It’s 4 AM. The air is cold and damp on 98th Avenue in deep East Oakland, down along the San Francisco Bay’s industrial waterfront. This is a hard geography of concrete and dust and pot-hole riddled roads latticed by train tracks. Much of the earth is landfill, crowded for miles with scrap metal yards, bakeries, machine shops, and warehouses. Behind a chain link fence are about one hundred empty garbage trucks parked in long rows waiting for the next shift of drivers who will fill them with tons of refuse. By 5 AM the trucks are idling, and lining up to roll out. But since last Friday about 130 workers at the Waste Management garbage facility here have been on strike.
Dozens of strikers are picketing the gates where the trucks must exit. Some workers have been there since 3 AM. They come in shifts to pace the sidewalk, men and women, young and old, here to fight. A majority of these workers are immigrants. These are the recyclers, the workers who receive the garbage from the trucks, who pick through it and sort materials inside cavernous warehouses filled with rubbish-dust. It’s messy, dangerous, and hard work.
The strikers at the picket line today say they’re fighting to up their pay from around $12.80 an hour to $15 next year with the ultimate goal of $20 an hour by 2019. And they want safer workplaces. Waste Management, the giant of the global trash industry, agreed to improve the workers’ pay during recent franchise contract talks with the city of Oakland. The workers now fear the company is backpedaling.
But it’s hard to tell who the recyclers are actually fighting. Their picket is being driven through by other workers, Teamsters who drive the hulking green garbage trucks. The trucks queue up to exit the 98th Avenue yard in long lines. The recyclers block each truck for 30 seconds or a minute, but there are too few of them to sustain an unbreakable picket line.
Most of the drivers smile and nod to their fellow workers on the sidewalk. Some honk their horns and reach out of their windows to shake hands with the strikers. They don’t want to be put in the position of breaking through another union’s picket. They’re sympathetic. They want to help their fellow workers win.
But there’s the Teamster leadership standing by. The vice president of the Teamster’s chapter for the recycling facility stands just steps away from the picket, but inside Waste Management’s gates. An annoyed look wrinkles across his face. He directs his union’s members to break the picket line, waving them through. He asks them why they’re waiting if they linger before the line of strikers too long. The drivers creep through the chain of bodies carefully in their giant trucks and roar off into the dark pre-dawn hours. So much for solidarity?
This week United Parcel Service sent a memo to employees announcing a change in policy for pregnant workers: starting January 1, the company will offer temporary light duty positions not just to workers injured on the job, which is current policy, but to pregnant workers who need it as well.
“UPS takes pride in attaining and maintaining best practices in the area of equal opportunity and employment, and has elected to change our approach to pregnancy accommodations,” a memo sent to workers reads.
Click here to read more.
Issues: TDU UPS Freight Network
UPS is changing its policy with respect to pregnant employees and will try to accommodate them with light-duty work.
The accommodations will be effective Jan. 1, and the policy “will serve to strengthen UPS’s commitments to treating all workers fairly and supporting women in the workplace,” UPS said.
The announcement was made to employees and appended to a brief that UPS filed with the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 24.
“Light-duty work will be provided as an accommodation to pregnant employees with lifting or other physical restrictions to the same extent as such work is available as an accommodation to employees with similar restrictions resulting from on-the-job injuries,” the policy statement said.
The carrier is being sued by Peggy Young, who became pregnant in 2006 while she was a driver for UPS in Maryland and asked for light duty, which she said her doctors advised.
At the time, UPS supervisors said they had no policy under which they could accommodate her request because, as in keeping with federal civil rights law, light duty was open only to those who had suffered an injury.
Young sued, saying she had been discriminated against under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Two lower federal courts have upheld UPS’ position. The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case in December.
Spokeswoman Kara Ross said that in changing its policy, UPS is responding to guidelines issued in July by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission and by several states that require lighter duties to be made available to pregnant employees where possible.Issues: UPS
The truck driver was once the king of the road, riding high from the 1950s through the 1970s. Sitting up in the tractor, pulling an eighteen-wheler, looking out over America's city streets and country roads and highways, he--back then, the driver was almost always a he--earned a good money, often had health benefits, and may well have had a pension plan.
