Teamsters

North America's Strongest Union

Teamsters Weekly Update, Week Ending June 14, 2019

Hoffa: Teamsters Applaud House Panel's Passage of Pension Reform Measure: The following is a statement from Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa after the House Education and Labor Committee today approved H.R. 397, the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act, which would ensure the retirements of some 1.5 million Americans who have paid into such plans.

Teamster Leaders Meet for Warehouse Division Conference: About 150 Teamster leaders from local unions that represent warehouse workers met in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho last week to discuss the major issues and campaigns affecting the more than 200,000 warehouse Teamsters.

Teamsters Call on N.J. Attorney General, EDA to Investigate and Prosecute NFI Over Tax Break Application : Today, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters sent a formal request to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and New Jersey Economic Development Authority Ethics Liaison Officer Frederick Cole to investigate, prosecute and sanction NFI, L.P., in connection with its application for nearly $80 million in state benefits through the Grow NJ tax incentive program. The letter was signed by Fred Potter, Teamsters International Vice President At Large and President of Teamsters Local 469 in Hazlet, N.J.

South Jersey Trucking Firm Omitted Criminal Violation In Application For $79 Million Tax Break, Labor Union Says : A trucking and logistics company that won approval for $79 million in New Jersey tax breaks failed to disclose criminal and civil proceedings in its application for the state award, according to a letter sent Thursday by the Teamsters labor union to the New Jersey attorney general and the Economic Development Authority.

Teamsters Stand Up for Trucker Safety at House Hearing : The trucking industry is facing numerous challenges that are jeopardizing the well-being of drivers that must be addressed to ensure highway safety is a top priority for the traveling public, a Teamster official said today.

Teamster Daughter Gonzalez Heads to Calif. Senate : Lena Gonzalez knows all about the union movement. Her father, Vince, worked as a crane operator among other duties as a member of Teamsters Local 952 and later Local 166 for some three decades until he retired two years ago. Now, she’ll be taking that knowledge to Sacramento, where she will be sworn in tomorrow as a member of the California state Senate.

Joel Rafael Releasing New Album: The latest album from Joel Rafael, “Rose Avenue,” is out on June 21 on Inside Recordings. Rafael, a critically acclaimed songwriter and folk artist, has been a friend of unions his entire career—particularly the Teamsters.

 

NEWS ARTICLES

Hoffa: Teamsters Applaud House Panel's Passage of Pension Reform Measure: Education and Labor Committee Approves H.R. 397 During Mark Up: (WASHINGTON) – The following is a statement from Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa after the House Education and Labor Committee today approved H.R. 397, the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act, which would ensure the retirements of some 1.5 million Americans who have paid into such plans.
“After years of hard work by active and retired Teamsters, it is great to see the House Education and Labor Committee take the first step towards Congress ultimately protecting workers whose retirements are in jeopardy. This bipartisan bill, offered by Reps. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and Peter King (R-N.Y.), is badly needed. As it stands, there are more than 300 multiemployer plans that are in danger of failing.
“Now it’s time for the rest of Congress to follow suit and deliver for these hardworking Americans who are paying, or have paid, into the pension pool and have played by the rules all their lives. Lawmakers need to show a united front when it comes to standing up for workers who make up the backbone of this nation.”

Teamster Leaders Meet for Warehouse Division Conference: About 150 Teamster leaders from local unions that represent warehouse workers met in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho last week to discuss the major issues and campaigns affecting the more than 200,000 warehouse Teamsters.
"We have many challenges ahead, but by working together--the local unions, the Joint Councils and the International Union--we will take these challenges head-on to make sure our members' interests are protected," said Steve Vairma, Director of the Teamsters Warehouse Division.
Leaders discussed the national organizing campaign under way at Sysco, and the campaigns to protect Teamsters at US Foods/FSA and UNFI/Supervalu.
Leaders learned the status of automation and artificial intelligence in the warehouse industry and how it may affect members in the future. They also discussed self-driving vehicles, and got an update about when they will hit the road and how our local unions can engage to protect Teamsters.
Javier Ramirez, Director of Field Programs and Innovation with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, also discussed workplace trends.
Gary Witlen of the Teamsters Legal Department advised officers and agents of trends in the current administration's National Labor Relations Board.
"Whether it was discussing mergers and acquisitions, negotiating the best contracts, automation in the workplace our our major campaigns, the meeting was very informative and inspired a healthy conversation about building our union," said Jeff Sperring, a Business Agent and Recording Secretary at Local 135 in Indianapolis.

