Deal to Let Kroger Exit Pension Fund is Stalled

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 05/27/2015 - 07:57

May 27, 2015: What do you do when you give a corporation the deal they want, but the pension fund vetoes it as illegal? That’s the IBT’s question regarding their deal with Kroger Co.

A May 20 meeting in Washington DC with local officers failed to answer that big question. The meeting ended with the IBT leadership asking the locals to help pressure the pension fund to accept the deal.

International Vice President Steve Vairma reported that the initial vote among 1,500 Kroger Teamsters was 5-1 to accept the deal. He asked the locals present, representing thousands of Teamsters who work for Kroger’s logistics contractors, to help sell the deal. But he also admitted that the Central States Fund has firmly stated ‘No’ to the deal.

Kroger’s logistics contractors operate its distribution warehouses and transportation in Atlanta, Louisville, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati, along with other Kroger operations.

So the question remains: what does the Hoffa administration do now?

TDU made public the Pension Fund’s letter to the IBT and Kroger in early May, after the IBT kept it secret. In that letter, Central States Director Thomas Nyhan pointedly reminds them that federal law requires cash payment of withdrawal liability (estimated at $1 billion or more) before an employer can pull out of a union pension fund. The letter details the ways that the proposed deal violates the law, the fund’s Trust Agreement, and the Plan Document.

Many Teamsters see no alternative, but to vote for the plan, in hopes of saving their hard-earned pension benefits. But as more than one Kroger Teamster has noted, pulling out of the union pension fund could be the first step in a plan to bust the Teamsters Union at Kroger. And the IBT has failed to inform Kroger Teamsters that they agreed to an illegal deal which the pension fund has blocked.

At the May 20 meeting, Vairma admitted that the plan was proposed by management; it appears that the IBT was quick to say “yes” without reviewing the problems or presenting it to the pension fund.

The people who run the International union are covered by an extremely lucrative pension plan (The Retirement and Family Protection Plan) only available to International officers and staff. If they had to retire on the pensions of working Teamsters, maybe they would work to defend our pensions. 

Issues: Pension and Benefits
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Longshore members overwhelming ratify new contract by 82%

ILWU - Mon, 05/25/2015 - 10:08

Longshore workers voted overwhelmingly to ratify the tentative contract agreement reached in February with the Pacific Maritime Association.

Members voted by 82 % to approve the new 5-year pact that will expire in 2019. The vote totals were 7,673 “YES” and 1699 “NO.”

Voting results were certified on May 22 by the Coast Balloting Committee, which is chosen by Coast Longshore Caucus delegates.
“The negotiations for this contract were some of the longest and most difficult in our recent history,” said ILWU International President Robert McEllrath. “Membership unity and hard work by the Negotiating Committe made the outcome possible.”

The new agreement provides approximately 20,000 good-paying jobs for workers living in 29 West Coast port communities. The contract maintains excellent health benefits, improved wages, pensions
and job safety protections. It also limits outsourcing of jobs and provides an improved system for
resolving job disputes.

Categories: Unions

West Coast Longshore workers overwhelmingly vote to approve new 5-year waterfront contract by 82%

ILWU - Fri, 05/22/2015 - 13:30

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – West Coast Longshore workers have overwhelmingly voted to ratify a tentative contract agreement reached in February with employers represented by the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).

Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) voted 82% in favor of approving the new 5-year agreement that will expire on July 1, 2019. The previous contract was ratified in 2008 with a vote of 75% in favor.

Voting results were certified today by the ILWU’s Coast Balloting Committee, which was chosen by Coast Longshore Caucus delegates elected from each of the 29 West Coast ports.

“The negotiations for this contract were some of the longest and most difficult in our recent history,” said ILWU International President Robert McEllrath. “Membership unity and hard work by the Negotiating Committee made this fair outcome possible.”

The new agreement provides approximately 20,000 good-paying jobs in 29 West Coast port communities.  The contract will maintain excellent health benefits, improve wages, pensions and job safety protections; limit outsourcing of jobs and provide an improved system for resolving job disputes.

Categories: Unions

Teamsters Stand Up to Fight for $15

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 12:49

May 20, 2015: Tens of thousands of workers and supporters in 120 cities rallied, protested, and went on strike on April 15, including Wal-Mart employees, fast-food workers, homecare workers, and others. 

Teamster members are joining the growing movement to raise the minimum wage and win union rights for all workers.

Kansas City

“In recent years, we’ve organized a coalition of unions, Jobs With Justice, community and faith groups, that’s fighting for economic justice and taking on corporate tax-cheaters,” said Michael Savwoir, a retired member of Local 41 and TDU Co-Chair. “This coalition helped us bring out more than 1,000 on the April 15 day of action and we’re getting city officials on board to win $15 an hour.”

New York City

In New York City, members of Local 804 joined the Fight for $15 with rallies at UPS buildings throughout the city. Political leaders joined UPS Teamsters, part-time and fulltime, to say it's time to “Raise the Wage.” “I joined the fight so the future of our children is a thriving and secure one,” said Kioma Forero, a Local 804 steward and TDU International Steering Committee member, who helped organized the rallies at UPS.


“Working at Rhode Island Hospital, I know what it’s like to work for a multi-billion dollar company that pays some of its workers poverty wages,” says Brooke Reeves, a member of Local 251 and the TDU International Steering Committee. “The April 15 march was a lot bigger than I expected, and very inspirational. We marched throughout the city and rallied in front of restaurants that are stealing wages and paying workers less than the minimum wage.”Issues: Labor MovementTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 293 Summer 2015
Categories: Labor News, Unions

NY Public Workers: Management to Represent Teamsters?

