Ballots have gone out – they were mailed Friday, September 30th and by now every eligible member of 695 should have received mail from the Merriman-River group with your ballot.
The election has two slates, though you are able to vote for individual candidates if you would like. Its important that you do not write on your ballot, just fill it in. We are encouraging a slate vote for Rebuild695 — just fill in the oval next to “Rebuild695” at the top and it will cast your vote for every candidate on our slate.
Ballots will be counted the morning of Wednesday, October 26th at the Teamsters 695 union hall. To make sure your ballot is counted, it has to be received by that morning – to be safe, be sure your ballot is mailed by Friday, 10/21.
If you have not received a ballot or lost yours, you can request a replacement ballot by calling Merriman-River Group at 877-324-7655.
Talk to your folks, make sure they’re turning in those ballots!
We’re trying to meet as many Teamsters in 695 as we can in this campaign, but we can’t be everywhere. This Saturday we’re hosting a virtual meeting so you can hear from the Rebuild slate, meet candidates, ask any questions you have. Details on this facebook event, or register directly for the zoom for Saturday, 10/8/22 at 11am.
Elections for our union’s officers are this fall. Ballot are being mailed Friday, 9/30 and will start arriving the first week of October. This is a critical election: our local’s officers choose and direct our Business Agents, decide on union policy, decide if and when to hold meetings, and set the tone of how our union acts.
This election is your chance as a Teamster member to choose: your vote is your voice. The choice is between status quo with Larry Wedan, Rick Roeth, and the current administration, OR a democratic union with REBUILD695.
Rebuild695 has put together these newsletters for the last three years, something that the union should have been doing. We ran for election in 2019 and got just under half the vote of the union’s 3800 members at 60+ worksites. We fought for COVID relief & bathrooms. We put together videos for the last two contracts. If that’s the stuff you think the union should be doing, vote REBUILD695.
Ballots will be counted Wednesday, 10/26/22. Your last day to mail your ballot and sure its counted is 10/21/22.
Open Enrollment on Health/Dental/Vision 9/26 -10/21
Open enrollment for insurance benefits started 9/26/22 and will go through Friday, 10/21/22. Flex Spending enrollment will be 10/31/2 to 11/18/22.
GHC is the lowest bidder in the plan again this year, so GHC is the free plan for Teamsters. Rates for the other plans are listed in the table below. (The contract says that the employer will pay 100% of the lowest bidder—employee pays the remainder if they select another plan, so if you want Quartz, Dean, or something else you have to pay the difference.
DENTAL RATES (monthly):
Employee Only: $36.60
Employee + Spouse: $83.73
Employee + Child(ren): $84.42
Mayor Giving Everyone $1,000 Jan 1
The Mayor announced last week that due to a budget surplus, she will be giving every City employee $1,000 at the start of 2023. (That is, if the council approves it…)
Its not a “retention bonus”, and its not “hazard pay”. They have extra money and they’re giving a one-time payment. As far as its been explained, there’s no stipulation on how long you had to have been here, whether you worked through COVID, how long you have to be here after you receive it.
Mayor is up for reelection in 2023. Coincidence?
LABOR BEAT: UW Nurses; Rail; UPS
UW Nurses Nurses at UW hospital were set to strike September 13 to 16th for recognition of their union and to start bargaining. Nurses there were represented by the union SEIU before 2011 and the hospital stopped dealing with them. The hospital is weird because its not “public” or “private”, it’s a joint-authority so there’s not a clear place in the law.
UW nurses have been organizing for the past five years and decided they would strike to get the hospital to recognize them. At the last minute on 9/12/22, the hospital and union agreed to take the case to the WERC to see what they say. If the WERC gives them the thumbs up, they will have a union vote and bargain.
Rail Rail unions have been in dispute with the rail employers conference for about three years now. Biden intervened to try and come to an agreement: rail workers get no paid sick days and are on call 24/7. The Biden agreement got them some excused unpaid days. Rail workers, including Teamsters, vote on that and may still strike if they reject the offer.
UPS The largest Teamster employer has their contract up next year. The union has been talking about striking over part-time jobs that have been replacing full-time benefitted positions as the company reports record profits. UPS workers have been pushing for air conditioning in delivery vehicles & facilities after drivers died in this summer’s heatwave.
The UPS local near us is Teamsters 344, with facilities in Middleton and East Madison.
Leo Vargas (shop)
Vacation carryover requests must be submitted by the end of September. Unless there’s an agreement with the City, they’re sticking to one week carryover. Any updates on that would come from Rick / 695.
EPL Rules Changed in July
Mayor changed the rules for EPL so that you can no longer get it while seeking a diagnosis. You have to have evidence of a positive test, like a picture. (At-home tests are acceptable.)