Click here to read more.Issues: Freight
October 28, 2014: In a victory for women Teamsters, UPS has announced it will offer light duty to employees who have lifting or other work restrictions because of pregnancy.
For years, UPS allowed pregnant women with health restrictions to work light duty. But ten years ago, management reversed course company-wide and began denying alternate work to pregnant Teamsters.
Teamster women who were unable to keep working during their pregnancy had to burn their FMLA leave or lost their FMLA benefits altogether because they came up short of the hours they needed to qualify.
Some pregnant Teamsters even lost their medical benefits before childbirth. (Under the contract, health coverage runs out after six months on disability leave.)
Teamsters for a Democratic Union supported mad moms who protested against UPS. But the Hoffa administration refused to take on the issue and UPS management got away with pregnancy discrimination.
Until now, that is.
Former Teamster Peggy Young sued UPS for pregnancy discrimination and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.
Finally, UPS management caved. In a brief to the Supreme Court, UPS has announced that “On a going-forward basis, UPS has voluntarily decided to provide additional accommodations for pregnancy-related physical limitations.”
UPS’s new policy provides: ‘Light duty work will be provided as an accommodation to pregnant employees with lifting or other physical restrictions to the same extent as such work is available as an accommodation to employees with similar restrictions resulting from on-the-job injuries.’”Issues: UPS
On a recent afternoon, Hampus Elofsson ended his 40-hour workweek at a Burger King and prepared for a movie and beer with friends. He had paid his rent and all his bills, stashed away some savings, yet still had money for nights out.
That is because he earns the equivalent of $20 an hour — the base wage for fast-food workers throughout Denmark and two and a half times what many fast-food workers earn in the United States.
Click here to read more at The New York Times.Issues: Labor Movement
OAKLAND, CA – A strike that began last Friday by 130 low-wage recycling workers at Waste Management’s East Bay facilities in Oakland and San Leandro is continuing this week with picketers marching as early as 3 a.m. this morning in front of the company’s headquarters at 172 98th Avenue in Oakland. Picketers will also be protesting this morning at the company’s recycling facility at 2615 Davis Street in San Leandro.
The worker action was sparked by an incident involving a company manager who retaliated against union members last Thursday, October 23. Federal charges have been filed by the union against the company.
The majority of recycling workers are immigrants who speak Spanish and are paid low wages.
Waste Management recycling workers in Oakland have been seeking better pay and benefits for three years. In
2013, they joined with hundreds of East Bay recycling workers and community supporters at a historic convention on February 2 where the group pledged to improve the industry’s poverty wages and poor benefits.
Workers scored an important victory this summer when the Oakland City Council voted to improve wages and benefits for recycling workers at both of their municipal franchisees: Waste Management and California Waste Solutions. Officials at California Waste Solutions quickly signed a contract agreement confirming the new wages and benefits, but Waste Management has stubbornly refused – despite winning an extension of a lucrative franchise agreement allowing the firm to operate in Oakland for the next 20 years.
Waste Management is one of America’s largest waste and recycling companies, with billions in reported profits during recent years. City Council members accused company executives of using arrogant and heavy-handed tactics during the recent franchise agreement decision.
In 2007, Waste Management locked-out over 600 employees from their East Bay facilities for a full month. While the company directed their attack against members of the Teamsters and Machinists Union, the lockout picket lines were honored by low-wage recycling workers who voluntarily remained off the job without pay until the dispute was settled. The company subsequently retaliated against recycling workers by outsourcing dozens of customer service jobs and initiating legal action against the workers.
October 24, 2014: The new Health Plan covering UPS Teamsters in the Southwest and New Jersey Local 177 is improving health benefits. Why won’t TeamCare?
Over the past two weeks, UPS Teamsters in most of the West and in New Jersey Local 177 got some good news in the mail: their health and welfare fund is improving benefits.
The modifications to the plan reduce emergency room co-pays, improve dental and optical coverage, and make other changes, effective September 1.
Members have been up in arms about the cuts in health coverage from day one, and that pressure finally won some improvements.
