[ILWU pensioner Arne Auvien passed away on July 31st. Arne was an active union member who dedicated his life to the ILWU. He was elected to numerous local union positions over his long career and was an active member of the Pacific Coast Pensioners Association in his retirement. Arne was first chosen to serve his local in 1957 when he was elected Secretary of Local 21. Over the years was elected by the membership to serve the union in several offices including caucus and convention delegate, dispatcher, trustee and in 1964, Local 21 President. In 1970 he was elected Vice President of Local 92 and Local 92 President in 1971.
In retirement Arne served as President of the PCPA from 2003-2006 and as the PCPA Secretary for 10 years. The 47th Annual PCPA Convention, held this September in British Columbia ,was dedicated to his memory. –Eds]
Arne Auvinen was my Pap and my hero. I was blessed to have him 65 years. He and my mother, Margie, who died in 1982, raised my sisters and me to believe that we could do anything we wanted if we worked for it, and work was paramount to achieving our dreams. They also taught us that people are people, regardless of our color or race.
My Pap was born into the labor movement in Southwest Montana on May 9, 1923, in the small mining town of Bear Creek. His father, Paul, was active in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), helping workers fight for humane working conditions against employers who viewed employees as expendable.
My granddad eventually ended up being black-balled from the mines, which happened to many union supporters & organizers. Their family moved to Washington where my granddad went to work on the waterfront in 1927. He settled in Longview, WA, where he became a member of Local 21 in 1933.
Granddad passed away in 1943 because of the lung disease he got from working in the mines. This left my grandmother destitute with a mortgage to pay on an unfinished house. Growing up in those circumstances deeply influenced my father’s commitment to improving conditions for working families.
I cannot remember a time when my dad wasn’t involved in what was happening at the union hall, which he believed was crucial to keeping our union healthy and strong because it made workers more informed and involved. He believed that the hiring hall was the single most important result of the 1934 strike and must never be surrendered. I can remember when the unity and strength of my father’s generation made the 8-hour day a reality, so he could get home at 5:30 instead of 6:30.
My Pap believed that you owed your employer a good day’s work for a good days pay. He never believed in working 2 hours on then taking 2 hours off, or working 4 on and 4 off, even though it became more common before he retired. His rule was this: if you were supposed to be working a job and weren’t there, you should be fired. It was totally against everything he believed for someone to be paid for not working. Pap believed that our jobs were secured through the strength and sacrifice of union members, and that union members had a responsibility to care for those jobs and not abuse them.
When I worked on the docks in 1966-1977, most cargo was still being moved by hand. It was hard work, but I never felt that I was worked too hard for the pay that I received. Workers who are fortunate enough to be part of the ILWU’s elite longshore workforce enjoy the best blue-collar working conditions and benefits in our country. My father believed that employers would always find ways to exploit unorganized workers – and he believed that it was the responsibility of union members with good jobs and benefits to help unorganized workers build unions. He thought this was the only way to preserve and improve the working class. He didn’t see it as a local issue, but a world issue. He didn’t think these were individual problems, but ones for union members to address together with the entire labor movement. He believed the ILWU’s Ten Guiding Principles should be respected and followed.
Arne didn’t quit when he retired in 1985. He and our stepmother, Esther, became active in the Pensioners. He advocated for widows to receive a larger portion of their husband’s pension benefit after their husbands died. He also pushed to bring the pensions of older retirees more in line with current pensions.
My Pap’s last hurrah was the Lower Columbia Longshore Federal Credit Union’s 60th Anniversary on April 26, 2014. He was instrumental in it getting it established, and I was glad to join him that day when he was still sharp and witty. Today he is gone, and I miss the conversations and his comments more than could ever have imagined.
I wish that those of you who follow in his footsteps will cherish and protect the work that he and others like him were able to do. I hope you realize how fortunate we are today because of the work that was done by our elders who were totally committed to the cause of the working man.
My dad and the others of his generation are mostly gone now – but there’s still plenty of work to be done – so the rest is up to us to carry it on.
