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Teamsters Detail Struggles of Port Truck Drivers

ATLANTA – The Teamsters brought the story of the nation’s port truck drivers to the Netroots Nation conference today, explaining how thousands of workers are being exploited by their employers while they toil long hours each day for little to no pay.

Workers and organizers from coast-to-coast told those in attendance and viewing online during the first day of the conference here how numerous companies in California, New Jersey and elsewhere are misclassifying their workers as independent contractors, which denies them workplace protections under the law. These companies also engage in wage theft that leaves many workers will little to show for their daily labor, which can stretch upwards of 20 hours in some instances.

“The drivers are engaged in a two-front battle plan against misclassifying trucking companies – striking and suing,” said Christina Montorio, a representative with the Teamsters’ Port Division. “Over the last two years drivers in Southern California drivers engaged in an escalating series of 14 work stoppages and more are on the horizon. And port truck drivers are challenging their misclassification status and attempting to recover stolen wages by filing claims with the regulatory agencies to win their right to dignity and justice on the job.”

In the U.S., the port trucking industry consists of more than 100,000 short-run truckers who haul containers on and off the nation’s ports each day. These containers are filled with all of the items that make modern society function but are no longer produced in this country – clothes, electronics, food, housewares and more. Virtually everything Americans use was brought to this country by ship in a container that wouldn’t get in the nation’s homes if it wasn’t for a port trucker.

For years, the Teamsters have been shining a light on the issue of misclassification for port drivers. And nowhere has that effort been more intensive than at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the main gateway for products made in Asia. While companies and CEOs profit substantially from the sale of those goods, those who help bring them to market are suffering in silence.

Daniel “Seko” Uaina, a driver for Intermodal Bridge Transport, said misclassification is destroying the workforce, especially in the trucking and warehouse industries. He noted that since he leases his truck from his employer, “before I step in it, I already owe them money.”

He added, “These companies have been stealing the rights and wages of these workers. I have seen too many port drivers in the last few years lose everything.”

Gabriel Procel, a former XPO port truck driver in New Jersey, has endured similar treatment. In fact, XPO fired him for his role in trying to organize his fellow workers and insisting he is a company employee. Just last week, New Jersey’s Department of Labor agreed when it granted him nine weeks of unemployment benefits.

“Being in a truck is like being in a cube. You don’t see your fellow workers. You are separated,” he said. “That’s what I see from my side.”

The misclassification of these workers stems from the deregulation of the trucking industry in 1980, said Nick Weiner, campaign director for Justice for Port Drivers. And it continues to spread across industries, upending the U.S. economy and creating huge income disparity among workers.

“The destruction of work has happened across the board,” he said. “This campaign is one effort that we hope can inspire others to show that it can be done. That’s how we win, and hopefully it will inspire our elected officials.”

Uaina, the son of a preacher, said it is time for workers to rise up and let companies and lawmakers know they demand to be treated with respect and dignity on the job. “We don’t have to be scared,” he said.

To help workers and the Teamsters fight for justice, text “port strike” to 97779.

Teamsters Denounce Aubuchon Hardware Lockout Of Distribution Center Workers

 aubuchon-lockout-1Aubuchon Reneged On Agreed-Upon Contract

(WESTMINSTER, Mass.) –Teamster warehouse workers and drivers at Aubuchon Hardware’s distribution facility found themselves locked out of their jobs when they reported to their shifts this morning. They were met by security who had been instructed to tell the workers that they were not allowed on the property.

The 60 warehouse workers and drivers at Aubuchon’s distribution center are represented by Teamsters Local 170. After difficult contract negotiations that involved Aubuchon Hardware attempting to end its employees’ pensions and significantly raise their health care costs, the workers and the company agreed on a contract on October 21.

aubuchon-kid-lock-outThe workers planned to hold a contract ratification vote, but before that happened, Aubuchon changed the contract to include language allowing the company to outsource the distribution center work.

“We told Aubuchon that we cannot let this company outsource these jobs and destroy the lives of 60 families in Massachusetts,” said Shannon George, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 170. “They want to outsource their distribution business to Orgill, Inc. It is the height of hypocrisy for a company that calls itself locally-operated and community-oriented to send good New England jobs to a low-wage sub-contractor in West Virginia.