New Ops Supervisor: Will Henthorn (was a driver)
New Shop Manager: DeAndre Newson. Newson comes from Traffic Engineering where he was a manager for radio comms.
No flu shots at Metro this year. If you want one, you have to go to a pharmacy or your doctor.
Nominations meeting: Tuesday, 9/20/22 @ 7pm. At Teamsters 695, 1314 N Stoughton Ave, Madison WI.
Ballots go out: Friday, September 30th ballots are mailed out to all union members. Ballots are sent via USPS, so they should begin to arrive in mailboxes Monday or Tuesday, the first week of October.
Last day to mail ballots to be counted: Ballots should be mailed by Saturday 10/22/22 to ensure they are counted. The absolute latest to return a ballot would be Monday 10/24/22, though there’s a chance that your ballot will not arrive in time.
Ballots Counted: Wednesday, 10/26/22. Actual count of ballots will be at the union hall beginning in the morning.
We’ve put together a flyer that we’ll be handing out explaining the information about the election, a brief on 2019, and then what we’re about and five reasons why you should vote for us in this election.
The incumbent slate has already started its attacks on us before we’ve even nominated, trying to scare people saying all kinds of things. They’ll say whatever they’re going to say, but we want to put forward a vision for a strong union that engages the membership and fights for what we need.
Originally printed at Teamster Rebel. Written By Ryan Haney, Teamsters 745 – Dallas, TX. Reposted here as a useful explanation of the Teamsters union; not an endorsement.
You’re fortunate to be a member of an organization with over one million fellow Teamsters across North America — our “core industries” are parcel (UPS, DHL), trucking (Yellow, ABF, TForce), carhaul, warehouse, waste management, and beverage, though many other Teamsters work in a variety of other industries. It’s because you are a union member that you have rights not afforded to the millions of non-union workers in the United States, such as due process and collective bargaining.
The basic structure of our union starts at the most fundamental level, the Local. Well-operated Locals have monthly membership meetings where they discuss important matters like organizing campaigns, representational issues, and contract negotiations. All of these matters directly affect your ability to provide for your family, and it’s important to attend these meetings to stay informed. In many contracts, you can be relieved of work duties (if you are scheduled during the meeting) to attend, with the permission of your shop steward.
Above the Local are the Joint Councils, which adjudicate matters affecting issues between Locals in those are Joint Councils. The highest body of the Teamster organization is the International Union, or the IBT (International Brotherhood of Teamsters). Current IBT leaders are General President Sean O’Brien and General Secretary Fred Zuckerman, who were elected by the membership in 2021 on a platform to re-vitalize the union and bring a more aggressive stance against the employers — so it’s more important now than ever to go from simply being a dues-paying member to a union activist, because leaders can’t do anything without the strong backing of the rank and file membership.
Our union has a proud history going back to 1903, though many public misperceptions still exist about the Teamsters.
Following the historic success in Minneapolis, these Teamsters essentially laid the groundwork for organizing trucking throughout the Midwest, eventually reaching all areas of the country. Combined with the leadership of up-and-comer former grocery worker James R. (“Jimmy”) Hoffa, union membership soared by hundreds of thousands over the next two decades. By the 1960s, the Teamsters were considered one of the most powerful unions in the country, capable of shutting down the entire shipping industry with a national strike, if it came to that.
Because of that potential power, the Federal Government took great interest in breaking the back of the Teamsters Union. They identified various connections with organizing crime — essentially a “deal with the devil” made under elements of the Hoffa leadership, dating back to when striking locals had to hire their own muscle to protect their picket lines and members from violent agents of the employers and police. Sadly, that deal with the devil only entrenched organized crime within the union, allowing them to use our considerable financial resources to finance mob investments in real estate, providing “no show” jobs to career criminals, and leading to a shift in focus from serving the membership to serving mafia syndicates. This problem only deepened after the murder of popular leader Jimmy Hoffa in 1975, as his replacements in leadership only deepened their ties to criminals.
Today, corruption and scandals no longer permeate the Teamsters Union. In fact, it is one of the cleanest and most democratic unions in the country, even if people tend to only remember the drama of the 1950s through 1980s. That is something to be extremely proud of, and participation in our democratic process should be considered our sacred right and duty. And nobody wants you to neglect this process more than your boss.
Teamsters and all unions are facing an existential struggle in the 21st century.
