Teamsters

North America's Strongest Union

Teamsters Weekly Update, Week Ending July 12, 2019

Teamsters Applaud Ways and Means Vote to Approve Pension Reform Bill: Critical Legislation Now Moves to House for Vote: The Teamsters Union applauds the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means for today’s vote to approve H.R. 397, the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act, more commonly referred to as The Butch Lewis Act.

Teamsters File EEOC Charges Against Republic Services in Memphis: Teamsters who work at Republic Services, Bill Gates’ giant trash corporation [NYSE: RSG], are fighting back against discrimination.

Teamsters Stand in Solidarity with California UFCW Workers: Teamsters Joint Council 42 in Los Angeles, Calif. voted unanimously to sanction a possible strike that could impact more than 60,000 grocery workers in Central and Southern California that are represented by seven United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) local unions.

ExpressJet Negotiations Break Down Early as Teamsters File for Mediation with the NMB: Regional Carrier Refuses to Pay Its Workers What They Are Worth: ExpressJet Airlines, a carrier in which United Airlines holds a 49 percent stake, sent a clear message to its aircraft mechanics this week by passing a regressive compensation proposal early in the negotiations process. In response the Teamsters Airline Division has asked the National Mediation Board (NMB), the federal agency that oversees airline labor relations, for mediation assistance.

Teamsters Standing Strong One Year After Anti-Worker ‘Janus’ Ruling ; Teamster Public Sector Membership Continues to Grow Despite Challenges: 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.

Hoffa: Michigan Attorney General Takes Aim at Wage Theft: Businesses have been treating their workers as independent contractors and shorting them much needed pay benefits and job security for years. Now, Michigan is doing something about it.

At Netroots, Panelists Say Workers Want Focus on Economic Issues: A trio of radio personalities well-versed in politics and policy said presidential contenders need to put workers first and address their concerns if they want to prevail in November 2020.

Bakery & Laundry Teamsters Stand Tall for Workers in Denver: More than 100 Teamsters from across North America came to Denver this week for the 79th annual Bakery & Laundry Conference, sharing ideas and strategy on how to empower their membership in the face of employer challenges.

XPO Workers Take on Company at Annual Meeting: In New York and France, Workers Confronted Bradley Jacobs and his Boards About Toxic Working Conditions: XPO workers and union representatives from France, U.K., and Belgium along with U.S. XPO workers from freight, warehouse and intermodal joined Teamster representatives at XPO Logistics annual shareholder meeting in Rye, New York followed by XPO’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Lyon, France for the second year in a row to address the systemic issues that continue within the walls of the company. Many of the matters addressed to XPO's CEO Bradley Jacobs and his board are the same issues the global group has tirelessly been fighting to get answers to, including: the announced closure of the infamous Verizon warehouse in Memphis, Tenn., wage disparity, rampant sexual harassment, pay and pension discrepancy, discrimination and lack of respect to all XPO workers.

Abbott Ambulance Employees Get the Conversations Started: On Monday, July 1 Teamster organizers reached out to Abbott Ambulance employees near their center office, with good conversations taking place about the workers’ campaign to form their union as Teamsters. “We had quite a few conversations throughout the afternoon and answered workers’ questions,” said Sean O’Neill, an organizer. “We are here to assist the workers because this is their campaign and they are the union.” More activities will be taking place in coming days and weeks. For more information about the Abbott workers’ campaign, call O’Neill at (202) 437-5228.
 

 

 

NEWS ARTICLES

Teamsters Applaud Ways and Means Vote to Approve Pension Reform Bill: Critical Legislation Now Moves to House for Vote (WASHINGTON) – The Teamsters Union applauds the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means for today’s vote to approve H.R. 397, the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act, more commonly referred to as The Butch Lewis Act.
The Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act, offered by Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), was first introduced in Congress in November 2017 by Rep. Neal. The measure has 193 co-sponsors, including nine Republicans. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) has again joined Rep. Neal in introducing the bill in the 116th Congress.
“I’d like to thank Chairman Neal, Rep. Peter King and every member of the House Ways & Means Committee that voted to advance H.R. 397 to the House for a vote,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa.  “We cannot delay any longer – this legislation must be passed in Congress so that millions of American workers retain their hard-earned retirement security.”
There are more than 300 multiemployer pension plans across the country — including the Teamsters’ Central States Pension Fund — that are in danger of failing. The Teamsters have been fighting for years for a legislative solution and have worked with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to do so.
The measure would boost financially troubled multiemployer pensions plans so they don’t fail. It would create a new agency under the U.S. Treasury Department that would sell bonds in the open market to large investors such as financial firms. Those proceeds would then be used to bolster faltering pension plans as part of a 30-year loan program.