But what about TeamCare? It’s time for the Hoffa administration to deliver more than healthcare cuts.Issues: UPSPension and Benefits
Want to learn how to build union power and organize for change? The TDU Convention is the place to meet Teamsters who are doing just that.
The TDU Convention will feature Teamster leaders, grassroots organizers and other activists who are building union power, including.
Veterans of the Save the 250 Campaign
Local 804 members took on UPS and won the jobs back of 250 drivers that management fired for a walkout in New York City.
Rhode Island Reformers
One year ago, the 251 United Action Slate took office in the 5,500 member Local 251 in Rhode Island. Find out how they’re rebuilding union power.
Take Back Our Union
Teamster leaders Sandy Pope, Fred Zuckerman, Tim Sylvester, Tony Jones and others will be there to talk with members about our union’s direction and what can be done about it.
Save Our Unions Author
Labor organizer turned author Steve Early’s new book Save Our Unions tells the stories of workers and union leaders who are organizing to turn the labor movement around. Early will speak and lead a workshop discussion on what they’re doing.
Education for Union Power
The TDU Convention features educational workshops on grievance handling, organizing, union rights, and more. For a look at some of this year’s workshops, click here.
You can register here or simply call 313-842-2600.Issues: TDU
Teamster members are voting for change.
Yesterday, the 4,000 members of Dayton Local 957 voted overwhelmingly to replace their long time officers with the New Leadership Slate.
Last week, the 8,000 members of Harrisburg Local 776 overwhelmingly rejected their incumbent officers in favor of a new team of leaders and business agents.
Dan Webb, who won the secretary treasurer office in Local 957 yesterday, summed it up: “I feel humbled and blessed. The membership of Local 957 have sent a clear message. They will not be taken for granted and will not accept non-responsive leadership."
“I’m proud to be a part of a great team who plan to deliver to the members exactly what they want – a leadership that looks out for the members’ interests first and always,” said Webb, a 25-year Teamster at ABF.
We wish new officers in these and other locals the best. They have their work cut out for them. And they remind us of an important lesson: members who organize for change can make it happen.Issues: Local Union Reform
October 24, 2014: UPS profits are up and a record peak season is expected. For the first time package drivers will be forced to work on Black Friday.
UPS announced today third-quarter profits of $1.2 billion. That’s an increase of 11 percent over last year. Both profit figures topped Wall Street’s predictions. For the year, UPS expects to make after-tax profits of around $4.5 billion.
UPS also announced that Surepost shipments increased more than 50 percent.
Management expects peak season deliveries to jump by 11 percent this year, shattering the previous record.
For the first time, UPS will have ground service on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Management will force members to work if there are not enough volunteers who want to work the holiday for the extra pay.
One local at least has contract language that allows Teamsters to avoid the Black Friday blues. Under the New York Local 804 Supplement, UPS cannot schedule Teamsters to work on a holiday, including the day after Thanksgiving.
Local 804 members who want the day after Thanksgiving with their family can take the day off with pay. Any Local 804 member who works will get double-time pay for all hours worked, plus holiday pay.
The national contract has no language to stop UPS’s Black Friday plans and the issue was not addressed in contract negotiations.Issues: UPS
A strike by 130 recycling workers will hit Waste Management’s East Bay facilities in Oakland and San Leandro beginning at 4am on Friday morning, October 24. Workers and community supporters will march in picket lines at the company’s headquarters at 172 98th Avenue in Oakland, and at 2615 Davis Street in San Leandro.
Workers say their action was sparked by a company manager who was disrespectful and discriminatory in his treatment of union workers at the facility. A majority of the workers are immigrants who speak Spanish.
Workers voted to strike on Thursday afternoon, October 23, following the incident with a company manager. Prior to the strike vote, the company was contacted in an effort to avert the conflict.
Waste Management recycling workers in Oakland have been seeking better pay and benefits for several years. Workers recently won approval from the City of Oakland to improve wages and benefits for workers at Waste Management and California Waste Solutions – both City franchisees. Workers say Waste Management is arrogant and heavy-handed toward the recycling employees. Similar complaints were voiced by Oakland City Council members during recent negotiations with Waste Management over an extension of the firm’s lucrative franchise agreement.
