Right-to-Work Hits Indiana--Local 89 Members Mobilize
“Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone. Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Right-to-Work legislation
In late 2011, word began to spread the Republican majority in the Indiana Statehouse would be pursuing a so-called “Right-to-Work” bill. For years, the Koch Brothers and other billionaire-backed groups have waged a sustained war on working Americans. With a nearly unlimited financial war chest, the enemies of labor found no resistance from those who wished to prosper politically through the astronomical campaign contributions they would receive in exchange for pushing the anti-worker agenda. Politicians in the Indiana Statehouse were no exception to this rule and rapidly moved to push wage-killing legislation as the political climate in Indianapolis became more susceptible to its passage.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, seeking to derail Indiana’s “race to the bottom”, made a call to all Indiana local unions to mobilize their membership against this destructive legislation. Local 89, having jurisdiction over several counties in southern Indiana, had already begun to develop a strategy in mid-December. Pulling members off their work duties, Local 89 created and executed a plan to resist and block the bill’s passage.
On a nearly “day and night” basis, campaign organizers traveled between Local 89‘s Indiana worksites and Indianapolis to put pressure on lawmakers to act in the best interest of the state and its people rather than their corporate puppet masters. With a solid group of volunteer activists including, but certainly not limited to, Eric Huth (UPS Air), Jason Fuller (UPS Air), Rick Stevens (Jeffboat), Bill Miller (Zenith), Stephen Piercey (UPS Air), Brian Stemle (Jeffboat) and Bruce Self (UPS Air),our union showed a sizable presence at the Statehouse throughout early 2012.
In conjunction with our allies, several bus trips were made to Indianapolis filled with activists who had devoted their time and resources to fight this wage-killing legislation. These volunteers acted to preserve the upward course of the Hoosier state rather than let it slip into the poverty stricken stagnation seen in a Right-to-Work state such as Mississippi.
Sadly, anti-worker forces prevailed in the Hoosier state. However, Local 89 was highly successful in its campaign against this scam on the people of Indiana. In total, 3,146 emails were sent to lawmakers via www.teamsters89.com with over 600 postcards and 500+ petition signatures delivered to lawmakers prior to the bill’s passage. This level of membership mobilization combined with technology-driven campaign tactics have created a more seasoned team with the tools necessary to stand against these attacks on the working people.
The scam of Right-to-Work does not, despite what its supporters profess to the public, benefit the state socially nor economically. These laws are designed to weaken, if not destroy, workers’ voices in the workplace and in their government with the end game of creating a financial climate only benefiting corporations and the super-wealthy. Local 89 will continue to oppose, and if necessary, mobilize against such attacks on working families wherever they may arise.
Teamsters and Allies Make Their Voices Heard at Town Hall Meetings
To promote Right-to-Work and to perpetuate this scam on working Hoosiers, anti-worker lawmakers held a number of “town hall” style meeting in January and February throughout their legislative districts. While the intent of these meetings was to “fire up” their “base”, they would find their support was minimal at best. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce funded meetings became a forum for unions and their allies to directly question their political and financial motives in pursuing such destructive legislation.
In meetings held in Georgetown, New Albany, and Corydon, Indiana Sen. Ron Grooms, and House of Representatives members Ed Clere (HD 72), Rhonda Rhoads (HD 70) and Steve Davisson (HD 73) sought to spin their positions as necessary to boost the Hoosier economy. However, as all evidence clearly details, such laws have done nothing other than undermine the economic and social climate of such states.
Governor Mitch Daniels Visits Jeffersonville to Sell His Book--We Ask Him to Sign OUR Copy
In seeking Labor’s endorsement in his 2008 re-election bid, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels pledged to oppose any Right-To-Work legislation introduced in his state. This promise would prove to be hollow, as evidenced in Daniels’ financial support of anti-labor politicians through his PAC fund. When the bill was introduced in January, he wasted no time in announcing he would sign it into law after passage through the state legislature. This was not only grossly dishonest, it was a blow to a hoosier middle-class already plagued by the financial uncertainty of the Great Recession.
To promote his book, Keeping the Republic: Saving America By Trusting Americans, Daniels embarked on a statewide book tour. On February 8, the governor visited the Jeffersonville Public Library where he was greeted by a crowd of union members who were highly displeased with his broken pledge to labor.
Jeffboat Teamster Rick Stevens debated with the governor in the “question and answer” segment of the signing, besting Daniels in his defense of the law. Kirk Gillenwater, a UAW 862 retiree, obtained a copy of Daniels book, writing “I lied to Indiana” on the inside cover. This was then presented to the governor during the signing by a sizable group of union workers. To be fair, Daniels did sign the book but crossed out Gillenwater's writing. He still gave no good reason for his dishonesty.