Teamsters Call On N.J. Attorney General, EDA To Investigate And Prosecute NFI Over Tax Break Application: Teamsters Letter Shows NFI Failed to Disclose Wire Fraud Conviction, Labor Violations in its Application for Nearly $80 Million From State of N.J. (HAZLET, N.J.) – Today, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters sent a formal request to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and New Jersey Economic Development Authority Ethics Liaison Officer Frederick Cole to investigate, prosecute and sanction NFI, L.P., in connection with its application for nearly $80 million in state benefits through the Grow NJ tax incentive program. The letter was signed by Fred Potter, Teamsters International Vice President At Large and President of Teamsters Local 469 in Hazlet, N.J.
“There are 55,000 Teamsters who live and pay taxes in New Jersey while working in critical industries, including transportation, logistics and public services. New Jersey Teamsters believe that our state’s limited resources should not be used to benefit irresponsible, law-breaking employers,” Potter said. “NFI should be prosecuted and barred from receiving any financial assistance from the state, including the nearly $80 million it currently stands to gain through the Grow NJ program.”
In the letter, the Teamsters provide evidence that demonstrates NFI, a national third-party logistics provider headquartered in New Jersey, lied in its application for taxpayer funds when it failed to disclose its prior conviction for three counts of wire fraud and failed to disclose pending legal proceedings alleging violations of wage and hour laws to the state’s Economic Development Authority, which administers the Grow NJ program.
The letter states that NFI’s history of violating workers’ rights should bar it from receiving state financial assistance. The company has violated laws governing hours of labor and minimum wage standards, avoided paying legally required overtime compensation, and illegally misclassified hundreds of port workers in California by claiming they are independent contractors. By misclassifying its employees, the company avoided its responsibility to cover social security, workers’ compensation and other business expenses.
Just months before NFI submitted its Grow New Jersey application, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the company was required to pay over $1 million to 357 employees to remedy its numerous violations of the law. The $1 million represented wages NFI had unlawfully denied to its dispatchers and yard spotters when it failed to compensate them for overtime work. The Department of Labor required NFI to reclassify hundreds of its employees to ensure they received overtime protections, and hire a compliance officer, among other remedies.
As a transportation and logistics company, NFI must comply with laws governing “occupations of regulated industries,” as referenced in the EDA’s regulations. In the year preceding NFI’s Grow NJ application, the company was cited for more than 100 violations by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. During that year alone, NFI violated driving safety standards, state and local speed limit laws, and hours-of-service standards, which are intended to limit the operation of commercial vehicles by drivers who are sick or tired. 
To read the letter containing a detailed list of NFI’s illegal activity and labor violations, go to: https://bit.ly/2Zj0Paa.
“NFI’s criminally false statements warrant prosecution, and those statements, along with the company’s history of violating workers’ rights should also bar it from receiving financial assistance from the EDA,” Potter said in the letter. “NFI’s willful misstatements about its criminal history, and about litigation challenging its fairness as an employer, compel the conclusion not only that NFI is an unworthy recipient of public funds, but that it is a criminal actor defrauding the state.”
For more information on the port truck drivers’ and warehouse workers’ campaign, visit www.JusticeForPortDrivers.org, like us at www.facebok.com/Justice4PortDrivers, and follow us on Twitter @PortDriverUnion.