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 12:36

May 20, 2015: Hoffa’s newest International Trustee hires a boss to help run the Teamsters’ biggest local.

Local 237 represents over 10,000 Teamsters at the New York City Housing Authority. So why would the local hire a NYCHA boss to a union post?

Local 237 President Greg Floyd hired Kevin Norman, as the Special Assistant to the President, a top leadership position in the largest local in the Teamsters. Norman was previously in upper management at the New York City Housing Authority where he terminated Local 237 members. Now he’s advising Floyd on providing union representation? Norman used his NYCHA post to act as Floyd’s enforcer. During last year’s Local 237 election, he issued an email directive to NYCHA management personnel instructing them to throw rank-and-file candidates who were running against Floyd off of the grounds, in violation of New York labor law. “If any such individual refuses to leave the property, the supervisors should request assistance from the NYPD in having them removed,” Norman ordered. With the ballots counted, Floyd hired Norman as his top assistant. The move is part of a larger Local 237 shakeup. Floyd fired several Union Representatives who came out of the ranks and replaced them with non-Teamsters. Floyd has a good trick to make sure those fired union reps don’t campaign against him: he paid them a healthy severance check, but on the condition that they sign a “gag order.” The members’ own dues money goes to prevent members from hearing what the former reps may have to say. Norman isn’t the only one with a new Teamster post. Hoffa appointed Greg Floyd in April to be an International Union Trustee. That means another $75,000 salary and an additional lucrative pension. Local 237 members who want their local to be run by union members, not NYCHA bosses, continue to organize for change.Issues: Pension and BenefitsNY-NJ TDUTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 293 Summer 2015
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Join the Campaign to Defend Pensions

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 12:15
  • Make your voice heard. Contact TDU to find out how you can help get information to retirees and working Teamsters in your area.
“Under the new law, we have the right to vote on any proposed cuts. Our job is to organize for a solid NO vote to deliver to the Secretary of Treasury. He has the final say and he needs to see our strong opposition. “Our NO vote can send a message to slow the process down. Alternatives to the proposed rescue plan need to be explored. We had NO voice when the law passed—we need to be heard now. $18 billion isn’t going away in the next month or the next year. The Secretary of Treasury has to stand up for us and tell Central States to rework their rescue plan.” Willie Hardy, YRC Retiree, Local 667, Memphis“Where’s Hoffa or any of our socalled Teamster leaders? This pension issue has been brewing for at least the last ten years and there’s been barely a peep out of any officer other than to tell us the Central States finances aren’t good. We saw IBT Vice President John Murphy in April when Central States met with officers. He walked through our rally and told us he and Hoffa stood with us. He said they would have a plan within two weeks. Well where is it?” Tim Smith, YRC Retiree, Local 407, Cleveland“We’re building a grassroots movement to defend our pensions. Getting informed and networking with others is key so we’ve set up a website and linked it to facebook pages for pension protection committees in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri, Minnesota, Georgia and more. Our message is simple—we earned our pensions and are organizing to stop the theft of our paid-for retirement money.” Dale Dobbs, YRC Retired, Local 200, Milwaukee “We have to organize if we’re going to have any chance of protecting our pensions. We’ve hit a lot of the freight terminals and UPS buildings in Charlotte, Greensboro and Ashville. We’re putting info in Teamster hands. We’re getting them to sign the petition for an independent audit. We’re holding a meeting and got a speaker from the Pension Rights Center. We’re working  North Carolina and we need this fight tospread.” Wayne Turner, UPS Retired, Local 71, Charlotte


Issues: Pension and BenefitsTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 293 Summer 2015
Categories: Labor News, Unions

How Hoffa Fueled the Pension Crisis

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 11:54

May 20, 2015: Nearly 400,000 Teamsters and retirees are threatened with pension cuts. How Hoffa helped put the hit on their retirement.

Nearly 400,000 Teamsters and retirees in the Central States Pension Plan are threatened with the worst pension cuts in Teamster history. So are thousands more in some local plans in New York, New Jersey and Western Pennsylvania.

Long before Congress passed pension cut legislation in December, the Hoffa administration helped pave the way for this disaster. Passing the Buck The Hoffa administration tries to blame the stock market meltdown of 2008 for the problems at Central States. That’s not a complete lie: the Central States Fund lost $9.5 billion in 2008. Figures don’t lie, but liars can figure. After all, every pension fund, including the huge $35 billion Western Conference of Teamsters Fund, is invested in the stock market. Why is the Western fund healthy and Central States on the rocks? The Big Sell-out of 2007 In 2007, UPS demanded to pull all its members out of the Central States Fund. Hoffa and Ken Hall gave UPS exactly what they wanted. That is the single biggest cause of the Central States Fund disaster. If the 45,000 full-time UPSers were still in the fund, Central States would take in contributions this year of $1.435 billion. Instead, the Fund will take in less than half that amount: just $635 million. (Source: 2014 Financial and Analytical Report on Central States.) In return for the pullout, UPS was required by law to pay $6 billion to the fund, but in 2008 the fund promptly lost 35% of that, with Goldman Sachs managing the money. Kroger: Another Sellout? Now, the IBT is trying an even bigger give-away, this time to Kroger. Some 5,000 Teamsters in the Central States Fund work in Kroger distribution warehouses, dairies and other facilities across the Midwest and South. The IBT has made a tentative deal to let Kroger pull out of the fund without even paying the withdrawal liability required by law! This sellout would cost Central States approximately $1 billion in unpaid withdrawal liability plus $50 million a year in contributions. The Central States Fund issued a letter in April stating that they will not recognize the illegal deal; at press time, the issue is unresolved. The Union Response Hoffa Sr. built the Central States Fund. Hoffa Jr. is dismantling it. The problem goes way beyond the Hoffa administration. Deregulation and job loss have taken a toll on pension funds. Some small Teamster pension funds in the East that faced no UPS pullout are in trouble due to deregulation and job losses. The threats to our pension funds are real. The job of our union leadership is to mount a defense: by organizing new companies into the funds and mobilizing political power to defend our retirement security. Under Hoffa it’s been the opposite. the Central States Director testified in favor of the pension cut legislation. Not one Hoffa administration official has spoken out against the Central States pension cut plan. Working Teamsters and retirees are mad—and we’re taking action. Join the movement to save union pensions. The retirement you save may just be your own!Issues: Pension and BenefitsHoffa WatchTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 293 Summer 2015
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Big Vote Coming in Central States Fund Don't Let Them Divide Us!