Teamsters File EEOC Charges Against Republic Services in Memphis: Republic Employees Ask Company to Stop Wage Theft and Discrimination: (MEMPHIS, Tenn.) - Teamsters who work at Republic Services, Bill Gates’ giant trash corporation [NYSE: RSG], are fighting back against discrimination.
African-American employees in Memphis and Millington, Tenn., have filed U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charges against Republic, alleging that the company intentionally shorts pay checks, creates meritless discipline, and suddenly changes work times and start locations for black workers. In the EEOC filing, workers state that the company has engaged in “continuous efforts to make work conditions hostile and malicious for black drivers.”
Republic Services workers in Memphis and Millington are members of Teamsters Local 667.
“Republic’s sanitation workers risk their lives every day to protect the public health, in the fifth most dangerous job in America,” said James Jones, President of Local 667. “It is outrageous that Republic takes in $10 billion a year and that Bill Gates gets about $100 million in stock dividends each year, yet the company discriminates against African-American workers here in Memphis.”  “It is truly a shame that 50 years after Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, this company still thinks it can treat drivers any way it wants. We are still men,” said William Cleaves, a driver at Republic Services in Millington.
Republic Services/Allied Waste is America’s second-largest trash and landfill corporation.
Republic’s largest shareholder is Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, who owns nearly 30 percent of the company’s shares through Cascade Investment, LLC – about $3.3 billion worth.
Michael Larson, chief investment officer at Cascade Investment and investment manager for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has been a Republic Services board director since 2009.
The Teamsters represent approximately 9,000 employees at Republic Services and its subsidiaries at more than 150 facilities throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.

Teamsters Stand in Solidarity with California UFCW Workers: Teamsters Joint Council 42 Overwhelmingly Votes to Sanction Potential UFCW Strike: (LOS ANGELES) – Teamsters Joint Council 42 in Los Angeles, Calif. voted unanimously to sanction a possible strike that could impact more than 60,000 grocery workers in Central and Southern California that are represented by seven United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) local unions.
The grocery workers, who are employed by Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions and Ralphs, have been without a contract since March. They are bargaining for better wages, and preservation of their health care and retirement benefits. The workers voted to authorize their union leadership to strike if negotiations continue to falter.
“We will always stand with our UFCW brothers and sisters in their fight for fair wages, affordable health care and retirement security,” said Ron Herrera, Teamsters International Vice President for the Western Region, Recording Secretary of Teamsters Joint Council 42 and Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 396 in Covina, Calif. “The labor movement in California has a long history of uniting against injustice, and our members are prepared to honor any picket lines that UFCW may raise if they go on strike.”
Teamsters Joint Council 42 represents more than 158,800 members at 23 Teamster Union Locals located in Southern California, Southern Nevada, Guam, Saipan and Hawaii.
“Our members stand ready to support the UFCW in their fight,” said Steve Vairma, Teamsters International Vice President At-Large and Director of the Teamsters Warehouse Division. “We cannot allow corporations to further erode the workers’ rights, wages and benefits that we, as the labor movement, have fought so hard to win.”

ExpressJet Negotiations Break Down Early as Teamsters File for Mediation with the NMB: Regional Carrier Refuses to Pay Its Workers What They Are Worth: (WASHINGTON) – ExpressJet  Airlines, a carrier in which United Airlines holds a 49 percent stake, sent a clear message to its aircraft mechanics this week by passing a regressive compensation proposal early in the negotiations process. In response the Teamsters Airline Division has asked the National Mediation Board (NMB), the federal agency that oversees airline labor relations, for mediation assistance.
“Bargaining requires that the union and company try to move closer together, not further apart” said Capt. David Bourne, Director of the Teamsters Airline Division.
The company’s offer came during negotiations that were held on June 25 and 26 in Atlanta. At the end of the first day the company presented a regressive offer that proposed less total compensation for ExpressJet mechanics than the previous offer, convincing Teamster negotiators that the parties needed government mediation assistance to reach an agreement.
“ExpressJet mechanics are paid about half of what United Airlines mechanics make even though they all pass the FAA’s difficult licensing requirements; this is because ExpressJet is considered a ‘regional’ airline in the United Airlines system,” said Bourne. “ExpressJet mechanics are not asking for the same wages as United Airlines mechanics, but they expect to be paid for their skill and experience in a market where there is increased demand and fewer licensed mechanics entering the field.”
The mechanics agreed to pay cuts in 2008 to avoid ExpressJet declaring bankruptcy. After bargaining for almost ten years with its mechanics over restoring their wages, in 2017 ExpressJet agreed in a one-year contract to bring back pay to 2008 levels. Contract talks opened again in 2019.
“Over half of our remaining mechanics are in a ‘wait and see’ posture, hoping the new ownership led by United Airlines will be a better bargaining partner than the former owner,” said Bourne. “Unfortunately the company’s first compensation offer was unrealistic and the second was even worse. It’s very disheartening to these mechanics, most of whom remain here with the expectation that the new owners will pay them what the market for mechanics demands.”

