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February 11, 2016
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Steven P. Vairma

Steve Vairma's Column:

Workers not sharing in new economy

Hurray!  It has taken nearly eight years, but unemployment in the United States has finally been reduced to pre-recession levels and the other half is heading in that direction.

And, lo and behold, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, thousands of new jobs are being created in many states, including those of Teamsters Joint Council 3.

Corporate profits are reaching record levels and small businesses are making money (although to hear the National Association of Independent Business (NFIB) constantly whine, small businesses never, ever make any money).

But wow!  That's really good news.  The economy is getting better.  We all ought to be lighting cigars with hundred dollar bills, right?

Not so fast, pal.  Not everybody is sharing in the recovery.  Working men and women aren't seeing much, if any, more money in their wallets.  Their wages are still stagnant, as they have been for about 30 years, and there is no indication that will change any time soon.  Unless workers have a union contract, they can't get a raise, and today unions only replresent about eight percent of the nation's workforce.

The politicians in Washington have no stomach for allowing working men and women to share in the benefits of the recovering economy.  In recent years, many politicians of both parties have been corrupted by the huge amount of corporate money being lavished on them.  The more money they get from the corporations, the less they care about workers.

We've seen it in Joint Council 3.  After the Supreme Court's ruling on Citizens United came down a few years ago, and really big money started rolling into both political parties, enthusiasm for the working class among some of our so-called friends seemed to cool - not completely, but noticeably.

Supporters and sponsors of some pro-union labor legislation were not so forthright, and some suddenly had problems with legislation they formerly supported.

And with the election of a solidly Republican House of Representatives in 2012, legislation such as the Employees Free Choice Act (EFCA), which would do more to narrow the wage gap than anything else, was completely abandoned.

The only way to narrow the wage gap and to give American workers a real raise - not simply a pittance increase in the minimum wage - is to allow unions to organize workers who want to be organized by forbidding employers from engaging in acts of intimidation and delay to thwart unionization.

Accomplishing this will be a huge task.  Since the 2010 census anti-labor lawmakers won their huge majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and have taken control of most of the country's state legislatures.

We have our work cut out for us.

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Current Campaigns
  • The ‘Let’s Get America Working!’ campaign seeks to restore a dynamic and prosperous middle class to drive economic growth by helping to advance policy decisions that create and maintain good middle-income jobs, guarantee retirement security, expand access to the American Dream, and ensure that the benefits of the ongoing economic recovery are felt by the many, not just the few.

  • Candidate material is distributed to all members to encourage informed participation in the International officer election, and to promote a fair, honest and open process.

  • Negotiations for the National Master Automobile Transporters Agreement (NMATA) are under way. On Wednesday, June 3, representatives from carhaul local unions met in Detroit to approve the contract proposals and the next day, Thursday, June 4, the Teamsters National Automobile Transporters Industry Negotiating Committee (TNATINC) exchanged the contract proposals with the employer group.

    The committee will work hard to protect members’ health, welfare and pension benefits, protect job security and other address other top priorities

    The National Master Automobile Transporters Agreement (NMATA) and its supplements expire on August 31, 2015. The national contract covers almost 6,000 Teamster carhaulers.

    In addition to protecting benefits and job security, other top priorities are wages, the grievance procedures and safety and health issues.

  • Workers’ pensions are being endangered by both Congress and those charged with overseeing them. The Teamsters and our members are standing united to say “No!” to cuts and “Yes!” to greater retirement security!

  • The Teamsters Union represents more than 250,000 members at UPS and UPS Freight. UPS remains an active member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) despite the organization’s anti-worker and anti-union agenda that seeks to undermine and weaken worker protections.

  • This web page provides information on our fight against fast-track legislation. The measure requires Congress to take only a quick up-or-down vote on secret trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and does not allow such agreements to be amended. It limits Congress’ constitutionally mandated oversight of such trade deals and lets others decide what’s best for America. The result is fewer good-paying U.S. jobs and unsafe food and products for Americans. Read more to find out why fast track is the wrong track for Teamsters and America.

  • Workers across the country at FedEx Freight and Con-way Freight are standing shoulder to shoulder to form their unions with the Teamsters to win a more secure future. Momentum is building with a first wave of victories with many more to come.

    There is growing worker resentment toward the companies after years of being treated unfairly. While the companies have suddenly made improvements since workers began to organize, workers know that without a legally binding contract the company can take these things away at any time.

    The unfulfilled promises that have been made to drivers and dockworkers over the past decade are coming back to haunt management.

    But now workers are taking action and standing up for themselves by forming their union. It's a different era now. It's Teamster Time! LIKE our Facebook page, here.

  • First Student employees’ collective bargaining agreement with the company, which covers more than 21,000 workers, expires on March 31, 2015. Employees at First Student made history when they voted overwhelmingly to ratify a national master agreement on June 1, 2011, and it is time to renegotiate that agreement. Turn to this page to get the latest contract news and updates. The first round of negotiations is scheduled for January 27-28, 2015. The national contract expires March 31, 2015.

  • Teamsters are been standing together to protect good jobs at Sysco and US Foods. Our solidarity on many fronts helped to defeat the mega-merger of the two companies, which would have put thousands of jobs at risk. But challenges remain as both companies refine their plans. Join our campaign to ensure these foodservice giants honor their agreements with 11,500 Teamsters and help us bring more Sysco and US Foods workers into the Teamster family. LIKE our Facebook page, here.


  • Taylor Farms workers in Tracy, California are standing up against poverty wages, disrespect and severe violations of their most basic rights. These 900 food processing workers in the Central Valley cut, wash and package salads and other products for the largest supplier of fresh-cut produce in the country. They feed the customers of major grocers, retailers and restaurant chains, including Walmart and McDonald’s.

    With a revenue of $1.8 billion in 2012, Taylor Farms can afford to treat its workers in Tracy with dignity and pay fair wages, just like their Teamster coworkers have at Taylor Farms’ facilities in Salinas, California. But when workers came together to organize with Teamsters Local 601, the company responded mercilessly. It fired, harassed, and punished workers for supporting the union. The company threatened immigrant workers with deportation, hiring an army of union-busters to run a non-stop fear campaign. During an NLRB election for union representation, Taylor Farms deployed a goon squad of supervisors to intimidate workers. The company’s violations were so egregious that the Labor Board impounded ballots while it investigates hundreds of Unfair Labor Practice charges.

    Workers in Tracy, following in the footsteps of labor leader and civil rights icon Cesar Chavez, are taking their fight to the public. The workers’ struggle for a better life for their families is supported by Teamsters in California and nationwide. We are building a movement for respect for the workers who feed America.

    ¡Si Se Puede!

Teamsters Local 455
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