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 11:43

May 20, 2015: Sometime this summer nearly 400,000 Teamsters and retirees will be mailed a ballot, asking them to approve cutting their own pension.

That vote is our voice. Use it to Vote No to demand improvements in the Central States pension cut plan.

Central States will try to pressure Teamsters into voting yes for cuts—starting with scare tactics. They will tell us if we Vote No and delay the cuts for even a month, then the cuts will be much worse. That is not true. Of course, decisive action is required. The fund is in trouble, but it is not on the brink of insolvency. The numbers do not justify a rush to judgement, not when the retirement of nearly 400,000 Teamsters who earned their pensions is on the line. Central States will also play divide-andconquer—and try to pit the active 65,000 working Teamsters versus the 202,000 retirees. (There is also a large third group who have a vested right to a pension but not yet collecting.) Central States will tell working Teamsters that the only way to defend their pensions is to vote for deep cuts and throw retirees under the bus. That’s not unionism; it’s cynicism. But there’s an alternative. Nearly 400,000 Central States participants get to vote on the cuts. Together, we can have a powerful voice. The Save Our Pensions movement is uniting Teamsters and retirees together to win improvements in the Central States pension cut plan.  We are joining forces with AARP, other unions, the Pension Rights Center and union allies to support a pension relief bill in Congress. We worked our whole lives for our pensions—now we are working together to defend them. That includes Voting No to reject the Central States fast track pension cut plan.Issues: Pension and BenefitsTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 293 Summer 2015
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Local 10 leads protest against police brutality

ILWU - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 11:21

Solidarity from the Southland: (Left to right): Local 63 Secretary/Business Agent Richard Finlay, Local 13 member Adelita Finlay and Local 10 President Melvin Mackay.

On May 1, 200 ILWU members from Locals 10, 34, 61, 6 and the Inlandboatmen’s Union joined with hundreds of community members to march from the Port of Oakland to Oakland’s City Hall. Their purpose was to protest violent and racist actions by abusive police officers.

The protest was sparked by a series of high profile killings of unarmed Black men by police in cities across the country, some of which were caught on video. Estimates on the size of the march ranged from 800 to 2,000. Local 10’s membership and Executive

Board initiated the action by voting to move their regular “stopwork” union meeting from Thursday evening to the following Friday morning on May 1. The contract requires such changes to be approved by PMA employers, which they agreed to do.
The show of solidarity was prompted by the shocking murder of Walter Scott, an unarmed African American man who was shot eight times in the back by a police officer in North Charleston, South Carolina. Dramatic video of the event went viral and sparked conversations and consciousness- raising across the country.

Walter Scott had several relatives who were members of the International Longshoreman’s Association (ILA) Local 1422, based in Charleston, South Carolina. Local 10’s decision to march and protest were praised by leaders of ILA 1422 and officials from the South Carolina AFL-CIO.

Local 10 Executive Board member Stacey Rodgers helped initiate the protest, explaining that “Local 10 members had been talking about the murder of Walter Scott, and about other people getting shot by the police. I felt that we needed to do something.”

Some Local 10 members have been directly affected by police violence, with two relatives killed by law enforcement in recent years. Jeremiah Moore was killed by Vallejo police who responded to a domestic disturbance call at his home in 2012. One of the police officers involved had already killed two suspects in less than 6 months, was named as a defendant in two “excessive force” lawsuits – yet received a promotion by the Department who cleared him of any wrongdoing, along with the County District Attorney.

Richard “Pedie” Perez was killed by a Richmond, CA police officer who stopped the 24-year-old man in 2014 for allegedly being intoxicated and resisting arrest. Both cases are the subjects of lawsuits that dispute police accounts of the shootings.
ILWU Local 10 President Melvin Mackay said the march was peaceful, orderly and praised members for initiating the action and showing their concern. Mackay handled over a dozen inquiries from the news media, most calling to ask why workers organized the action and whether circumstances justified protesting instead of working the day shift on May 1.

“I told them that longshore workers have a long tradition of protesting injustice in the community, and that recent events deserve a strong response from all Americans.”

On the day of the event, Local 10 President Melvin Mackay said, “We aren’t out here saying all cops are bad. We respect the hard job that they have. But at the same time we are here to say that police misconduct and the improper use of deadly force by the police cannot go unpunished. The public shouldn’t be afraid of the people who are supposed to protect them.”