Agent Jim Kincaid Runs to Unseat Anti-Worker Politician in District 70
After the passage of Indiana’s Right-to-Work law, a number of union members throughout the state began seeking public office in an effort to shift the legislature back in favor of middle-class Hoosiers. Business Agent Jim Kincaid, a native of Harrison County, made the decision to run in the May Democratic primary with the end goal of dislodging anti-worker politician Rhonda Rhoads. A staunch anti-worker politician, Rhoads, a former union teacher, had turned her back on the women and men of her profession and moved lock-step with legislation in 2011 which had negatively affected Indiana teachers. A benefactor of over $600,000 in campaign contributions from corporate interests, Rhoads has made good on political payback by attacking all Indiana workers through her support in the right-to-work scam.
Within a very short period of a few weeks, Jim built a strong core group to wage an effective campaign throughout the District 70 counties of Harrison, Floyd and Clark. He campaigned on taking legislative measures to help grow the middle-class (the economic engine of the state) and improve the educational system and opportunities of Hoosier children.
UAW Leadership Conspires With Voith Industrial to Take Carhaul Jobs--Local 89 Members Fight Back and Win
In February, talk of a secret deal between the leadership of the United Auto Workers (Local 862 and the International Union) and Voith Industrial Service, a subcontractor typically handling janitorial duties in Ford plants, began to surface. Soon, Voith would be awarded the bid to move the new Ford Escape over Auto Handling Inc resulting in the displacement of 166 Teamsters. The new positions, which former employees would have to re-apply for, would not include the fair wages, benefits and retirement contained in Teamster negotiated contracts, but instead sub-standard, low-wage positions governed under a “sweetheart” agreement between UAW Leadership and Voith.
Local 89 Teamsters rapidly mobilized to protect the livelihoods of their sisters and brothers employing all tactics to force the UAW and Voith to reverse course and honor the seniority, pay and rights of these hard-working women and men. Teamster from all crafts joined with the affected workers in an unprecedented protest at the UAW 862 union hall during a membership meeting. This would only be the beginning of our mobilization as other protests continued and social media was employed to educate the public and members of UAW Local 862.
The protests took to the skies when, during the 2012 Oaks and Derby, an arial banner was flown over Churchill Downs displaying the message: “Ford = Profits Over Families”. This was followed by four tractor-trailers being placed across from Ford’s Louisville Assembly Plant on Fern Valley Road each displaying messages directed at Ford, the leadership of the UAW and Voith.
President Zuckerman, carhaul agent Vice-President Avral Thompson, and Local 89 General Counsel Rob Colone were diligent in their pursuit of all legal avenues to reverse this injustice. On June, 19 a formal complaint was issued by the National Labor Relations Board against Voith and the UAW. This would kick off a lengthy court battle which would last a number of months culminating in a ruling by Judge Bruce D. Rosenstein finding the UAW and Voith had engaged in a number of unfair labor practices at Ford’s Louisville Assembly Plant. The findings include coercion, discrimination, and denial of workers’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act (from not only the company, but our once great ally the UAW).
The remedy contained in the decision includes back-pay for wages and benefits for the unfairly displaced members of Local 89, full restoration of employment, and a “cease and desist order” for the unlawful activities of the UAW and Voith. The judge also reaffirmed Local 89 as the exclusive bargaining agent for carhaul workers at LAP.
A very special recognition goes to carhaulers Brenda Helm, Bernard Tweedy, Kelly Stein, Sandra Rhodes, Aaron Schott, Greg Johnson, Brenda Swift, Patti Murphy, Susan Cheatham, James Flanagan and all our other carhaul sisters and brothers who continue to stand in solidarity against these unjust acts. You are this union!
Jeffboat Teamsters Approve 2013 Agreement
Jeffboat Teamsters approved their 2013 agreement nearly 10 to 1. The new five-year contract includes improvement in wages, protection of current healthcare benefits, additional pay for temporary transfers, double-time for holidays and call-in pay. December bonuses are also included in the package, totaling over $3000 during the life of the agreement. In addition, work days have been capped at twelve hours to address safety concerns and the need for time away from work.
Ratification of the agreement brings greater job stability for Jeffboat workers and their families by attracting more business to the company while providing the benefits, pay and working conditions workers deserve through their hard-work and dedication.
