Teamsters

North America's Strongest Union

Teamsters Legislative Update

Employee Free Choice Act

Over the past eight years, we have seen the middle class deteriorate as Big Business and their lobbyists were given free rein on George W. Bush's watch. Workers’ rights were thrown out the window, and companies did their best to intimidate or terminate any employees who even uttered the word "union.”  The Employee Free Choice Act is the legislation that can turn the system around.

Don't believe the lies of Big Business. Corporate America wants you to believe the Employee Free Choice Act will do away with the secret ballot. Not true. What the legislation does is to put that decision back in the hands of workers. The Employee Free Choice Act would level the playing field and ensure that workers' freedom to choose whether to join a union is protected by doing the following:

  • Allowing workers to form a union if a majority of them signs cards.

  • Providing for first contract mediation and arbitration so that workers get their first collective bargaining agreement in a timely manner, free from stalling and delay tactics by employers.

  • Providing stiffer penalties for employers that violate workers' rights and retaliate against those who are trying to form unions.

Studies have shown that more than 60 million workers across the country would join a union if they could do so free from intimidation. Unions allow workers to collectively bargain for those things that every worker deserves – decent wages, affordable health care, and safety in the workplace. In fact, workers who belong to unions earn 30 percent more than non-union workers and are 63 percent more likely to have employer-provided health care.  It is time that American workers truly have a voice at work and that freedom of choice in the workplace is protected.

The Teamsters are working hard to pass this legislation.  Teamsters across the country have been writing letters, making phone calls, and participating in rallies, press conferences, and worksite visits to spread the word and let Congress, especially the Senate, know we need the Employee Free Choice Act.  We ask you to join in the fight to pass the Employee Free Choice Act because every working American should have the right to become part of a union.  To send a letter to your Senators urging them to support this important legislation, click here.
 

FAA Reauthorization & Express Carrier Employee Protection Provision

We continue to advocate with key Senators for the inclusion of the Express Carrier Employee Protection provision in the final Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill. The bill has been passed by both the U.S. House and Senate, but differences between the two versions must now be reconciled. In September, the House and Senate passed a three-month extension for continued funding of FAA programs. The extension, which expires on December 31, will give Congress additional time to complete work on the Reauthorization.

The Express Carrier provision, which was included in the House-passed version of the FAA bill, would close a loophole that has allowed FedEx to have an unfair cost advantage in the package delivery industry and deprive its workers of the right to secure union representation. In 1996, FedEx Express manipulated the system. The company got a special deal that misclassifies the majority of FedEx Express workers, which has resulted in limiting workers’ freedom of association and their right to form a union.  Most of the workers at FedEx Express have little or nothing to do with aircraft operations, but these workers have been unfairly classified under the Railway Labor Act.  The Railway Labor Act (RLA) is for rail and airline employees.  This group of misclassified workers includes truck drivers, truck mechanics, package handlers, couriers, and all other non-FAA-licensed employees at FedEx Express – all working classes that should be under the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

Because those employed under the RLA are only allowed to form a union on the national level, FedEx employees who should be able to organize on a worksite by worksite basis (as is possible under the NLRA) are unable to become a part of a union.  In addition, the special deal allotted to FedEx has created an unfair cost advantage in the package delivery industry.  The Teamsters are working to level the playing field in the package delivery industry and ensure working Americans across the country are afforded the right to form a union. 

For more information and to e-mail your Representative and Senators on this issue, please visit www.fedexdriversarentpilots.com.


Health Insurance Reform

Implementation of some provisions of the new health insurance reform law is already underway, including requiring insurance companies who offer dependent coverage to make this coverage available up to age 26, $250 rebate checks for Medicare prescription drug plan participants who have entered the “donut hole”, and the bans on lifetime and annual coverage limits for essential health benefits.

For more information and to find out how you may be affected by any of these new reforms, please visit www.teamstersforhealthcarereformnow.org.


Pension Reform

The Teamsters Union continues to advocate to members of Congress about the need for pension relief for our nation’s pension plans, and in particular, multi-employer defined benefit plans. Due to the collapse of the financial markets in 2008, these plans are now finding it difficult to meet funding requirements, and many employers are facing the prospect of laying off workers in order to do so.

In June, Congress enacted the Preservation of Access to Care for Medicare Beneficiaries and Pension Relief Act of 2010, which provides some funding relief for multi-employer plans and the companies that sponsor them. The changes include an extended amortization period for fund losses and a 10-year smoothing period. The new law will temporarily reduce the required contributions to multi-employer plans by allowing sponsors to recognize losses suffered in 2008 and 2009. This will help companies that may have been forced to make contribution increases that they could not afford, or reduce the extent of any benefit reductions that would have been required.

This new law is a good start, but the Teamsters Union continues to advocate for more comprehensive reform.Last October, Representatives Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) and Patrick Tiberi (R-OH) introduced H.R. 3936, the Preserve Benefits and Jobs Act. Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) has also introduced legislation in the Senate, the Create Jobs and Save Benefits Act of 2010 (S. 3157).

Please visit our Save Jobs, Protect Pensions page for the latest updates. To email your members of Congress and ask that they make pension relief legislation a top priority in 2010, click here.


Clean Ports Act of 2010

Over 100,000 U.S. port truck drivers toil every day in dirty diesel rigs, working dead-end jobs under dangerous conditions. Many drivers are paid less than federal or state minimum wages, 90 percent have no private health insurance, and they are overwhelmingly misclassified as independent contractors, making them exempt from nearly all federal and state workplace protection laws for employees, including the right to form a union.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that eighty-seven million Americans live and work in regions near these ports that violate federal air quality standards, greatly increasing their risk for fatal health consequences relating to diesel soot, such as asthma, cancer, and heart disease.

The good news is we can pinpoint a major culprit for the economic and environmental injustices-- an unaccountable port trucking industry. Its mouthpiece, the American Trucking Association (ATA), has halted efforts to fix the problems by hiding behind 30-year-old laws that were created when the health risks of diesel pollution were unknown. Instead of taking responsibility for new, clean trucks that comply with EPA standards, industry polluters are forcing low-income drivers and their families to risk their lives and livelihoods to pay for the clean fleet our port communities desperately need.

Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York has introduced legislation – the Clean Ports Act of 2010 - which would permit ports to implement Clean Truck Programs that allow trucking companies to purchase and maintain new, clean trucks and employ their drivers instead of misclassifying them as independent contractors. The benefits of allowing our nation’s ports to put these types of programs into place have already been proven. The Port of Los Angeles implemented its own EPA award-winning Clean Truck Program, putting 6,600 clean diesel and alternative fuel vehicles in service, reducing emissions by 80 percent in and around the port, and increasing most drivers’ wages. However, trucking industry lawyers went to court and had the program stopped. Drivers are once again responsible for expensive truck payments, and maintenance and operational fees are deducted right out of their paychecks. One driver, who testified before Congress, said that after a 50-hour work week, his paycheck amounts to $96.12.

We cannot allow the trucking industry to continue putting their profits ahead of the livelihoods of port truck drivers and their families and the well-being of the millions of Americans who live and work in port communities. To e-mail your Representative today and ask that they support Clean Truck Programs at our nation’s ports by becoming a cosponsor of the Clean Ports Act of 2010, please click here.

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