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!”

Hoffa: Michigan Attorney General Takes Aim at Wage Theft: Businesses have been treating their workers as independent contractors and shorting them much needed pay, benefits and job security for years. Now, Michigan is doing something about it.
Efforts of Attorney General Dana Nessel and some state lawmakers resulted in the creation of a new unit intended to tackle the issue. The unit will focus on the misclassification of workers as contractors by companies trying to avoid paying overtime, health benefits or worker’s compensation.
There is a lot at stake, not just for affected workers, but for the state as well. The Economic Policy Institute found businesses bilked some 2.8 million Michigan workers of $429 million in wages and overtime pay from 2013 to 2015. Meanwhile, a Michigan State University report found the state is shortchanged $107 million a year in tax revenue by companies not properly classifying their workers and paying them off the books, and not contributing to the state’s unemployment insurance fund.
To fight that, Nessel's new Payroll Fraud Enforcement Unit will probe payroll fraud and misclassification claims, joining with other state agencies where necessary to take action using existing law to crack down on illegal practices to assist hardworking Michiganians.
In an effort to spur additional action, lawmaker allies are offering companion legislation that will increase civil and criminal penalties for payroll theft; beef up whistleblower protections and create incentives to report violators; audit companies that commit violations; and mandate that businesses breaking the law pay back workers.
The Teamsters have been at the forefront of fighting misclassification in other states. In California, for example, they have pushed to get back wages for port truck drivers whose employers insist are independent contractors. In the latest effort, that fight led to 10 port truck drivers who haul cargo for Best Buy, Puma and Lowe’s being awarded more than $1.2 million in April by the California Labor Commissioner for wage theft due to misclassification.
Misclassification is not just a truck-driving problem, of course. It’s an issue for those working in a host of industries such as construction, landscaping and custodial services. But the effort to bring the practice to an end shouldn’t be viewed negatively by those in the private sector.
In fact, many companies are being hurt by misclassification as well. Businesses that shirk their tax responsibilities by not paying their fair share are gaining an advantage in the marketplace, which hurts those employers that play by the rules. That’s not right or just.
At a time when many corporations continue to pocket huge profits, government must look out for the interest of workers who deserve to be treated with dignity on the job. It is good to see Michigan sees the value in treating everyday Michiganians with respect so they can support their families.

At Netroots, Panelists Say Workers Want Focus on Economic Issues: PHILADELPHIA – A trio of radio personalities well-versed in politics and policy said presidential contenders need to put workers first and address their concerns if they want to prevail in November 2020.
Speaking on a panel at the Netroots Nation conference sponsored by the Teamsters, the three commentators said candidates need to learn the lessons from 2016, when Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton didn’t reach out enough to working Americans. Bread-and-butter issues like good-paying jobs are paramount.
“You have to look at what is going to appeal to the masses,” said radio host and Democratic strategist Leslie Marshall. “How can you get me to not have to work three jobs to feed my kids?”
Rick Smith, host of nationally syndicated The Rick Smith Show, agreed. He said Democrats in recent years have spoken down to blue-collar workers, while conservative radio has lauded them as the heart of the nation. It shouldn’t be surprising that they are shifting their political allegiances.
“These people have been struggling from deindustrialization and bad trade deals for 30 years,” he said. “Neo-liberal policies should be frigging dead by now. We need fair trade and an even playing field.”
Bill Press, former California Democratic Party chairman and CNN and MSNBC commentator who now is the host of his own podcast, said contenders need to talk the language of workers.
“We can win them back with the right message,” he said. “We are the Democratic Party. We are the party that fights for people.”
The Teamsters know a lot about fighting for workers. James “Curb” Curbeam, the union’s Southern Region Organizing Coordinator and Chairman of the Teamsters’ National Black Caucus, said workers want to see candidates focus less on social issues and spend more time talking about topics that will put more money in their wallets.
“Blue-collar workers want someone to stand up for them and fight for them,” he said. “We need people who are going to stand up for all Americans, not just a handful.”
Hardworking Americans want more discussion about higher wages, better health care, affordable housing, improved infrastructure and retirement security, all agreed. And they are more focused on reasonable policy than pie-in-the-sky promises.
“Americans are tired of the infighting. They want solutions,” Marshall said. “The majority of voters care about jobs. Unions have a saying – ‘In Solidarity.’ And that’s what Democrats need to be.”

