Saturday, February 23, 2008

Change to Win Endorses Obama

The new Change to Win labor federation gave its first presidential endorsement to Democratic Sen. Barack Obama on Thursday, saying its 6 million members could help push him over the top and into the general election as the Democratic nominee.

"We think we can make a difference," chair Anna Burger said. "We think it's time to bring this nomination to a close."

The endorsement came after a teleconference between Change to Win's leaders and the heads of the seven unions that make up the federation. The federation's members will now head to the crucial election states of Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island for the upcoming March 4 primaries, as well as in Pennsylvania on April 22.

Change to Win has 175,000 members in Ohio, 60,000 in Texas and 25,000 in Rhode Island, Burger said. Besides leafletting, knocking on doors and advocating for Obama at workplaces, Burger said she expected more than 100,000 Change to Win voters to participate in the Ohio primary alone.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has now lost 11 presidential contests in a row to Obama.

"There is certainly a movement building here," Burger said. "The winds of change are blowing and they're blowing for Barack Obama."

The federation's endorsement was more about approving of Obama than disapproving of Clinton, Burger said, but she did note that NAFTA was passed while Clinton's husband, former President Clinton, was in office. Unions have been highly critical of the North American Free Trade Agreement, saying it disproportionally hurt working-class voters. Clinton has become a NAFTA critic even though she has previously helped champion the measure as a product of her husband's presidency.

"Barack Obama has a history of standing up for working-class families," said Burger, who called him the strongest candidate for Democrats in the general election.

Four of Change to Win's unions had already endorsed Obama, with the Teamsters endorsing Obama on Wednesday. UNITE HERE, the Service Employees International Union and the United Food and Commercial Workers also have endorsed Obama.

The federation's endorsement now means those unions will now coordinate their efforts for Obama and have access to Change to Win resources. "We think we can make a huge difference for him," Burger said.

The vote was unanimous although the United Farm Workers, the Laborers' International Union and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners had abstained. The farmworkers already had endorsed Clinton; the Carpenters originally endorsed John Edwards, who has dropped out, and the Laborers have yet to make an endorsement. The three unions released the federation to work for Obama in the upcoming primaries and caucuses.

"Everybody agreed it was time for us to move forward," Burger said. She noted that none of the abstaining unions objected to the endorsement and the United Farm Workers is based mostly in California, which voted on Feb. 5.

The Laborers union will survey its members next week to see if either candidate has support of 60 percent of the union, said Terence M. O'Sullivan, the union's president.

The unions in the Change to Win federation broke from the AFL-CIO in 2005 over internal disagreements on how best to build organized labor's membership and political clout.

The AFL-CIO, the nation's largest labor federation, has not endorsed any candidate in the Democratic primary, although it has allowed its 56-member unions to make individual endorsements. The AFL-CIO's executive council will meet in San Diego March 3-5, and a decision could be announced about whether the 10.5-million member federation will endorse.

Clinton has been endorsed by 12 AFL-CIO unions, as well as the United Farm Workers. Obama has been endorsed by two AFL-CIO unions: the Transport Workers Union and the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters. He also has the backing of the independent National Weather Service Employees Organization.

UPS Freight Workers in New York, California Sign Cards to Become Teamsters

In Latest Victories, 130 Workers Will Join Locals 294, 317, 693 and 439

An overwhelming majority of nearly 130 workers at the UPS Freight terminals in Syracuse, Albany and Binghamton, in New York, and a terminal in Stockton, California have signed authorization cards to become Teamsters, bringing the total number of drivers and dockworkers seeking to join the union to about 5,830 since January 16, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa announced.

The workers are seeking to join Local 294 in Albany, Local 317 in Syracuse, Local 693 in Binghamton and Local 439 in Stockton. The victories in New York were a joint effort of Joint Council 18.

“The local unions within Joint Council 18 worked closely on these victories, and I want to thank the workers for stepping up to the plate and hanging in there all this time,” said John Bulgaro, President of Local 294 and Joint Council 18.

“Local 693 Secretary-Treasurer Bob Firmstone has done a great job coordinating the campaign,” said Roberta Dunker, Local 693 President.