Categories: Unions

How We'll Beat Hoffa

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 10:53

May 20, 2015: Hoffa has won re-election three times. Here’s why Hoffa will be beat in 2016.

Hoffa has won re-election three times, including the 2011 election with 60 percent of the vote. But the key indicators point to a different outcome this time. Here’s why Hoffa will be beat in 2016.

From Division to Unity In the last IBT election, two opposition candidates ran against Hoffa, splitting the vote. This time, opposition candidates have built a united coalition that’s building momentum and broad support. Teamsters United has been endorsed by everyone from Fred Gegare, the former IBT Vice President that ran against Hoffa last time, to Teamsters for a Democratic Union. Any splits this time will be on Hoffa’s side. The Hoffa Slate has already lost Al Mixon, an International Vice President At-Large and the head of the Teamsters National Black Caucus. Teamsters United is more than a slate; it’s a movement. Campaign rallies and organizing meetings are drawing crowds. Teamsters are registering as volunteers and building local campaign committees. Biggest Voting Blocs Turn on Hoffa Hoffa’s support is at an all-time low in the national contract units, the biggest voting blocs in the union. UPS Teamsters rejected a record 18 contract supplements after Hoffa and Hall gave the company concessions even though UPS made $4.5 billion in 2013. ABF, YRC, and UPS Freight all voted down their contracts too until the Hoffa administration forced through weak contracts by “Vote ‘till you get it right.” The nearly 300,000 Teamsters who work under the UPS, ABF, YRC, carhaul and UPS Freight contracts vote in higher numbers because their contracts are negotiated by the International. Hoffa’s support has never been lower among these critical voting blocks. Pension Cuts Hoffa is presiding over the worst pension cuts in Teamster history, including in the Central States Pension Plan where nearly 400,000 working Teamsters and retirees face cuts. Hoffa’s father built the Central States Pension Plan; Hoffa is destroying it. The cuts are uniting Teamsters and retirees in a movement to save our pensions and to elect Teamster leadership that will defend our retirement security. Proven Leaders Led by General President Candidate Tim Sylvester, the Teamsters United Slate is led by Teamsters who are everything that Hoffa is not. While Hoffa and Hall were making givebacks, Tim Sylvester and Fred Zuckerman were uniting members to fight concessions. In New York, Tim Sylvester was mobilizing Teamsters to win the best UPS contract in the country, including a $400 per month pension increase, new full-time jobs and grievance procedure reform. In Louisville, Fred Zuckerman united Local 89 members to Vote No against contract givebacks at UPS, UPS Freight and in the freight industry. With proven leaders in every region, the Teamsters United Slate is a team every member can get behind. Organizing to Win In a union of 1.3 million members, it will take about 200,000 votes to beat Hoffa. Hoffa has a built-in campaign machine of International Reps and local officials who are on the IBT payroll. We need to build a campaign machine of our own, made up of Teamster volunteers. TDU has analyzed the local-by-local results from the last six IBT elections. In every election, where Teamsters were actively campaigning for reform candidates, those candidates won. Winning new leadership and a new direction for our union is within reach, but it’s not automatic. We have to make it happen. Get involved in the Teamsters United campaign today. Sign up with the Teamsters United campaign at www.teamstersunited.org/updatesTurning Around Low Voter Turnout Hoffa won 63% of the vote in New England last time. But he got just 8,600 votes out of 52,000 Teamsters. Our problem wasn’t support for Hoffa, it was low voter turnout.  We know how to turn that around. Hoffa won my local last time with just 573 votes. Last year, we ran a slate for local union office and won with over 1,300 votes, nearly three times Hoffa’s vote! We did it by reaching out Teamster toTeamster, explaining the issues and making sure people voted. We’ve launched a Teamsters United campaign committee to reach out to members across New England starting with the petition drive. Our goal is 10,000 petition signatures and 10,000 votes out of New England for Teamsters United. Matt Maini, Local 251Business Agent, Rhode Island


Issues: Hoffa WatchTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 293 Summer 2015
Categories: Labor News, Unions

50,000 Supporters Needed

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 09:51

May 20, 2015: The campaign to elect the next General President of the Teamsters Union is on.

The first big test of the Teamsters United campaign is a summer petition drive to collect the required signatures to become officially accredited candidates. To get accreditation, 2.5 percent of the 1.3 million Teamsters across North America must sign the petition. Teamsters United has set a goal of 50,000 petition signatures by the end of August. Members are volunteering to get the job done. Accredited candidates get a computer copy of the entire Teamster membership list and campaign pages in fall and winter issues of the Teamster magazine—giving them a chance to talk to all Teamster members directly. The International Union election is run by an independent Election Supervisor who enforces fair rules—a big difference from local union elections. But the petition drive is about more than jumping through procedural hoops established by the rules. It’s about reaching out to Teamster voters and building the campaign network we’ll need to win. “We’ve launched a Teamsters United campaign committee to reach out to members across New England starting with the petition drive,” said Matt Maini, a business agent at Local 251 in Rhode Island. “Our goal is 10,000 petition signatures and 10,000 votes out of New England for Teamsters United.” “Hoffa won in Pennsylvania in 2011, including in my local. That won’t happen again. The Vote No movement woke us up. We’re campaigning for Teamsters United from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, among 75,000 Teamsters. We’re going to carry the vote for Teamsters United,” said Joan- Elaine Miller, a UPS Teamster in Philadelphia Local 623 who is volunteering with the petition drive. Based on the results from previous elections, it will take around 200,000 votes to ensure victory in 2016. (Hoffa won in 2011 with 137,172 votes.) “To get 200,000 votes, we need to have 200,000 member-to-member conversations. That begins with the petition drive,” said General President candidate Tim Sylvester. “I’m the candidate but this is the members’ campaign. If you want a new direction for our union, we need more than your vote. We need you to get involved,” Sylvester said.

