is not what I see to be moving in a positive direction. Not only are rules violations apparently on the increase, there seems to be not only no effective plan for addressing them, there doesn't even seem a clear recognition of the nature of the problem.
I believe the realistic and proximate cause of our escalating rules violations is the ever increasing voluminous reactionary propagation of rules and processes which are leading people into confusion and doubt, causing many to worry over small details, and with the fear of getting in trouble for the small things, people are missing some big things. I believe without hesitation that unless the course is changed, we are heading for real problems.
For me, there are four reasons, I feel we should vote yes for representation:
1) Providing an effective vehicle for promoting positive change.
I am passionate about sound railroading, and good railroad decision making and practices. I find it very frustrating that we seem to be drifting more and more away from classic railroading and fundamental principles of operations. At this time there seems to be little actual imput that seasoned train dispatchers are able to make that is actually acted upon by the company. There seems to be far more emphasis on some vague "focus groups," that do not seem to even represent many of the train dispatchers with whom I am in regular contact, than on listening and ACTING on the suggestions from experienced Train Dispatchers.
I believe a great number of dispatchers feel as I, that while we may have opinions, and people will listen to us if we approach them, that seems to be about the end of it. We don't see change happen, it's as if someone listened to us and then moved on. We are embarked upon a destructive course that is neither in the best interest of railroading in general, or of the Union Pacific in particular, and seems to have no advocate, except the train dispatchers, to work to change it.
I have no doubt that through the collaborative nature of the collective bargaining system, and working through a System Committee speaking collectively for all the Train Dispatchers of the UP, we will finally have a commanding post from which to speak, be heard, and to see results from issues of concern to the train dispatchers that are raised with the carrier both in terms of safety and efficiency, and also the health and welfare of the train dispatchers.
2) I want to dispatch trains, I don't want to sit upstairs and listen to radios, shuffle papers, or "train" on other jobs.
I love what I do. I enjoy dispatching. That is the job I applied for with the UP, and for which I was hired.
I wasn't hired to listen to radios to see if crews are calling signals. I wasn't hired to shuffle papers and do assorted busy work.
CRZ desk and other busy work assignments may or may not be in the end judged to be within the scope of work of a train dispatcher, but one thing is sure, the railroad will end up wanting me to work my job as much as possible to avoid paying me time and a half for these other activities. I know many of you share these feelings.
3) I want to work the job I bid.
I didn't bid a job to train on other jobs that are not my own. I bid a specific desk because that is what I wanted to work. Endless cross training to attempt to justify employment levels and create the illusion of everyone being busy is not what I signed up for.
Again, under the collective bargaining model they can have us train on what ever extra jobs they wish, but with it costing them time and a half, I don't expect them to have quite the enthusiasm for cross training they currently demonstrate. I remain qualified to work every job I have ever worked.
4) I want to make more money.
I conservatively believe that being represented will make between a $35,000 and $40,000 a year shift in my family's finances between the increased compensation and the health care savings. That does not include time and a half work.
It should be noted, with regard to time and a half, that it is a significant part of the financial picture, but is not included in the basic compensation.
Last year the BNSF budgeted around $75 million dollars for their labor costs in their dispatching operations. Of that amount $23 million represented the time and a half portion.
I believe without a doubt that representation is in the best interest of everyone at the HDC even of those outside the dispatching ranks. I encourage all to join with me in voting YES.
There was a point in the past I did not support this path. I was against it. I bought into the propaganda of being a "valued members of the management team" etc. I made a big mistake.
If you would like to discuss anything I've said in person, I am always glad to visit. As I understand it, there are also comments available on the blog for questions or thoughts.
I greatly resent the fact we have been pushed to this point in time that makes this the only way forward with any realistic hope of insuring that the Train Dispatchers are not only well taken care of, but also receive the respect to which our craft is entitled. Things have really changed in the last few years, and not for the better.