“Our Vice President, Mark May, has done a great job keeping the workers informed and they remain united in their fight to win a solid contract,” said Gary Staring, Local 317 President.

“As soon as we got the go-ahead, our organizer Rob Nicewonger did a great job collecting cards,” said Sam Rosas, Local 439 Secretary-Treasurer. “The workers are overwhelmingly happy to become Teamsters.”

“The victories in New York are another example of local unions working together on behalf of the UPS Freight workers,” said Ken Hall, Director of the Teamsters Package Division. “Across the country this is happening, and it is leading to overwhelming unity among the workers.”

Negotiations Continue for Historic DHL National Agreement

Committee Focused on Reaching the Strongest Contract Ever for DHL Members

On February 18, the Teamsters national negotiating committee and DHL began nine intense days of negotiations for the DHL National Master Agreement.

Significant progress was made on the local riders over the first couple days and some progress has been made on the outstanding national non-economic issues. The Teamsters national negotiating committee presented an economic package to the company on February 20.

“We’re making steady progress ensuring that members’ needs are well represented at the negotiating table but we’ll wait to see their counter-proposal on wages and benefits to see how far apart we really are,” said Brad Slawson Sr., chair of the Teamsters national negotiating committee. “Our goal is very simple: to reach the strongest possible contract for Teamsters. I’m confident that we will be successful.”

Once a tentative agreement is negotiated by the committee and DHL, it will be voted on by all Teamsters covered by the contract.

Negotiating Amid Rumors

Speculation and rumors concerning the future of DHL Express in the U.S. continue to circulate through the media. The Teamsters national negotiating committee is aware of the rumors but until concrete evidence of some change in direction is confirmed, the union will stay focused on the task at hand: securing a strong contract for Teamster members.

“There are many pressing issues for the company as well as our members,” Slawson said. “As a result, these are complex, difficult negotiations but we will get them done. I am confident that members will be protected by the strongest contract in the history of DHL.”

The Teamster bargaining committee will continue to update members as they work through this historic process.

Download the latest DHL national contract negotiations newsletter.

ABF Selects 2008-2009 Road Team

ABF Freight System, Inc., has selected its 2008-2009 Road Team, comprising 12 drivers who exhibit the highest standards of professionalism and practice it daily on North American highways and city streets. Road Team membership requires an exemplary driving record and is one of the highest honors an ABF driver can achieve. The new ABF Road Team members and the ABF Service Centers where they are based are:

Wylie R. Basford – Ontario, Ore.
David W. Boyer – Wytheville, Va.
Reginald D. Gamblin – Amarillo, Texas
Paul D. Gattin – Little Rock, Ark.
William S. Hall – Atlanta, Ga.
Kelvin L. Holly – Albuquerque, N.M.
Jeffery D. Larson – Tulsa, Okla.
Arthur H. Lucas – Buffalo, N.Y.
Gary L. Mason – Cheyenne, Wyo.
Chad Miller – Chicago, Ill.
Ben B. Saiz – Albuquerque, N.M.
Christopher G. Smith – Salt Lake City, Utah

“Chosen from what we believe is the best group of drivers in the transportation industry, our 2008-2009 Road Team members set the standard for customer care, professionalism and safe-driving." says ABF Senior Vice President of Operations Wes Kemp. "Their dedication and commitment to quality and error-free service make these drivers role models for the entire industry. We applaud their devotion to upholding the utmost standards of professionalism."

During their 24-month term, ABF Road Team members speak at schools, transportation organizations, and other civic groups or meetings, addressing key issues such as safety and the vital role freight transportation plays in the global economy. Each member serves as an ambassador for ABF and the trucking industry, educating the public on sharing the road with trucks, what to expect from a professional driver and other topics of community interest.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

UPS Freight Workers in West Sacramento Sign Cards to Become Teamsters

In Latest Victory, 107 Drivers, Dockworkers Will Join Local 150

An overwhelming majority of 107 workers at two UPS Freight (formerly Overnite Transportation) terminals in West Sacramento, California have signed authorization cards to become Teamsters, bringing the total number of drivers and dockworkers seeking to join the union to about 5,700 since January 16, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa announced.

The workers are seeking to join Local 150 in Sacramento.

