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March 27, 2017

On This Day in 1900:

Groundbreaking on the first section of the New York City subway system, from City Hall to the Bronx. According to the New York Times, this was a worker’s review of the digging style of the well-dressed Subway Commissioners: "I wouldn't give th' Commish'ners foive cents a day fer a digging job. They're too shtiff."

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Updated: Mar. 27 (01:01)

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Teamsters Local 355
 
     
Court of Special Appeals Rules for Union
Updated On: Jan 05, 2012

Small Union, Big Power Struggle

By Eric Hartley
The Capital

Published 01/01/12

They had a deal.

In the summer of 2009, county sheriff's deputies would get a 3 percent raise, plus another 4 percent raise for everyone with satisfactory performance ratings.

But in the heart of a recession, County Executive John R. Leopold decided such generous contracts, signed a couple of years earlier, didn't work any more.

The county asked unions to reopen negotiations and take smaller raises. Some agreed. The deputies, part of Teamsters Local 355, did not.

"Either take our deal, which basically cuts you by 4 percent, or we're going to cut you by 7 percent," said Denis Taylor, the local Teamsters president. "So it was basically strong-arm tactics by Leopold and his administration. We were not going to have any of it."

The county did it anyway.

Despite the contract, the County Council unanimously passed Leopold's emergency bill keeping the deputies' salaries the same as the year before. The first paycheck after July 1, 2009, arrived, and there were no raises.

The union immediately filed a grievance, then filed for arbitration when the county rejected the grievance. The county refused to participate, despite binding arbitration also being part of the contract. So the union sued.

A judge sided with the union, ordering arbitration in 2010. The county appealed, and last week, a state appeals court ruled for the union again.

This was never really about money. The union's 58 members are a fraction of the hundreds in the police officers' and firefighters' unions. The year's worth of pay increases at issue would have cost only about $75,000, less than the union has spent on legal fees, Taylor said.

For both sides, it was about principle and what they saw as fairness.

The county thought all employees should have to share the pain in tough times.

"We treated everybody the same way," County Attorney Jonathan Hodgson said.

As a moral argument, that might work. As a legal one, not so much.

The union saw fairness a different way. Deputies understood they'd have to make concessions in their next contract. But a deal is a deal.

"The county was going through rough times," said Deputy Dave Belisle, the chief shop steward for the union. "When our contract expired, it'd have been our turn in the barrel to take a hit."

But for the county to unilaterally change the deal? Taylor said he'd never seen anything like it in more than 20 years with the union local, which represents 6,000 workers in 90 organizations.

"If this was a private employer and they had acted similarly ... the labor board would have been all over them," Taylor said.

The county was just ahead of the curve. While this lawsuit has proceeded, the role and very existence of public-sector unions have come under attack.

New governors in New Jersey, Ohio, Wisconsin and other states have taken attacking unions as a sort of populist mission, as if teachers and police officers are getting rich at the expense of struggling taxpayers.

It's become mainstream to wonder whether government employees should have the right to unionize at all.

Belisle called the county's breaking its word "a form of union-busting," a way to show who's in charge.

"I don't get it," he said. "All of a sudden county employees became the bad guy."

The county has fought to roll back union rights in subtler ways, resisting an effort by park rangers to join the Teamsters and suggesting they join a different union. (Perhaps because the Teamsters don't play ball.) The rangers won and joined the Teamsters.

Several unions are suing the county over a new law that takes away the right to binding arbitration. A judge sided with the county, but the ruling's being appealed.

In the deputies' case, Taylor said he expects the county to keep resisting even if the arbitrator rules for the union. Hodgson said the attorney handling the case was out of the office and he was unsure how the county will proceed.

Maybe you think the deputies should have been willing to compromise. But a contract has to mean something.

During arguments in Circuit Court, Assistant County Attorney William Dickerson said such salary agreements only apply after the money has been put in the budget. In other words, a union can have a contract, but the county gets the final say.

"If that were the case," Judge Philip Caroom asked, "wouldn't it make that provision in the collective bargaining agreement meaningless?"

Yes, it would.

The county also argued its broken promise isn't subject to arbitration - and that arbitration would be futile anyway - because no one can order the executive and County Council how to spend money.

Even if an arbitrator ruled for the union, the case would be right back in court, Dickerson said.

A Court of Special Appeals panel rejected that notion, saying an arbitrator can award damages for breach of contract. If it couldn't, there would be no point to binding arbitration.

With a level of frankness unusual in court rulings, the unanimous judges said the county's argument "has no merit."

 

 

 


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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.

  • We Are eXPOsing XPO’s Global Greed

    XPO Logistics is a top ten global logistics and transportation company with annual revenue of $15 billion and 89,000 employees, another 10,000 workers classified as independent contractors, and thousands more working for firms that subcontract with XPO. We are the REAL workers at XPO Logistics worldwide exposing the truth about the company’s global greed, illegal wage theft, unsafe conditions, and abhorrent and vicious anti-worker, anti-union tactics. 

    This greed includes mistreating former Con-way Freight workers in the United States who are being kept in the dark about terminal closures and layoffs, and the company’s illegal refusal to bargain contracts and denying their workers’ federally protected right to organize. It also includes port, rail and last-mile drivers around the country and in Southern California fighting wage theft in excess of $200 million because they are misclassified as independent contractors and denied the right to form their union. This greed has caused numerous lawsuits and strikes.  Greed also means an unsafe workplace and mistreating its warehouse employees.

    XPO’s greed extends to Europe beginning with breaking its promise to not layoff any workers for at least 18 months. French workers and the unions have been fighting back against XPO’s disrespect, lies and attempts to slash jobs. Similar struggles are taking place in Great Britain, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, and across Europe.

    Join the worldwide struggle now! Get involved with this campaign by joining the Facebook group “XPO Exposed.”

    Together, we can eXPOse the company’s global greed and win fairness, respect and dignity for tens of thousands of XPO employees around the world!

  • This webpage provides information on the Teamsters Union’s legislative advocacy at both the federal and state level as well as our field activity to support those policy positions and to get strong labor candidates elected to office.  Among other resources, you will find our federal legislative scorecard, formal statements of policy position and communications to Capitol Hill,  a weekly update on federal legislative happenings, an overview of bills we are tracking at the state level, and quick links to take action on priority issues.

  • Negotiations for the National Master Automobile Transporters Agreement (NMATA) recently concluded and a tentative agreement has been reached. On Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017 representatives from carhaul local unions met in Detroit to endorse the National Agreement and the Central-Southern Supplement, paving the way for members to vote. The Eastern and Western Supplements were approved in 2016, and will not be re-voted. However, all carhaul members will get to exercise their right to vote on the National Agreement and General Monetary Changes.

    Ballots will be mailed out on or about March 10 and are tentatively scheduled to be counted on March 30.

    The tentative agreement is from September 1, 2015, until May 31, 2021.

  • The IBT-Airline Division has established this page as a place to get up-to-date information about the Republic Airways Holdings (RAH) bankruptcy.  Please check here for the latest information about the bankruptcy.

  • 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.

  • 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.

     

 
 
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