Teamsters for a Democratic Union
July 24, 2014: Hoffa claims there’s no need for an anti-corruption body in our union because corruption is a thing of the past. Meanwhile, two Hoffa campaign donors have been busted this week on charges of stealing members’ dues and taking employer payoffs.
The Hoffa administration has retained two attorneys who formerly worked for President George W. Bush to try to end the members Right to Vote, and also the Independent Review Board (IRB).
The IRB independently investigates corruption in the Teamsters. The Hoffa administration says the IRB should be eliminated because Teamster corruption is a thing of the past.
That is news to Teamster members in Connecticut Local 1150 where the IRB has charged the top official with embezzling union funds and in St. Louis area construction locals where the IRB has caught a union representative taking payoffs in exchange for sweetheart contracts.
When TDU was founded organized crime dominated the Teamsters Union at its highest levels. There’s no doubt that Teamster corruption is down since then, but that is precisely because members have the Right to Vote and an independent anti-corruption watchdog.
TDU is organizing members to defend the Right to Vote and root out corruption in the union. If you share these goals, you can say so by signing this petition.
More coverage:Local Union ReformHoffa Watch
July 24, 2014: The Independent Review Board (IRB) has brought embezzlement charges against Harvey Jackson, the president of Local 1150, which represents Sikorsky Aircraft Teamsters at plants in Connecticut, Alabama, and Florida.
Jackson is charged with using the union credit card to buy at least $13,000 worth of electronics for his personal use, including: expensive projectors, speakers, cameras, cell phones, DVD player, Blu-ray player, a laptop, Bose headphones, and more.
Jackson was paid $141,744 in salary in 2013 by Local 1150. He should buy his own electronics.Issues: Local Union Reform
July 24, 2014: The Independent Review Board (IRB) has brought serious charges against Timothy Ryan, a former construction industry union rep for employer payoffs, diverting jobs to his friends, and conducting a bogus contract vote.
Fortunately, Ryan is no longer a union rep, as his activities were exposed within the union.
Ryan served as the construction industry BA starting in 2009, until he was fired in 2012 by Local 525 principal officer Thomas Pelot, who became aware of his shameful betrayal of Teamster principles. Unfortunately, he was again hired as a BA, by St Louis Local 682 in 2013 and served until he resigned last month, with IRB charges coming.
Ryan is charged with payoff from a construction company, Stutz Excavating, in the form of free construction work at his home, and free automobiles supplied by a dealership owned by the Stutz family. He approved a substandard contract with Stutz without a secret ballot vote of the members, and even tried to extend concessions to other locals, including Local 50, for Stutz. He is also charged with manipulating the union referral list to get jobs improperly for his brother, sister, uncle, and several friends
When the IRB questioned him, he invoked his Fifth Amendment rights in response to key questions involving alleged gifts from the employer.
Thankfully, his Teamster career of misdeeds appears to be over.Issues: Local Union Reform
Workers at three of the four snack cake plants operated by Hostess Brands L.L.C. have voted to unionize, according to the union representing the bakery workers.
The three plants are located in Indianapolis; Schiller Park, Ill.; and Columbus, Ga. The votes to unionize at the plants were confirmed by a spokesperson for the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers International Union July 17. The spokesperson declined to elaborate further on the vote.
Click here to read more.Issues: Labor Movement
July 24, 2014: A series of events – a march, rally, concert, and picnic – were held July 19-20 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the historic 1934 Minneapolis Teamster strike. Hundreds of people turned out to honor this historic labor victory.
Picnic goers heard speakers who talked about current labor struggles and organizing drives. The program was chaired by TDU activist and Local 120 retiree Bob McNattin as well as SEIU member Linda Leighton – a granddaughter of V.R. Dunne, one of the 1934 Teamster leaders. A couple of Teamster officials spoke, including Paul Slattery, the political and organizing representative of Teamsters Local 120.
Music was coordinated by Larry Long, a pro-labor singer. A solidarity chorus from Wisconsin pitched in as well.
The weekend kicked off with a march, sponsored by Teamsters Local 120, which included a brass band playing the labor anthem, “Which Side Are You On?”
Labor’s Turning Point
The 1934 Minneapolis Teamster strike grew into a broad workers struggle. Their slogan was “Make Minneapolis a Union Town” and they did it. The strike leaders – with no help initially from the International union – went to organize trucking across the Midwest and beyond.