But the enemy is not internal — the enemy is a parasitic class of billionaires who want nothing more than to destroy every union, turning workers in decent jobs with health care benefits and pensions into slaves to a “gig economy” app without any legal rights to form unions and collectively bargain. Even though the number of union members has been stagnant or dropping for the last two decades, oligarchs like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and other modern “Robber Barons” are still willing to devote their virtually unlimited financial resources to revoke every last union card in America.
The billionaires of the world, which IBT General President O’Brien accurately calls a “white collar crime syndicate,” aren’t doing this just to make even more money. For the billionaire class, it is all about power — the power to determine the conditions of every working person’s life on and off the job, and the power to totally undermine the few shreds of democracy that still exist in our country. They don’t want to just rule the workplace. They want to ensure their rulership over the world, and to preserve the capitalist system that guarantees massive profits at the expense of the working class.
How do we stop them? The billionaire class is very conscious of their position in the world and highly organized to impact both major political parties in the US. Unfortunately, the working class is more disorganized than it has been since the 1920s. Union density, the measure of union members within the entire workforce, is so low that we have few sources of effective leverage against the power of millionaire and billionaire employers. The workers of America also largely lack class consciousness, which is a sense of belonging and solidarity with all fellow wage-earners against our common enemy.
Union activists who understand what we are up against follow the old slogan, “Agitate, Educate, and Organize.” We agitate against every violation of our rights in the workplace, bringing as many co-workers as possible into that struggle. We constantly educate co-workers on contractual work rules, the importance of belonging to their union, and about broader political issues facing working people as a whole. We aggressively organize wherever we can to bring more and more workers into our union, as well as supporting the organizing efforts of other unions.
The single-most effective “nuclear option” unionists have is the strike, or the refusal to work until an adequate compromise is met with the company, improving our standard of living and, equally important, involving every single member in a common struggle that strengthens our union for the next fight. It’s possible that UPS workers, the largest Teamster bargaining unit, could be facing a strike in 2023 and it’s incumbent on every member to support our brothers and sisters in that fight.
Unfortunately, not all locals have a realistic understanding of what it will take to build a more powerful union.
If you happen to be in one of these sleepy locals with officers who seem to do little more than passively collect a salary, it will be up to rank and file members to organize themselves and take matters into their own hands. While our potential has improved greatly with changes in our IBT leadership, not every officer or business agent is on board with the more aggressive position advocated by leaders like Sean O’Brien.
Fortunately, TDU exists to provide excellent education and advice to workplace militants looking to turn a bad local into a fighting local. Any Teamster, whether or not you are an official member of the TDU caucus, can contact them for advice via phone or e-mail. TDU regularly organizes educational and strategic meetings across the country wherever a group of rank and filers are in need of support. You can also be regularly informed about the work of TDU by becoming a member — and even better, attending the upcoming 2022 TDU Convention in Chicago, October 28-30 where you’ll meet hundreds of other Teamster militants with a vast collective knowledge of how to build union power.
New Metro General Manager Justin Stuehrenberg is giving Metro a management restructure — bumping up General Supervisors to Managers and creating a set of super-managers above them in each department. The reasoning is that Metro is gonna expand and have multiple sites and BRT.
Til now, each department has had one Manager (Chris in Ops, Butler and now Erica in the Shop, Mick in Marketing, and Jennifer in Finance). The restructure means they’re promoting every General Supervisor (Phil & Jennifer in Ops; Fink in the Shop; Jessy in Marketing) to full managers, and then hiring someone above them.
What kind of money are we talking? Base pay for a General Sup is $87k. Managers get a base of $105k. (That’s a $20,000 raise!) The category managers (or whatever they will be called) will have to live in Madison, but will have a max pay of approximately $150k. A lot of the existing managers are pissed that they’d have to live in Madison to get the big bump.
Doing some quick math: at least four general sups got moved up to manager, which will cost $80,000. Add in four category managers for $150k each, that’s another $600k (not counting benefits).
Meanwhile, the number of mechanics at Metro has not been increased in at least 20 years, but there are many more buses. Inflation is at a record 9%, but no movement on hazard pay or retention bonuses.
UNDERSTAND YOUR CONTRACT
Here’s a brief what you need to know.
Our union is called Teamsters, Local 695. A union is a workers’ organization: workers are union members, the members vote on representatives (stewards, officers) and approve or reject contracts that have been bargained. If you vote NO on a contract, you are saying you don’t think its acceptable or the bargain didn’t get all you think it could. The union our organization — it has problems, but they are our problems.
At Metro, people in the union are all the drivers, mechanics and shop workers, the customer service reps, finance clerks/techs, and paratransit coordinators. Outside Metro, the union represents mainly private sector employers at warehouses, food processing plants, concrete companies, manufacturing places, stuff like that.
