Teamsters for a Democratic Union
Are the chickens finally coming home to roost for Teamsters brass?
After a wave of anger at concessions the union forced onto unwilling members in its national contracts, some of President James Hoffa’s biggest opponents are teaming up to challenge him in the 2016 race.
Click here to read more at Labor Notes.
The U.S. Supreme Court sided with a woman who was faced with the choice to either work her labor-intensive job during pregnancy at the United Parcel Service or go on unpaid leave without benefits. In an opinion issued Wednesday morning, the justices ruled 6-3 that Young should at least be given a full opportunity to make her case in court that she was not given the same accommodation as other employees considered injured or disabled.
Young was tasked with lifting boxes as heavy as 70 pounds in her job as a UPS worker. When she got pregnant, her midwife recommended that she not lift more than 20 pounds, and wrote a note asking her employer to put her on light duty. Had Young been written a similar note because Young broke her arm carrying boxes, or suffered from a disability, UPS would have put her on what is known as “light duty.” But UPS wouldn’t do it for Young on account of her pregnancy. The alternative was to take unpaid leave without medical benefits.
Click here to read more at Think Progress.Issues: UPS
As the U.S. heads toward what some economists consider “full employment,” trucking companies tracked by the Labor Department hired an additional 2,600 workers in February, pushing the monthly JOC.com Trucking Employment Index reading up to 99.9.That means the more than 100,000 motor carriers surveyed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for its monthly U.S. employment situation report are only one-tenth of a percentage point shy of their peak pre-recession employment level, last reached in May 2007. The prospect of near-full employment, a new employment peak in trucking and more good paying jobs in construction and other industries that vie with trucking for workers will keep upward pressure on driver wages and the truck rates shippers pay in 2015. The February Trucking Employment Index rose 0.1 percentage points from January, when the reading was 99.8, according to revised monthly data from the BLS. The index reading for February 2013 was 96.4. That indicates an annualized growth rate in trucking employment last month of 3.5 percent, the same as in January and the highest rate since late 2012. That year, the growth rate averaged 3.8 percent and was 4 percent or higher in four months. The for-hire trucking industry nearly doubled its hiring rate in 2014, expanding payroll by 46,000 jobs, compared with 24,900 in 2013, when the U.S. economy was stuck in a “soft patch.” The for-hire carriers tracked by the Labor Department agency shed 218,500 jobs from March 2007 through March 2010, and added 207,400 jobs from that date through 2014. The average monthly increase in trucking employment, calculated from the BLS data, rose from 2,075 workers in 2013 to 3,833 employees last year, an 85 percent increase that likely reflects strong recruiting efforts and higher pay. The carriers tracked by the BLS added more than 4,000 jobs in eight out of 12 months last year, compared with four months in 2013. At the same time, trucking companies say they are short by at least 30,000 drivers, while running at close to full utilization — more than 95 percent. That’s a sign demand for trucking capacity outstrips supply as the U.S. economy expands at an accelerated pace. Trucking’s latest employment gains came as the U.S. economy added 295,000 nonfarm jobs in February, driving the national unemployment rate down to 5.5 percent. That’s the lowest unemployment rate since the recession ended in 2009. The U.S. has added more than 200,000 jobs per month for 12 straight months now, the best hiring rate in the U.S. since the mid-1990s, according to BLS data. Transportation and warehousing businesses accounted for 18,500 new jobs in February, the seasonally adjusted payroll data show. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal believe the U.S. will hit “full employment” — the point where the economy is using all available labor — late this year, as the national unemployment rate drops toward 5.1 percent. The U.S. Federal Reserve considers an unemployment rate between 5.2 and 5.5 percent to be “normal,” The newspaper reported. At the same time, there were 5 million available jobs on Jan. 31, the highest level of job openings since 2001, according to BLS data. That includes 205,000 openings in transportation, warehousing and utilities, the federal agency said.
United Parcel Service Inc. on Tuesday said Chief Executive David P. Abney’s total compensation for 2014 more than doubled, including a base salary increase he received in September when he was promoted to the helm of the package-delivery giant.
Mr. Abney, who had been the company’s chief operating officer, succeeded Scott Davis, who retired as CEO but stayed on as chairman. The move signaled the U.S. shipping giant’s growing focus on its international operations.