A young Teamster from Detroit named James R. Hoffa joined in that organizing effort. In Hoffa’s autobiography, he stated that Minneapolis leader Farrell Dobbs was his greatest teacher.
The Teamsters union grew in the next decade from a small craft union to a mighty industrial force, and the Minneapolis strikers provided much of the inspiration and the leadership.Issues: Labor Movement
For Daimler, the truck driver of the future looks something like this: He is seated in the cab of a semi, eyes on a tablet and hands resting in his lap.
Daimler demonstrated its vision Thursday along a stretch of the A14 autobahn near Magdeburg in eastern Germany, the culmination of years of innovation. It says the vehicle — called the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025, a nod to the year the carmaker hopes it will be introduced — is capable of responding to traffic while driving completely autonomously down a freeway at speeds of up to 85 kilometers per hour, or 52 miles per hour.
Click here to read more at The New York Times.Issues: Freight
Facing fresh member dissatisfaction, Teamster President James Hoffa and his Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall are headed to court to try to make contested Teamster elections a thing of the past.
Whether they succeed will determine the future of one of North America’s most powerful unions. Will it continue to manage decline and concessions, or tap the power of organized transport and distribution workers to reverse them?
The 1.25 million-member International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) is unique among the largest North American unions in that every five years it has a hotly contested rank-and-file election for the top leadership.
The right to vote is protected by a 1989 consent order, a court-approved agreement that Teamster officers reluctantly accepted to avoid a racketeering trial.
In that landmark legal case, the reform movement Teamsters for a Democratic Union intervened to oppose court-imposed government oversight of the union’s operations. Instead, to root out systemic corruption, TDU proposed that members directly elect top officers.
Previously, Teamster presidents were elected at conventions. The 1986 “election” gave incumbent Jackie Presser 99 percent of the vote.USING THE VOTE
TDU’s blueprint was largely adopted, and 1991 saw the first-ever election. Members used their new vote to elect a whole new leadership slate, headed by Ron Carey. The candidate who’d gotten 1 percent under the old system, Sam Theodus, easily won the rank-and-file vote for vice president.
The election rocked not only the Teamsters, but the labor movement. The first-ever contested election in the AFL-CIO quickly followed.
After Carey won again in 1996, defeating Hoffa, he led UPS workers out on strike in 1997. With bold demands such as 10,000 more full-time jobs (with the rallying cry, “Part-Time America Won’t Work”) and innovative tactics that evolved over the year of rank-and-file organizing leading up it, this strike started to put labor on the offensive.
That success was tragically cut short later that year when aides to Carey were found engaging in illegal campaign fundraising. The scandal paved the way for Hoffa’s rise and the old guard’s return to power.
Now the Hoffa administration has taken the first step to try to end the consent order by submitting a letter to federal judge Loretta Preska. The IBT claims the consent order is no longer needed because the union is reformed.
TDU agrees that mob control of the union has diminished—precisely because the right to vote has given members a tool to tackle corruption and hold leaders accountable.
Other unions have membership elections in their constitution, but what makes the Teamsters unique is independently supervised elections, coupled with an organized national reform movement of leaders, activists, and members. It’s TDU that gives life to members’ right to vote.‘GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT’
Hoffa and Hall claim their goal is to end government oversight. But their real target is the one-member, one-vote elections.
To be clear, there is no “government oversight” of any of the union’s operations—not bargaining, political action, organizing, contract campaigns, budgets, salaries, or hiring and firing.
Instead, the consent order provides for an Independent Review Board, selected by IBT leadership and the U.S. Attorney, to bring corruption charges against individual officials. And it provides for the right to vote for international officers under fair election rules.
Both are important to members, but the right to vote is the most critical.
Without these rules, the current leaders will be free to change nomination requirements to make it impossible for opposition candidates to get on the ballot.
Currently, nominations for top offices require 5 percent of elected convention delegates. But the incumbents want to raise that bar.
Every challenger to Hoffa has met the 5 percent requirement, but none would have been nominated if 10 percent were required—though each, once nominated, ran a competitive race and forced national debates on the union’s direction.
Teamster leaders have already amended the IBT constitution so the board can write its own rules for any election and pick the election supervisor. For now, these amendments are trumped by the provisions of the consent order.
But if the consent order were lifted, these safeguards would go out the window.
So would election rules that partially level the playing field by providing opposition campaigners’ access to employer parking lots, “battle pages” of campaign material in the Teamster magazine, and fair rules for delegate elections.WHY NOW?
