We are committed to global union solidarity and act on that commitment every day.
Just in the past few days, the Teamsters have intervened on behalf of:
Colombian flower workers facing a closing in Colombia
Food processing workers facing a union decertification in Guatemala
Transport workers in Liberia trying to rebuild their union
Frito-Lay employees who are having a tough time getting a contract in South Africa
Graphical workers organizing at a Quebecor facility in Peru
South Korean workers fighting against a free trade agreement with the United States.
Our strength in the largest market in the world means we must support worker rights struggles elsewhere. Likewise, the challenges to organizing here can be enhanced through the support of unions around the world.
Lots of our employers are multinationals. Unfortunately many of these companies are trying to export `union busting' around the world.
We have a strong and growing network of union alliances across the sectors and companies where Teamsters work.
The South African union FAWU was very helpful to us in resolving a difficult contract negotiation with SABMiller.
We worked closely with Dutch, British and Australian unions representing TNT Logistics workers around the world to insure good contracts when TNT sold their logistics business.
The Transport and General Workers of the UK have been extremely helpful in the joint Teamsters/SEIU organizing drive among school bus drivers of the British-owned company First Student.
The French CGT played a crucial role in resolving a two month strike with Paris-based Arkema.
We are working with a broad international union network to improve labor rights - here and abroad - with the huge Danish shipping company Maersk.
German union leader Rolf Büttner addressed the Teamster Convention this summer. Teamster leaders from across the US and Canada gave his call for worldwide union solidarity a standing ovation.
The `China price' is lowering the floor for wage, benefit and working conditions worldwide.
Workers in China are facing ongoing repression when they stand up for their rights. The Teamsters are involved in a variety of strategies to push the Chinese government to stop the repression. Chinese workers are not the enemies of American workers.
US Corporations are pushing hard right now to stop an initiative for labor law reform in China that would make it harder for companies to fire workers at will. These corporations are undermining the transition to participatory democracy in China by lobbying against worker rights.
Sorry it took me so long to reply to this, I was having problems logging in yesterday.
We are supporting legislation and defending regulations at the federal level as well as in a number of states and localities, so I can't direct you to one single web site or give you a flier. This is an ongoing battle that never really stops.
We are gearing up for an action directed at the lame duck session. It has to do with a small change in SAFETEA-LU, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users. SAFETEA-LU changed a definition of commercial motor vehicle and removed drivers of vehicles 10k lbs or less from the authority of the Secretary of Transportation. Why is this important? Because drivers under the authority of the Secretary are exempt from overtime provisions in the Fair Labor Standards Act - even if the secretary has NEVER EXERCISED HIS AUTHORITY.
This change now means that all drivers in this classification MUST receive overtime pay. But there's a chance this arcane rule could be changed back.
Most of our Union drivers already had overtime provisions in their contracts, but nonunion FedEx and other delivery drivers do not have this benefit and must drive as many hours as their bosses tell them. (How many managers are spreading the word about this issue you think?)
Consider the upcoming holiday season, for a minute. Paying time-and-a-half is a powerful incentive for employers to hire an adequate number of drivers and not to keep overworked drivers behind the wheel. This is a safety issue as well as a fairness issue.
Want to act: Call your representatives in Congress and tell them to oppose the "Technical Correction" denying overtime pay to drivers of vehicles weighing 10k lbs or less. The correction was included during the Committee markup of the Senate's FY '07 Transportation Appropriations bill (Sec. 132 of HR 5576).
We do support fair and free elections. We are also advertising a hotline (http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/061030/dcm038.html?.v=68), but it doesn't sound as if you are too impressed with those. We have pressed for action in this area, because it is often our members who are disenfranchised. And we will continue to do so. But we don't make the laws, and we can't enforce them. The only thing we can do is make our members aware of potential problems and have them be our eyes and ears.
I'm a fuddy duddy too, but my hipper colleagues tell me that Billy Bragg and Springsteen are about it.