Waste Management locked-out employees from the East Bay facilities for a month in July, 2007. While directed at members of the Teamsters and Machinists Union, the lockout picket lines were honored by low-wage recycling workers who remained off the job without pay until the dispute was settled. The company subsequently retaliated against ILWU members by outsourcing dozens of customer service jobs and initiating legal action against ILWU members.
She is more than 105 years old and still collecting pension benefits from the Teamsters Central States, Southeast & Southwest Conferences Pension Fund.
The Rosemont, Ill.-based Central States fund, which had $18.7 billion in assets as of Dec. 31, has been paying a pension to her for 41 years.
Click here to read more.
Issues: Pension and Benefits
Shipping packages with United Parcel Service will cost a little bit more starting at the end of this year after the package delivery company just announced its latest rate hike.
UPS said Monday that it plans to increase rates by an average of 4.9% for services within and between the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. The new rates go into effect December 29 and will be applied to ground, air, international and freight services.
Click here to read more.Issues: UPS
By the Baltimore IWW
Baltimore Jimmy John’s worker and veteran James Hegler was fired on Sept. 5 in retaliation for organizing a union at his workplace and participating in concerted activity against low wages and appalling working conditions. On Sunday, Oct. 19, workers and supporters picketed outside the Pratt Street Jimmy John’s to demand both the reinstatement of James Hegler and an end to illegal retaliation against workers.
By firing James, Jimmy John’s management made it clear that they are willing to violate federal labor law in order to punish workers for organizing a union. By ignoring attempts to meet and discuss terms for his reinstatement, Jimmy John’s management hopes to break the organizing drive through intimidation and contempt for the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Workers responded with a picket to show Jimmy John’s that this behavior will not be tolerated.
Five days a week for 10 years, Agostino Scalercio left his ouse before 6 a.m., drove to a depot to pick up a truck, and worked a 10-hour shift delivering packages in San Diego. He first worked for Roadyway Package System, a national delivery company whose founders included former United Parcel Service managers, and continued driving trucks when FedEx bought RPS in 1998. FedEx Groung assigned Scalercio a service area. The company, he says, had strict standards about delivery times, the drivers' grooming, truck maintenance, and deadlines for handing in paperwork, and deducted money from his pay to cover the cost of his uniform, truck washings, and the scanner used to log shipments.
Click here to read more.Issues: Labor Movement
A new poll commissioned by a coalition of highway safety groups found that 80% of Americans believe Congress should not raise the number of hours a truck driver can be on the road to 82 hours from 70.
American Trucking Associations called the results “misleading,” while Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) called them a “game changer” that shows the public understands “too many hours on the road” leads to crashes.
Click here to read more at Transport Topics.Issues: Freight
October 17, 2014: UPS Teamsters across the country have their eyes on a crucial case that the Supreme Court will take up this December on pregnancy discrimination at UPS.
The case could impact thousands of women who load trucks or deliver packages at UPS, and millions more working women in the U.S.
The case involves Peggy Young, a pregnant UPS Teamster who requested an alternative work assignment so she would not have to burn her vacation and FMLA leave before the birth of her child.
UPS management refused, saying that Young did not qualify for light duty because she had not suffered an on-the-job injury.
Angry Teamster women have fought UPS’s unfair pregnancy policy for years. The Hoffa administration has refused to take up the issue.
Now the Supreme Court is taking up Young’s case, which will swing on the court’s interpretation of the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which bars companies from discriminating against pregnant women.
UPS argues that forcing pregnant women to work at their regular positions is not discrimination because UPS also denies alternate work to male employees (who can’t get pregnant).
Peggy Young, thousands of UPS women Teamsters and women’s rights activists say the PDA says the same benefits (“light duty” or alternative work) should be made available to all employees according to their ability or inability to work.