Time for Bold Leadership

“When I first met Hoffa, he was out there connecting with members, but now he’s comfortable and our International is content to sit by and watch us take concessions. I’m supporting Teamsters United because it’s time for bold leadership that will stand up to the corporations.” Michael Washington, Local 170YRC, Worcester Mass.It’s About the Members “We’re kicking off the Teamsters United campaign in St. Louis with a rally with the candidates and an organizing meeting. When the  candidates leave town, the campaign has to continue with Teamsters like you and me spreading the word. That’s how we’ll win.” Gilbert Clark, Local 688UPS, St. LouisWe’re Going to Win Ohio “We held a campaign organizing meeting in Columbus to make plans for Ohio. Last time, Ohio Teamsters voted 46% against Hoffa-Hall. We will win the state this time. My job is to reach out to Holland Teamsters and spread the word among line haul drivers. Get the info out and get members on board.”  Bryan Robinett, Local 413Holland, Columbus, OhioPhilly is With Teamsters United “Hoffa won in Pennsylvania in 2011, including in my local. That won’t happen again. The Vote No movement woke us up. We’re campaigning for Teamsters United from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, among 75,000 Teamsters. We’re going to carry the vote for Teamsters United.” Joan Elaine Miller, Local 623UPS, PhiladelphiaNot Duped Anymore “Lots of us were duped by Hoffa back in the day....but now what are we going to do about it? I say, get behind Teamsters United or get the hell out of the way!” Jimi Richards, Local 728YRC, Atlanta


Teamster Voice: Teamster Voice 293 Summer 2015
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Top 10 Tips for Protecting Yourself from Harassment

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 09:37

May 20, 2015: What to Do When UPS Management Puts a Target on Your Back.

Harassment isn’t an accident at UPS. It’s a strategy, called management-by-stress. Under management-by-stress, the company uses harassment to try to intimidate us into working faster. Sometimes, they’re trying to provoke you into losing your temper. In extreme cases, they’ll try to harass workers into quitting. TDU asked experienced package car stewards for suggestions on how Teamsters can protect themselves from harassment at UPS. Here were their Top 10 tips. Don’t Make it Easy for Them You know the cardinal sins. Don’t commit them. Take your breaks and lunch according to the contract. Sheet every package in your truck and do it accurately. Make sure to be at the customer's address when making DIAD entries. Don’t turn late Air or a missed package into a dishonesty issue. If management is coming after you, don’t make it easy for them. Don’t Overreact Supervisors use harassment as a strategy to get results. If it’s not working, they’ll stop wasting their time on you. Try not to let management get under your skin—and never let them know it when they do. If you turn into a runner after you get called into the office, you’re teaching your manager that harassment works. Work safe and smart. Practice following the methods every day. If you work inside, focus on safety, sort/load quality and protecting the packages. Don’t play into management’s hands by blaming coworkers for slacking; help them out instead and stick together so everyone can work at a sustainable pace. This will be good for your body and your wallet. Be Strategic In the Office If you get called into the office, always bring your steward. Management’s goal in the office is to pressure you, get a rise out of you or fish for information. Be strategic. Answer management’s questions with clear, simple answers. Whether they’re fishing or trying to goad you into reacting, don’t take the bait. Keep your cool and never make up an answer. If you don’t know or don’t remember, just say so. When you leave the office, document what happened while it’s still fresh in your mind. Put the Problems Back on Management Inform management of unusual situations that come up. Send a DIAD message if there's a problem with your Air, if you need help with your pickups, or if you will have missed pieces. Don’t take shortcuts or count on supervision to always look the other way. Put the problems back on management and work as directed. Don’t Let them Dirty Up Your Record If you get a warning letter or other discipline, grieve it right away. If you get in more trouble later, a grievance panel or an arbitrator will hold it against you if you haven't challenged previous warnings. Document Everything Document your day with a Package Car Log Book, a notebook that fits in your pocket or on your smart phone. Keep track of your stops, pick-ups and circumstances that affect your production, like being sent off route, changes in your work, construction, bad traffic, etc. Use your smart phone to take pictures of DIAD messages or summary screens for documentation. Management is less likely to pick on the drivers who keep track of their days. When they know you’re prepared for them, they tend to leave oualone. Track Management & Use that Smart Phone If a supervisor gives you an instruction that violates the methods, make a record of it. If you get an inappropriate message on your DIAD board take a photo and save it. File Harassment Grievances If management is trying to build a case against you, you need to build a case of your own. If you’re being targeted by management, it’s too late to fly under the radar. File grievances and build a paper trail. Especially useful are well-documented, clear instances of harassment, discrimination or instructions that violate UPS’s own policies and procedures. Include in your remedy that you want a record of the incident to be retained in your personnel file. Put Management to Work Make management pay for petty discipline by prolonging grievance meetings and using your rights in the grievance procedure. Caucus with your steward in the hall. Have the steward ask detailed questions about the company’s investigation and evidence. Article 4 requires the company, upon request, to provide the local union or designated shop steward with documents and information that is “reasonably related” to a pending grievance. Managers that issue frivolous warning letters are sending the message that they love paperwork. So put them to work producing more of it for the union's grievance investigation. Strength in Numbers If you're being harassed, odds are you're not the only one. Talk to your steward or other drivers and work together. If you see a driver who's feeling the heat, help them out before they get to the breaking point. Teamsters are stronger standing up to harassment when we work together.Issues: UPSTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 293 Summer 2015
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Taking on Harassment of Inside Workers

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 09:15

May 20,2015: Is management handing out excessive discipline for misloads or missorts? Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself and other Teamsters.

