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
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
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
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?
Issues: UPSTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 293 Summer 2015
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
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
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.
Rights & Resources: EducationTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 293 Summer 2015
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
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
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
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.”
(reprinted from www.TeamstersUnited.org)
May 15, 2015: Over 300 carhaulers joined a Teamsters United campaign conference call on May 14 to talk about the national contract and the IBT election. General President candidate Tim Sylvester announced that John Thyer is joining the Teamsters United slate.
Thyer, the principal officer of St Louis Local 604, has been a Teamster officer for two decades and a carhauler for nearly four decades. “He is everything that Hoffa isn’t,” Sylvester said.
Members got to talk directly with the candidates and air their issues.
"I'm impressed with the Teamsters United team and confident that their leadership will build back the strength of our union. It was great to hear carhaulers from Wilmington, Tampa, Detroit, Kansas City and everywhere else talking about the issues,” said Steve Burns, an Atlanta Local 528 Teamster at Jack Cooper.
“Under Hoffa, carhaulers feel like we have no voice and no union backing. People are waking up and seeing that this union is in dire straights and we need new leadership. As much as I can possibly do, I’ll do it. I can take days off and travel if I need to because we gotta make it happen,” Burns said.
Fred Zuckerman answered questions on carhaul, the upcoming contract, and the disastrous Hoffa-Hall policies that have driven the Central States Pension Plan into the ditch.
Carhaulers are planning to hold more calls and form a national committee of Carhaulers for Teamsters United, with a representative at every terminal in the country.
Are you a carhauler that wants a new direction in our union? Sign up for updates from Teamsters United.
Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee asked Treasury Department officials to tread carefully as they develop the process for implementing multiemployer pension reforms enabling some plans to cut benefits.
“These reforms are unprecedented and, therefore, we ask the Treasury Department to take its role in overseeing the benefit suspension provisions very seriously. In particular, it is critical that you ensure that participants’ and retirees’ rights are protected,” Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown, Ohio; Ron Wyden, Ore.; Debbie Stabenow, Mich.; Bill Nelson, Fla.; Robert Menendez, N.J.; Ben Cardin, Md.; and Robert Casey, Pa., said in a letter sent Thursday to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew.
Click here to read more.Issues: Pension and Benefits
Hundreds of union members, elected officials and supporters gathered at San Francisco’s Pier 27 on March 26 to celebrate the unveiling of an interactive, multimedia sculpture honoring the legacy of former ILWU International President Jimmy Herman.
Speakers at the event included former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos, Delancey Street Foundation President, Dr. Mimi Silbert, ILWU International President Robert McEllrath, ILWU International Secretary Treasurer and San Francisco Port Commissioner Willie Adams and Local 34 President Sean Farley.
The sculpture is a wall-mounted, interactive audio-visual installation measuring 10-feet high by 15-feet long. The sculpture resembles the waves of the bay. It contains touch screen display that will allow visitors to scroll through biographical information about Herman and to learn about the issues causes that defined Jimmy’s life and career. The sculpture also includes a directional sound system that will allow visitors to hear highlights from Herman’s speeches. It was crafted by the New York based art collective, Floating Point.
The Pier 27 cruise terminal is named in honor of Jimmy Herman and is the only cruise ship terminal in the world named after a labor leader. The cruise terminal is 91,000 square feet in a two-story building with views to the Bay Bridge and the San Francisco skyline. The terminal is will be able to accommodate ships with up to 4,000 passengers. Hundreds of thousands of cruise ship passengers each year are
expected to pass through the terminal every year.
ILWU members along with other members of the local community including former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi formed the James R. Herman Memorial Committee to raise money for the creation of the sculpture and its maintenance for the next 20 years.
Sean Farley, ILWU Local 34 President and Chair of the James R. Herman Memorial Committee, said
that the purpose of the sculpture is to commemorate Jimmy Herman’s contribution
to the labor movement and to the San Francisco waterfront.