Pregnant women should not be held to a different standard than other employees who are offered light duty because of an injury.UPSWomen Teamsters
Teamster Local 554 member Sarah Miles, the daughter of another Nebraska UPS Teamster Jeff Benson, found out what UPS management thinks of its pregnant workers. Put on a weight restriction by her doctor, Sarah was told by UPS that no light-duty work was available, and that she did not qualify for Family Medical Leave.
And Sarah isn’t the only one. When North Carolina UPS driver Nichele Fulmore was told by her doctor that she could not lift more than 20 pounds during her pregnancy, she assumed that UPS would make accommodations so that she could continue working, as they had done for others in the past at her center.
But UPS said they would not provide light duty work. So Nichele found herself out of work, and after 26 weeks on disability, out of health benefits, with three months to go until her due date.
These are not isolated incidents. UPS is imposing a company-wide policy change that denies pregnant woman with health restrictions the right to perform alternate duties. In the process, UPS management is denying women access to medical benefits (which run out after six months on disability leave) and, frequently, the right to use their Family Medical Leave (FMLA) benefits.
FMLA lets employers deny benefits to workers if they have fewer than 1,250 hours worked in the previous year. The majority of UPS’s workforce is part-time. That means that many women who are planning to use their FMLA benefits after the birth of their child may come up short on hours if they are refused the right to keep working during their pregnancy.
In the past, UPS generally provided light-duty work to pregnant employees with work restrictions. This practice was written into the union contract in 1997. But now UPS claims that they only have to honor the contract in states that have their own laws regarding pregnancy and light-duty work. It’s a good deal for them: the only state known to have such a law is California.
The IBT has refused to fight over the issue, claiming that a bad arbitration decision makes it a done deal.
But members and families see it differently, and aren’t ready to give up. Last month, Sarah Miles’ mother Susan Benson conducted a one-person picket in front of UPS in Omaha, Nebraska, and got noticed by UPS management in the process. She went back the next week, this time after notifying the media. Management really started paying attention.
“They just ticked me off,” Benson said. “You don’t take a young woman who’s worked hard for you for three years, and kick her into the street with no pay and no insurance because she’s pregnant. My husband works for UPS, and we’ve had to deal with them for 24 years on insurance issues. Now they’re hurting my daughter.”
Getting management’s attention is one thing, getting this issue resolved is another. Pressure needs to be brought to bear on management, through the union and the public. UPS’s actions need to be brought out in the open.
To make that happen, we need to gather information. If you have been affected by UPS’s policy or know of other pregnant UPS Teamsters who have been, please contact TDU.
October 17, 2014: FedEx Freight workers in Philadelphia voted for this first time to join the Teamsters. Con-way workers in Laredo did the same. How can we build on this momentum?
For the first time in years, there’s excitement in the air about Teamster organizing in the trucking industry. Can we turn that into some real Teamster power?
Local 657 organized the Laredo Con-way terminal. Local 107 lost a vote at FedEx Freight in New Jersey, but then won the NLRB vote at the Philadelphia terminal. These were the first-ever organizing wins at FedEx or Con-way terminals.
The companies are starting to respond, with both threats and pay hikes.
Other locals are taking action. There are organizing votes scheduled at several FedEx Freight and Con-way terminals in the next few weeks, from Los Angeles to Harrisburg Pa. Leaders of several locals report that FedEx Freight and Con-way workers in their areas are ready to organize.
Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) supports this organizing in a core Teamster industry and urges locals and members to get involved and turn this into a movement.
So far, the International union has not put major resources in the campaign: no financial backing to locals, no boots on the ground.
The IBT Organizing Department has held biweekly conference calls for locals to exchange information, and designed leaflets and signs. That’s a start. But no local union’s resources can be a match for the anti-union campaigns of these corporate giants.
Local unions and freight workers are stepping up to take action. The IBT needs to get behind this movement and help drive it to victory.
The Hoffa administration has to put some power behind our freight Teamsters. The best field organizers are freight Teamsters who are proud of our union.
Troy Justis, an ABF driver in Columbus Local 413 summed it up: “It’s great that we’re finally making some gains in organizing FedEx Freight and Con-way. But if we’re going to win on a wide scale, we need to shore up Teamster pride in freight. That starts with much better contract enforcement.”Issues: Freight