The negotiating committee worked tirelessly to reach a deal. Prior to meeting with the company, the committee met to strategize and work through proposals to submit in negotiations. They spent many long hours away from their families to deliver a good contract to their Jeffboat brothers and sisters.
Transervice Members Overwhelmingly Approve 2013 Contract
Transervice, one of two Teamster employers at the Kroger Distribution Center, overwhelmingly approved their 2013 contract with a vote of 126 “for” and only two “against”. Participation was high at the December 23 meeting where a “Q & A” forum was provided to the attending members. Questions were fielded by the committee, and agents Kenny Lauersdorf and Rick Curtis, as well as negotiations chair President Fred Zuckerman.
Under the new agreement, job security will remain intact and the company will continue to provide the quality healthcare benefits and wages Transervice Teamsters have earned through their dedicated service and hard-work. This would not have been possible without the input, work and commitment to duty seen in the Transervice negotiating committee. We would like to thank these committed Teamsters for all their hard-work and sacrifice throughout this process.
2013 UPS Louisville Air Supplement Contract Talks Begin
The Negotiating Committee for the next UPS Louisville Air Supplement,(commonly know as the "Air Rider") began meeting last September to discuss and narrow down the hundreds of contract proposals submitted by the membership. The proposals ranged from changes to workplace rules and conditions, to increases in benefits and pay.
Zenith Logistics Negotiations Begin in November--End With Overwhelming Acceptance by the Membership on January 13, 2013
Talks with Zenith Logistics began in early December to negotiate the 2013 agreement. The Negotiating committee first met in late November to streamline its approach to deliver a fair agreement to the membership at the Kroger Warehouse facility.
While the non-economic issues were mostly resolved in December talks, the economic issues continued into early January in hope of reaching a votable contract by the contract expiration date of the 31st.
On January 13, the membership overwhelmingly accepted the 2013 agreement in a 222 to 17 vote. The new contract provides for increased wages, job security, and “no-cost” healthcare and pension. Thank you to the committee for all their diligence and dedication throughout negotiations.
2012 Elections--Power at the Ballot Box
2012 was a crucial year for labor in politics as this election cycle, in no uncertain terms, was a fight for survival for the labor movement and thus the middle-class. Attacks against working families were occurring in every state across the nation with great losses in the traditionally labor-friendly states of Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan. Holding our political ground was imperative and gaining ground was necessary for the future of working America.
Teamster campaign mobilization was sizable, to say the least, with Local 89 providing three full-time campaign organizers, James DeWeese, Jay Dennis, Bill Miller and part-time canvasser Rick Stevens to political operations. Every tactic at the Local’s disposal was employed to reach the membership including phone banks, mailers, usage of social media, door-to-door canvasing and worksite visits.
While the presidential election was certainly the highest profile race in 2012, our focus was on the “down ballot” races in both Kentucky and Indiana. In Kentucky, it was necessary to hold the State House of Representatives and protect our seats in the State Senate (most notably Perry Clark). In addition, Kentucky labor organizations worked to gain “friendly” seats to build a more solid majority to oppose any anti-worker law introduced in the Commonwealth. Kentucky, did not include races beyond the state government level, Indiana, however, ran the spectrum with contests for every level of government.
The first phase of the campaign began with a voter registration drive which involved dozens of worksites in both Kentucky and Indiana. This phase included calls, worksite visits, coordination with stewards and business agents and visits to members’ homes to get them registered. In conjunction with the drive, we collected emails and cell phone numbers from members who wished to stay better informed not only about the 2012 elections, but all issues which may arise. The drive was successful with nearly 200 new registrations and over 500 new sign-ups for text messages and emails.
In the month prior to Election Day, we focused on the promotion of pro-worker candidates. Shelli Yoder, candidate for U.S. Congressional District 9 in Indiana, proved to be a strong ally of labor emphasizing her support with regular stops in union shops such as Jeffboat where she could be seen as early as 4am to greet workers as they filed into the shipyard. Joe Donnelly, another strong ally of labor, was running against Tea-Party sweetheart Richard Murdoch for the Indiana U.S. Senate seat. Donnelly represented the more moderate-centrist variety of candidates to which Hoosiers ultimately showed preference.
In addition to the federal races, we strongly supported the candidacy of John Gregg for governor against anti-union congressman Mike Pence and also supported Sharon Grabowski in her opposition to right-to-work supporter Ed Clere. Local 89 devoted a great deal of resources in a number of campaigns including county commissioners, and state representatives where pro-labor candidates were challenging supporters of the anti-worker agenda.
