Teamsters

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Teamsters Weekly Update, Week Ending June 28, 2019

Teamsters President: Many Issues Affecting Working Class 'Untouched' In First Debate: The Hill, The president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters on Thursday expressed concern about what he called inattention to issues affecting the working class in the first Democratic presidential debate Wednesday.

Teamsters Standing Strong One Year After Anti-Worker ‘Janus’ Ruling: One year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with anti-union lawyers and billionaires in the contentious “Janus v. AFSCME” case, an attempt to undercut the ability of public sector workers to join together and negotiate for better pay and benefits on the job. But instead of gutting the union movement, the decision has only served to revitalize it.

BLET: Two-Person Rail Crew Bill In Senate: A two-person crew bill was introduced in the United States Senate on June 26. The Safe Freight Act, a companion bill to H.R. 1748 in the U.S. House of Representatives, would promote rail safety by mandating at least two-person crews on all freight trains in the United States. The bill was introduced by Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

11,000 U.S. Airline Catering Workers Authorize a Strike at Airports Nationwide: Workers who prepare, pack and deliver food and beverages served aboard flights for American, Delta, United and other airlines have voted overwhelmingly in favor of authorizing a strike when released by the National Mediation Board. It was the largest such vote ever to occur in the U.S. airline catering industry, with more than 11,000 workers voting in 28 cities.

At Vocational Independence Program, Teamsters Make a Difference One Day at a Time: The Vocational Independence Program (VIP) is located in an inconspicuous building on a quiet street in Flint, Michigan. It’s fitting that its workers are some of the many unsung heroes of Flint, because the nondescript backdrop of the VIP belies the incredibly important work that happens inside.

Pro-Worker Labor Bill Becomes Law in Nevada: The Teamsters are hailing progress for workers after passage of a new pro-worker law in Nevada that grants its 20,000 state employees the right to collectively bargain.

Teamsters Call on N.J. EDA to Immediately Suspend NFI's $80 Million Tax Break: The Teamsters Union is calling on New Jersey’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) to suspend nearly $80 million in tax breaks given to NFI, L.P., through the Grow NJ tax incentive program. This request follows Monday’s release of the Governor’s Task Force report on EDA Tax Incentives, which affirms union members’ concerns over misrepresentations by the company in its application for tax benefits. In the report, the Task Force found that “. . . at the crux of the matter, NFI’s application contained potential misrepresentations and a potentially fraudulent CEO certification.”

Sysco-Boston Drivers Ratify Contract That Improves and Secures Jobs: Drivers at Sysco near Boston voted overwhelmingly to ratify their first contract that provides improved and affordable health insurance, seniority protections, annual wage increases, a grievance and arbitration system and many other improvements.

Detroit Golf Club Groundskeepers Continue Fight for New Contract As Course Prepares to Host the 2019 PGA Rocket Mortgage Classic: Today, mechanics and groundskeepers represented by Teamsters Local 299 that maintain the championship-caliber greens and fairways of the Detroit Golf Club are calling on management to reach a new agreement with the workers after negotiations have dragged on for nearly a year. The previous contract for the seven-member unit expired in 2018.

Airport Concessions Workers Join Teamsters Local 970, Win First Contract: A group of 85 retail concessions workers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in Minnesota have won their first contract that provides affordable health insurance, more vacation time and other improvements.

BLET Testifies At Congressional Hearing On Two-Person Crew Necessity: BLET President Dennis Pierce testified before the House subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure today about the need for two-person rail crews.

 

NEWS ARTICLES

Teamsters President: Many Issues Affecting Working Class 'Untouched' In First Debate : The president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters on Thursday expressed concern about what he called inattention to issues affecting the working class in the first Democratic presidential debate Wednesday.
“It was encouraging in the first presidential primary debate to hear candidate after candidate talk about how unions are essential to creating and protecting good jobs and making our economy work for working people,” James P. Hoffa said in a statement Thursday morning following the Miami debate.
However, he added, “many of the issues that impact working people every day were left untouched. Retired Americans are worried about losing their hard-earned pensions, and those who are working are worried about having a secure retirement.”
Such people, he added, are “concerned about big corporations trying to make it harder for workers to come together in a union to raise wages and improve jobs. And they’re worried about how our country’s trade policies will affect millions of good American jobs.”
The second of the first two debates, featuring 10 more candidates onstage, including front-runner former Vice President Joe Biden, is scheduled for Thursday night.
“As more candidates gather in Miami Thursday night, our 1.4 million members and working people across the country will look for a real, substantive conversation on these issues,” Hoffa wrote.

