It’s happening: we’re running a slate for the IBT Convention to represent Teamsters Local 695. Every five years, the Teamsters union has a Convention where every local sends representatives to vote on priorities and changes to the union.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER? Delegates nominate candidates for International Union office and they vote on changes to the Constitution that can create new membership rights or take members’ rights away. Hoffa told the media there will be a motion to increase the percentage needed to run for office, which could potentially end future International Union elections if we don’t reject it. We’re running to protect the rights of the rank and file, to vote against rules making it harder to participate in the union. More here from TDU. In August, every Teamster member will get a ballot to vote for the IBT officers, including the general president.
Ballots for 695’s delegates go out in the mail February 18th to all members of our local. Ballots must be returned by MARCH 23rd at 9am to be counted! (Don’t wait, vote early!)
Our slate: Matthew Sarenich, Sonci Stone, Cody Hanna, Andy Sernatinger, Mike Larson, Nikki Sampson, Gary Gilbertson. Vote REBUILD 695!
Hell of a time living through coronavirus, kind of upending the year we expected. All the same, here’s some news on what’s going on in 695 and with the IBT:
Membership meetings – Teamsters 695 has not held any membership meetings since the beginning of the pandemic. Usually these are held the third Tuesday of the month, with a break for the summer. Every meeting has been cancelled. Other unions have been holding meetings through Zoom or other online things to keep members involved — a quick check through the IBT constitution suggests that there’s no rule against this, so its something our local could do. The major consequence is that the set of bylaws Rebuild 695 put forward for regular steward elections, directly-elected bargaining committees, and just cause removal to end “gag orders” has been put on hold indefinitely. Soon as we know there will be a new meeting, we’ll put something out.
IBT General Election – All Teamsters will get a direct vote for the Teamster international union top offices in the fall of 2021. Jimmy Hoffa Jr. is retiring, and there are a couple of big slates contending: Teamsters United (O’Brien/Zuckerman) and Teamster Power (Vairma). Why does this matter? It sets the general direction of the union: how the Teamsters union will deal with national contracts (UPS, UPS freight, YRC, etc), officer salaries, pension plans, politics, and organizing efforts.
695 Convention Delegate Elections – Every Teamster local gets a number of delegates for the IBT Convention in July in Las Vegas. The Convention formally nominates officer, but more importantly deals with the IBT Constitution — rules that bind the union and every local. The big thing that’ll get fought over this year at the Convention is the “2/3’s” rule, where even though the majority of UPS Teamster voted “No” on their national contract, the IBT ratified the contract anyway saying that it needed 2/3’s to vote it down.
Delegates could also introduce items to the convention – for instance, lots of part-timers are sour that they pay the same dues as full-timers: that’s set in the constitution, so locals can’t change that on their own.
These are elected positions, so 695 members will get to vote on who we want to send to the IBT Convention.
By now everyone knows that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a serious pandemic that threatens serious illness and death. Governor Tony Evers has declared a state of emergency following more confirmed cases of the virus in Wisconsin, and is ordering public schools to close starting Wednesday, March 18th. It can’t be overstated how serious this public health crisis is.
As Teamsters, we’re not powerless here. We have not heard from Local 695, but there are examples from other Teamster locals we should take from. Local 705 in Chicago has been contacting their members’ employers asking them to suspend absentee discipline during the crisis: no one should lose their job to take care of themselves or a loved one.
At least two weeks of paid sick leave for all workers;
Extension of unemployment benefits for workers temporarily laid off or whose work hours have been disrupted;
Payroll tax cuts for all lower- and middle-income workers; and
Protection against unfair termination or discrimination for those suspected of being exposed to the coronavirus.
There are things that can be done to protect our health and our livelihood. Read your contracts for any health and safety information, contact Local 695 asking them to get to work on this yesterday, and organize for what we need — we don’t expect anyone’s going to do it for us.
“Whenever a collective bargaining agreement is about to be negotiated, modified or extended at the request of the employer or by this Local Union, the principle executive officer or business representative shall call a meeting at which the membership shall determine and authorize the bargaining demands to be made.”
Bylaws of Teamsters Local 695, Section 26 Negotiations, Ratification of Agreements, Strikes and Lockouts (A)
The contract at Madison Metro Transit (City of Madison) expired December 31st, 2018. According to our Local Union’s current bylaws, the union was supposed to call a meeting where “the membership shall determine and authorize the bargaining demands to be made.” Nearly a year later, this meeting still has not happened. Members have heard little about the status of the ongoing bargaining; “We’ll tell you when there’s something to know.” At the two meetings we’ve had in the last year and a half, both times business agents declared that we would not be talking about bargaining.