– Michael Auvinen
The campaign by East Bay recycling workers for dramatic wage and benefit improvements continued to make progress in September.
Oakland Council OK’s raises
On September 22, the Oakland City Council adjusted their future franchise agreements so that two firms will share responsibility for collecting refuse and processing recycling from City residents – and both firms will provide workers with dramatic wage increases and good health benefits.
Because of the City’s decision, recycling workers at Waste Management (WM) and California Waste Solutions (CWS) who are members of ILWU Local 6, will see their wages increase from $13.22 at CWS and $12.50 at WM, rising steadily to $20.94 by the year 2019. Both companies will also provide workers with affordable family health insurance.
The victory resulted from two years of organizing and job actions – including numerous strikes. Local 6 recycling workers have led the fight for better pay, launching their effort in February of 2013, following the historic “Alameda County Recycler Workers Convention” attended by hundreds of workers and community supporters.
Waste Management contract needed
Now that the City Council has included the wage increases into Oakland’s franchise agreements, it’s up to Waste Management officials to sign a new union contract with the ILWU that locks-in the raises and benefits. CWS officials signed a contract with Local 6 at the end of July, but Waste Management officials have been avoiding a new contract with the ILWU for over three years. With the City’s action on
September 22, and the possibility of continued worker actions, pressure is building on the company to sign the contract and begin paying raises approved by the City Council.
Inspiring ACI workers
On September 9, recycling workers at Alameda County Industries (ACI) announced their decision to form a union and join the ILWU. With 85% of the 70 workers signing ILWU representation cards, their commitment was clear. ACI management was asked to immediately recognize the ILWU as the recycler’s union, but the company refused and is requiring workers to vote in an election.
Company officials made it clear that they would prefer to have recycling workers represented by the Teamsters Union, which has represented ACI drivers for over 20 years – but did nothing to help the 70 recyclers who have suffered as “perma-temps” and received only minimum wages with no benefits for at least 15 years. Recycling workers say that they became angry at the Teamsters eight years ago when Local 70 officials solicited representation cards from recycling workers, then ignored the recyclers after securing the contract for Teamster drivers.
Surveillance, not support
During a September 15 rally at ACI’s headquarters in San Leandro, Teamster Local 70 officials and company managers kept workers and community supporters under surveillance from the sidelines – while supervisors inside the plant threatened workers who supported the rally with retaliation.
ACI used an especially dirty trick to cheat recycling workers out of decent pay, benefits and a union – and the company did so with the knowledge and tacit approval of officials at Teamsters Union Local 70. For 15 years, ACI has pretended that the recyclers they employ aren’t actual employees – because the company obtained them through a temp agency. Some workers have been employed at ACI in this manner as “temps” for up to 15 years.
The phony “temp” gimmick is part of ACI’s “union avoidance” strategy, and the company is apparently willing to pay a high price – paying the temp agency over $19 an hour for permanent temporary workers who receive only the minimum wage of $9 an hour. Prior to July 1, 2014, ACI’s recycling workers were paid only $8.30 an hour.
Living wage violation
ACI’s decision to pay recycling workers just $9 an hour isn’t just shameful – it’s also illegal. ACI was supposed to pay workers much higher wages under the City of San Leandro’s “living wage ordinance” that became effective in 2007. The ordinance requires workers to earn $14.57 an hour without benefits or $13.07 with benefits. In a separate effort, not connected with the union organizing effort, ACI workers filed a class-action lawsuit against ACI for back-wages owed under the Living Wage ordinance. On September 24, ACI agreed to settle the lawsuit by paying the workers involved a total of $1.2 million – and confirming that ACI is the actual employer of recycling workers.
City Council support
Ironically, ACI’s questionable business practices have been unknowingly supported by ratepayers in four East Bay cities with franchise agreements obligating ACI to provide garbage and recycling services.
The largest customer is the City of San Leandro, followed by Livermore and the city of Alameda. On the evening of September 15, ACI workers attended the San Leandro City Council meeting where they announced their decision to join the ILWU and end ACI’s unethical behavior.