Hoffa and Hall have good reason to make this move now. Hoffa, who won reelection in 2011 with 59 percent of the vote, faces a different political outlook as the 2015-2016 campaign approaches.
Over the past year, the majority of members in the freight industry, UPS Freight, and UPS have all voted to reject concessions in their contracts—only to have them imposed by Hoffa and Hall.
The Vote No movement helped launch a new formation, Take Back Our Union, that’s already organizing meetings to plan for the 2016 election.
Hoffa won most of the UPS locals in 2011. But his prospects among that group of 250,000 Teamsters look much dimmer today. And dissatisfaction is not limited to just UPS and trucking Teamsters: Hoffa’s policy of retreat has led to defeats and lackluster organizing in warehousing, delivery, public service, airlines, and other Teamster fields.
Take Back Our Union has started to forge a coalition of the opposition forces in the union, bringing together TDU, which backed New York Local 805 President Sandy Pope in the 2011 election, and other local officials who ran on a separate slate.
Combined, these contenders won 41 percent last time—and that was before this wave of membership anger at concessions.
Once again, members are gearing up to take the wheel of the union.Issues: Hoffa Watch
The director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is to leave his post in August after four years in the role.
In a letter to colleagues on Friday, Josh Gotbaum said, as he had three children in college, he had promised his wife he would return to the private sector, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.
Click here to read more at Asset International.Issues: Labor Movement
Amazon.com Inc., which wants to deliver packages by drone, asked aviation regulators for permission to expand testing outside its research laboratory.
“We are rapidly experimenting and iterating on Prime Air inside our next generation research and development lab in Seattle,” the company said in a letter posted on a government website yesterday. Amazon is based in that city.
Click here to read more at Transport Topics.
Late Friday, the Overland Park-based less-than-truckload carrier (Nasdaq: YRCW) and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters announced that the union-nominated and the company-approvedDavidson will join YRC's nine-member board.
Davidson will fill the seat Harry Wilsonvacated in March. Wilson, the chairman and CEO of New York-based MAEVA Group LLC, resigned from the board after seeing the company through a financial restructuring in early 2014. Between February 2013 and March 2014, YRC paid MAEVA $12.5 million for its services.
Click here to read more at The Kansas City Business Journal.Issues: Freight
Teamsters retirees from the trucking industry currently enjoy some of the most generous pensions in America—up to $3,500 a month for 30 years of service from any unionized trucking company that contributed to multiemployer pension plans that once covered the industry like a warm fuzzy financial security blanket.
But those pension plans, once thought to be the “Cadillac” of all retirement plans, are in deep financial trouble. And there doesn’t appear to be any bailout coming from Washington.
Click here to read more at Logistics Management.
The Highway Trust Fund pays for the upkeep of our roads, bridges and public transit. Yet for more than two decades, Congress has failed to increase its funding. The fund hasn't kept up with inflation, let alone the urgent needs for the modernization of our transportation systems. Now a crisis, years in the making, is coming to a head.
Time is running out for Congress to fund the Highway Trust Fund, and hundreds of thousands of jobs are at stake—700,000 jobs to be exact. That’s more than double the number of jobs created last month. To be quite frank, the backbone of our entire economy is at stake.
Click here to read more at the AFL-CIO.
Monday through Friday, my full-time job is cleaning restrooms at Van Nuys High School. But that work is not the hardest part of my life. The hardest part is saying goodbye to my 4-year-old son when he asks me not to go to work again. In order to make ends meet, I also work weekends and nights.
I know I’m lucky to have a full-time job as a facility attendant in the Los Angeles Unified School District. I’ve done that for 10 years, and some days are better than others, but I like the work, and my co-workers are a supportive second family. We don’t interact much with students, but those of us who do custodial work are eyes and ears for teachers and administrators. If I see a student needs help of any kind, I take pride in letting the right people know.
Click here to read more at The Washington Post.Issues: Labor Movement
Daimler Trucks debuted its self-driving “Future Truck 2025” during an on-highway test drive on a section of the autobahn near Magdeburg, Germany.
The truck uses the company’s Highway Pilot system to drive completely autonomously at speeds up to 53 mph. The system could be launched in production vehicles as early as 2025 if conditions permit, according to Daimler.