“These workers supported the Teamsters with an overwhelming majority of cards collected in just a week,” said Jim Tobin, Local 150 Secretary-Treasurer. “Local 150 Organizer Rocky Thomas and Business Agent Chris Folkman have had committee meetings over the past several months preparing the group for the day that cards could be collected. This group has waited five long years to become Teamsters. Overnite in Sacramento was one of the groups organized in the last campaign. Many of these workers were part of that drive and have been working with the union to finally become Teamsters. We are looking forward to the start of negotiations and representing our new members at UPS Freight.

“As we’ve seen in other places, perseverance has paid off for the workers at the terminals in West Sacramento,” said Ken Hall, Director of the Teamsters Package Division. “It’s great that these workers will finally get the opportunity to improve their lives by negotiating a Teamster contract.”

Teamsters Endorse Barack Obama

Hoffa Makes Announcement Following Texas Meeting With Obama

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa announced today the union’s endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama for president. The endorsement is the first step in mobilizing the union’s 1.4 million members and their families to elect Obama.

“Senator Obama understands the challenges working people face every day,” Hoffa said. “He is the candidate in the best position to lead our movement to restore the American dream for working people in this country. Senator Obama will fight for better wages, real health care reform, stronger retirement security, fair trade and an end to the outsourcing of good jobs. He understands the importance of giving workers a voice at work and will fight for strong unions to help rebuild America’s middle class.”

The endorsement decision follows a meeting in Austin, Texas, between Hoffa and Obama, and completes a months-long process that included scientific polling of Teamster members, surveys of local union and joint council leaders and deliberations by the union’s democratically elected General Executive Board.

“We have been fortunate to have candidates throughout the Democratic primary who are friends of working families and the Teamsters Union,” Hoffa said. “We are pleased that all of the Democratic candidates have focused on issues of importance to working people, including wages, health care, retirement security, fair trade and outsourcing.”

The union’s endorsement immediately activates the union’s 50-state election program, with special emphasis on swing states.

“Senator Obama will stand with the Teamsters when it comes to fighting for working families,” Hoffa said. “This endorsement begins a partnership to change America. Together we will reinvent the political process and give a voice to those who have been ignored by the Bush administration for the past eight years.”

Hoffa emphasized Obama’s commitment to rebuilding and strengthening the national transportation infrastructure, a key priority of the Teamsters Union.

“Senator Obama will fight to rebuild our transportation infrastructure,” Hoffa said. “He will work with us to address critical issues from our ports to our highways, rails and airports. We need a president who is focused on rebuilding America and Barack Obama will be that president.”

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

UPS Freight Workers in Ohio and Kentucky Sign Cards to Become Teamsters

In Latest Wins, About 150 Drivers, Dockworkers Will Join Locals 407, 20 and 89

An overwhelming majority of about 150 workers at the UPS Freight (formerly Overnite Transportation) terminals in Cleveland and Toledo, in Ohio, and in Bowling Green, Kentucky have signed authorization cards to become Teamsters, bringing the total number of drivers and dockworkers seeking to join the union to about 5,600 since January 16, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa announced.

The workers are seeking to join Local 407 in Cleveland, Local 20 in Toledo and Local 89 in Louisville.

"The International Union's Organizing Department helped us reach out to the workers in Cleveland," said Frank Burdell, President of Local 407. "This victory has been a long time coming, and we look forward to helping the workers reach their goals."

"This is the second group of workers within our jurisdiction to sign and submit cards—the Louisville group was first," said Fred Zuckerman, President of Local 89. "We will provide all the UPS Freight workers with top-notch representation so that they will have the tools to make their lives better on the job."

"In just over a month, the majority of nearly 5,600 UPS Freight workers have signed cards," said Ken Hall, Director of the Teamsters Package Division. "We have sustained the strong momentum, and workers are excited to join the victory train."

In addition to the Cleveland, Toledo and Bowling Green workers, a majority of UPS Freight workers in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Indiana, California, Florida, Arizona, New York, Kentucky and New England, including the large cities of Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, San Diego, St. Louis, Orlando, Charlotte, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Oakland, Seattle, Memphis and Detroit, have submitted cards to become Teamsters.