The following night, ACI workers went to the Alameda City Council with the same message. At both meetings, workers were well-received by City Council members who seemed shocked and surprised by ACI’s business practices.
“We’re making progress, and we saw what ILWU recycling workers have accomplished in Oakland and Fremont,” said ACI recycling worker Salvador Hernandez, “so we want to do the same thing here at ACI to help our families.”
This August “ILWU Walk the Coast” coordinated events in three ports and raised over $70,000 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation with fundraisers sponsored by Locals 13, 63 and 94 in Los Angeles, Local 46 in Port Hueneme, and Local 10 in San Francisco. The Coast Longshore Division contributed $5,000. Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) was adopted by the ILWU Walk the Coast Committee as the charity of choice. ALSF raises funds for support, research and treatment of childhood cancers.
On August 9th, under direction of Jessie Ramirez and Rita Allison, Local 46 sponsored a three-kilometer fundraising walk and barbeque in Port Hueneme. The event honored a third-grader from Oxnard, Natalia Tanguma who, at the age of 4, was diagnosed with leukemia. Local 10’s event was organized by Frank Gaskin and “featured food and entertainment at the Dispatch Hall in San Francisco. Locals 13, 63 and 94 in Los Angeles, with support from the Southern California Pensioners, sponsored their very popular 3rd annual fundraising Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament.
Since its inception in 2012, ILWU Walk the Coast has raised over $221,000 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, and an additional $46,000 to fight pancreatic cancer and $5,000 to fight ovarian cancer. This year’s fundraisers would not have been successful without a team effort. Key volunteers included Robert Maynez (Administrator, Local 63), Jessie Ramirez (Local 46), Rita Allison, (Local 46), Frank Gaskin (Local 10), Isidro Felix (Local 13) and Dan Imbagliazzo (Local 13). The Committee is hoping that next year all locals will join in the annual charity effort.
ILWU members working at Pacific Northwest grain terminals overwhelmingly voted in favor of ratifying a new contract in late August, ending an 18-month lockout imposed by Mitsui/United Grain in Vancouver, WA and a 15-month lockout by Marubeni/Columbia Grain in Portland.
Strong “yes” vote
The tentative agreement was reached just before midnight on August 11, followed by a ratification vote that yielded an 88.4% overall “yes” vote from members of Local 8 in Portland who voted 260 to 109 (70%) in favor; Local 4 members in Vancouver who voted 166 to13 (93%) in favor; Local 21 members in Longview who voted 142 to17 (89%) in favor; Local 19 members in Seattle who voted 498 to 38 (93%) in favor; and Local 23 members in Tacoma who voted 409 to 16 (96%) in favor. The total number of “yes” votes totaled 1,475 with “no” votes totaling 193.
The new pact with the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association covers Louis Dreyfus Commodities, United Grain and Columbia Grain until May 31, 2018. The same agreement was also signed by TEMCO, a large grain company that broke ranks with the Northwest Gain Handlers Association early in the dispute to sign a provisional ILWU agreement covering operations in Portland, Tacoma and Kalama.
Key contract provisions
The new contract provides annual wage increases with continuation of 100% employer contributions to the ILWU/PMA pension, health & welfare, vacation and holiday plans. The new agreement parallels prior ILWU Grain agreements which permit staffing to be extended up to 12 hours with overtime pay after 8 hours. The agreement affirms ILWU jurisdiction in the overall control room, but does allow management the option to operate the console. And the new agreement does not require the use of a “Supercargo” Clerk position when vessels are loaded. Both the overtime and control room policies have been in effect at Peavey Grain since 1990.
The grain companies are not members of the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and have never had a formal bargaining relationship with the Clerks. The “Supercargo” was historically employed by a PMA member stevedore who contracted to load the grain vessels. Under the new contract, the grain companies will stevedore the vessel themselves. ILWU Local 40 has filed a lawsuit against Columbia Grain claiming that their in-house and PMA stevedore, Willamette Grain, was for all intents and purposes, Columbia Grain, and therefore covered by the Clerks and Longshore Contract Documents. To that end, provisions in the Grain Agreement were reached that will require “Supercargos” to be added to the shipboard manning at Columbia Grain if Local 40 prevails in their lawsuit.