Teamsters Standing Strong One Year After Anti-Worker ‘Janus’ Ruling: Teamster Public Sector Membership Continues to Grow Despite Challenges: (WASHINGTON) – One year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with anti-union lawyers and billionaires in the contentious “Janus v. AFSCME” case, an attempt to undercut the ability of public sector workers to join together and negotiate for better pay and benefits on the job. But instead of gutting the union movement, the decision has only served to revitalize it.
By redoubling their efforts to connect with workers in the wake of the high court ruling, the Teamsters have more public employee members today than it had before the Janus decision was handed down. And other unions are reporting similar success stories.
“While we still believe the Supreme Court incorrectly ruled in the case and it should be overturned immediately, the Teamsters are proud of how our local unions have responded,” Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said. “Members understand the value of strong unions like the Teamsters in their fight for better pay and safer workplaces.”
“Teamster members understand that when we stand together in our union, we have the power to win fair pay and benefits, and create good jobs in our communities,” said Jason Rabinowitz, Teamsters Public Services Director. “That’s why we are standing strong in the face of all these efforts to weaken and divide working people.
“Because my coworkers and I stand together in our union, we have the power to advocate for one another at our employer,” said Bianca Jones, Assistant Housing Manager for the New York City Housing Authority and Teamsters Local 237 member. “The more you get involved with your union, the more you understand what value it brings to the workplace. I’m proud to be a Teamster!”

BLET: Two-Person Rail Crew Bill In Senate: Safer, More Efficient Rail Operations the Priority: INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, June 27 — A two-person crew bill was introduced in the United States Senate on June 26. The Safe Freight Act, a companion bill to H.R. 1748 in the U.S. House of Representatives, would promote rail safety by mandating at least two-person crews on all freight trains in the United States. The bill was introduced by Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). 
According to a press release from Senator Markey’s office: “The bill is designed to correct the Federal Railroad Administration’s recent rollback of a proposed rule that would have established these necessary safety standards. The Safe Freight Act will specifically require that all freight trains have at least one certified conductor and one certified engineer on board, who can then work together to protect the safety of both the train and people living near the tracks.”
“The FRA abdicated its responsibility as our nation’s rail safety agency when it withdrew the proposed two-person crew rule,” Senator Markey said. “A series of tragic accidents have resulted in recent years from unattended and understaffed trains, making clear that we need enough crew on board to protect both property and the public. I am proud to lead the introduction of the Safe Freight Act with Senator Wyden to address this critical safety concern.” To read the complete article on the BLET's website, click here

11,000 U.S. Airline Catering Workers Authorize a Strike at Airports Nationwide: Workers Who Provide Food And Beverages For American, Delta and United Airlines flights Demand a Living Wage and Health Care They Can Afford: NATIONWIDE—Workers who prepare, pack and deliver food and beverages served aboard flights for American, Delta, United and other airlines have voted overwhelmingly in favor of authorizing a strike when released by the National Mediation Board. It was the largest such vote ever to occur in the U.S. airline catering industry, with more than 11,000 workers voting in 28 cities.
The workers are members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, UNITE HERE, and Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) unions, and are employed by the two largest airline catering subcontractors in the world: LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet. The three unions collectively represent more than 25,000 airline catering workers.
“In the past two weeks, airline catering workers voted overwhelmingly yes to authorize a strike, a result that points both to the crisis of poverty wages and unaffordable healthcare in the airline catering industry, and to workers’ willingness to do whatever it takes within legal means to make a change,” said UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor, “Catering workers refuse to sit back and watch airlines like American, Delta and United earn billions in profits while workers barely scrape by. Now is the time for one job to be enough in the airline catering industry.”
Later this summer, UNITE HERE will request release to strike from the National Mediation Board, which would be followed by a 30-day cooling off period if granted. UNITE HERE is prepared to strike whenever it becomes lawful.
“In 2018, American Airlines, Delta and United Airlines made a combined $7.4 billion in profit,” said International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “The world’s airlines can afford to pay vendors enough so that employees earn a fair return on their work. Airline CEOs are being paid $15 million a year while Gate Gourmet employees are paid as little as $8.46 per hour. We want airline passengers to understand that our members don’t want to have to strike, but they’re ready to do so.”
“For far too long workers in the airline catering industry have struggled to get by while American, Delta and United airlines have earned billions. The vote to authorize a strike by hard-working people who are members of three different unions, including our own, shows our united strength and solidarity in this fight. Together, we are sending a clear message to the airline industry that our members need to earn a living wage in order to continue living and working in the major cities our airports serve,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).
The strike authorization vote followed a breakdown in bargaining for a new contract. Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet pay their employees poverty wages — most are paid less than $15 an hour, some after more than 40 years on the job. Many go without health insurance because they cannot afford the $500 monthly premiums to enroll in family healthcare plans.
In their first public action post-vote, many workers joined informational picket lines at airports across the country during the week of June 17.
For a list of participating cities and vote information, visit AirportStrikeAlert.org.
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) represents 100,000 members throughout the United States. The RWDSU is affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). For more information, please visit our website at www.rwdsu.org, Facebook:/RWDSU.UFCW Twitter:@RWDSU.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. This includes 80,000 workers in the airline industry, including pilots, mechanics, flight attendants, customer service and ramp agents, dispatchers and caterers. Visit www.teamster.org for more information.
UNITE HERE is a union of over 300,000 members working in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries in the U.S. and Canada. This includes over 20,000 workers in the airline catering industry who are employees of Flying Food Group, Gate Gourmet, LSG Sky Chefs, and United Airlines. Learn more at www.unitehere.org

