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Members also rejected a separate UPS freight contract by 62 percent. The Hoffa administration and its chief negotiator Denis Taylor are trying to impose the contract on the , members in its package division by using a clause in the union constitution that requires 50 percent of eligible members to vote in order for a majority to rule.
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This undemocratic language is in the Teamsters constitution is protecting an unpopular and conservative administration that is unwilling to organize a fight against UPS. In addition to the vote rejecting the national contract, numerous supplements to the overall agreement were voted down — and these are also being imposed on UPS Teamsters. IN THE days after the vote count was announced, the response of the Hoffa administration caused chaos and confusion.
Members got mixed messages about whether the union was going back to the negotiating table or simply making a few changes and imposing the contract on members.
‘Teamster Bureaucracy’ is a must read for workers today
As members try to figure out what happened, there have been many ideas flying around about how to respond, ranging from leaving the union to a wildcat strike. Most Teamsters fall in between these two positions and are still trying to make sense of what has happened. As this article was being written, the situation is fluid, with new information and news surfacing every few hours. But there can be no doubt that the Teamsters bureaucracy is trying to ram through a deal the company is happy with.
In June [during negotiations over the last contract], 10 supplements and riders were rejected by less than two-thirds, and had less than 50 percent participating in the vote. Every single one was renegotiated, and re-voted Now, Taylor claims that respecting the majority vote of the members violates the Teamster constitution.
‘Teamster Bureaucracy’ is a must read for workers today – The Militant
UPS Teamsters demand that the International Union return to the bargaining table and hold a vote on an improved contract offer. First, the idea that 50 percent of eligible voters must vote in order for a simple majority to rule would mean that most elections in the U. Turnout rates of eligible voters rarely come close to that number.
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Second, the percentage of members who voted was actually up from the previous contract. An active rank and file, with elected stewards and business agents, that is able to discuss and debate the constant battles with management is a crucial step for a stronger union locally and nationally. If workers feel like management calls all the shots, they have less confidence in themselves and their union officials. Many part-timers will tell you that union officials are only interested in the full-time workers, especially drivers. This sentiment among low-paid part-timers — trying to survive on almost minimum wage, with hardly any chance for an inside full-time job — breeds resentment.
Back in the late s, UPS workers made approximately the same pay per hour, whether they were part time or full time. The union gave up that rough equality over the years.
We all are important to the operation of the company, and equal pay would encourage solidarity with each other, instead of the many-tiered pay rates that separate us today. The way to bring unity is to raise the pay for those getting far less and decrease the gap in wages. Within the Transport Workers Union the ranks stood solid throughout the strike.
It was a case of aroused workers who fought for just demands and who stood united in their common needs as class brothers. While giving them due credit for the way they stood up to City Hall, it is important to recognize the real reason why they did so. They had to fight, or else.
The origins of American Trotskyism
What a fight the transit workers made! They brushed aside a court injunction based on an antilabor state law and went on strike in defiance of the judge and the whole City Hall gang. The strikers remained solid in the face of court proceedings intended to impose massive fines on the union. They stood up against savage smear propaganda in the capitalist news media and against a rising capitalist clamor to call out the National Guard against them. At a crucial point in the strike the TWU ranks met the capitalist attack by demonstrating their solidarity and fighting spirit through a mass picket line at City Hall.
Significant bodies of workers from other unions supported the demonstration. Both the Republican Mayor and the Democratic President proved themselves enemies of the transit workers.
The workers will get only what they can win through militant use of the union power at the job level and through mobilization of their class political strength in an independent labor party. Farrell Dobbs was a prominent organizer and strike leader of the Minneapolis Teamster Local , , appointed general organizer of the Teamster International , and he resigned that post in to join the national leadership of the Socialist Workers Party From to , he wrote a four volume political history of the Teamsters union covering to with the viewpoint of a revolutionary socialist and participant.
Socialist Viewpoint contained a selection from one of the volumes, Teamster Politics , in the November 15, issue, Vol.