“The company refused to honor the contract we jointly agreed upon. Massachusetts communities have supported Aubuchon Hardware for decades. It’s outrageous that the company would treat community members who work there in this fashion.”

“I don’t know what kind of people renege on something they’ve agreed to,” said shop steward Bruce Girouard. “We discussed our contract for a long time. It feels like they’re trying to cheat us out of job security by slipping in different language at the last minute.”

“We showed up to work this morning and Aubuchon wouldn’t let us in. Now we’re out here on the street with no pay because the company is trying to starve us out just weeks before Thanksgiving, to force us to accept a contract that kills 60 jobs,” Girouard said.

“The Teamsters will not allow companies to intimidate workers,” said Sean O’Brien, Teamsters International Vice President, Teamsters Local 25 President and Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Joint Council 10 in New England. “The Teamsters are in the process of filing charges against Aubuchon with the National Labor Relations Board. This is a serious violation of federal laws protecting workers’ rights. Teamster members throughout New England stand ready to support these members of Local 170 as they fight back against Aubuchon’s abuses of workers and communities.”

Granite State Teamsters Endorse Chris Pappas

Teamsters LogoManchester – Today, the Granite State Teamsters, Local 633, endorsed Manchester business owner and Executive Councilor Chris Pappas for a third term.

“We’re proud to endorse Chris Pappas for Executive Council,” said David Laughton, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 633. 

“Over his previous two terms, Chris has consistently fought for working families. His record demonstrates a desire to focus on issues instead of ideology – and he has brought people together to find practical solutions that expanded economic security and opportunity for working families across the Granite State,” continued Laughton. 

“Chris Pappas is the only candidate in this race who will continue to move New Hampshire forward towards a future where every hard working family has a chance to succeed.” 

“It’s an honor to receive the endorsement of Teamsters Local 633,” said Executive Councilor Chris Pappas.  

“We’ve made great progress in building a brighter future for New Hampshire – like modernizing the state’s transportation system, improving our infrastructure, and expanding access to life-saving health care. But working men and women across our state know there’s still more work to do – that’s why I’m proud to have their support as we continue the fight to build the future working families deserve.”

Teamsters Local 633 includes thousands of members working for Anheuser-Busch breweries, soft drink production and delivery, beer distribution, bakeries, laundry facilities, power plants, municipalities, public works, airport maintenance, sheriffs, police departments, librarians, school principals and race track employees.

Teamsters Announce Endorsement Of Hillary Clinton For President

Teamsters: Clinton Will Be a Strong Voice for Working Families

Teamsters LogoToday, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters announced its endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president. The Teamsters General Executive Board unanimously voted to endorse the former senator and secretary of state.

“We are proud to endorse Hillary Clinton for President of the United States,” said Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa. “She is the right candidate for the middle class and working men and women across the country. She will stand strong for the workers of America by fighting to reject job-killing trade deals, enforcing labor laws and working to provide retirement security for millions of people who have sacrificed so much for the chance to retire with dignity.

“The Oval Office needs to be occupied by a serious candidate who understands what it means to govern responsibly,” Hoffa said. “Donald Trump supports national right-to-work laws that are proven to weaken the middle class and has a long track record of shipping jobs out of the country as a businessman. He is no friend to working Americans.”

Since announcing her campaign, Clinton has received the endorsement of 40 national unions, the AFL-CIO, and the North American Building Trades Unions, collectively representing 18.8 million members

Today, after receiving the endorsement of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, an international union with 1.4 million members in the U.S. and Canada, Hillary Clinton issued the following statement:

“I am honored to have earned the endorsement of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

“Unions like the International Brotherhood of Teamsters built the American middle class, and they make our economy run today. Teamsters keep our planes in the air, they put food on our shelves, and they get packages to our doors. In fighting for better wages and safer conditions on the job, the Teamsters are fighting for all America’s workers.  

