Local 804 members closer to changing IBT by-laws

Discussion in 'UPS Union Issues' started by local804, Mar 18, 2008.

  1. local804

    local804 Well-Known Member

    THE FEBRUARY 24 UNION MEETING

    It was a beautiful Sunday morning when the members of Local 804 met in Lake Success to attend the February 24 General Membership Meeting. It was intended to be an hour of submitting the 2000 signatures gathered in order to change the bylaws to give the members more information about our pensions and during contract negotiations, as well as discuss the new contract we are presently working under.

    However, our Executive Board received us by siccing their spokesman, President Howard Redmond on the membership and ignoring our contract concerns. Redmond’s "President’s Report" was a tirade filled with curses, accusations, and name calling. It’s bad enough we get disrespected everyday by UPS management, but at our own union meeting by our own Board is just beyond the pale.

    Dialogue and Diatribe

    He began his tirade by complaining about members who were "handing out papers about how great other local’s pension benefits were." He seemed offended that the Convoy Dispatch did a comparison of pension benefits for UPS Teamsters in different parts of the country. Redmond claimed that "certain members" were "cherry-picking" the good things and leaving out the bad things with Local 294 in upstate New York. He pointed out that members up there can receive $5500 a month "only if they stay til they’re 65 years old."

    Well, Redmond was wrong. Those numbers stand up. It is a fact that members in Local 294 right now can retire with about $5500 per month after 30 years regardless of age. I think 25 year alternate shop steward Jim Reynolds said it best: " When Local 804 won 25 and out benefits, our pension fund established itself as the gold standard in our union." But now, he continued, "many UPS Teamsters get superior benefits to ours."

    Then Redmond continued attacking members "every year getting a piece of paper telling them what your pensions about...telling them whether it’s funded or not." He blamed the members for "not reading it." It is true, we were given the numbers every year, but without any context to what the numbers meant.


    It is the duty of the Executive Board to explain to the rank-and-file what those numbers mean (a leaked actuarial report revealed that our average investment returns over the past 5 years have been about 3% and over the past 10 years only 6%). They should have said to us that these numbers sucked and that if they didn’t improve, changes would have to be made.

    It is quite obvious that our Executive Board knew about it, but decided to keep us in the dark. What irony! Throughout Redmond’s tirade, he kept accusing some of the members of always criticizing but never having any solutions. Maybe in the last 10 years, experienced and concerned members such as Pete Mastandrea or Jim Reynolds or Tim S could have offered answers or solutions to our impending pension problems.

    Instead , they blame us , the rank-and-file, for not figuring things out for ourselves. Is this not a dereliction of their duty to us?

    Next on Redmond’s hit list was 28 year member and shop steward Tim S. He accused Sylvester of "digging in the garbage in raising the name of Ed Dougherty who died on the picket lines." Redmond went on: "You know the guy who said that wasn’t even in the God damned union at the time...He has know idea what the hell he’s talking about! That strike had nothing to do with pensions!"

    Was Redmond trying to infer that since Sylvester was not in the union at the time (the 1973 strike) , that he has no right to bring it up to make a point about concessions on pensions? I’m sure Tim S wasn’t around in 1776 but I know for sure he celebrates July 4th every year! It’s a bogus argument meant to drown out dissent!

    Moreover, Sylvester corrected Redmond by stating that in fact: " Go to the 804 Magazine (Spring 2003) ...it states ‘Doc Doughtery died over retiree pensions’...Howie, you printed it!" The point trying to be made was why give up any pension benefit that a man actually died for.

    Sylvester then went on to question why such a huge gap exists in 804's "official" history. In a method reminiscent of Stalin’s Russia, our "official" history mysteriously excludes the name Ron Carey as well as Carey’s surprise win in 1967 as 804's President, an unprecedented 25 and out pension for all members, and of course, his historical win in the first ever election as President of the Teamster’s International Union.

    It does, however, include and highlight the 2002 "Best Contract Ever." I cannot wait to see what they write about this recent "fair" contract. Will history once again be rewritten?

    Redmond ended the debate between he and Sylvester by ranting "You’ve made your :censored2::censored2::censored2::censored2:in’ point...now sit down!" But Redmond was not finished. When 29 year Teamster Pete Mastandrea came up to the mic, he too was greeted with name calling. Redmond disrespectfully called Mastandrea "Pistol Pete" (in describing how Pete waved his arms as he walked down the hall aisle at the last Union Meeting in October). In fact, Mastandrea was actually responding to other rank-and-file members wanting to high-five him after taking the Executive Board to task over the contract.