At Vocational Independence Program, Teamsters Make a Difference One Day at a Time : The Vocational Independence Program (VIP) is located in an inconspicuous building on a quiet street in Flint, Michigan. It’s fitting that its workers are some of the many unsung heroes of Flint, because the nondescript backdrop of the VIP belies the incredibly important work that happens inside.
“The counselors and drivers that we represent at the VIP are critical to the success of Genesee County residents who have special needs,” said Nina Bugbee, Local 332 President and Health Care Division Director. “We want our workers there to be happy and thriving not just because of their dedication to improving people’s lives, but also because of their dedication to improving the entire community.”
The mission of the VIP is to help Genesee County residents with special needs become as independent and integrated into their communities as they possibly can. To that end, one of the most important services resources provided by the VIP is their employment skills training and placement into full-time jobs. Attendees of the VIP (referred to as “persons served”) work in a variety of places, including a race track, an auto plant, restaurants, grocery stores and a number of other businesses throughout the area. Local 332 Shop Steward Rebecca Schultz has worked at the VIP for over 40 years as a counselor. She was part of the organizing drive when the counselors and drivers first organized back in 2002.
“Teamsters have helped mission of the organization by advocating for the counselors and persons served,” said Schultz. “I enjoy the solidarity and security, and it’s reassuring to know that the union supports you.”
Pam Marme is also a shop steward at the VIP. She has worked there for over thirty years as a bus driver, taking persons served to and from the VIP. Marme said that the persons served, along with their parents and guardians, are very grateful for the bus service that the organization provides because it is the most reliable transportation available and that attendees of the VIP enjoy taking the bus.
“Our persons served are some of the most loving, caring people,” said Marme. “They are great to work with, and they are very appreciative of the service that we provide. They are all friends and during the bus ride they make weekend plans, hang out, talk, laugh. It’s their social time.”
The VIP is publicly funded, and one of the more challenging moments in its history came a few years ago, when the center was threatened by budget cuts. The response from persons served, along with their parents and guardians, was inspiring. Schultz said that they made the case for the VIP at hearings throughout the county where the budget cuts were being discussed publicly.
“The community needs and likes these programs,” said Schultz. “For a long time, this was the only place where our persons served could go to the learn skills and become an active part of our community. For a lot our persons served, this program is the most important part of their lives.”
The state heard loud and clear from the people who defended the VIP, and it stayed open. The positive impact the VIP has had on Genesee County and the City of Flint can be seen everywhere in the area to this day.
“It feels good to see our persons served achieve new skills and get a job,” said Schultz. “I go shopping and see my former persons served bagging groceries, I say hi to them. It’s fulfilling to see their progress. It takes time, but they accomplish so much.”