“I have always been proud to stand with organized labor to create good jobs with good benefits and wages that make it possible to build a middle-class life. As President, I will stand with organized labor and I will always fight for workers’ rights to retire with dignity and security, and to receive the benefits they have earned after years of hard work.

“The stakes in this election couldn’t be higher. The Republican candidate for President is a man who has said wages are ‘too high’ in this country. Donald Trump personally signed a contract to hire a union-busting firm to try to stop his workers from organizing in his Las Vegas hotel. His running mate is a man who consistently supported efforts to undermine Social Security and who repealed Indiana’s 80-year-old prevailing wage law. Workers deserve better. And both of them support so-called ‘right to work’ laws that make it harder for workers to organize. I am proud to stand with organized labor against these laws, because ‘right to work’ is wrong for workers and wrong for America.

“If elected, American workers will always have a seat at the table and a champion in the White House–because when unions are strong, America is strong.”

Preventing Workplace Violence: National COSH and Local Groups Join Call for OSHA Standard for Health Care and Social Service Workers

NCOSH 300X250San Diego – In solidarity with labor unions representing millions of American workers, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH), the New Hampshire Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (NHCOSH) and other local COSH organizations have endorsed petitions calling for a comprehensive federal standard to prevent workplace violence in the health care and social assistance sectors.

“With an issue like workplace violence, it’s easy to say, ‘Hey, how can you stop a person who wants to hurt somebody?’” said Jessica Martinez, acting executive director of National COSH. “But that’s just wrong and ignores documented best practices. If you address issues like adequate staffing and lines of communication, worksite security, proper training and safety protocols, there’s no question you can reduce the risks faced by health care and social service workers.”

Workplace violence is a problem across all sectors of the economy. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than two million workers each year report that they are victims of violent incidents on the job. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported more than 400 workplace homicides in 2014, making homicide the fourth-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States.

Health care and social service workers are among those most at risk. Fifty-two percent of victims of workplace violence, according to the BLS, are health care and social service workers.

On July 12, a coalition of unions filed petitions with the U.S. Department of Labor, calling on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue a “comprehensive workplace violence prevention standard to protect all workers in healthcare and social service settings.” The coalition of labor unions includes the AFL-CIO; American Federation of Teachers; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; American Federation of Government Employees; Communications Workers of America; International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Service Employees International Union; the United Steelworkers and National Nurses United.

“Like other on-the-job hazards, workplace violence can be prevented – in health care, social services and in other sectors” said National COSH Senior Organizer Peter Dooley. “To be effective, a workplace violence prevention standard must be part of a comprehensive, systems approach to workplace safety, with workers involved in every step of the process.  That includes evaluating risks, assessing remedies, reporting incidents without fear of retaliation, and design of rigorous training.”

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez and Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels, National COSH and local COSH groups point to the proven effectiveness of prevention programs. “A comprehensive workplace violence prevention program,” the letter states, “reduced rates of assault at Veterans Health Administration hospitals between 2004 and 2009.”  The letter also notes that the states of California and Minnesota have recently passed legislation requiring health care employers to implement workplace violence prevention programs.

In addition to National COSH, local groups signing on to yesterday’s letter include:

  • Connecticut Council on Occupational Safety and Health (ConnectiCOSH)
  • Fe y Justicia Worker Center (Houston COSH)
  • Maine Labor Group on Health
  • Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH)
  • Mid-State Education and Service Foundation
  • New Hampshire Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (NHCOSH)
  • New Jersey Work Environment Council (NJWEC)
  • New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH)
  • NorthEast New York Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (NENYCOSH)
  • Rhode Island Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (RICOSH)
  • South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice
  • Southern California Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (SoCalCOSH)
  • Western Massachusetts Coalition for Workplace Safety and Health (WesternMassCOSH)
  • Western New York Council on Occupational Safety and Health (WNYCOSH)
  • Worksafe

Yesterday’s letter to Secretary Perez and Assistant Secretary Michaels is available here.

* * *

National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace. For more information, please visit coshnetwork.org.  Follow us at National Council for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook, and @NationalCOSH on Twitter.