    When Mastandrea was finally allowed to speak, he asked "Where’s the respect?" He then went on in support of Sylvester’s statements adding that in mentioning Dougherty, "that we shouldn’t even remember this guy?"


    The Members Respond

    At last , the President’s Report was over and on to New Business. Chris Sabatino , steward out of Elmsford, handed in the 2000 signatures to change the bylaws that were collected from all UPS Facilities in Local 804. As each amendment was read by the skeptical Board, a large cheer went out in support of the needed changes to our bylaws. If passed, they will allow the membership to get more information on our pensions at every General Membership Meeting and keep us more informed during contract negotiations


    Next up to the mic was Farmingville driver Bill Reynolds. He told us how back in October 2006, he was told by a senior member of the Executive Board that he could " rest assured that when he went to bed at night," his pension was "safe and secure." Well, we all know the rest of the story here. A month later, after the Local elections of course, we were told that the pension "was in trouble." What happened to "the books have been checked...."

    Redmond responded by saying "that was before the Pension Protection Act. The law changed!" Once again, our President has his facts wrong. The Pension Protection Act was signed into law on August 17, 2006. It was already a law when Reynolds was assured that the pension fund was fine. In reality, our pension fund was not safe and secure.


    The Executive Board was well aware that our pension fund was underperforming , they knew that the Pension Protection Act was the new law , and they knew there was a Pension Trustees Meeting coming up. Yet none of this was brought up at the October 6th Union Meeting! Why?

    What was spoken about at this key Union Meeting was that two of the Executive Board members were retiring and being replaced by two "friends of the Board" and that all eleven Board members would be up for "re-election" in November! Amazing...with this looming disaster in the background, nothing was mentioned, but keeping their high salaried positions was most important.

    After Redmond began ranting about how destructive TDU (Teamsters for a Democratic Union) was, Maspeth steward Liam Russertt gallantly stood up to defend TDU members and the right to dissent. Redmond hastily interrupted Russert : "What’s your point!" Russert continued that he joined TDU " to make sure this union is strong... a better union . We all want unity against UPS but we need more information from the Board."

    Once gain Redmond interrupted claiming "You are one of those guys handing out a lot of that :censored2::censored2::censored2::censored2: on the pensions." Russert quickly responded by defending what makeUPSdeliver had put out on Local 294's pension benefits compared to ours as true as opposed to what "the Executive Board was told by others (the actuaries) that the pension was fine!"

    Russert wrapped up his time at the mic by forcefully stating: " I do not try to divide this union . I’m a former military guy...the truth should come out! This situation is like the Democrats and the Republicans, both parties work for the government but have different ideas on how to run it."

    RePete Performance

    Pete Mastandrea returned to the mic to address Redmond’s call for "solutions." Mastandrea reminded Redmond that the idea of getting the part-timers into our pension fund, an idea that had been around since the Carey days, would immensely help our pension fund without the pain. When Redmond disparagingly told him that "Ronnie didn’t deliver it did he", the room filled with loud sighs in response to this attack on Carey’s legacy ...this Local is still a Carey local!

    Mastandrea jabbed back saying that "If you would have stood strong in negotiations, we would have got the part-timers in the pension fund" with a loud cheer behind him! He followed up blasting Redmond for "not stating in his President’s Report how proud you were of the membership for knocking this contract down! Cause I’m God damn proud of everyone in this room...!" -to a thunderous roar!

    He finished up by castigating the Board for "discouraging a lot of people from saying what’s on their minds." In a strong nod to the bylaws changes, Mastandrea told the Board that "we are starving for information" and exclaimed that "TDU, though I’m not a member, we got more information on this contract from them then we got from you!" - once again to big cheers.
     
  2. local804

    local804 Well-Known Member

    The Aftermath

    It was an unbelievable exhibition of irony. The Executive Board railing against "disunity" yet it was this type of disrespectful performance by our Board that truly causes disunity.

    After the meeting, which ran almost an hour and a half, most members didn’t want to leave the hall. They felt that something happened at this union meeting. Someone said: "They had no right to speak to us that way!"