Click here to read more at The Wall Street Journal.Issues: UPS
The Tamarkin union members overwhelmingly voted in favor of Giant Eagle’s severance package Wednesday.
The vote was 129 to 4. Teamsters Local 377, which represents the workers, has been told by the company with passage of the package the plant employees will be able to stay through June.
Click here to read more at The Vindicator.
March 24, 2015: Over 200 active and retired Teamsters packed the Cincinnati Local 100 hall for the monthly Retirees Club meeting to hear speakers address the pending cuts to Central States pensions. Mike Walden, chair of the Northeast Ohio Committee to Protect Pensions, told a standing room only audience that it was time to organize to push back the attacks on retirement security.
That same day, 150 Teamster retirees met at the Columbus union hall and heard Greg Smith, an Akron Local 24 retiree, speak on the pension issue. Representatives from U.S. Senators Brown and Portman’s staffs were also present to hear retirees speak out on the importance of maintaining the pensions they rely on for their retirement. See the article covering the meeting in the Columbus Post Dispatch.
Tom Kreckler, a retired Local 114 Teamster and Secretary-Treasurer of the retirees club, said, “Out of this meeting, we’re organizing a pension committee. We need to get the word out to hundreds of members who know nothing about what’s coming. We got a number of volunteers to sign up to help out. Spouses are getting involved too. We need to let Central States know that we won’t accept cuts without a fight.”
A committee was also formed in Columbus to carry forward the struggle to protect pensions. On March 21, a conference call of 100 pension committee and activists, convened by TDU, got reports from some committees and from the staff of the Pension Rights Center in Washington DC, on where the grassroots campaign is headed.
The campaign is spreading throughout the Central and Southern regions, and beyond.Pension and Benefits
March 24, 2015: The Central States Pension Fund trustees have set up a briefing for local union officers on April 8. Will this be the big announcement regarding their proposed pension cuts – or a background briefing?
The announcement states only that they will “provide Local Union officers with background information on the MPRA [pension cut legislation], review the process and timetable…and outline a communication plan for our participants.” It goes on to state that the Board of Trustees [four Teamster officials and four management reps] are “currently reviewing options.”
We believe that review needs to be expanded.
The Fund has stepped up security at their building in Rosemont Illinois, and this announcement states that only pre-registered union officers will be allowed in the meeting, with “no walk-ins.”
We will provide more information as soon as it is available.
Teamster retirees and members are fighting back against cuts, and for better and more equitable solutions. If you think there should be an independent audit before any cuts are proposed, and that the process should be more equitable, then find out how you can be part of making it happen.Pension and Benefits
Starting next month, Target will raise its minimum wage to $9 an hour. Sound familiar? That's because Target’s decision comes just one month after its competitor Walmart said it would raise its starting wage to $9 and eventually $10 per hour. T.J. Maxx and Marshalls have also announced a new $9 an hour base. These minimum wage increases reflect an improving economy and the impact of widespread protest through campaigns like the fast food strikes and OUR Walmart.
The business press, unsurprisingly, chalks up the hikes to an improving economy. The Wall Street Journal writes, "Target’s move is the latest example of a tightening labor market and rising competition for lower paid workers amid declining joblessness and signs that consumer confidence is returning." At 5.5%, the country's unemployment rate is at its lowest in six years. Earlier this year, a review of several studies found that higher wages led to more productivity and lower turnover rates, which can then lead to higher profits for companies.
Click here to read more at In These Times.Issues: Labor Movement
Since Whitley Wyatt retired in 2000 after 33 years as a trucker, he’s collected a pension of $3,300 a month.
Now, the 71-year-old says as much as $2,000 of his monthly check is at risk because of legislation passed by Congress last year that is meant to help underfunded multiemployer pension plans bolster their finances by giving them a way to cut benefits for some retirees.
Click here to read more at The Columbus Dispatch.Issues: Pension and Benefits
YRC Worldwide Inc.'s top executives received large increases in total compensation in 2014, according to the company's annual proxy statement.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Overland Park-based less-than-truckload carrier (Nasdaq: YRCW) filed its annual proxy statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing disclosed the amount paid to YRC's top executives and directors in 2014.
Click here to read more.Issues: Freight
March 17, 2015: Richard Mark, who served as the independent Election Supervisor in the 2006 and 2011 IBT elections, will again supervise the 2015-2016 elections of delegates from all local unions to the IBT Convention, and the IBT Election of officers in 2016.