Pro-Worker Labor Bill Becomes Law in Nevada: The Teamsters are hailing progress for workers after passage of a new pro-worker law in Nevada that grants its 20,000 state employees the right to collectively bargain.
SB 135, signed by Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) on Wednesday, marks the most significant expansion of collective bargaining rights for state workers anywhere nationally in the last 16 years. These Nevada workers will now be granted the freedom to join together and stand up for better pay and working conditions on the job through negotiating with their employer.
“This is a great win for working people in Nevada,” said Jason Rabinowitz, Director of the Teamsters Public Services Division. “When workers have the freedom to join together in a union, we create good jobs in our communities and a stronger, fairer economy for all.”
“It is great for the state of Nevada. It is good for all of us,” said Larry Griffith, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 14 in Las Vegas. “We’ve been working on this a long time. Gov. Sisolak kept his word.”
The new law, which was supported by the Teamsters and other unions, comes almost a year after the Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, which overturned forty years of judicial precedent in an effort to weaken the ability of workers to stand together in a union. The Teamsters responded to that ruling with intense organizing efforts that increased public sector membership to even higher levels than before the Janus decision.

Teamsters Call on N.J. EDA to Immediately Suspend NFI's $80 Million Tax Break: Governor’s Independent Task Force Report Found NFI was Awarded $80 Million in Tax Breaks Despite “Potentially Fraudulent” Application for Benefits: (HAZLET, N.J.) – The Teamsters Union is calling on New Jersey’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) to suspend nearly $80 million in tax breaks given to NFI, L.P., through the Grow NJ tax incentive program. This request follows Monday’s release of the Governor’s Task Force report on EDA Tax Incentives, which affirms union members’ concerns over misrepresentations by the company in its application for tax benefits. In the report, the Task Force found that “. . . at the crux of the matter, NFI’s application contained potential misrepresentations and a potentially fraudulent CEO certification.”
On Thursday, June 13, the Teamsters Union sent Attorney General General Gurbir Grewal and New Jersey Economic Development Authority Ethics Liaison Officer Frederick Cole a letter, requesting that they investigate, prosecute and sanction NFI, L.P., in connection with its application for state benefits. The letter was signed by Fred Potter, Teamsters International Vice President At-Large and Director of the Teamsters Port Division. Copies of the letter were also sent to the Governor’s Task Force on EDA Tax Incentives.
“We raised serious concerns about NFI’s misrepresentations to the state of New Jersey and the company’s long track record of violating labor laws across the country. This Task Force report is further confirmation that NFI is an irresponsible company that lied to get a tax giveaway to the tune of nearly $80 million. This is hard-earned taxpayer money, and NFI is a law-breaker that is not deserving of this benefit,” said Teamsters International Vice President Fred Potter, who is also President of Teamsters Local 469 in Hazlet, N.J. “The EDA has already shown that when there are serious questions regarding the truthfulness of a company’s application, it’s appropriate to suspend the tax break. We are demanding that the EDA take immediate action to suspend NFI’s tax breaks while this matter is investigated by the Attorney General.”
More than 55,000 Teamsters live and pay taxes in New Jersey, working in critical industries, including transportation, logistics and public services. New Jersey Teamsters believe that their state’s limited resources should not be used to benefit irresponsible, law-breaking employers.
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 Teamsters’ 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.
“NFI has a history of violating workers’ rights, from California to Pennsylvania and around the country. Companies that contract with NFI need to be aware of the operational risks that come with doing business with a law-breaking company that is under public scrutiny for its fraudulent behavior,” Potter said.

Sysco-Boston Drivers Ratify Contract That Improves and Secures Jobs: Agreement Gives Workers Better Health Insurance, Job Protections: (PLYMPTON, Mass.) – Drivers at Sysco near Boston voted overwhelmingly to ratify their first contract that provides improved and affordable health insurance, seniority protections, annual wage increases, a grievance and arbitration system and many other improvements.
Workers voted Sunday, June 16, and the contract runs through September 30, 2022.
“Now we have union security, better wages and more affordable and much better health coverage,” said Trevor Ashley, a 20-year Sysco employee. “We’re very excited to have our first Teamster contract with Local 653, and I want to thank Joint Council 10 Secretary-Treasurer Sean O’Brien and Local 633 Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Padellaro for helping us in this victory.”
Steve Vairma, Teamsters International Vice President and Warehouse Division Director, said the contract victory sends a clear message to Sysco management that workers demand to be treated fairly.
“The workers in the Boston area stood up and formed their union and now have ratified a first contract that gives them and their families a more secure future as Teamsters,” Vairma said. “Across North America, unrepresented Sysco workers are tired of unaffordable health insurance, unfair working conditions and poor treatment, and they are saying ‘enough is enough.”
“Boston Sysco Teamsters showed what Teamster power is all about. It was a united effort that brought together the members, the International Union and locals from around New England and even the entire nation,” said Sean M. O’Brien, International Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer of Joint Council 10. “The contract truly recognizes the hard work these workers do every day to make Sysco a successful and very profitable company."
The Teamsters represent nearly 10,000 Sysco workers. Since late 2014, nearly 1,400 workers at Sysco and its subsidiaries have formed their union with the Teamsters and won strong contracts.