Negotiations for the new agreement began in August of 2012 and eventually involved more than 70 sessions before the settlement was reached. The lockouts by Columbia Grain and United Grain triggered round-the-clock picket lines that were staffed primarily by members from Locals 8 and 4, with important support from other locals and pensioners who pitched-in to help.
“We put together a plan that had everyone doing their share on a rotating basis,” explained Local 4’s Cager Clabaugh. “There were plenty of days when it was cold, dark, wet and a little miserable, but everyone stuck together and did what needed to be done.”
Pickets at home and beyond
Besides picketing in front of the plant gates, ILWU members followed grain shipments up the Columbia and Snake Rivers – where barges of grain were heading to locked-out terminals. “We had volunteers who camped-out along the river with roving picket lines that could spring-up on a moment’s notice,” said Local 4’s Brad Clark. Teams also traveled to Eastern Washington State and the Midwest to meet with farmers and explain the lockout’s impact on ILWU families downriver.
Members of the Inlandboatmen’s Union, the ILWU’s Marine Division, and the Masters, Mates & Pilots union (MMP) also did what they could to help, but their efforts were limited by a tangle of labor laws designed to impede union-to-union solidarity.
“IBU members refused to work scab cargo when we could,” said IBU President Alan Cote. He noted that the grain companies tried to create their own non-union tug and barge operations when faced with IBU resistance, but the employer strategy produced only mixed results and a few spectacular crashes.
Solidarity near and far
ILWU locals up and down the coast came to support the picket lines, including from Hawaii and Canada. Repeated trips were made by members in Southern California, from Locals 13, 63 and 94, who sent numerous caravans to Portland and Vancouver. Solidarity visits were also organized by Locals 10, 63 and 91 in the Bay Area, along with many locals in the Pacific Northwest contributing volunteers to the effort.
“In the end, we stuck together and stayed strong – but it took everyone’s help to pull it off,” said Local 8 President Mike Stanton, “and for that we thank all the officers and members of the ILWU.”
The 47th annual Pacific Coast Pensioners Association (PCPA) convention met in Vancouver, British Columbia, on September 15-17. Over 200 members and guests attended this year’s convention. Topics that were discussed included the ongoing Longshore contract negotiations, the Pacific Northwest Grain Agreement, health care and the importance of international solidarity.
The convention opened with a brief welcome by Mike Marino, President of the Vancouver Pensioners Organization. The convention was dedicated to the memory of Arne Auvinen, former PCPA President who passed away on July 31st of this year, and all of the other friends and comrades lost in the past year.
PCPA President’s report
PCPA President Rich Austin, who also serves as the pensioner representative on the Longshore Negotiating Committee, gave a brief report on the ongoing contract talks. He reported that the health of the pensioners clubs was good. “The PCPA is in good shape,” said Austin. “Our treasury has grown and so has our membership. The Tacoma Pensioners Club set about to increase its membership and they more than doubled in size in the last year. Good job Tacoma. Other Clubs have also added members.” He also reported on some of his activities over the last year, including his participation on a panel at the Labor Campaign for Single Payer conference held at ILWU Local 6 in Oakland.
Austin also said that he made a presentation at the Coast Longshore Division’s “History and Traditions” conference held in San Francisco in December of 2013. He described the event in the following way: “What I observed was an example of the union at its best. The assembly was full of young, engaged and attentive brother and sisters who were thirsting for knowledge about the history of our union and the working class. As Pensioners we can play important roles in helping them learn more. The agenda of the workshop was created by the rank and file members of the Education Committee. We need more education programs geared to working class values and ideology.”
International Secretary-Treasurer Willie Adams attended the conference representing the International officers who, along with the Coast Committeemen, could not attend because they were serving on the Longshore Negotiating Committee.