UPS has the right to expect employees, in this case preloaders and loaders, to work accurately.

This is just common sense. But management frequently goes overboard from common sense to nonsense. Beating Unfair Discipline When challenging discipline for misloads or missorts, stewards should consider several factors including:
  • Was the preloader or loader the only person covering the assignment or did a supervisor continue loading when the employee used the bathroom or went on a break?
  • Did the preloader or loader come late to work or leave early, leaving someone else working the assignment?
  • Did the loader load the truck or sort the packages in question by themselves or did any other person, i.e. a driver, supervisor, or co-worker, do any of the work?
Management will try to use records to show that a member has a longstanding problem with accuracy. But those numbers, while reliable fortracking individual packages, are not reliable for tracking an individual employee's performance for purposes of discipline. Remember, management’s records on misloads do not go on a rolling nine months and they do not exclude instances when an employee’s assignment was partially worked by someone else. Filing a Grievance If management won’t back down from unreasonable discipline, a grievance should be filed. If a grievance is not filed in a timely manner the discipline stands and any future protest will probably not be allowed. Cite Article 37 of the national contract: dignity and respect, harassment and intimidation, over-supervision, and a fair day’s pay for a day’swork. Remember, there is no accuracy standard in the contract except the general “fair days’ work for a fair days pay.” The company has the right to expect accuracy, but not a specific number and not different levels of accuracy from one employee to the other. As a final defense, if it is clear the member has a problem with missorts or misloads, it may be appropriate for a steward to suggest training or, in the worst case, reassignment to a different job. Taking Action Together Management often makes contradictory demands. They demand maximum production with high numbers of packages loaded per hour in multiple cars—and at the same time they want no missorts or misloads, or near perfect accuracy. If the preloader tries to load too fast, accuracy will suffer. If the preloader goes for 100 percent accuracy at all times then production will drop. What is a worker to do? The most effective response is a group response. If management is giving out discipline for every misload, they are sending a clear messagethat accuracy is their top priority. In such a case, every preloader is well advised to work at a pace where they can achieve zero or near zero misloads. Of course, the supervisors will scream that they want the preloaders to work faster. Members should calmly point out that they are going as fast as they can to ensure accuracy because they do not want to be disciplined forerrors. Let the supervisor try to discipline workers for low production under these circumstances where they have already issued a pile of warning letters for missorts or misloads. Those very warning letters provide the perfect defense. As a bonus, members should file a pile of harassment letters if the supervisor(s) cross the line and demand more production in the face of all the disciplinary warnings. Going on Offense The best defense is a good offense. Supervisors work, they harass, they violate seniority and the list goes on and on. Center management that churns out warning letters and discipline is sending the message that they like paperwork, so give them some more-in the form of grievances. Wallpaper their offices with every violation possible: supervisors working, safety violations, harassment, seniority violations, over-70 violations, the list goes on and on. The supervisor might not get the message but the center manager will.Make UPS Pay For Sups Working The contract only works if we make it work.  TDU members have won tens of thousands of dollars by filing Supervisors Working grievances. You can get double-time pay for supervisors working violations too. Use the TDU Guide and get UPS to pay for supervisors working. Available here www.tdu.org/supervisorsworking


Issues: UPSTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 293 Summer 2015
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Rebuilding Teamster Power in Carhaul

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 08:32

Interview with Kirk Sikora Local 327 Steward Cassens

How did you become a Teamster Carhauler?