South Jersey Trucking Firm Omitted Criminal Violation In Application For $79 Million Tax Break, Labor Union Says: A trucking and logistics company that won approval for $79 million in New Jersey tax breaks failed to disclose criminal and civil proceedings in its application for the state award, according to a letter sent Thursday by the Teamsters labor union to the New Jersey attorney general and the Economic Development Authority.
The company, NFI, applied in 2016 for the EDA’s tax-credit program – which is now the subject of multiple investigations – to help build an office tower on the Camden waterfront. The application asks the company to certify whether the company or its affiliates have been found guilty of criminal violations, and NFI said no in its sworn response.
But in 2005, an affiliate of the company – Interactive Logistics Inc. – pleaded guilty in federal court in Camden to three counts of wire fraud, according to the letter. Under the plea, the company agreed to pay an $850,000 fine and restitution to the beer-maker Anheuser-Busch, the client it defrauded of about $225,000, court records show.
“While we are confident in the veracity of our application, we take all accusations seriously,” NFI spokesperson T.J. Lynch said. “We are in the process of investigating the allegations that have been made by the Teamsters.”
Lynch said the company would respond further “as soon as we are in a position to do so.”
Court papers show Interactive Logistics was doing business in New Jersey under the name NFI Interactive Logistics Inc. The plea agreement was signed and authorized by company director Sidney Brown – who is NFI’s current chief executive officer and who signed off on NFI’s tax-credit application as well.
The office tower project won approval for $245 million in total tax credits, split among NFI, the Michaels Organization, and Conner Strong & Buckelew, the insurance brokerage headed by South Jersey power broker George E. Norcross III.
EDA has discretion to deny financial assistance to businesses that have criminal convictions involving public or private contracts. The tax-credit application requires a company’s CEO to certify that statements on the submission are true.
The letter from the Teamsters raises more questions about EDA’s oversight of the state’s multibillion-dollar incentives programs. A special task force launched an investigation earlier this year into the EDA’s handling of the tax-credit programs, after a state audit identified significant oversight problems at the agency.
At the time of the guilty plea, according to a December 2005 story in the Press of Atlantic City, Brown issued a statement saying: “We as a company made an isolated error and will work to ensure this never happens again.”
The federal case against Interactive Logistics was pursued by then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie. As governor of New Jersey, Christie, a Republican, went on to revamp the tax-credit program under the 2013 Economic Opportunity Act, working closely with Democrats in the Legislature.
The tax-credit application also asks if the company is subject to any legal proceedings that allege violations of labor and wage laws. NFI was facing two such lawsuits at the time of its October 2016 application but did not disclose them, the letter says. One of the suits was brought in November 2015, by truck drivers who made deliveries in Massachusetts, and alleged the company took fuel costs out of their paychecks and failed to pay them for all the miles they drove. The suit remains pending, and NFI has denied wrongdoing.
Another case – Marsh v. NFI Interactive Logistics LLC – alleged the company denied overtime pay to workers in Texas. The company acknowledged in court filings that it received the suit on Oct. 3, 2016, three weeks before NFI submitted its tax-credit application in New Jersey. The parties agreed to settle in November 2017.
The EDA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter, or its procedures for verifying information about legal proceedings involving applicants.
The Teamsters said that 55,000 of its members live and pay taxes in New Jersey and that the state’s “limited resources should not be used to benefit irresponsible, law-breaking employers.”
The letter alleges the company committed a criminal act by lying on its application, and says “NFI should be prosecuted and barred from receiving any financial assistance from the state.”
Late last year, truckers and warehouse workers in Southern California went on strike outside an NFI facility there, with support from the Teamsters. NFI accused the union of “looking to force representation” on the workers, who were classified as independent contractors.
As the task force investigation has progressed, some of the companies whose applications have come under scrutiny are fighting against the inquiry in court.
NFI filed a lawsuit last month against Gov. Phil Murphy, asking a judge to find that the governor didn’t have the power to form the task force and that the task force’s conduct has been unlawful.
Norcross, his insurance brokerage, and three other companies joined NFI in filing the suit.
Norcross and the companies are asking a judge to issue a preliminary injunction that would halt the task force’s inquiry until the court can resolve the litigation. At the judge’s request, the task force has temporarily delayed its proceedings. A hearing has been scheduled for June 17.
The Teamsters’ request for an investigation into NFI comes after WNYC and ProPublica reported in May that the energy company Holtec falsely stated on its application for tax credits that it had never been barred from doing business with a state or federal agency.
A federal agency in 2010 debarred Holtec as a contractor for 60 days. The company also agreed to pay a $2 million fee. WNYC subsequently reported that New Jersey officials had frozen Holtec’s tax credits while they investigate the matter.
Holtec, which moved from Marlton to Camden after it was awarded $260 million in tax breaks over 10 years, has said the incorrect answer on its application was an oversight.
The state comptroller in January issued a report finding that the EDA had failed to hold companies accountable for the investment and job promises they made in exchange for tax credits.
A state grand jury is investigating the tax-credit programs and sent a subpoena to the agency last month.