The contract is an agreement between the union (representing us) and the employer (City of Madison) that spells out wages, working conditions, benefits, work rules, and so on. It’s a legally binding agreement. If the employer violates the agreement, we can file grievances (talk to your steward) – essentially a complaint that they broke their end of the deal.
Every contract is different and has its history about why things are the way they are. For us, there was a strike in the early 1980’s of bus drivers that the union won. Jayme J (who was part of the strike) said before he retired that the Mayor at the time conceded and said, “Give them whatever they want.” That victory is what established some of the best stuff in our contract: spread time, 40 hour guarantee, overtime language, etc.
Collective action is what makes the big leaps for contracts. Labor lawyer Bob Schwartz’s book, “No Contract, No Peace” explains it like contract time is war time where both sides try to make their advances, and the settled contract is a temporary peace.
– The union has bargained raises for every represented worker (see the wage tables in the back of the contract). These are currently set for Jan 1. The rest of the City got a 0.5% raise, our raises are 2—2.5% each year (and we have maintained 100% paid healthcare).
– When you read the contract, you have to read the entire section.
-Long-time practices and MOU’s are also part of the contract, even though they are not written in the book. You can grieve changes to past practice.
Deb B (driver)
David J (driver)
New people starting
Metro is desperate for drivers. Every place is trying to hire, but they’re especially hurting for bus drivers.
DRIVERS: There are three classes of new drivers right now; more than 20 people. Over the last year, only about half of new people have stuck it out.
Shop: Fink promoted to manager Ops: Jen Wiegert and Phil promoted to managers, same level as Chris Planning: New planning manager, Sean Hedgpeth. Replaced Drew. Julian is gone as a planner. Marketing: Jessy promoted to manager, same level as Mick. Jeremy is the new CSC supervisor
Still waiting for the WERC to issue a ruling about the City trying to remove Finance workers from our union. (Booooo!)
New Teamster General President (guy in charge of the entire union across the country): Sean O’Brien of the Teamsters United slate won against Steve Vairma, more than 2-to-1. O’Brien’s big thing is targeting UPS (workers there are Teamster) and talking about organizing Amazon into the union.
Teamster rail (BLET) contract goes to federal “cool-off”. Biden intervenes to prevent strike between railroaders and employers.
LABOR BEAT: Worker News from the US
Union workers at CUNA Mutual on Madion’s west side have been negotiating their contract this year. CUNA (finance & retirement corporation) made record profits but is trying to cut their health insurance and outsource their work. Their union, OPEIU 39, has been having pickets many Saturdays. HONK if you pass to show some love.
Workers at Starbucks have been filing for union elections across the country—more than 150 shops have won elections to be repp’d by Workers United (SEIU). In Madison, the Starbucks downtown just voted up the union there.
Elections in Local 695 are every three years for officers of the union. In 2019, Rebuild695 ran and had the first contested election in the local in 20 years. The most common thing we heard during the election was, “We get to vote for these guys?” People had no idea that there could be elections for the officers.
In 2019 we ran a full slate for the union’s executive board, and took 47% of the votes cast; Schultz Slate (guys who have been running the union) of course got 53% and kept all the positions. Last year in 2021, we ran in the elections for delegates to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters convention and the margin was only 16 votes. Now in 2022, its time for another election. We intend to run a slate again this year for the union’s officer positions.
How does this work?
SEPTEMBER – nominations are opened, and candidates announce themselves for a position.
OCTOBER – ballots go out in the mail to all members
NOVEMBER – returned ballots are counted
JANUARY – new officer term begins. Whoever wins, starts January 1st.
What are the positions?
There are seven (7) officers of the union, who together form the executive board of Teamsters Local 695. The executive board meets regularly to conduct union business, and reviews the actions of the principal officer and business agents. Three positions are full-time paid, doing work as business agents (Sec-Treas, President, Recording Secretary), the other four are for working Teamster members.
Secretary-Treasurer (#1 position) – This is the principal officer of the union, runs the union hall, makes decisions on union staff, manages the financials of the union, and ultimately sets the day-to-day policy of the union. Also serves as a full-time business agent for the union.
President – Runs the monthly membership meetings and Executive Board meetings. Full-time business agent for the union.
Recording Secretary – Takes minutes of the membership and Executive Board meetings. Full-time business agent.
Vice President – Acts as president when needed, casts a vote on the Executive Board. (Working Teamster)
Trustees (3) – Audits the financials of the union that the Secretary-Treasurer keeps to make sure that they’re correct. Casts a vote on the Executive Board. (Working Teamster)
Please contact us if you have any thoughts or questions, are interested in being part of this election, or want to set up a meeting with our slate: firstname.lastname@example.org