In the early 90’s, I was working as a heavy wrecker operator that had contracts doing recovery work for carhaul companies like M&G Convoy. I was helping a carhauler swap tractors and we shared how much we made. When he told me what he was paid, I said “a month?” “No,” he says, “a week.” I applied at Leaseway and showed up with pizza and donuts more than once. I wanted the job so bad. I got it, and worked there for 17 years before they closed and Cassens took over the contracts. How did you first get involved as a union activist? I saw what the union really meant when I had a bad wreck when I was just 9 months on the job. A bee did it! The A/C had cut out and I had the windows rolled down. A bee flew in and stung me on the back. I swerved trying to get the bee off me, and the trailer got caught in a culvert. I held on for a quarter mile, trying to get out of the culvert, before finally rolling over. The union stepped up and defended me. So I learned quick the power the union has to protect its members and what a union contract means. You recently were elected steward. What motivated you to become a steward? I became too fed up with management nit-picking. I started to study the contract and challenge them, and our own stewards and BAs. I noticed that whenever I couldn’t make it to panel—on my own dime—to present a grievance, I’d lose. When I did make it, I’d win. So I was wondering what deals were being made behind our backs. So I stepped up to try to help our members and build the union again. Any tips for other new stewards? Read the contract. There’s power in knowledge, and it makes all the difference in the world if you know the contract and how to enforce it. Use info requests and get familiar with filing NLRB charges. If you prepare a grievance like you’re going to go before a judge, you’ll prepare a solid case. Be transparent. Don’t hide things from members, but get them involved as much as you can. Don’t be like the priest who tells people to stop reading the Bible and just obey what he says. Another thing we’ve done is to build a network. We’ve organized a network of Cassens stewards, using Facebook and conference calls. Management is constantly sharing strategies and information, why shouldn’t we do it too? We’re in touch with Teamsters from all over the country. What are the biggest issues facing Teamster carhaulers today? The present IBT leadership is setting us aside. It was almost unheard-of to see non-union railheads and plant-sites when I started. Now, it’s reversed, non-union is the norm. We need to get back to organizing. And a serious issue is making sure we defend our pensions. What does the union have to offer? A contract, and a good pension. We need to protect those if we’re going to reverse the non-union trend. What should the union be doing better? We need to get smarter and more aggressive representation. We need leaders and BAs who know the issues and know what members deal with. A big challenge is taking on ‘right-to-work’. We have to change the union image. Members can’t just go to work, pay the bills, shut up and think their union and pension is going to be there tomorrow. Everybody has a voice, and an obligation to be union proud. Time is of the essence. That’s why the immediate thing is to elect new leaders who can revitalize the members. What’s next for 2015? We just hosted a Carhauler conference call with the Teamsters United campaign with more than 300 members on it. Amazing! We’re going to be organizing locally, taking days off, planning face-to-face meetings, to build the campaign. 2015 is a critical year for us. We’re down to just two companies and we’re negotiating a new contract this year. We’re going to use our stewards network and pull together new networks to police the contract and organize so we make sure the companies and union leaders hear what carhaulers need loud and clear.Issues: CarhaulTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 293 Summer 2015
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Contract & Campaign Carhaulers Form National Network

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 08:14

May 20, 2015: Over 300 carhaulers joined a conference call on May 14 to form a national network of stewards, officers, and active members to defend their contract and change the national leadership of the union. Now the organizing work will begin.

Paul Kubal, Jack Cooper driver at Wayne Michigan in Local 299, said “We need to get organized if we’re going make sure negotiations deliver what we need. We need a carhaul contract committee with stewards and active members. We need a rep in every barn.” The national network call was initiated by Teamsters United, the reform slate headed by Tim Sylvester out of New York Local 804. Carhaulers had a chance to question candidates on the Teamsters United team, and also talk about organizing a strong grassroots campaign and a strong network to win a decent contract. Politics vs Teamster Unity Negotiations are slated to begin in June, so the timing is perfect to unite the rank and file for positive changes and to block concessions or sell-out deals. The Hoffa administration has already sent a dangerous signal to members and the employer by excluding major carhaul locals from the bargaining table based on politics. Louisville Local 89, with some 700 carhaulers at three assembly plants and two large railheads, has been excluded from the committee. Local 89 President Fred Zuckerman and VP Arval Thompson are experienced negotiators, so that is not the issue. Also excluded from the table by Hoffa are St Louis Local 604, headed by carhaul leader John Thyer, and Columbus Local 413, which has some 250 driveaway Teamsters that haul Kenworths out of Chillicothe, Ohio, the largest driveway unit in the country. Tony Jones heads Local 413, and is on the Teamsters United slate, as is John Thyer. Excluding these large carhaul locals is politics, pure and simple. Hoffa will not allow any independent voices on the bargaining committee. That cowardice is bad unionism. Rank & File Power Carhaulers who want to be plugged into the network should contact Teamsters United at info [at] teamstersunited.org or call 917-745-3931.Issues: CarhaulTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 293 Summer 2015
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Info Requests: Defending Yourself With Information From Your Boss

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 08:03

May 20, 2015: Using your union’s legal right to acquire information from the employer can help you defend your rights and win grievances and arbitrations.