Donnelly soundly defeated Murdoch who had proven too extreme for Hoosiers. In addition, our greatest ally in the Indiana Legislature, Rep. Terry Goodin, retained his seat despite a war-chest of corporate money thrown into D-66 to defeat him. In Kentucky, Senator Perry Clark retained his seat while we gained a seat in the Kentucky House of Representative with Denver “Denny’ Butler.
In total, over a thousand homes were visited and nearly a thousand phone calls were made to our membership. We sent out nearly 6000 mailers to our fellow Teamsters to inform them of which candidates we were endorsing and why. While we did not prevail in all races, we made a heavy impact in our endorsed races. The data suggest where our efforts were strongest, we prevailed. Without the participation of the membership, this would not have been possible.
Tragedy Hits Southern Indiana--Local 89 Members Respond In Showing of Solidarity and Support
In early March, tornados ripped through Southern Indiana devastating a number of communities in the area. Many were left homeless and others were seriously injured. Sadly, some lost children, parents, other family members and friends.
As Teamsters, we should always do our part to help our communities. When tragedies occur, this is even more of an imperative. In response to this tragedy, Local 89 set up a relief center for our membership and the rest of the community to give to those who lost so much. Members, family and friends, donated clothes, cleaning supplies, food and other essentials along with checks to the Red Cross to aid in the relief effort. Local 89 coordinated with Roy Gillespie of the IBT to help bring supplies from out of state to add to many our members had packed into the Joint Council 94 trailer.
2012 DRIVE Campaign a Record Breaking Success
In April, Local 89 began a very successful campaign to increase participation in DRIVE (Democrat, Republican, Independent, Voter Education). DRIVE fuels the political activities of the Teamsters union in protecting not only the rights we have established through our contracts, but those residing in federal, state and municipal law. This program allows Teamsters to mobilize in support of our rights as working Americans and oppose attacks against us.
The DRIVE campaign covered the entirety of Local 89’s jurisdiction stretching from Jeffboat in Southern Indiana to Equity Group in Albany, Kentucky on the Tennessee border. In total, Local 89 volunteers and DRIVE Coordinators collected a total 1268 cards with the help of IBT Coordinator Bob Trappe.
Pro-Labor Punk Comes to Louisville--Teamster Member Wins Meet and Greet with band and Tickets via Local 89 Text Message Sign-up
The Dropkick Murphys, a pro-union band from Boston, provided Local 89 with two tickets and a “meet and greet” for their September show at Headliners Music Hall. Because of Agent James DeWeese’s connections with Jim Donovan of Local 25,we were able to get in contact with the band who were very enthusiastic about working with Local 89 to facilitate a “give away” contest for the membership.
Brothers Mike and Justin Gary of Holland Freight received the tickets after winning a text message contest through www.teamsters89.com. The brothers hung out with the band prior to the show and received free t-shirts. We appreciate all who signed up and want to, again, thank the band and their management along with Headliners Music Hall for making this possible.
Teamsters Support Wal-Mart Workers In Black Friday Strike
Wal-Mart has long been known to violate the rights of its employees with, what seems like, little recourse against the retail goliath. In 2012, however, workers seemed to have had enough of the harassment and intimidation almost synonymous with the Wal-Mart brand.
On Black Friday, November 23, an unfair labor practice strike was initiated by long time Teamster ally the United Food and Commercial Workers in support of Wal-Mart workers to bring further awareness to the general public of the gross violations of the company on a national scale. Locally, members of Teamsters Local 89 joined with the UFCW and other allies to the cause in picketing the Wal-mart Supercenter on Outer Loop in Louisville. The intent was to spark a larger movement within the company. Thank you to all who gave up time with family on Thanksgiving weekend to support working families.
James Deweese Joins Local 89 As New UPS Ground Agent
Long time Louisville Centennial Hub Steward and Teamster activist James DeWeese has taken the position of business agent over UPS Ground operations at LCH, Clarksville Center, Bowling Green and Campbellsville. He will be replacing long-time agent Chris Carter as he prepares for retirement.
James has served the union in multiple capacities throughout his nearly 20 years as a Teamster. Through years of committed service as a steward, he has gained the skills, knowledge, and discipline necessary to successfully serve the membership. James has served as a campaign coordinator to promote our endorsed candidates through three election cycles, as a DRIVE coordinator, a political organizer, an alternate delegate, and as an organizer for the IBT in a drive to organize FedEx aircraft maintenance workers. In addition, he was essential to Local 89's move into social media and online communications.