    Well this member got part of it right. It’s that this Executive Board just doesn’t get it at all. Under Ron Carey’s leadership we grew ; we were kept informed; we were respected; we were rewarded with good contracts. Other locals around the country have leaders who are ahead of the curve, who are pro-active ( do lots of organizing, are active politically, get their rank-and-file involved, fight for strong, non-concessionary contracts, etc)- unions willing to take chances by taking on the company . Union leadership that welcomes an open forum of dialogue with its membership.

    But not here in Local 804 (at least not these days). Our Executive Board calls this kind of forum "dividing the union." I call this democracy in action. We pay their salaries; they are our elected officials. Speaking out is part of being in a democratic union ; it’s something to be proud of. But they still say we divide the union


    Well as usual, they are not getting what’s really happening within our union. The division exists; it is true but not among the rank-and-file! It exists between the leadership and the membership! This is not fostered by TDU or any other entity, but by the leadership itself!

    They have forced our collective hand to take the initiative . This union became "divided" the day the Executive Board left Ron Carey hanging in the wind when he needed our support.

    Yet they are angry at us, the rank-and-file , for challenging their authority. Though, in theory, challenging the leadership should actually strengthen our union. If not challenged, leadership gets stale and ignores innovation.

    I guess "for the times we are in" criticizing is out of order in our union...unless of course you show up with a "solution." Welcome to the Soviet Politburo ..comrade.

    Memo to the Executive Board: You guys work for us...we have every right to question every single one of you...we pay you a hefty salary and have given you a pretty good life. The least this Board can do is hear our grievances!

    But let’s face it, after the past few years , the trust is gone. Their "experience" and personal history mean nothing anymore. This entire Board is complicit in the fiasco of the past 10 years: deserting Carey, supporting Hoffa, ignoring Leedham, the pension fiasco, concessionary contracts, etc.

    I know that some members like certain Board members personally...fine...but a line has been crossed. Collective guilt deserves collective punishment. Hopefully , next year the membership will dole out that punishment loud and clear.

    At the Union Meeting, it must be noted that the "fair contract" was not brought up by the Board. They must have been embarrassed by the rank-and-file showing them up in the 3 to 1 vote against the contract. So what did they do...they went on the offensive...attacking the members.


    But this is nothing new. One of the Board members in particular, likes to complain about how I come to "his building" and hand out my newsletter to my fellow rank-and-file 804 members. Mind you, this is at a UPS facility, but to him, it is his building.

    That’s part of the problem with this Executive Board: they assume they own us! That the membership is supposed to bow down before them. Guys who haven’t been on a truck or even touched a package for years or used a DIAD board ever are literally out of touch with this membership. And they want us to practically kiss their ring . As though we owe them so much for doing their jobs. Maybe they are waiting to be tipped. Well I have a tip for them...change is coming to Local 804!

    Nevertheless, once again, the rank-and-file has taken the bold initiative: 2,000 members signed the petition demonstrating the will of the membership. It seems that while our Executive Board is standing still in time, this rank-and-file movement is growing and is showing the way by leading from below by mobilizing the members to the large NO vote.

    The movement now demands a changing of the bylaws to open up the process about OUR MONEY! This is a true grass-roots movement ; no one is paid to stand out in the cold handing out flyers to inform the membership. All volunteers, on our own time , on our own dime whether it’s after work on a Thursday night getting signatures at the 43rd St building or in the early morning before work at the Nassau building.

    No Howie, this is not just "disagreeing to be disagreeable." This is a new way of connecting with the rank-and-file. As Mastandrea said earlier "they are starving for information." One faction does not hold the monopoly on ideas and solutions. Furthermore, being in the leadership for 30 years or 30 months isn’t an entitlement to know what’s right for the membership.

    However, the rank-and-file has woken up. They are learning what this Board is all about, what is has done and , more importantly, what has not done. Redmond claims "that I would do nothing to hurt this union." In his heart, this might be very true, but operationally, this union has been diminished over the past 10 years!

    Though it must be admitted that it might be difficult to replace a Ron Carey who made all the right moves for us, it has been 10 long years of decay. This has been 804's first lost decade..the decade of decay: minuscule raises, frozen pensions, rising co-pays, higher dues, concessions, etc.


    But let’s not kid ourselves here: it is not the rank-and-file who have budged...it has been the Executive Board that has changed. They stopped fighting, took the safe road by appeasing Hoffa , concessions to UPS. It was they who made the first move...they left us. Maybe the rank-and-file was too complacent due to our trust in what Ron Carey put together here and we assumed we were getting the same type of leadership.