This right is established by the National Labor Relations Act. Unfortunately, many members don’t know about this right, and many union representatives don't use it unless members specifically ask them to. This article outlines some of the basics of the right to information and how to use it. You will need more detailed information to effectively put this into practice. Books are available from TDU that outline your rights under the grievance procedure in more detail. When can you request information? The union may request information to:
  • monitor the employer’s compliance with the contract.
  • investigate whether a grievance exists.
  • prepare for a grievance meeting.
  • decide whether to drop or prioritize a grievance.
  • prepare for an arbitration hearing.
What can you request? The obligation of an employer to provide information is extremely broad. It includes relevant documents, data, and facts. Information is considered relevant if it might be useful to the union or could lead to the identification of useful information. How specific does the request have to be? Information requests can be quite general. For example, employers must respond to broad inquiries such as: “Please supply all documents or records which refer to or reflect the factors causing you to reject this grievance.” “Please supply all factual bases for the company’s decision.” “Please provide all documents, reports, and other evidence utilized in making the decision to discipline the employee.” Management may complain that such information requests are “fishing expeditions,” but this language has been upheld by the NLRB, which has ordered employers to comply. These kinds of requests can be extremely useful in nailing down management’s position so that they cannot shift their argument later in the grievance procedure or at arbitration. Other information requests can be very specific. The union is entitled to a wide variety of specific documents. See examples in the box accompanying this article. What if management refuses to provide the information? Refusals to provide information or unreasonable delays violate Section 8(a)(5) of the National Labor Relations Act. The union can file an unfair labor practices charge with the NLRB if the company refuses to cooperate with an information request. Who can request information from the employer? Only shop stewards and union officers can request information from the company. Although shop stewards can request information, if the employer is intent on blocking the request or stalling, the backing of the business agent can be crucial to winning an NLRB charge. So whenever possible, it is best to get your business agent on board with an information request. What can you do with a timid business agent? Many business agents aggressively use information requests as a tactic to win grievances. If you are worried that your business agent might not be eager to request the information, ask them to request information from the company and explain specifically in writing what information you would like them to request.What Info Can You Request, and When to Request It The union is entitled to examine a wide variety of records to investigate a grievance or to prepare for bargaining. Documents. The union is entitled to examine a wide variety of records to investigate a grievance or to prepare for bargaining. Examples include: accident reports, air quality studies, attendance records, bargaining agreements for other units or facilities, bargaining notes, bonus records, contracts with customers, suppliers and contractors, correspondence, customer lists, disciplinary records, employer manuals, guidelines and policies, evaluations, interview notes, investigative reports, job descriptions, memos, schedules, time cards, videotapes, wage and salary records. Data. Employers must provide the union with lists, statistics, and other relevant data even if management must spend hours or longer putting it together. You can request data on prior disciplinary actions, promotional patterns, and overtime assignments. Employers are not excused from producing relevant data because of the size of the union’s request, although the employer can bargain on reimbursement for its costs. Requests for data going back five years have been enforced by the NLRB. Facts. Employers must answer pertinent factual inquiries. For a misconduct case, ask for the names and addresses of witnesses and descriptions of their testimony. For an arbitration hearing, ask for the names of persons the employer intends to call to the stand. Disciplinary grievance. When grieving disciplinary action, always request a copy of the grievant’s personnel file. If unequal punishment is an argument in the case, ask for the names of other employees who have committed the same offense and the penalties imposed. Contract interpretation grievance. When a grievance concerns disputed contract language, request the employers bargaining notes from the session during which the clause was negotiated, the dates and contents of any union statements upon which the employer is relying, and descriptions of any incident which the employer says supports its position. TDU can advise you on what information you should request to help you strengthen your grievance. Contact us at 313-842-2600 or email info [at] tdu.org


Rights & Resources: EducationTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 293 Summer 2015
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Leaked Email Exposes Hoffa’s Support for Pension Cuts

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 07:32

May 20, 2015: A leaked email from the Central States Pension Fund Director obtained by TDU blasts Hoffa for pretending to oppose pension cut legislation that he actually supports.

When legislation was first being drafted on Capitol Hill in late 2013 to allow pension funds to slash retirees’ benefits, Hoffa made a last-minute show of opposition, even issuing a public statement denouncing the proposed legislation.

It was a strange move. After all, Hoffa is on the board of directors of the group which proposed the pension cut bill. Now we know the truth. 

A leaked email from the Central States Fund Director obtained by TDU shows Hoffa’s letter was just a PR stunt. 

On October 10, 2013, Central States Pension Fund Director Thomas Nyhan sent an email to the then-director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) Joshua Gotbaum.

The PBGC Director was concerned about a rumor that Hoffa would oppose the pension cut proposal and asks for advice.

Nyhan’s email lays out the real story and pulls no punches.

Playing Politics with Teamster Pensions

“[Hoffa’s] minions are preparing a letter to the Hill in opposition to the legislative… I do not believe they are planning on dispatching any troops to the Hill or making any visits but simply writ[ing] a letter they will likely post on their website to offset some of the TDU noise.”

No troops. No Capitol Hill visits. No action. Just a post on the website to try to counter TDU. 

Nyhan’s email is a rare look at how Hoffa and other top officials are playing politics with Teamsters’ pensions.

The Central States Director suggests Ken Hall might be willing to convince Hoffa to openly support the pension cuts, but “he has his hands full with the UPS vote.”

Nyhan blasts Hoffa for pretending to oppose pension cut legislation that he actually supports as a, “A true profile in courage.” 

It’s a sad day when Teamsters can only get the straight story on where the General President stands on theirs pensions when TDU obtains a secret email from Central States director. 

Issues: Hoffa Watch
Categories: Labor News, Unions

New York Can Lead the Way to Higher Pay

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Tue, 05/19/2015 - 07:22
The New York TimesMay 19, 2015View the original piece

The Fight for $15, a global effort to raise the pay of low-wage workers, has circled back to where it began. Protests by fast-food workers in New York City in 2012 got the movement started, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo has now given the effort its biggest boost so far by announcing the creation of a board to look into raising wages for the state’s more than 180,000 fast-food workers. Its first public meeting will be in New York City on Wednesday.

Under New York law, a Wage Board, composed of business, labor and public representatives, has the power to propose a raise for any occupation where pay is judged to be too low to support the health or “adequate maintenance” of its workers. The state labor commissioner can then order the raise without legislative approval.

Click here to read more at The New York Times.

Issues: Labor Movement
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Expand Social Security

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 07:54
MoveOn.orgMay 18, 2015View the original piece

We need to expand Social Security to prevent the looming retirement crisis, and we can do it simply by asking billionaires to pay their fair share.

Issues: Labor Movement
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School workers organize into the IWW

IWW - Sat, 05/16/2015 - 18:07

From the PFSJC IWW

The following was read by several workers at the Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, 05/11, as a means of publicly informing the board and administration of our forming a union:

Whereas, we come to you today as an intergenerational community that has chosen to collectively act upon its longstanding concern about the disconnect between the principles of Paulo Freire and the practices of the social justice charter school we have come to love that bears his name. And as such, we appreciate this opportunity to be heard, because as Freire said, “Any situation in which some men prevent others from engaging in the process of inquiry is one of violence;… to alienate humans from their own decision making is to change them into objects.”

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Categories: Unions


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