Bakery & Laundry Teamsters Stand Tall for Workers in Denver: More than 100 Teamsters from across North America came to Denver this week for the 79th annual Bakery & Laundry Conference, sharing ideas and strategy on how to empower their membership in the face of employer challenges.
Attendees heard from union and political leaders about the need for members to stay strong and involved in the process, even as companies increasingly try to clamp down on wages and benefits they offer to their workers.
Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall said the Teamsters will not back away from a challenge when it comes to getting good contracts for members.
“We have more money at the IBT than any time in our history. That’s a good thing,” he said, noting the union’s strike fund is currently at $230 million. “We should use the resources of the union to protect every single job. We can take on any fight they have for us.”
Hall congratulated Bakery & Laundry Teamsters for the state of their division, saying they are successful because they are “thinking outside the box.” But he added there is a need for union members across the board to get more involved in the process.
Steve Vairma, International Vice President At-Large and President of Joint Council 3, pushed for unity in action. “We can’t afford to take on these giant companies individually.”
Several Colorado elected officials stopped by to hail the job Teamsters and the union movement have made is securing good-paying jobs. “We owe a debt of gratitude for organized labor,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) said. “We know American workers face real challenges in the 21st Century. We are focused in this state on working on it.”
Rep. Joe Neguse (D) said lawmakers across party lines need to be reminded about the importance unions’ play. “Keep the pressure up, not just on the Senate, but the House,” he said. “Labor needs to keep our feet to the fire.”
Pensions were highlighted as a key issue members need to remain focused on. Conference Director and Chairman David Dudas urged attendees to reach out to their elected officials to push for reform.
“It is desperately needed for multiemployer pensions,” he said. “We need more legislators involved.”

XPO Workers Take on Company at Annual Meetings: In New York and France, Workers Confronted Bradley Jacobs and his Boards About Toxic Working Conditions: XPO workers and union representatives from France, U.K., and Belgium along with U.S. XPO workers from freight, warehouse and intermodal joined Teamster representatives at XPO Logistics annual shareholder meeting in Rye, New York followed by XPO’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Lyon, France for the second year in a row to address the systemic issues that continue within the walls of the company. Many of the matters addressed to XPO's CEO Bradley Jacobs and his board are the same issues the global group has tirelessly been fighting to get answers to, including: the announced closure of the infamous Verizon warehouse in Memphis, Tenn., wage disparity, rampant sexual harassment, pay and pension discrepancy, discrimination and lack of respect to all XPO workers.
"The people are exhausted from the constant pressure from local management. They're being pushed beyond their limits up to a point where many have become so severely depressed and sick; they're unable to go to work," said Roger Deville, XPO driver and member of ACV-Transcom Union.
But yet again, workers were met with inaction, denial, and refusal to acknowledge or take accountability for XPO's irresponsible and reckless behavior around the world.
"Two-thirds of XPO employees in France are not receiving their overtime pay, and when we addressed these issues, Jacobs refused to give us answers. We demand that XPO give the workers the back pay they deserve, otherwise we will once again take XPO to court," said Thierry Mayer, XPO driver of CGT Union and member of the XPO European Works Council (EWC).
Workers attending the meeting were met with silence and deflection by members of the board, and with Jacobs' attempting to cut off their time to speak.
"They didn't address anything of what is going on in Memphis, and I feel extremely disrespected. XPO doesn't have any concern for the working people in Memphis, they're refusing to publicize their expert Tina Chen's sexual harassment report, and they wouldn't answer the questions of the outcome of the investigation in Memphis; they just talked around it," said Tasha Murrell, a former XPO warehouse worker from Memphis.
Despite the disrespect Jacobs and his board showed, XPO workers and union representatives pressed on continuing to address the slew of issues XPO workers are enduring every day.
"Workers shouldn't be giving XPO an interest-free loan. Pensions are deferred wages and must be credited on time," said Ross Mason, a steward from Unite the Union and Chair of the XPO European Works Council, regarding XPO improperly handling workers' pension money in the U.K.
The lack of respect shown to workers at the annual meetings was seen as a reflection of XPO's disregard for its workers and their basic human rights.
"I'm a misclassified driver for XPO in San Diego and I drive every day from Tijuana to San Diego to work. I work more than 12 hours and six or seven days a week to make ends meet," said Jose "Chema" Rodriguez, an XPO driver from San Diego, California. "To them, I am disposable and not a person. Even though I was hired and had to go through a tough hiring process and instructed by XPO with routes and loads, they still consider me as an independent contractor and not an employee."

Abbott Ambulance Employees Get the Conversations Started: On Monday, July 1 Teamster organizers reached out to Abbott Ambulance employees near their center office, with good conversations taking place about the workers’ campaign to form their union as Teamsters.
“We had quite a few conversations throughout the afternoon and answered workers’ questions,” said Sean O’Neill, an organizer. “We are here to assist the workers because this is their campaign and they are the union.”
More activities will be taking place in coming days and weeks.
For more information about the Abbott workers’ campaign, call O’Neill at (202) 437-5228.
 

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