Adams outlined the many attacks by employers on the wages, benefits and jurisdiction of ILWU members in recent years. He acknowledged the resilience of ILWU rank and file and officers in withstanding these attacks. “Despite it all, this union still continues to grow, organize and thrive,” Adams said. He also acknowledged the new generation of ILWU leaders who are emerging up and down the coast, whose passion, energy and commitment will be vital to the future of the ILWU.
Other ILWU speakers included ILWU Canada President Mark Gordienko, Local 13 President Bobby Olvera Jr., and Local 8 President Mike Stanton.
Special guest speaker, President Jhon Jairo Castro Balanta of the Port Workers’ Union in Buenaventura, Colombia, was unable to attend because of visa problems, but the convention was still able to hear from two international speakers: Fred Krausert, National Secretary of Maritime Workers of Australia (MUA) Veterans and Jim Donavon also from the MUA Veterans. Both gave spirited talks about the common struggles that unite maritime workers all over the world. The PCPA and MUA Veterans groups enjoy strong fraternal ties. The same bonds of solidarity that link the active memberships of the ILWU and MUA survive even into retirement.
ILWU Coast Benefits Specialist John Castanho gave a brief history of the ILWU’s fight for health care and pension benefits. Area directors for the benefits plan, coordinators for the Alcohol and Drug Recovery Program (ADRP) and representatives from the Benefits Plan office spoke at the convention and were available to answer questions.
ADRP Coordinator Jackie Cummings noted that there are a growing number of retirees who are raising their grandchildren and an increase in the number of teenagers abusing prescription drugs nationwide. She said that ILWU pensioners who are raising their grandchildren can seek help from the ADRP if substance abuse problems are evident.
Preserving the past
Michael McCann, Director of the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies at the University of Washington was on hand to talk about the important academic programs that teach students about labor and working class history and foster important ties between students, researchers, activists and labor unions.
The Labor Studies program at the University of Washington is the only labor studies program funded entirely by workers. Conor Casey from the Labor Archives of the University of Washington spoke about the importance of preserving the history of working people in the Pacific Northwest. Casey explained the resources and assistance available to local unions and individuals to help them preserve union records, correspondence and other materials that will be valuable to historians and researchers trying to understand the history of the working class.
ILWU historians Harvey Schwartz and Ron Magden attended the event and conducted over a dozen oral histories, with assistance from Casey. The interviews were videotaped and are one important way in which the experience and voice of workers is being preserved.
Fight for $15
The convention passed a resolution sponsored by the Seattle Pensioners Club to support a nation-wide $15 an hour minimum wage in the United States in order to combat the alarming number of families who are falling below the poverty line.
Honoring Arne Auvinen
The convention unanimously passed a resolution honoring past PCPA President Arne Auvinen. The resolution renamed the PCPA archives, the “Pacific Coast Pensioners Association Arne Auvinen Memorial Archives” to honor his many years of service to the ILWU and pensioners.
Jesse and Lois Stranahan Award
This year’s recipient of the Jesse and Lois Stranahan Award went to Bill Duncan of the Van-Isle Pensioners. The award is given out every year to honor an outstanding labor activist. Also receiving recognition from the convention was John Horgan, leader of the “New Democratic Party” of British Columbia, who received the PCPA Friendly Politician Award.
Mike Marino, and the PCPA officers, all praised the host committee, and especially Barry Campbell of the Vancouver Pensioners, for a job well done.
The 2015 PCPA convention will be held September 7-9th in San Francisco.
Get the tools you need to enforce our contracts, defend our benefits, and build a stronger union.
I read all the headlines about freight companies desperate to fill job openings. We’re told there’s a driver shortage. Well, that’s what happens when you cut wages and benefits to the bone. Nobody sees it as a decent way to make a living.
When I hired on years ago, a union job with a pension was like hitting the lottery. Now, our contract is next to nothing when it comes to the union enforcing it and our pension is in trouble.