    Well, we have given them 10 long years to create some legacy of their own. But when you look closely, they don’t have a "legacy" to stand on. That added to the fact that this Executive Board has lost as much credibility as it has, frankly makes it imperative to make a big change. Not change for change sake. But real progress with a new leadership with new fresh ideas to move us forward.





    Very very good meeting. I had to split up the page because brown cafe dont let you post over 16k words in one post.
     
  3. scratch

    scratch Least Best Moderator Staff Member

    local804,
    Great post! You made a lot of well thought out points. Your Local's Officers do have to answer to the members, thats the only reason for their jobs. If they aren't getting things done, then I hope you guys can replace them next election. We have a lot of in-fighting here in Local 728 too. It has always been like that the last thirty years I have been a member. It used to be led by Weldon Mathis and his family. He worked his way up to IBT Secretary General and was actually IBT President for a short time before union politics forced him out. When Carey gave the members the right to vote instead of the old delegate system, we finally got reform. We usually go back and forth between the Old Guard and the Reform Movement Slates. We currently have had a Reform Slate in the last two terms, with good results. I wish the best of luck to you in helping getting your members on the same page and get the right thing done. I think when these guys get into power, the titles and money corrupt them and they forget why we put them there in the first place. Union politics are so much like government politics. If they don't get the job done, then kick them out!
     
  4. local804

    local804 Well-Known Member

    Yes, I agree totally Scratch. The posting was actually a flyer that was passed out by a driver, I just copied, cut, pasted it so people on bc can see what progress we are making. When our elected officials for years have been telling us in EVERY union meeting that our pension is financially stable and intact and the following month we hear it has to be cut by 30%, something isnt right. Union officials should never talk down to a member or show disrespect in any way,shape or form. We will have our bylaws changed and a few members from the 804 slate will go bye bye also. The majority of our executive board are doing a great job, just 2-3 need another career path or a major wake up call.
     
  5. cino321

    cino321 Active Member

    I just saw that you posted this, and I heard about this last week. I hope those few members from 804 slate will go bye bye, because what goes around comes around. Some of those guys, and I'm sure me and you are talking about the same people, are making twice as much as we are, and all I see them is bs'ing in the morning with the building senior management and sups about how much "this place has changed" instead of hearing grievances. As a matter of fact the only time these scumbags introduced themselves to me was when it was voting time in 06'.

    My personal favorite line. I think we know who they're referring to.
     
  6. cino321

    cino321 Active Member

    I believe because of the new Pension Laws they now have to disclose the state of the pension fund, hence that petition they had going around. And we now know that it is underfunded and being mismanaged and poorly invested.


    This is from makeupsdeliver.org
    After Defeating Pension Cuts, Local 804 Teamsters Organize for Pension Info


    [​IMG]Two times in the last 18 months, UPS has blindsided Teamsters in New York City by demanding pension cuts. Now Local 804 Teamster members are organizing to get the information they need to defend their pensions.

    Some two thousand members have signed a petition to propose changes to the Local 804 bylaws that will put more contract and pension information in the hands of the Local 804 membership.

    The bylaws changes were officially proposed at the Local 804 general membership meeting on Sunday, February 24. They will be voted on at the next local union meeting on April 20.

    In November 2006, UPS forced through a 30 percent cut in pension accruals in Local 804. Management claimed that without the cuts the Local 804 fund would fall into “Critical Status” (the “Red Zone”) when the Pension Protection Act went into effect.

    An actuarial report was leaked that revealed that the Local 804 pension fund had earned dramatically substandard returns on its investments for a decade. AON Consulting reported that, “The average investment returns over the past five years have been a little more than 3%; over the past 10 years the average return has been just 6%.”

    Substandard Returns


    Local 804’s pension investment returns were worse than the Central States Pension Fund over the same five and ten-year periods—and worse than other funds managed by AON Consulting.

    “For comparison purposes, we looked at another substantial fund we work with and the average returns over similar periods were 6% over the last 5 years and nearly 10% over the past 10 years,” AON reported.

    According to AON, the Local 804 pension fund had a $378 million shortfall—and approximately $100 million of this was due to poor investment performance.

    “Members were shocked. We had always been told that our pension fund was in great shape,” said feeder driver Pete Mastrandrea.

    “By mandating that our union include a report on our pension fund’s performance at every general membership meeting, we can make sure that the membership is never blindsided like this again,” Mastrandrea said.