Teamsters Stand Up for Trucker Safety at House Hearing: The trucking industry is facing numerous challenges that are jeopardizing the well-being of drivers that must be addressed to ensure highway safety is a top priority for the traveling public, a Teamster official said today.
Lamont Byrd, the Teamsters’ Director of Safety and Health, told members of a House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee today that company pressure on drivers to be more productive, combined with the distressed state of infrastructure in this country and the effort of industry to lessen regulations could have a dire impact on all those on the nation’s roadways.
“These pressures come from many sources and some are related to policies that either don’t exist or haven’t kept pace with a changing transportation system,” Byrd said. “Specific policy issues related to infrastructure, driver compensation, hours of service, driver harassment, driver health, driving training and retention, automation and globalization all contribute to these pressures.”
Companies are expecting their drivers to be more productive, he said, even if that means violating safety rules on the books. In addition, trucking firms are pushing for watered down hours-of-service standards that would extend the work day, lowering the driving age for interstate truck drivers from 21 to 18, and increased automation even when safety is at risk.
Asked specifically about the lowering of the driving age for long-haul truckers, Byrd said the union has concerns. “We don’t support lowering the driving age in commercial trucking,” he said. “One of the approaches we use to attract young workers to the trucking industry is establishing an apprenticeship program. We recruit candidates who are 18, 19 years old and we teach them about the trucking and transportation industry, working on the dock, and working various aspects of the trucking industry.”
Lawmakers raised their own doubts about having teenagers driving trucks across the country. House Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairwoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said improving wages would likely be a better way to keep drivers than lowering the license age.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) agreed. “If you want to attract and retain high-quality drivers, you need policies and need to ensure trucking remains a good job with high-quality compensation,” he said.
Protecting drivers on the job is also a concern. That is why the Teamsters oppose the hours-of-service rules, Byrd said. “CDL-qualified drivers, they’re driving larger trucks, they are delivering more freight, they’re delivering heavier freight than short-haul truckers,” he said. “What that is going to result in is that these drivers will work more hours, deliver more freight and heavier freight, and it will put them at increased risk of delivering muscular-skeletal disorders.”

Teamster Daughter Gonzalez Heads to Calif. Senate: Lena Gonzalez knows all about the union movement. Her father, Vince, worked as a crane operator among other duties as a member of Teamsters Local 952 and later Local 166 for some three decades until he retired two years ago. Now, she’ll be taking that knowledge to Sacramento, where she will be sworn in tomorrow as a member of the California state Senate.
Gonzalez, currently a Long Beach City Council member, won her special election last week to represent the 33rd District, which includes parts of Long Beach, Los Angeles and other surrounding cities. The long-time friend of labor garnered nearly 70 percent of the vote in her victory. She emerged as the top Democrat during the earlier primary, when 12 candidates from different parties were on the ballot.
The process, she admitted, was “grueling.” She began her run just before Thanksgiving, when she decided to throw her hat in the ring to succeed former state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D), who won his race for state insurance commissioner in November. She won in large part due to the strong backing she received from labor unions like the Teamsters.
Now, she is going to turn her attention towards helping workers in the Golden State. Gonzalez said there is a need to address income inequality in California, given its high cost of living. In an effort to raise wages, she said additional job training is needed.
“I would like to dig into vocational fields,” Gonzalez said.  “Right off the bat, these could potentially pay.”
She is also in favor of expanding the use of union labor across the state, especially in areas such as construction and infrastructure. “These are the jobs that are needed,” she said. “They are timeless and they keep the state growing.”

Joel Rafael Releasing New Album: Former Teamster’s Album ‘Motivated by the Times We’re Going Through’: The latest album from Joel Rafael, “Rose Avenue,” is out on June 21 on Inside Recordings. Rafael, a critically acclaimed songwriter and folk artist, has been a friend of unions his entire career—particularly the Teamsters.
Rafael once worked as a Teamster concert worker at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. He has performed at Teamster rallies and the union’s convention.
Rafael's 10th solo album blends protest and personal ruminations, while the lone cover, Dick Holler's "Abraham, Martin and John," opens the album, which you can pre-order digitally or on CD or vinyl
“I think this album is very much motivated by the times we're going through right now,” Rafael said. “The songs that I wrote and put together kind of reflect my general feeling about that, on a few different levels. It wasn't something planned—‘Oh, I'm gonna make social commentary in my songs.’ I just kind of ended up going down that road because of who I am as a person, and probably because of people that inspired me.”
As a solo performer and with his band, Rafael has opened shows and shared stages with artists including Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, Joan Baez, John Lee Hooker, Arlo Guthrie, Bonnie Raitt, John Trudell, Laura Nyro, Kris Kristofferson, Dar Williams, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Odetta and Taj Mahal. For more information, visit https://www.joelrafael.com/
 

Teamster Privilege Auto and Home

As a member of IBT you now have access to valuable features and benefits, including special group discounts on auto and home insurance offered through MetLife Auto & Home – a leading provider of quality auto insurance coverage.

Sign Up For Action Alerts

Mobile alerts from Teamsters. Periodic messages. Msg & data rates may apply. Text STOP to 86466 to stop receiving messages. Text HELP to 86466 for more information.Terms & Conditions