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  1. #1
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    Default Very interesting article

    Reformers Win Leadership of Two Teamster Local Unions

    by David Bernt / January 2010



    On Jan. 1 two New York City Teamsters Locals will be headed by new reform leaderships. The two locals, Local 804 and 814, have voted in officers pledging to stop the concessions, corruption, and roll-over approach to bargaining that was the norm under the incumbents and is far too common in other locals and the International leadership of the Teamsters Union. They have both called for a new fightback approach based around mobilizing the rank and file, democratizing the union, and doing away with the bloated salaries and perks enjoyed by the old guard incumbents.



    Both reform slates were inspired by rank-and-file organizing efforts against concessions negotiated by the incumbent leadership.



    In Local 804, a 7000-member local of mostly UPS employees, workers organized a successful “Vote No” campaign against the UPS contract and local rider agreement, which included significant pension cuts and work-rule changes. When the ranks voted down their local rider, holding up the implementation of the entire national contract, the old guard was forced to return to the bargaining table and remove the worst of the concessions in order to secure passage.



    Leaders of the “Vote No” campaign formed the 804 Members United Slate, an election slate of rank-and-file workers. The slate received 68% of the vote against the incumbents. The newly elected slate has pledged to implement a 10-point program to strengthen democracy and rank-and-file participation in the local, and negotiate stronger contracts and improve the local’s pension fund. The new officers will reduce officer salaries by $35,000 and eliminate 401K contributions for officers in order to restore financial health to the local.



    The Local 804 victory is also very symbolic for the reform movement, as 804 was the home local of the first democratically elected International General President of the Teamsters, Ron Carey, who led the union in the 1990s and fought to transform the Teamsters from a corrupt mob-controlled union in to a democratic member-run institution. Carey also led the historic 1997 national UPS strike, the largest and most militant strike in recent years, which resulted in a major victory for UPS workers and inspired workers throughout the country.



    In Local 814, which includes commercial movers and auction house workers, the New Directions Slate won with 72% of the vote. Rank-and-file workers organized campaigns to fight concessionary contracts and exposed how the current administration bankrupted the local’s pension and health funds. The New Directions Slate built the foundation of their campaign through a series of successful “Vote No” contract campaigns.



    The issues affecting rank-and-file Teamsters in these locals are the same ones that affect all Teamsters. Employers, whether profitable or not, are using the recession to pressure unions to accept concessions. Teamster employers have found union leaders on the other side of the bargaining tables far too willing to accept whatever they propose.



    In the 12 years since Jimmy Hoffa Jr. was elected General President of the Teamsters, workers have witnessed their contracts weakened and their pension funds depleted, in some cases on the brink of collapse. Hoffa came to power promising to restore Teamster power; instead he has restored incompetence, corruption, bloated officer salaries (Hoffa himself pulled in $383,132 last year), and inferior contracts.



    The failures of the Hoffa administration are most glaring in the union’s traditional core industry: freight trucking. The industry continues to be dominated by non-union companies and owner-operators. The few remaining Teamster shops in the industry have been pressured to accept concessions.



    The last National Master Freight Agreement, negotiated in early 2008 before the recession when freight companies were reporting large profits, contained many concessions in work rules, outsourcing, and minimal wage and benefit packages.



    Since the economic downturn, the trucking giant YRC has added insult to injury by twice demanding, with the support of Hoffa, the reopening of the NMFA to get further concessions. The 50,000 Teamsters were pressured by the International to accept first a 10% wage reduction and then, a few months later, a further 5% wage cut and an 18-month suspension of pension contributions.



    While the national settlement was approved, a few YRC local subsidiaries rejected the concessions. Additionally, the ranks from Chicago area Teamsters Locals 705 and 710, who negotiate contracts separate from the NMFA, rejected the concessions. The officers of Local 705 have supported the YRC workers refusal of concessions, while Local 710 President Pat Flynn, an International VP and Hoffa lackey, has tried to convince workers in both locals to vote for concessions.



    The workers have now rejected concessions multiple times. Hoffa responded by abolishing the Chicago area locals’ separate contracts and putting them under the NMFA, a move done under very shaky legal and bylaw precedent. Fearing legal challenges, Hoffa once again put the YRC proposed concessions to a vote at 705 and 710 on Dec. 9—and again workers rejected them.



    At the Teamsters’ largest employer, UPS, union members have faced production harassment, outsourcing, and contract violations with little to no response from the International. Despite making $1.4 billion in profits in the first three quarters of this year, management at UPS has used the economic downturn as justification to speed up workers and violate their contract. Harassment by management of delivery drivers to meet production standards has been reported by drivers throughout the country.



    UPS has also failed to live up to its commitment to create 20,000 full-time inside jobs, as mandated by the previous two contracts (these full-time inside jobs were won in the 1997 strike). Management in many UPS barns has instead eliminated existing full-time jobs and forced workers back to part-time work—in clear violation of the contract. The International has failed to fight for the many grievances filed on this issue in front of national panels, and has not initiated any type of response to this critical contract violation.



    Many Teamsters are looking for an alternative to the overpaid, do-nothing leadership of Hoffa. Teamsters for a Democratic Union, a rank-and-file caucus inside the Teamsters, has launched a new campaign, Dump Hoffa (dumphoffa.org). While no candidate has been announced to oppose Hoffa in the 2011 international Teamster election, activists are getting the word out about Hoffa’s failures as General President, and recruiting the rank-and-file members needed to bring about a change in the union.



    Building a stronger Teamsters Union depends on the strength and participation of the membership. Only the members, fully participating and controlling their union, can improve the working conditions for themselves. The election of militant rank-and-file workers to the leadership posts of Locals 804 and 814 is an important step to creating a democratic fightback union.

  2. #2
    ENOUGH I'VE HAD ENOUGH!!!

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    Default Re: Very interesting article

    Link please

  3. #3
    I Am Rocking Now

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    Default Re: Very interesting article


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Very interesting article

    Surprised me. I thought TDU published the article.

  5. #5
    ENOUGH I'VE HAD ENOUGH!!!

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    Default Re: Very interesting article

    Quote Originally Posted by Docker View Post
    Thank You.

    Quote Originally Posted by WestCoast View Post
    Surprised me. I thought TDU published the article.
    That's what I thought as well.

  6. #6
    Getting In The Groove Now.

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    Default Re: Very interesting article

    I voted for hoffa but I think it is time for a change.No way will I vote for a slate of anyone again.They ,whom ever they are ,had better show me that they are about the members!

  7. #7
    I Am Rocking Now

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    Default Re: Very interesting article

    Quote Originally Posted by taterhead View Post
    I voted for hoffa but I think it is time for a change.No way will I vote for a slate of anyone again.They ,whom ever they are ,had better show me that they are about the members!
    If you will remember back before the last election. Hoffa had so little respect for us that he didn't even show up for the debate. He claimed that he was out of town on other union business and sent Keegle in his place. I felt that Keegle was a stand up guy and did a fair job. But Hoffa was able to avoid answering the important questions that were of concern to us.

    Unlike before when he was hungry and open to us. Hoffa's last campaign was sheltered from the rank and file members. His rallys were scripted and by invitation only. He didn't have to answer the tough questions. He was above all that. He no longer needed us in freight to get re-elected.
    Last edited by 2631; 04-11-2010 at 08:22 AM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Very interesting article

    Quote Originally Posted by WestCoast View Post
    Surprised me. I thought TDU published the article.
    Hopefully these " socialist action" types are not heavily involved in the TDU, or any other Teamster business. Unions are one thing. Socialism, quite another. Watchdogs are good, IMO. But who's watching the watchdogs?

 

 

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