Which is another sign that unions have been forgotten about in this country. And I refuse to believe that young people are apathetic. The younger generation has pasionately gotten behind Bono's world poverty movement, genocide in Darfur and other global tragedies. I think they simply know very little about unions and the history of unions in America.
Blog about it. You can use us or other groups as resources and make it an issue. That's sort of the point of this post. I wanted you to see our issues, what we're working on and sign on to swarming these issues when the time is right. We'll do the same.
Class, of course, has a great deal to do with union exposure. The same could be said for the lack of union voices in the early days of the internet. The Teamsters are in virtually every industry - we are a general union, as opposed to a trade union or guild - but for the most part we have not broken into high tech fields for two reasons:
1. It has not been one of our core industries.
2. Our local leaders and organizers come from blue collar backgrounds and aren't that familiar with technology.
I have a number of friends who work in Internet and IT jobs and they tell me about deplorable hours, incredible stress and constant deadlines. A lot of companies -- even progressive ones -- try to minimize burnout with all sorts of off-the-wall perks: concierge services, nap rooms, bring your dog to work .... I tell my friends that if their bosses aren't giving them enough time off to pick up their laundry or let their dog out to pee, then they need a union.
Again, if you are interested in joining the Teamsters, <a href="http://www.teamster.org/about/localunions/localunionsites.asp">contact a local in your area</a>. We do have a local in Minnesota that has IT people and one of our Graphics Conference locals has a Web firm in it, so we do work with techies.
Yes, the actions of other unions do affect the Teamsters. We are all representatives of organized labor. We like to sit down with interested workers and just have an open dialogue to dispel myths, preconceptions and lies that management or others might tell.
Once workers hear the truth about the Teamsters and what they bring to the table -- the power, the benefits, the respect -- workers respond in an overwhelmingly positive way.
Changing community attitudes are more difficult. But we try to reach out to local media and local leaders as much as we can.
Thanks for the support. We do plan to keep posting in some form or fashion. This effort has been mainly educational. I don't expect that we'll see a flood of new members, and I expect that to some degree we've been preaching to the choir.
I hope that we've at least gotten some DD readers thinking about how unions can help solve a lot of issues that are discussed here.
Unions and Progressives have been partners from the beginning of both movements, unfortunately we Americans suffer from long-term memory loss. But like all old friends, it's very easy to pick up where we left off.
I only hope that this relationship will stick once the Dems win back control of Congress -- both houses ... I'm an optimist. We could certainly use the the blogger community's support on a lot of issues.
Yes, we've added about 30,000 new members in the past two years, including:
* 2,950 DHL employees
* Baltimore and Iowa City First Student school bus drivers
* 1,200 Nashville police officers
* 3,500 America West customer service agents
* 2,200 Net Jets pilots
* 800 GoJets pilots
* 250 doctors in Syracuse (including our doctor above)
* 1,000 Highline School District (Washington State) clerical workers, bus drivers, maintenance workers
* 1,000 Ft. Lauderdale public employees
* 125 UPS Freight Drivers in Indianapolis.
Thank you. I agree. And I believe that unions have a lot to learn from bloggers. Many union leaders are not as up on new technologies as probably most heavy bloggers are. And while we can reach our members one-on-one, we sometimes have a hard time reaching out to our communities as a whole. Blogging, especially on the city and state level, can reach a lot of like-minded people quickly.
We are working hard to talk and teach more about tech and communications and I would certainly invite all of you to reach out to your local unions. We could certainly help each other.
The string of NLRB rulings that FedEx Ground drivers are employees is putting more pressure on the company to change its model. That's good for employees and increases our odds of organizing FedEx facilities across the country.
FedEx Ground is being scrutinized by the Board, by the civil courts, by the states and by the IRS. Although Board decisions - like civil court decisions - are not legally "binding" in other jurisdictions if conditions are radically different, it would be difficult to overturn existing rulings with other regional decisions.
Meanwhile, we are publicizing the anti-worker practices at FedEx generally, and the "contractor scam" at FedEx Ground specifically, to give consumers more information to make choices on where to take their business.