It’s up to Teamster members to get this industry back on track. And it starts with us taking charge and getting rid of the so-called leaders, both locally and nationally, that have no real answers or plans for getting us out of this mess.
We can restore the pride in trucking and it starts with getting involved in TDU and helping all Teamsters take back our union.
Louis Armstrong, YRC, Local 667, MemphisIssues: Freight
Chicago does not provide a public recycling scheme, but we can recycle for about $400 per year, working with a non-profit environmental education organization. Help General Headquarters "recycle as feasible," as our constitution suggests for all IWW shops. Click here to donate!
Contract talks between Teamsters Local 117 and Fred Meyer were scheduled to resume Monday with a federal mediator.
The union said issues include health care and the desire by Kroger, Fred Meyer’s parent company, to include language that would allow the company to outsource worker jobs to a third-party subcontractor.
Click here to read more at Supermarket News.
Issues: Warehouse Newswire
- IWW UPS Workers Organize Against Police Brutality
- The 2014 IWW General Convention: Learning From Our Mistakes, Moving Forward
- Baltimore Jimmy John’s Workers File ULP Lawsuit
- A Labor Day Weekend For The Unseen Laborers
- New Survey Of Online IWW Sign-Ups: A Wake-Up Call And Call To Action
- Review: Wobbly Poet Keeps Tradition Of Labor Poetry Alive
Download a Free PDF of this issue.
The next UPS National Grievance Panel will be held Oct. 6-9, 2014 in Sacramento. TDU is making the complete list of the cases to be heard at the panel available to concerned Teamsters.
Click here to download the cases before the National Grievance Committee.
Click here to download the cases before the Joint National Air Committee.Issues: UPSUPS National Grievance Decisions and Dockets
September 25, 2014: Hoffa, Hall and top Teamster officials delivered concessions to members—but provided raises and multiple salaries for themselves.charges which will likely end their Teamster careers. They won’t be missed. But many other Teamster officials sold contract concessions to working Teamsters while taking pay increases themselves. Take a look at the $150,000 Club and you'll see them. Teamster Perks or Teamster Power? Many Teamster officials work long hours and they deserve to be fairly compensated. Union leadership is not easy. Teamster members work hard too. Our dues money should be used to build Teamster Power—not perks for select officers. When Hoffa first ran for office, he promised to “cut n cap” overly high salaries. But since he’s been in office, Hoffa has jacked his pay up again and again. He promised to cut multiple salaries. But when he took office, the International paid only a halfdozen salaries to appointees who had other full time jobs. That number has ballooned to 99. The Teamster officials who get multiple salaries read like a who's who of Hoffa campaign donor list. That’s no coincidence. TDU believes our dues money should be used to organize, fight concessions and win good contracts. Hoffa and Hall use our dues to promote concessions and buy support from local officials. It’s up to Teamster members to take back our union—and put our dues to work for us.
They Don’t Have a Clue“When I look over this list, I see Ken Hall and so many other officers that negotiated the UPS contract and supplements. It’s true they got part timers a raise but with their salaries and benefits, most of these officers don’t have a clue as to what it’s like to work for $11/hour. They’re out of touch with the membership and it shows in how little they fought for us.” Kurt Marchetta, UPS Part-timeLocal 542, San Diego
Put Dues to Work for the Members“When we elected new officers in my local, they cut their salaries by $300,000 and put that money into contract campaigns and new organizing. The Teamsters should be putting our dues to work for the members.” Armando Brasil, Rhode Island HospitalLocal 251, Providence
Issues: Hoffa WatchTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 291 October/November 2014
September 25, 2014: Despite growing volume, UPS has shrunk the Teamster workforce.