“Autonomous driving will revolutionize road freight transport and create major benefits for everyone involved. With the Future Truck 2025, Daimler Trucks is once again highlighting its pioneering role in innovative technologies and opening up a new era in truck transport.
“We aim to be the No. 1 manufacturer in this market of the future, which we believe will offer solid revenue and earnings potential,” Wolfgang Bernhard, the member of Daimler’s board of management responsible for Daimler trucks and buses, said in a statement.
Truck drivers for three companies that move cargo in and out of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach launched a strike early Monday morning, with the support of organizers of the Teamsters union the drivers are hoping to join.
The strike involves 120 drivers for three transport firms including Total Transportation Services Inc., Green Fleet Systems and Pacific 9. The drivers have staged strikes and labor actions in the past year, but this is the first time they've walked off the job with no plans to return.
Click here to read more at The Breakdown.Issues: Labor Movement
If you were outraged by the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, take a deep breath and get ready for the next battle over women’s rights.
A case that will affect millions of working women is on the Supreme Court docket for the term beginning Oct. 6. Young v. United Parcel Service will test the law prohibiting employment discrimination against pregnant women. And it’s anybody’s guess how this court will rule.
Click here to read more at The News & Advance.Issues: Labor Movement
UPS Inc. plans to invest $1 billion in its European operations in the next three to five years, chief financial officer Kurt Kuehn told a German newspaper, Reuters reported.
A majority of the investment would go to expanding the company’s logistics centers in Germany, one of the company’s fastest growing markets.
Kuehn said the company’s new strategy will be announced in November and involves acquisitions, especially in the health-care sector, according to Reuters.
In January 2013 ,UPS abandoned its $6.8 billion bid to buy European package carrier TNT Express NV after European regulators moved to block the deal. The company said it would focus on other acquisitions consistent with its long-term growth strategy.
UPS is ranked No. 1 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.Issues: UPS
July 3, 2014: Chicago Local 710 secretary treasurer Pat Flynn has been charged by the Independent Review Board (IRB) with embezzling $58,000 in visa gift cards, violating his fiduciary duty, and exposing the local to legal liability in a cover-up.
Flynn was paid $482,543 by Local 710 members’ dues in 2013, plus an additional $44,900 in deferred income, making him the highest paid of all Teamster’ fat cats.
The 105-page investigative report and recommended charges indicates that the IRB has thoroughly investigated what happened with the gift cards during the years 2009-2012.
Each year Local 710 staff would provide a number of stewards with $150 gift cards. Flynn, the local secretary treasurer, would then direct the staff to purchase excess cards that were kept by him personally in his office, separate from other union property and money. The same thing happened with $25 gift cards purchased as prizes for union meeting attendance. The excess cards were not accounted for and were not shown as assets on the LM-2 or the monthly trustees’ reports, although the visa cards were as good as cash.
The report notes that Flynn’s various explanations for the scheme are not credible. “Flynn essentially claimed that since local funds had been converted into gift cards solely under his control, at that point magically he did not have to account for their use.” (pp 79-80)
The IRB points out that Flynn served as the local secretary treasurer since 2004, was an employee of the local for 33 years, had served on Hoffa’s General Executive Board, and studied accounting in college, so his claimed ignorance does not stand.
IRB procedures call for Hoffa to bring charges against Flynn, hold a hearing, and report the results to the IRB within 90 days, or decline to act. At that point the IRB will take over and make the final determination on the adequacy of actions taken.
The IRB exists to investigate and root out corruption in the Teamsters Union. Of the three members on the board one is chosen by Hoffa and the General Executive Board, one by the US Attorney, and one selected jointly by both.Issues: Local Union Reform
Former Louisville Teamsters leader Jerry T. Vincent Jr. was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on charges that he embezzled union funds, took illegal union loans and conducted false record keeping, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky.
According to the indictment, Vincent, president of Teamsters Local 783 from 2006 to 2011, embezzled more than $17,000 between October 2009 and August 2011.
Click here to read more at The Courier Journal.Issues: Local Union Reform
More than a million people risk losing their federally insured pensions in just a few years despite recent stock market gains and a strengthening economy, a new government study said on Monday.
The people at risk have earned pensions in multiemployer plans, in which many companies band together with a union to provide benefits under collective bargaining. Such pensions were long considered exceptionally safe, but the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation reported in its study that some plans are now in their death throes and cannot recover.
Click here to read more at The New York Times.Issues: Pension and Benefits