Hoffa: Increased Resolve Needed in New Year to Tackle Worker Concerns
Jan. 5, 2021 | As we turn the page on 2021, the Teamsters have much to celebrate. Years of hard work in Washington culminated with a multi-employer pension fix that will protect the hard-earned retirement nest eggs of more than 1 million Americans. The union also fought to make sure Congress passed a much-needed infrastructure bill that will ensure investments are made to keep our nation running.
But make no mistake, there are many priorities at all levels of government that remain undone. Unions cannot rest on their laurels, particularly in places where we have elected officials willing to work with us and push through an agenda that helps hardworking Americans. Legislative power can be fleeting, and labor allies must seize upon it when it’s in place to help workers.
Nationally, the Teamsters continue to be a champion of President Biden’s Build Back Better Act, which invests in working Americans by helping them to better support their families. The White House with the help of lawmakers carefully crafted this measure to raise up workers who have been left behind while big business fattened its wallets as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This bill will help restore economic fairness by expanding child care for working parents, the child tax credit, and paid family and medical leave among other things. Dollars would also be poured into creating new jobs that also preserve the environment, like increased spending for Amtrak.
Meanwhile, ensuring workers have the ability to join together and negotiate better wages, working conditions and benefits remains paramount. The Teamsters are strong advocates of the Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. Across the country, Teamster members have taken to the streets calling on lawmakers to act now to protect their constituents on the job and ensure they can support their families in return for the essential work they do each day.
The PRO Act would restore fairness to the economy at a time when income inequality has stifled the ability of far too many hardworking Americans to earn a decent wage that allows them to make ends meet. It will strengthen the 86-year-old National Labor Relations Act so that workers seeking to organize a union and negotiate higher wages and better benefits will be protected.
At the state level, the Teamsters remain ready to beat back attacks on working people, but also to pass proactive legislation to help families. Whether it be UPS drivers delivering vaccines, public service workers keeping our communities safe, or warehouse employees working non-stop to make sure we have groceries and other essential items, elected officials cannot forget what working people and their families have sacrificed during this pandemic. This union and our allies will be there to challenge any elected official or organization that seeks to limit collective bargaining or other rights for workers.
The Teamsters will also continue to advocate for workers as these same billionaires move to automate jobs. We look forward to continuing to engage with our allies on these policies and fully expect elected officials to utilize our expertise in shaping the rules and regulations surrounding any employer automation of jobs as well as the potential pitfalls for workers and local economies.
Now is not the time to take our foot off the gas pedal. In fact, it is time to push harder.
Biden, Congress Helped Fuel Worker Policy Wins in 2021 Biden, Congress Helped Fuel Worker Policy Wins in 2021
Jan. 13, 2021 | This past year has been a time of real progress for Teamsters and working Americans. Thanks to the hard work of Teamsters, President Joe Biden, and pro-worker candidates were elected to the U.S. House and Senate in 2020. Since they took office, Teamster pensions have been saved, unions have been encouraged and good, safe, union jobs have been created and protected. That’s not something Teamster members should forget or take for granted moving forward into 2022.
From the jump in early 2021, the White House with help from allies in Congress began delivering on an aggressive agenda that included the priorities in the Teamsters’ Build Back Stronger program – good jobs, secure pensions, and strong unions. None of these was a bigger, more long-fought win than saving the faltering multiemployer pensions plans, a years-long effort affecting some 1 million workers and retirees nationally.
For far too long retirees, active union members and their families faced an uncertain future when it came to their retirement. Through no fault of their own, Teamster retirees were told the pensions they had paid into were likely going insolvent. Despite this looming crisis, previous administrations and some congressional leadership sat on their hands.
But within the first 52 days in office, President Biden and the Democratic Leadership took bold, decisive action. The American Rescue Plan passed by Congress and signed by President Biden included the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Protection Act, which brought relief to retirees in more than 200 multiemployer pension plans teetering on the edge of financial disaster. Eligible plans will be fully funded thanks to funds coming directly from the U.S. Treasury Department in the form of grants which would not need to be repaid. Plan participants will receive 100 percent of their earned pension benefits.
The efforts to lift up hardworking Americans didn’t stop there. President Biden and congressional leaders also rose to the occasion when it came to putting policies in place that helped workers during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
That included ramping up production of personal protective equipment under the Defense Production Act; issuing stimulus checks and tax credits that put more money into workers’ pockets; expanding unemployment benefits; providing funds to state, county, and local governments that employ hundreds of thousands of Teamsters, preventing furloughs and cuts to pay and benefits; and making funds available to Teamster industries directly affected by COVID restrictions like tourism, airline, rail, and passenger transportation.
Similarly, the Biden White House leveled the playing field for workers by appointing officials like fellow union member Marty Walsh to U.S. Labor Secretary and new members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) who would stand up for their interests. President Biden also created the Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, chaired by Vice President Harris and Secretary Walsh, to promote organizing and collective bargaining.
As a result, in the first 100 days of the Biden Administration, the Walsh labor department overturned Trump-era rules that made it easier to misclassify employees and weakened joint employer protections. And the NLRB has more teeth than ever before, issuing a number of directives such as an expansion of damages so workers are truly made whole and ordering a company to recognize and bargain with the union.
Finally, Teamster members will benefit not only from the union jobs created by the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act but from the improvements to their communities. That includes a historic investment of more than $110 billion into building and repairing roads with union labor; $29 billion to upgrading drinking water and clean water programs with American-made materials; prioritizing registered apprenticeship programs supported by unions; and $150 million that will benefit Teamsters working in rail, air, roads, and ports.
Those are the kind of accomplishments Teamsters can get behind and that’s just the beginning!
First posted on Teamsters Blogwatch
Contract Bargaining & Ratification Update: January 2022
Jan. 14, 2021 | In the final months of 2021, Teamsters at three Local 570 companies approved agreements providing increased wages, maintenance of (or improvement in) benefits, and continuation of job protections.
Members at Leonard Paper approved a four-year collective bargaining agreement providing wage increases, zero cost in employee co-pays to Health & Welfare, improved dental benefits, and an increase in the retirement benefit plans.
American Yeast members ratified a five-year contract. Highlights include wage increases, continued Health & Welfare benefits at no cost to members, improvements in holiday and vacation language, and compliance with the Maryland Sick and Safe Leave policies.
Members at Bond Distributing Company ratified a three-year contract that included the elimination of the Delivery Department's two-tier pay scale system. It also provides weekly pay and commission increases and hourly wage increases/bonuses in the Warehouse Department. The contract maintains the Teamsters 570 Health Plan at no cost to employees. Improvements were also made in retirement and overtime rules.
The General Strike No One is Talking AboutJan. 21, 2022 | STRIKES | Six weeks ago, union workers in Seattle called for an industry-wide work stoppage that has since expanded its picket line into nearby communities, disrupted a variety of businesses and left building sites across the city vacant. The Teamsters have labeled it a general strike, which is typically defined as a work stoppage in which a substantial proportion of the labor force in a specific location participates to achieve an economic or political objective. As labor’s “nuclear option,” such actions are vanishingly rare and technically illegal…The strike began with 34 drivers at Gary Merlino Construction, but now includes over 300 members of Teamsters Local 174 at six different companies in the Seattle area, and is made up of cement mixer drivers, concrete plant workers, mechanics, lab workers, terminal attendants, quality control workers, and yard workers in the concrete and sand industries… The Nation