From colonial times to the turn of the century, the men who drove horse-drawn wagons formed the backbone of North America's wealth and prosperity. Despite their essential roles as guardians of trade – the economy's lifeblood – they remained unorganized and exploited.
In a teamster's life, work was scarce, jobs were insecure, and poverty was commonplace. In 1900, the typical teamster worked 12-18 hours a day, seven days a week, for an average wage of $2 per day. A teamster was expected to haul his load and assume liability for bad accounts and lost or damaged merchandise. The work left teamsters carrying all the risks with little chance for reward.
In 1901, frustrated and angry drivers banded together to form the Team Drivers International Union (TDIU), with an initial membership of 1,700. The following year, some members broke away, creating the Teamsters National Union.
Click here to learn more about Teamster History.
Local Union Structure
There are more than 600 Teamster local unions across North America, with 1.3 million members. The local unions and their members are the heart and backbone of the Union.
The members of each local elect their own officers, devise their own structure, and vote on their own bylaws, compatible with the International Constitution and Bylaws.
When you joined the Teamsters
... you became part of a very large family of working men and women fighting every day to improve the working conditions in your shop and at workplaces across the U.S. and Canada. You will always have the support and strength of your union brothers and sisters, active and retired. Your voice matters. Your vote counts.
The union contract
...is a negotiated agreement that governs the terms and conditions under which you work. It covers such rights and benefits as:
- Wage levels and pay increases
- Hours and overtime
- Shift schedules
- Health insurance coverage
- Job security
- Paid time off for vacations and holidays
- Retirement benefits
The contract is negotiated by your coworkers and Teamster leaders. You have the right to make suggestions about what should be in the contract, and to vote on the final agreement.
To win a good contract, however, workers have to show management that they are united in support of their negotiating team. And sometimes the support from other unions, community groups, public officials, and local citizens is needed to persuade the employer to reach a reasonable agreement.
Your contractual rights and benefits are guaranteed: Management cannot legally change them without negotiating with the union.
If you think management may have violated your rights or have questions and/or problems about work, talk to a Teamster steward. He or she, and other local union leaders, will answer your questions and together help you figure out the best way to solve the problem.
That's the Teamster advantage!
It is important that you read the contract that you received when you signed on with your employer. The union contract spells out in detail what the terms and conditions of your employment are, such as:
- Rates of pay and periodic increases
- Medical plans
- Retirement benefits
- Seniority rights
- Vacation and holiday packages
- Job security
- Work rules
The contract is a guaranteed document. The Employer cannot legally change it without first negotiating with the Local Union.
The Negotiating Process
Local 570 staff meets with members to take proposals of the changes they want in the contract with their Employer. The members select from among themselves to serve on their negotiating committee with the Union. The committee then meets with management to secure additional benefits for the membership. After this process has been completed, the committee brings back the final offer from the Company to the membership for ratification.
When the final offer of a proposed contract is presented to the membership for ratification, the members have a right to vote on the proposed contract: either to accept it or reject it.
If the membership by a simple majority votes to reject the proposed contract, it could lead to a strike against the company. Strikes, the Union's most powerful tool, are rare. Local 570 has not had a strike since 2016.
Unity brings results. Many benefits have been won over the years as a result of the membership's solidarity and working relationship with the Local. If the Local Union membership continues to do so, we can only strengthen what has already been gained.
Page Last Updated: Jan 03, 2021 (03:38:27)