When the recession hit in 2008, UPS went lean and mean. They reduced hiring, implemented new technology, increased harassment, and eliminated full-time jobs.Management’s goal was to boost profits by squeezing more work from fewer workers. They’ve succeeded. Last year, UPS Teamsters delivered 1.4 million more packages every day compared to 2009. And we did it, with one thousand fewer UPS Teamsters on the payroll, according to the company’s own annual reports. A review of Teamster pension fund data shows the biggest shrinkage came in full-time jobs. Package drivers weren’t replaced when they retired; full-time 22.3 jobs were eliminated altogether. UPS Teamsters filed hundreds of grievances on 22.3 job elimination, but the Hoffa administration refused to enforce the contract. “Frankly, it’s not the right time,” to enforce Article 22.3 Package Division Director Ken Hall said. “Even though we think we’re right, we don’t want to roll the dice with an arbitrator.” UPS management got the message. From 2009 to 2011, UPS shed 9,000 Teamsters from the payroll. Ground volume grew by 3 percent during the same period. The wheels finally came off the truck at peak last year. Understaffed and underprepared management suffered a very public meltdown. That debacle and growing pressure from Amazon and other e-commerce customers is finally making UPS do what Hoffa and Hall would not: create more full-time jobs. After years of little to no hiring, members are moving into the package and feeder ranks. Hall tried to take credit for the hiring in a press release, saying that UPS made the move “in the face of strong Teamster enforcement of the new National Master UPS Agreement.” Yeah, right. If Hall is really in the mood for “strong, contract enforcement,” maybe he will finally require UPS to turn over a report of all 20,000 fulltime 22.3 jobs the company owes under the contract—and share that information with every local union. UPS is required to maintain over 20,000 full-time 22.3 jobs nationally. Without that report, members have no way of knowing how many of the 22.3 jobs have been created and no way of enforcing the contract. To gear up for peak, UPS is hiring a record 95,000 seasonal employees. In an unusual move, Teamster retirees have been given the green light by the IBT-UPS Pension Fund, the New England Pension Fund, the Local 688 Pension Fund and others to come back to work as seasonal feeder drivers while collecting pension benefits at the same time. UPS will be ready for peak. They can’t afford another rerun of last year. But what comes next? Under Hoffa and Hall, UPS is delivering more packages with less Teamsters—and fewer full-time jobs. It’s time for a u-turn.Issues: UPSTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 291 October/November 2014
Teamster pension funds are paying the price for full-time job elimination.
September 25, 2014: More ground deliveries should mean more full-time jobs—and more participants in Teamster pension funds. But a review of pension data shows what’s happening is just the opposite. As ground volume has grown in recent years, the number of full-time jobs has fallen.The IBT-UPS Pension Fund covers 45,000 UPS Teamsters in the Central Region and South. It’s the largest Pension Fund in the country that covers only UPS full-timers—making it a good barometer of full-time job growth. From 2009 to 2012, the number of Teamsters in the IBT-UPS Fund fell by 2,887—a six percent drop. Over the exact same period, ground volume grew by six percent. More packages—but fewer full-time jobs. The story is even worse in the New Jersey Local 177 Pension Fund—the next largest fund that exclusively covers UPS full-timers. From 2007 to 2012, the number of Teamsters in the Local 177 Fund fell by almost 11 percent—a loss of 421 full-time jobs in one local. UPS saved money on payroll and on pension contributions—and the Local 177 pension plan paid the price. Contribution hours dropped from 7.8 million a year to just 6.9 million, costing the Pension Fund millions of dollars in lost contributions. The pension fund's actuaries issued repeated warnings, that “There have been very few new hires” and warned of the negative impact on the fund’s health. The problem wasn’t the stock market. For the last decade, the Local 177 Pension Fund has earned an average rate of return on investments of 5.22%. Pretty good, considering that like every pension plan, Local 177 took a big hit when the housing bubble burst in 2008. But even solid stock market returns can’t make up for a shrinking jobs base. The real problem is UPS not replacing Teamsters who retired. In 2001, for every 59 retirees collecting a pension in Local 177, UPS was paying pension contributions for 100 Teamsters who were working full-time. By 2012, there were 100 retirees for every 100 working Teamsters. Pension Changes As part of the new contract, Local 177 members voted to divert 30¢ of their wage increase into the pension fund. As a result of the wage diversion, the Pension Fund was able to increase