    Information Brownout


    The second attack on Local 804 pensions came during UPS contract negotiations.
    After months of secretive negotiations, UPS and Local 804 agreed to a new contract that would eliminate 25-and-out pensions for all new employees—a deal that was unanimously endorsed by the Local 804 Executive Board.

    UPS sent every Local 804 member a letter saying that if the contract was not approved then it would be illegal for the fund to restore their pensions.

    Members voted the contract down by 3 to 1 anyway. As a result of their united stand, Local 804 members saved 25-and-out, defeated other givebacks and reversed the 2007 pension cuts.

    Information is Power


    The Local 804 Make UPS Deliver network showed that members can make a difference when they are informed and involved.

    Many Local 804 members were still disappointed with the final contract and felt more could have been won if the membership had been better informed—about both contract negotiations and the real story with the Local 804 pension and the Pension Protection Act.

    That’s when members decided to propose two changes to the Local 804 bylaws. The first change will require the Executive Board to include a report on the Local 804 benefit funds at every general membership meeting.

    The second bylaws change will mandate Local 804 to set up a Contract Committee to inform and mobilize Local 804 members whenever a new contract is being negotiated.

    “This bylaws vote is about what kind of contracts and benefits we’re going to have in the future,” said shop steward Tim S. “Local 804 has always had some of the highest retirement benefits in the country. But we’ve fallen behind other funds like Washington D.C., Upstate New York, and the Western Conference.

    “Local 804 has won top contracts and benefits by leveling with the members and getting people involved. We did that to win 25-and-out before the rest of the country. We did it in 1997. We can do it again,” Sylvester said.

    Mandate for Change


    Two hundred signatures are required to introduce bylaws changes in Local 804. Instead, approximately 2,000 members signed each bylaws petition.

    “Winning strong contracts and pensions by informing and mobilizing the membership is something that every Local 804 Teamster can unite behind,” said Jim Reynolds, an alternate steward and one of the leaders of the bylaws reform campaigns.

    “Members proved that by signing these petitions in such huge numbers. This is really a mandate for positive change,” Reynolds said.
     
  7. Some revisionist history here. Carey made the decision to abandon negotiating the contract locally and threw in with the national Teamsters in '87. 804 members were "rewarded" with the lowest increase they had seen in three previous contracts. Ron then turned around and blamed the IBT for the results instead of admitting his error in giving away his bargaining power. It seems in retrospect that he was attempting to curry favor with IBT at the expense of his members. Ron Carey was a dynamic and charismatic leader but he was not without his faults.
     
  8. local804

    local804 Well-Known Member

    Was it Careys decision or was it voted by the members? Your attempt to bash Ron Carey on this subject has failed. Move on please......
     
  9. No vote was taken before making the change. Ron did this on his own. The man doesn't walk on water.....now we'll move on.
     
  10. local804

    local804 Well-Known Member

    Sorry for the late response sir.

    There was a MEMBER vote maybe if your head wasnt up your airspace you could have and should have voted. No one claims for Ron to be a God and he did not do this on his own. Time to move on.........
     
  11. Ineedhelp

    Ineedhelp Guest

    executive board

    I disagree its not the whole board ..you have some good people on that board..and you have some people who dont deserve to be there they were basically given the jobs because Howie liked them..given jobs to people who are stewards for 5 years or board members who weren`t even active stewards at the time of appointment mean while good stewards with 15 to 20 years passed over for his buddies its just not right. That was the down fall of this union..I say we keep the good ones we all know who they are they deserve our support its not the whole board you have some that deserve our respect and support..lets keep them but ill tell you this you guys from TDU aren`t the answer either..lets replace them with stewards who are in the trenches everyday fighting for what we believe in our union and our members and fight for whats right and for justice everyday....
     
  12. ranknfiler

    ranknfiler Guest

    Hey Ineedhelp...it is the entire board that must go...remember, this is a total team effort and that team has let us down again and again....this ENTIRE board abandoned Carey, this ENTIRE board helped finance Hoffa campaign, this ENTIRE board snubbed Leedham, this ENTIRE board is responsible for the pension fiasco, this ENTIRE board endorsed this concessionarycontract that we voted down 3-1!! etc...You might personally like a board member or two...thats fine...but this is our future here...its about who represents us and is it $$ (they each make about $140k a yr) well spent ?? Time for a clean sweep.....in solidarity
     
  13. ranknfiler

    ranknfiler Guest

    Bylaws reforms pass 220-10...chalk one up for the rank-and-file