Rank and file Metro Teamsters are circulating a petition demanding that we get the meeting that was supposed to happen BEFORE the contract expired. Members need to be able to say what we want and what we’re willing to bargain to get it. We have dozens of signatures that we’ll submit soon — if you’d like to sign the petition but haven’t had a chance please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you in touch with people who have them.
If you’re a 695 Teamster at another shop and want help putting something like this together, send us a message and we’ll help with what you need.
Its been a week since the vote count and the smoke has cleared some, so we can start to look at what we got from running in this election.
As we’ve said over and over, this was the first officer election in 20 years. The last election was in 1998 when a 695 business agent, Ruth Ann Stadola, ran the Stadola slate ran against incumbent officers. Teamsters Local 695 does not have a culture of engaging in the local, so not only did no one expect an election — most people didn’t even know we could have them! By running, we showed that members can fight for the direction of the union.
Second, we built connections across the local. When we started this campaign, we were mostly Teamsters at Madison Metro. That’s no secret. Local 695 has shops from outside Milwaukee to La Crosse — there are dozens of represented sites, but most of us only know Teamsters where we work. We went out to meet other Teamsters in Local 695, talked about the common issues we have and started to build the connections that we will need to rebuild this local.
Third, we educated about what is happening. We named out our issues: appointed stewards, secret contract bargaining, worse contracts, only 24 hours to read proposed contracts before we vote, union representatives too friendly with management. Wherever we went, we heard sister and brother Teamsters say, “I thought it was just us.” It ain’t. We exposed how Local 695 has continued to give themselves raises as our union membership declines and the quality of our representation gets worse.
Lastly, the results of the election clearly show that this isn’t “just a Metro thing” — just under half of our Local voted for Rebuild 695. Our message of democracy, member involvement and fighting for better conditions is something that resonates. The election administrator complimented us on a very competitive run, said we did extremely well for a first run.
The incumbents on the Schultz slate had all the advantages: more money, access to member information we could not have, access to the site lists, stewards who could push their message, knowledge of when we would make our mailings so they could make counter mailings, the ability to call craft meetings and tell people “remember to vote for us”. Any protests we made went to them as the sitting Executive Board to make determinations on — no justice there.
We’re going to continue to be active in the local. We’ve received many questions about what to do next — we’ll be having a meeting in the coming weeks to regroup and to talk about what to do. Keep reading this website, we’ll post things as they come up. We also want to encourage Teamsters to submit news about what’s going on at your shop: email@example.com We have to give a big shout out to Teamsters for a Democratic Union, who helped give us advice and wrote the book on rank and file campaigning. If you haven’t already, JOIN TDU! This is a national organization of Teamster members fighting for the spirit of our union.
Votes were counted Friday, October 25th at Teamsters 695, 1314 N Stoughton Rd in Madison. Rebuild 695 brought observers: Andy Sernatinger, Sonci Stone, Nikki Sampson and Matt Sarenich; rank and file member Eric Johnson also came to observe. Wayne Schultz Slate had staff members Brian and Sandy as their primary observers; Rick Roeth and Bill Roeth were present for most of the count as well.
1097 ballots were cast in the election. Merriman-River began by scanning the outside barcode on every ballot to make sure that they were eligible to vote before opening the envelopes for the vote tally. The Teamster dues system (TITAN) automatically challenged 73 ballots on the basis of their dues not being up to date. Rebuild 695 issued challenges for 4 ballots on the basis of receiving returned undeliverable mail for our campaign literature when they were still able to cast a ballot. There was overlap between one of the Rebuild ballots and the TITAN challenges, for a total of 76 challenged ballots. One ballot was sent in using a personal envelope instead of the official return mail and was disqualified by the election agent (never opened).
Challenged ballots were held aside in case the margin was close, at which point the slates would attempt to resolve which ballots were eligible — these ballots were never opened as the margin of victory was larger than the number of ballots (opening them wouldn’t change the result of the election).
1020 ballots were then opened by Merriman-River, had their anonymous votes taken out and placed in a box to be counted. 994 ballots were counted through the ballot scanner; 23 ballots had to be hand counted because they were not able to be fed through the scanner. 3 ballots were void: there was a blank ballot, a ballot with identifiable writing and one with both sides marked.
The majority of ballots were slate ballots, though there were many ballots which were marked for individual candidates in both slates — some ballots did not mark for every office. The margin of victory for the Schultz Slate was greater than the number of challenge ballots (73), so the challenges did not need to be resolved and those ballots were not opened. The results are below (ST 1 is the machine count, ST 2 is the hand count, Total is machine + hand count).
Hey folks, we’ll have a longer post soon but we wanna make sure to get the word out for people eager to hear.