“We wanted to reflect what Jimmy was about—his history, his legacy, his commitment to social justice movements and his contributions as a Port Commissioner—all the facets of who he was in his life. We also had to take into account what Pier 27 is—a world-class cruise terminal facility. We wanted a tribute that is commensurate with that facility and we think we’ve done that.”
May 15, 2015: Seven Senators have written to Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew calling on him to vigorously enforce retiree and worker rights before any pensions are cut under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act passed last December.
US Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) issued a statement and the letter today calling for guidelines to prevent a rush to pension cuts. The Central States Pension Fund is moving quickly to try to implement cuts, without careful oversight or any independent actuarial audit.
The letter, signed by seven members of the Senate Subcommittee on Social Security, Pension and Family Policy, notes that 60 days is a short time for a “retiree representative” required by the law to adequately perform a genuine independent review. The Senators also call on Treasury to require the pension plan to disclose how they chose the retiree representative.
The Central States Fund has chosen Sue Mauren as the retiree representative. They defend this choice with the claim that Mauren is facing the same cuts as other retired Teamsters. But this evades the fact that she was entitled to a total of four pensions or dues-funded lump-sum retirement plans. Mauren has declined to meet with any retiree committee working to prevent cuts, and has even failed to respond to correspondence, so it is not clear how she “represents” retirees.
The Senators’ letter calls for the Treasury Dept to require an “unbiased” report to all members, detailing the impact on their individual pension. The Senators also call for a fair balloting procedure, so that Teamsters and retirees can make an informed vote; the vote in Central States of all actives and retirees is expected sometime this summer.
The Senators requested the Treasury Dept. prohibit one kind of cut that Central States is planning. They state that the pension of disabled participants should never be cut, even if they are receiving a full pension because they reached normal retirement age. The Teamster officials and employer rep trustees of Central States intend to cut those pensions.
We thank Senator Brown – who opposed the pension cut law – and the other Senators for watchdogging the process. And we call upon them to take the important next step: co-sponsor and support legislation to repeal the cut-back provisions and provide for positive alternatives to protect pensions.Issues: Pension and Benefits
May 15, 2015: The 2014 financial report on the Central States Pension Fund shows that the fund’s money manager – Northern Trust -- performed rather poorly last year, causing the fund to get a sub-par return of 6.86% on investments. The fund’s assets declined to $17.9 billion.
Despite losses in 2014, the fund still has net growth over the past six years, since the end of 2008 when the fund had $17.3 billion in assets. It was during the 2008 financial meltdown, caused in large part by Goldman Sachs, that the fund lost $9.5 billion. Goldman Sachs was managing most of the Central States assets at that time.
The Hidden Truth
The 2014 Special Counsel Report details at length many of the fund’s problems and its policies, but in 24 pages it fails to mention one word about the biggest disaster inflicted on the fund: the Hoffa-Hall deal to let UPS pull out of the fund.
These simple facts illustrate the magnitude of that disaster: The financial and analytical report on page 3 projects employer contributions of $635 million for 2015. But if UPS were still contributing to the fund, it would contribute an additional $800 million, more than doubling the income! (This assumes that UPS would be contributing at the same rate as ABF, $342 per week. $342 x 52 x 45,000 = $800.3 million.)
This single disaster, costing the fund $800 million per year over shadows any other problem the fund has experienced.
Unfortunately, the Hoffa-Hall administration is continuing to undermine the fund. The report details on page 20 the attempt by the Kroger Co and the IBT let Kroger pull-out of the Fund without even paying the withdrawal liability, and the fund’s refusal to accept this sell-out deal.
The 2014 financial report was yesterday turned over to the attorney for TDU members who previously sued the fund to make information available to members.Health and SafetyIssues: Pension and Benefits
Want a stronger union at work? Consider building a stewards council.
With only five stewards for 1,700 workers, demoralization was high at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Click here to read more at Labor Notes.
Issues: Labor Movement