Teamsters Local 633 Endorse Colin Van Ostern For Governor

Teamsters LogoMANCHESTER, N.H. – Today, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 633 endorsed Colin Van Ostern for Governor of New Hampshire. Citing Colin’s record of fighting for working families and growing New Hampshire’s economy, the Teamsters Local 633 join six other local labor unions in backing Van Ostern.

“We are proud to endorse Colin Van Ostern for Governor,” said Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 633 Dave Laughton. “On the issues that matter most to our members – creating and maintaining good paying jobs, investing in our infrastructure and expanding opportunity – Colin has a record that we can trust and support. As our next Governor, Colin will continue moving New Hampshire forward to build an even stronger economy where everyone has the chance to succeed, not just those at the top.”

Teamsters Local 633 was chartered in 1934 and represents thousands of members in the beverage production and delivery industries, law enforcement, school principals, bus drivers, several municipalities, public works employees, warehouse and freight drivers.

“We’re proud to earn the support of Teamsters Local 633 and the thousands of hard working New Hampshire families that they represent,” said Pat Devney, campaign manager for Democratic candidate for governor Colin Van Ostern. “As Governor, Colin will continue to move New Hampshire forward by building a stronger economy for everyone, not just those at the top. We’re honored to stand shoulder to shoulder with seven local labor unions, more than 85 elected officials and thousands of grassroots activists in our campaign to create a better future.”

Teamster Mechanics Reject United Airlines’ Final Offer, Vote To Strike

Teamster Mechanics Reject Two-Tiered Wage System

WASHINGTON — Teamster mechanics voted overwhelmingly today to reject United Airlines’ final offer and authorize a strike. There are over 9,000 mechanics in the bargaining unit. Over 93 percent of mechanics who voted cast ballots against the company’s offer.

“The membership has spoken clearly. The final offer from United Airlines was soundly rejected today and the membership has authorized a strike because of the substandard proposition,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President. “At a time when United Airlines is incredibly profitable, it is clear that mechanics deserve a better offer from the company. United is profitable because of the dedication, passion and professionalism of their workers and the carrier needs to reflect those characteristics in their negotiating position. United needs to come back to the table and deliver an industry-leading contract for our hardworking mechanics.”

“The membership voted strongly against this substandard agreement. The idea of implementing B-Scale wages for incoming mechanics is unacceptable,” said Capt. David Bourne, Director of the Teamsters Airline Division. “There is no need to place the financial burden for this agreement on the backs of future mechanics. Executives at United Airlines are being compensated with million-dollar packages and the mechanics deserve their fair share.”

The leadership of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters will petition the National Mediation Board for a release to begin a strike.


Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.

Teamsters Union Decides Not To Make Any Endorsement Yet In Presidential Primary

presseal(WASHINGTON) – On Tuesday, Sept. 29 the Teamsters Union General Executive Board decided to not endorse a presidential candidate at this time.

The Teamsters look forward to meeting with Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders and any other candidate, regardless of party affiliation, who is committed to improving the lives of America’s working families. This would include Vice President Joe Biden should he choose to run. In addition to meeting with the candidates, the union plans to survey its leaders and membership as well.

Earlier this month, the Teamsters Union launched the “Let’s Get America Working!” campaign to encourage both Democratic and Republican lawmakers to work together to focus on creating good jobs through investment in our nation’s infrastructure.

“It’s long past time for Republicans and Democrats to put aside their differences and work together for the good of our country,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “The Teamsters will work with and support any candidate who puts the needs of America’s working families above the deep pockets of their corporate donors.”

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
Visit www.teamster.org for more information.
Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.

Statement By Richard Trumka On American Airlines And US Airways Unionization Vote

Richard Trumka (The Nation / AP-Photo)

Richard Trumka (The Nation / AP-Photo)

“Today, thousands of workers embraced a union future. The hardworking men and women of American Airlines and US Airways voted for union representation and a legally binding contract. Their collective skill has built successful airlines, and their collective voice will build successful workplaces.

“It should not be lost on the pundits that most of the nearly 14,500 new union members work in southern states. The right to a voice at work doesn’t have a geographic predisposition, and this victory will energize ongoing organizing efforts in the South.

