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September 04, 2015
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Steven P. Vairma

Steve Vairma's Column:

RTW could be dire consequence

Unitended and unwelcome consequences sometimes occur when people decide, for whatever reason to vote against their own best economic interests.

The three free bargaining states in Teamsters Joint Council 3 are now struggling with the dire consequences of the election last November.

In those three states - Colorado, New Mexico and Montana - anti-worker candidates won enough control of their legislatures to pose the possibility they could become right-to-work (for less) states.

That indeed is an unintended and unwanted consequence for working men and women.

If right-to-work legislation is passed and signed by the governor in any of those states, its workers will almost immediately suffer wage and benefit losses.  That always happens when a state enacts a right-to-work law....always.

Unions set the wage standards for all workers on both the national and state levels.  In free bargaining states where unions have more influence at the negotiating table, wages of union workers are 28 percent higher than they are in right-to-work states.  Union workers also receive more and better benefits and superior working conditions.

In RTW states unions, where management and labor are prohibited from negotiating for an all-union shop, unions are forced to represent nonunion workers, but are prohibited from collecting dues from them.

The problems in right-to-work states are certainly not the fault of unions operating in those states.  In fact, union leaders and rank-and-file members in right-to-work states are among the most dedicated unionists and are especially effective advocates for labor's cause.

But they are burdened by unfair RTW laws that have existed for many years with no possibility that their states' political landscape will ever change.

Good wages, hours and working conditions - bread and butter issues - are the most important concerns of working men and women in all states who depend on their income and benefits to support their families.

Why then do a large number of them either refuse to vote, or cast their ballots for anti-worker politicians - such as Tea Party zealots who use right-to-work to fire up their base?

Perhaps the reason is that some voters see other issues as more important than their livelihood.  We respect their right to believe as they wish, but to disregard bread and butter issues doesn't seem to make any sense.

More likely, though, the reason is that they expect that onerous legislation like right-to-work will never be passed in their states.  Or they believe their bosses are really good guys and would never under-value their work.  These are pipe dreams.  Profit is the bosses' bottom line; not the welfare of their workers.  And right-to-work is now the law in nearly half the states in the country.

The more union busting politicians that are elected-with, unfortunately, some help from the working class-the closer we will get to a union-free society where all workers will be chattel of the corporations.

That's when all workers - both union and nonunion-will shake their heads and ask:  What the hell happened?

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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.

  • 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!

  • Taxi drivers in Washington, D.C. are fed up!

    After years of unfair regulations and lack of respect, we are fighting back by forming the Washington, D.C. Taxi Operators Association. Our association will be backed by Teamsters Local 922 and the 1.4 million-member International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

  • The Teamsters have stood in solidarity with worker struggles in other countries since our founding. With economic globalization, our ability to organize increasingly depends on our ability to build alliances with workers on a global scale.
    More than ever, Teamsters are organizing and bargaining with multi-national companies. A key objective of our Global Strategies Campaign is to build strong alliances with unions around the globe who organize and bargain with common employers. Our focus is on workers in the emerging global supply chains – the infrastructure of globalization.
    Globalization creates new opportunities for international worker solidarity. We seek common cause with workers around the world to build social justice for all workers and the communities in which they live.

  • Welcome to Teamster Organizing!

    You've heard it said that the best defense is a good offense. In the war on workers, Teamster Organizing is on the offensive! We're winning power for workers across industries and across North America. Join us!

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