1097 ballots cast, with 73 challenged ballots (flagged by the system for dues payment). The result is 540 for Schultz Slate, 454 for Rebuild 695. The margin of victory was 85 votes, so the election consultant did not open the challenged ballots since they would not have changed the outcome of the election.
Over the weekend we’ll post the full breakdown by office, but we’re very proud that nearly half of Local 695, 46%, voted for Rebuild 695. The incumbents had many advantages and no local officer election had been held in Teamsters 695 since 1998. We gave a very competitive race, and we don’t take the results to mean we were “beaten”.
We are still Teamsters, we are union people. Stick with the union, fight for the union. Today wasn’t our day, but its far from over.
This being the first local election we’ve had since 1998, most of us aren’t familiar with the process. Here’s what’s going on:
Friday, October 25th the ballots will be counted. According to Merriman-River Group, there’s no limit on the number of observers to the ballot count but they reserve the right to cap if there are too many people in the room (according to them, this doesn’t really happen ever).
Both slates will have their representatives meet at the Teamster Hall the morning of the 25th at 9:30am. We will then go to the Post Office where the ballots have been sent to collect them, and bring them back to the Hall on Stoughton Road — Merriman-River again says that only the Post Office has keys to the box where ballots have been sent. Counting will then commence at the Teamster Hall, and should go until about 4pm.
As soon as we have the results, we will broadcast them on our website and send emails/texts to our lists. Whatever the result, we’ll be having a party Friday night, 10/25/19 from 7 – 10pm at Bierock, 2911 N Sherman Ave, Madison WI 53704. See you there!
For this campaign, we’ve driven around the state to talk with Teamsters in Local 695 about our workplaces, our contracts and how our union is working. Everywhere we go we hear similar things: “We thought it was just us that were having problems”, “Things gotta change”, “The guys at the union think we work for them, instead of them working for us!”
The Wayne Schultz Slate spent a small fortune on mailings this last week to try and scare rank and file Teamsters and say that ONLY THEY can run this union. They make it all about themselves – you won’t find anything in their materials about what working Teamsters are dealing with or how they’re going to improve our union and our workplaces. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what they’re saying: they’re the experts, so shut up and go back to work, pay your dues and let them handle things in the back rooms with management.
Our slate is full of strong, capable leaders. We have people who have been elected to public office, run departments of government, run businesses, improved work processes, been pillars of the local community, but most importantly FOUGHT FOR OUR FELLOW TEAMSTERS. We could try to sell you on why Jake, Andy, Ech, Sonci, Vince, Sergio and Chris are better qualified, but more than anything our folks with Rebuild 695 are committed to the membership: we’re smart, we’re capable and good lookin’, but we think that YOU are the experts on your work and that the union’s job is to listen to members, ask what working Teamsters want and to FIGHT for the rank and file. We work for you, and we will bust our tails to prove it. Right now 695 may let you talk, but they ain’t listening.
Our members aren’t shy about what we want. Everywhere in 695, we hear complaints about how our leadership only gives us 24 hours to read the contracts they’ve spent months on before forcing a vote; we want MORE TIME. We hear regularly that all our leadership wants in contract negotiations is a raise and they don’t care about the working conditions that can turn a good job into a bad one. Why? Because that increases their pot of dues. We don’t want our local to act like an employer-friendly insurance company. We want the union to represent the will of the members and fight for things that matter to us.
First, we’ll inform the members. It is 2019 and we still do not have a website for Local 695. This is something a third-grader could do in today’s world. We’ve been told its too complicated for Local 695, but as soon as Rebuild entered the election Wayne Schultz and the rest of the leadership figured out how to make a website to save themselves pretty quick. We will build our communications, give out information about how the union works and how to get involved. This is a MINIMUM for union democracy.
Second, we’ll make sure that we have a strong steward system in place that has the confidence of the members. Appointed stewards show their loyalty is to the leadership, not the members. And members don’t believe that their stewards are going to fight for them right now. We will make sure that our stewards are picked by workers at their own sites, and we’ll honor their choices—even if they disagree with us. Because YOU are the union, the leadership is not the union.
Third, we’ll get staffing to support and represent members.
We aren’t interested in “cleaning house” – we want people who are going to work
for members. We want as much continuity as possible to make sure the business
of the union is taken care of. We’ll hire staff as we need to make sure that ALL
the shops in 695 are getting the attention they want and need. We’ll hire
organizers to make sure that we’re not letting non-union businesses drive down
our working conditions and to expand solidarity among workers in Wisconsin.
Above all, we will follow the members. This is our union together. Rebuild is not coming in as “the better experts” – we have plenty of things we can and will do better, but our campaign is about bringing democracy and a fighting spirit back to Teamsters Local 695.