James brings the mind of an organizer to his work as business agent, using his skill to educate and inform the membership to create stronger shop-floor solidarity. This is essential to strong contract enforcement and a stronger Teamsters Union. As an agent he will work with all stewards to provide the resources necessary to aid them in representing the membership.
Atlantic Aviation Workers Vote Yes to Teamster Representation--Unanimously Accept First Contract
In April, Atlantic Aviation workers voted for Teamster representation by a three to one margin. In going union, they began the process of putting an end to the lower wages, reduced benefits, lack of seniority rights, and their uncertain status as “at will” employees.
After lengthy negotiations, Atlantic Aviation Teamsters now have a contract to protect their rights as workers. In a unanimous vote on January 13th, 2013, our new brothers and sisters accepted their historic first contract.
The success of the organizing campaign and of contract negotiations was made possible through the solidarity of Atlantic Aviation workers along with the leadership of committee members Jeff Troutman and Johnnie Hikes. We also want to congratulate these shop-floor leaders as the group’s first stewards.
Equity Group Teamsters Welcome New Members
The membership at Equity Group in Albany and Franklin, KY grew in 2012 with the addition of mechanics and “load out” workers. In a unanimous vote, these workers joined their fellow Equity Teamsters under their existing agreement.
Business Agent Chris Alford and Organizer Kevin Evans would like to thank stewards Ben Shelton, Johnnie Mittlestauser, LJ Johnson, and Johnnie Goodman for their leadership in reaching a contract and in organizing their fellow Teamsters. Thank you to all our Equity Group members for your continued solidarity.
Organizer Kevin Evans Reports a Successful Year
Local 89 organized several groups in 2012 along with Equity Group and Atlantic Aviation. The office clerical workers at UPS Freight’s Louisville Terminal unanimously voted for Teamster representation bringing stronger job security and higher wages. Ryder Trucking’s Bluegrass facility also voted "Teamster" and is now in the process of negotiating its first agreement. This facility will join three other Ryder locations represented by your union.
We want to thank and welcome all our Teamster sisters and brothers at all of Local 89’s newly organized companies. Your solidarity and involvement are what makes this union strong. The Teamsters Union is only as powerful as the unity of its membership.
2012 Victories--Negotiations, Arbitrations, and Courtrooms
A number of new contracts were ratified in 2012. Teamsters at ABC Supply accepted their 2012 agreement with the leadership of members Richard Stewart and Robert Osborne. In January 2012, Hertz Counter Sales Representatives ratified their contract with the help of Stewards Denise Lewis and Monica Morgan. In March, Gohmann Construction also reached an agreement which included increases in pensions and healthcare under Central States.
In addition to Equity Group, members in the Bowling Green were victorious in three other negotiations. Fort Dearborn Teamsters ratified their contract through the hard-work of a negotiating committee consisting of members Daniel Cartmill, Kirk Grinstead, Mike Colburn, and Johnnie Howard. Spirt Services and Capstone also reached agreements in 2012. Agents Chris Alford and Ben Bramble would like to thank Spirit Services steward Mike Richards and Capstone stewards Marlon Brandon and Ben Long for all their dedication throughout the process of negotiations.
Arbitrations were won in a number of shops including Brown Foreman, Prescotech, International Paper and FireKing. The result, in some cases, was payment for lost wages and the reinstatement of wrongfully terminated members. In addition, Local 89 devoted many resources to enforcing the members’ expectation of a safe workplace. In the UPS Air District, we continue to work toward a decision in an OSHA charge related to tug and dolly hitches. Thank you to all the members who have done their part in the investigation of the case and their testimonies in hearings.
2013--The Challenges and Victories Ahead
Just as 2012 was a year of action for Local 89, so too will be 2013. Though we are in a new year, the challenges working families face will still continue to require organizations like ours to fight for what is just. We will continue to work toward good contracts with fair wages, benefits and working conditions to keep Local 89 members and their families in the financial security they have earned through their hard-work and dedication.
Many of our members will be involved in contract negotiations throughout 2013 including UPS, Nugent Sand, Southern Standard and Fire King. While Local 89 agents and staff will work diligently throughout negotiations, it is the responsibility of every member to stay informed and involved throughout the process. Take the time to talk to your stewards, your agents, and visit Local 89’s social media and website to stay informed on all matters affecting your work-life.
We must also continue to hold our elected officials accountable in the coming legislative sessions in both Kentucky and Indiana. There is power in our voice and our vote, but we must stay active for lawmakers to take notice. Whether you are Democrat, Republican or Independent, you should always seek to cut through the political rhetoric and vote your paycheck!