Detroit Golf Club Groundskeepers Continue Fight for New Contract As Course Prepares to Host the 2019 PGA Rocket Mortgage Classic: Groundskeepers, Mechanics Working Under Expired Agreement, Denied 3 Percent Raise as Golf Course Hosts $7.3 Million Tournament: (DETROIT)  – Today, mechanics and groundskeepers represented by Teamsters Local 299 that maintain the championship-caliber greens and fairways of the Detroit Golf Club are calling on management to reach a new agreement with the workers after negotiations have dragged on for nearly a year. The previous contract for the seven-member unit expired in 2018.
The combined experience of the seven professional course workers approaches nearly 170 years. Their tireless work and dedication kept the course in such pristine condition that the Professional Golf Association (PGA) chose the Detroit Golf Club as the host for 2019 Rocket Mortgage Classic. Despite their exceptional performance on the job, the workers have seen their pay and benefits slashed over the last 10 years.
“We are talking about seven workers who have helped this club during difficult economic times and who are just looking to maintain their bargaining unit and receive a three percent increase in hourly wages,” said Roy Gross, Recording Secretary of Teamsters Local 299. “I haven’t seen a more dedicated group of professionals who want to be sure this course is in championship condition each and every morning.”
The Rocket Mortgage Classic, sponsored by a Detroit-based company owned by Dan Gilbert, will have a total purse of $7.3 million and will be nationally televised on CBS. The tournament, which will be held at the course next week from June 25-30, marks the first time a PGA-sanctioned event has been held in Michigan since 2009.
“We are looking to get this contract finished by the end of the week,” said Kevin Moore, President of Teamsters Local 299 and General Executive Board member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. “There is no reason why the Detroit Golf Club management can’t get this unfair situation corrected by Monday. We are talking simple fairness for these dedicated and skilled workers.”

Airport Concessions Workers Join Teamsters Local 970, Win First Contract: A group of 85 retail concessions workers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in Minnesota have won their first contract that provides affordable health insurance, more vacation time and other improvements.
The workers voted to join Local 970 last year, and their contract language was recently finalized and went into effect.
"The health insurance is very good and affordable," said Fantahun Chane Embiale, a steward who has worked at the company, Delaware North, for about three and a half years. "Everyone is happy to be Teamsters."
"The workers wanted affordable health insurance, more vacation time, fair pay and fair treatment, and this contract addresses those issues," said Scott Gelhar, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 970 in Minneapolis.
"The workers were also tired of management's broken promises over the years," said Mike Kuta, Local 970 President. "This group of workers join 80 Local 970 members who work at Hudson News and duty-free shops at the airport."

BLET Testifies At Congressional Hearing On Two-Person Crew Necessity: Representatives from SMART and Signalmen Join Testimony: BLET President Dennis Pierce testified before the House subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure today about the need for two-person rail crews.
"The industry’s safety regulator (Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) ) has again refused to regulate. Although the previous Administration promulgated a rule making that would have required two crew members on many forms of freight service, the current Administration has withdrawn that rule making. In doing so, FRA has further attempted to ‘negatively preempt’ all State laws that make any effort to legislate crew size. For all of these reasons, and to ensure the safety of all rail workers, we strongly support H.R. 1748 — The Safe Freight Act of 2019 — which has been sponsored by Congressman Young and has over six dozen bipartisan cosponsors. We urge passage of this Bill by the House and the Senate, and that President Trump sign it into law," Pierce testified.
Pierce was joined by union leaders from SMART and the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, all of whom spoke of the need for two-person crews to insure safety on the railroads and urging the passage of H.R. 1748 - the Safe Freight act that is currently before Congress.
To read the whole article published by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), click here.

 

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