Mark will hire a national staff to handle the election, communicate with members, and investigate all protests filed. We expect that the Election Rules will issue by May. The Rules will be very similar to the 2010-2011 Rules, with minor changes, mainly in dates and housekeeping. There will be a comment period after the proposed Rules are issued.
Unlike local union officer elections, the Rules, protests and appeals are not handled by incumbent union officials, but by the Election Supervisor.
An Election Appeals Master will be appointed as well (jointly appointed by the U.S. Attorney and the IBT) to settle any appeals of protest decisions made by the Election Supervisor.
The Election Agreement and Order signed by Judge Loretta Preska details these matters.
By June we expect the period of Petitioning to Accredit Candidates will be opened up.
Wisconsin is now the 25th state to adopt a so-called “right-to-work” law, which allows workers to benefit from collective bargaining without having to pay for it.
It joins Michigan and Indiana, which both adopted right to work in 2012. Similar initiatives, or variants, are spreading to Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and West Virginia—and the National Right to Work Committee and the American Legislative Exchange Council probably have a well-developed list of additional targets.
Click here to read more at Labor Notes.Issues: Labor Movement
March 17, 2014: On Saturday, March 14, New York Local 804 President Tim Sylvester announced he’s running for Teamster General President.
Local 89 President Fred Zuckerman joined him and more than 200 Teamsters from across the region to launch Teamsters United, a coalition of officers and members committed to winning new Teamster leadership in 2016.
“It’s great to see people supporting a strong candidate like Tim Sylvester,” said Local 384 member Scott Black, who travelled in from Philadelphia to be at the meeting. “Our union needs new leadership that will be proactive and address problems, instead of sitting back in Washington D.C.”
Sylvester and Zuckerman then made it up to Worcester, Mass. the following day for another energized meeting with New England Teamsters.
Momentum is already building. Find out more about Teamsters United at www.teamstersunited.org
Issues: Local Union Reform
The late February snow fell lazily on several thousand Wisconsin union members as they gathered on the steps of the capitol building in Madison to protest what picket signs denounced as “the war on workers.” The scene was a smaller replay of the protest four years ago when tens of thousands assembled to oppose Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10. Despite a broad, fervent uprising, that act passed and stripped public employees of their collective bargaining rights.
This time, even the protesters saw little hope of defeating the latest attack by Walker and Republican legislators. The deceptively named “right-to-work” law, aimed primarily at private-sector unions, prohibits labor contracts from requiring all employees to pay their share of union dues. While the Right denounces such payments as “forced unionism,” labor says that it’s only fair for all workers to chip in, because they all benefit from the union’s work.
Click here to read more.Issues: Labor Movement
March 16, 2015: On March 13, FedEx drivers at the Stockton terminal voted 33-12 to join the Teamsters Union – the fourth FedEx terminal to say Yes to going union. Congrats to the new FedEx Teamsters and to Local 439 and the members who helped make it happen.
FedEx management crows about the terminals which have voted against the union, after heavy management propaganda, threats and an 80c raise, which only happened because of the employees’ interest in our union.
In November, 222 drivers at FedEx Freight in Charlotte NC voted to join Teamsters Local 71. In October, 113 drivers at FedEx Freight in South Brunswick NJ joined Teamsters Local and 47 drivers in Croydon Pa voted to join Teamsters Local 107 in Philadelphia. The drive continues at several other locals.
The drive – organized by a number of locals – shows the potential to build Teamster power in trucking. The International union should put its full resources behind the organizing and drive this campaign to victory.
Local 439 Ex-Officers Charged
Local 439 won the drive as it shakes off the history of two former officers who were charged by the Independent Review Board (IRB) on February 27 with a pattern of embezzlement, fraud and receiving a motorcycle from an employer. Former Secretary Treasurer Sam Rosas and former president Armando Alonzo were charged. You can read a report and the full charges.Issues: Labor Movement
March 13, 2015: Bob Amsden, a retired Local 200 Teamster, isn’t sitting by while Central States ponders pension cuts. He got involved in forming the Wisconsin Committee to Protect Pensions and helped to organize a recent Milwaukee meeting that attracted over 60 retirees, spouses, and active Teamsters. Amsden recently spoke with a reporter from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The story ended up being a front page article.