pension benefits by $400 a month. But these increases are being paid for by Local 177 members, not UPS. The Local 177 Pension Fund has also changed the rules so that members have to work 2080 hours to get a full pension credit. Local 177 officials said this change was needed because growing numbers of members were skipping work and shorting the fund needed pension contributions. But that explanation doesn’t jibe with the Pensions Fund’s own records which show that the average worker is actually getting more pension hours contributed on their behalf every year—not less. In 2001, members averaged just 1,791 hours of contributions; today that number is 1,981. The result of the new 2,080 rule is that the average Local 177 member will have to work longer to retire. At the current rate, the average Local 177 UPSer will have to work 26 years to be able to retire with 25 years of pension credit: a whole extra year at Big Brown. UPS workers have paid a steep price for the declining number of full-time jobs—and so have our pension funds.Issues: UPSPension and BenefitsTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 291 October/November 2014
A review of Save Our Unions: Dispatches from a Movement in Distress, by Steve EarlySeptember 25, 2014: It’s no secret that the U.S. labor movement is in distress. To those who care about how to turn that situation around, Steve Early has a message worth reading in his Save Our Unions: Dispatches from a Movement in Distress. The book describes the problems facing workers—and some possible solutions such as organizing more union members, waging successful strikes, or developing new union leadership at the local or national level The chapters are essays (many have appeared previously in various magazine and labor publications), most of which tell stories of real people and struggles. Early doesn’t pull punches. The good guys and gals don’t always win. But sometimes they do, and those lessons are valuable for all of us. Early worked for decades as an International Rep in the Communication Workers of America, but also has a long history with the Teamsters Union. In 1978 he was instrumental in facilitating a merger of two new Teamster reform movements: Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) and PROD, which had been launched with help from Ralph Nader. A decade later, he helped the Ron Carey campaign win the 1991 election, and took a temporary position in the Ron Carey administration as a consultant in 1992. He’s been a supporter of TDU ever since. In one section of the book, “Rebels with a Cause,” Early reports and compares struggles for democracy in the Teamsters, mine workers, steelworkers, transport workers, auto workers, and more. Early isn’t afraid to examine weaknesses in high places in labor, as in the book section “Is there a Leader in the House?” But he doesn’t dwell on top officials—the book focuses on the tactics, strategies and real people working to alleviate labor’s distress. Teamster Local 391 steward Nichele Fulmore summed it up in a blurb on the book cover: “It’s hard to fight the war on workers when unions behave like business and act like it’s all about the money. This book shows why we need a labor movement that represents all working people, not just a few.” There are lots of books on labor. Few are rooted so clearly in the struggles, victories and defeats of workers and their unions as Save Our Unions. This is Early’s third book in the past several years, since he left full-time union work. Let’s hope it is not the last.Steve Early will be at the TDU Convention Nov 7-9 in Cleveland. If you are there, you can get a signed copy of Save Our Unions at a discount and hear more of his analysis on why labor is in distress and some ways forward.Issues: Labor MovementTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 291 October/November 2014
September 25, 2014: Pat Flynn, the former head of Chicago Local 710 who was charged with embezzling union funds via gift credit cards for members, has cut a deal with the IRB: pay the union back $58,000 and an eight-year ban from holding any Teamster position or salary.
The Independent Review Board (IRB) charged Flynn on June 19. In August, he signed a deal and repaid the union $24,780.99. This sum was much less than $58,000 because Flynn was owed his “commissions” for July! Flynn’s total salary (including “commissions”) last year from the local was $482,958.
The settlement agreement will in all likelihood end Flynn’s career. But the future of Local 710 is in the hands of the members.Issues: Local Union Reform
Their employer is the U.S. Postal Service, but a few unlucky Bay Area letter carriers were hired only to find out their job is actually delivering groceries for online retailer Amazon at 4 a.m.
It’s an experimental program being staffed with City Carrier Assistants—the lowest tier of union letter carriers, permatemps who make $15-17 an hour. To find their way in the dark they’re issued miner-style headlamps
Click here to read more at Labor Notes.UPS