“I want to thank all parties involved, including elected officials, for enabling workers to have a free and fair election. And I especially want to congratulate CWA and the Teamsters on helping give these workers a voice.

“Clearly, one of the largest labor organizing victories in the South in decades is a historic day. But it also shows that the future of the U.S. labor movement is alive, as these workers can be found at airports, call centers, even working from home. The right to collectively bargain will always be what our working family fights for.”

UNION YES! New American Airlines Passenger Service Agents Vote Big for Union Representation

American Airlines B777 (Aero Icarus CC FLICKR)

American Airlines B777 (Aero Icarus CC FLICKR)

Election is biggest union organizing victory in the South in decades

WASHINGTON — 9,000 American Airlines passenger service agents, after a 19-year struggle, joined together today in a vote with the members of the US Airways CWA-IBT Association to form a new bargaining unit of 14,500 agents at American Airlines. It is the largest labor organizing victory in the South in decades.

Three-quarters of the agents work in Texas, North Carolina, Florida and Arizona and 2,300 are home-based reservations agents.

By an 86 percent vote, airport and reservations agents overwhelmingly chose representation by the Communications Workers of America-Teamsters Association in the National Mediation Board election; results of the vote were announced this afternoon. US Airways and American Airlines merged to form the New American Airlines in 2013.

The vote clearly shows that workers who can make a fair choice about union representation want bargaining rights. New American agents are concentrated in southern states, and work at diverse locations, including large and smaller airports, call centers and at home. Across every group, they voted for bargaining rights and union representation.

Richard Shaughnessy has been an agent at Miami International Airport for 27 years and has been a leader of the American agents’ fight for a voice and bargaining rights.

“The merger between American Airlines and US Airways is an exciting time for all of us. But even more exciting is our victory today,” he said. “We’re the front line employees who interact with our customers every day, and we are looking forward to a positive relationship with management to make this merger ‘work’ for all of us. We are anxious to get to the bargaining table.”

Carroll Locklear is a home based reservations agent in Texas. “I’ve been with American Airlines for 18 years and through all of those years I have been praying for this day. We have been the odd employees out for so long, because we were the only employees without union representation. Gone are the days that management can take what want when they want. This will be  a win-win for all of us,” Locklear said.

“We feel stronger now with this vote,” Eula Smith, a customer service agent in Charlotte, said. “I’m a 60-year-old woman with 42 years with this employer. You can’t live in the South and make a decent wage unless you are in senior management in a corporation or belong to a union. We need this. We need not just a union, we need CWA.”

Ken Grunwald is a 23-year-reservations agent, working at the call center in North Carolina. “I’m proud to remember everyone over the years who worked so hard for our union voice, who never gave up in the face of adversity, and who gave their blood, sweat and tears so that we would have the opportunity to celebrate this victory today. It’s a victory for all American Airlines employees! I’m so excited to think that we will finally be able to negotiate a legally binding contract. We now all have each other’s ‘back,’“ Grunwald said.

Vickey Hoots has been a US Airways reservations agent at the Winston-Salem N.C., cell center for 29 years. “This win was a long time in coming, at American Airlines, just as it was  at US Airways. I’m so proud of all our members and we’re excited that we will be able to negotiate the industry leading contract that our members deserve,” Hoots said.

Janet Elston, an agent at Dallas International Airport, says, “19 years ago, a handful of agents started a drive to obtain representation for AA airport and reservations agents. Many hundreds of activists have spent thousands of hours over the years to get us to today’s election result. They never wavered and never, ever gave up. We have finally achieved what most thought was impossible: union representation for our work group. Now we’ll begin a new working relationship with our company, with a legal binding contract.”

US Airways agents have been CWA members since 2000. US Airways merged with America West in 2005; passenger service agents at the former America West had organized with the IBT in 2004. After the merger, the CWA and the IBT formed the Airline Customer Service Employee Association, CWA-IBT.

CWA represents 700,000 working men and women in telecommunications; media; airlines; the public; health care and education sector; and manufacturing.

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