Many active and retired Teamsters don’t know of the pending benefit cuts. You can help inform the thousands that may face cuts in the coming months. Contact local newspapers and reporters. Tell them the importance of this story. Write a letter to the editor. Use the local media to help spread the news.Issues: Pension and Benefits
UPS is abandoning the slogan "We Love Logistics" in favor of "United Problem Solvers" in a new advertising campaign to highlight its other services.
The message, according to UPS, communicates the company’s problem-solving ability for everyone from small businesses to the largest global firms.
"Our employees solve customer problems by using the best mix of proven analysis methods, innovative technologies and the company's extensive global transportation network. We not only move goods through all aspects of the supply chain, we also help our customers approach their business problems to uncover new top line and bottom line opportunities," Alan Gershenhorn, executive vice president and chief commercial officer, said in a statement.
“We're transforming UPS from a logistics provider to a full-service partner that offers world-class expertise and capabilities that help customers increase revenue, improve cash flow, minimize lead time and reduce cost," he said.
The campaign is debuting in media surrounding the NCAA basketball tournament. The company is the official logistics partner of the NCAA.
The ads will then appear in international markets including, China, Germany, Mexico and the United Kingdom.
"The new United Problem Solvers campaign illustrates how our more than 400,000 employees approach problems with expertise and intense commitment to help customers," Gershenhorn said. "Our essential message is to invite customers to challenge us with their business problems. We are confident that we can offer insights that will help them be more successful."UPS
March 12, 2015: When Teamster Local 89 investigated and found out that Holland was bringing in low-paid contractors to do city delivery work, they took creative action – and in less than one hour, YRCW management decided the contractors would leave empty.
The IBT Freight Division may want to pay attention. Holland was violating the contract, and grievances could have been filed, but quick creative action worked better.
Local 89, led by president Fred Zuckerman, used “area standards picketing” – a legal tactic, which is not a strike, but a picket line alerting workers and the public that wages are being paid on the premises under the area standard wage.
Then Teamster members were protected from crossing the line. They were not on strike, but they had a right to respect a legal picket line.
Creativity. Bold action. Solidarity. These are some of the ingredients we need to rebuild Teamster power. Thanks, Local 89, for the lesson.Issues: Labor Movement
March 12, 2015: The Independent Review Board (IRB) has charged the former leaders of Stockton California Local 439 with a pattern of embezzlement, fraud and receiving a motorcycle from an employer. Former Secretary Treasurer Sam Rosas and former president Armando Alonzo were charged.
The IRB’s 117-page report, issued February 27, is available here.
Both Rosas and Alonzo were narrowly voted out of office in December, and the newly-elected officers have taken the reins of the 4500 member local. So Rosas and Alonzo no longer hold union positions.
They are charged with a long list of financial shenanigans, including causing the union to pay for numerous meals, Oakland Raiders tickets, hotel rooms, bar bills, gift cards, liquor, electronics and more when there were no union records and/or no union purpose. Many expenses involved a spouse or friends, and meals and drinks at local restaurants. Some involved a gift of money and a Hawaiian vacation for a retired business agent, at union expense. The charges detail a pattern going back at least until 2008 .
Rosas is charged with receiving an expensive motorcycle from the owner of “Stars and Stripes” at half price. Rosas caused the union to do some $314,000 worth of business with Stars and Stripes, which provided the union with beer mugs, T-shirts and other paraphernalia. In 2011, an election year in Local 439 and in the IBT, with Rosas backing Hoffa, the local did a huge business in T-shirts, far more than 2010 or 2012.
The charges were referred by the IRB to IBT president James Hoffa. Rosas has been a close associate of Rome Aloise, the head the Joint Council 7 and an International vice president. Aloise issued campaign material last October to help Rosas in his local election; it was illegally issued on Joint Council 7 stationery.
Now, it is clear that Aloise and Hoffa will drop their friend Rosas. Loyalty flows only uphill in those circles.Issues: Local Union Reform Files E-7000_D033938.pdf
Four thousand union activists rallied in Charleston, West Virginia, March 7 against “right to work.” (Click here to see more photos from the rally.)
Local and national labor leaders also spoke against other threats on the agenda of the state’s Republican-controlled legislature: charter schools, mine safety rollbacks, and changes to the prevailing-wage law.
Click here to read more at Labor Notes.
Issues: Labor Movement