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Misleadership in 695

We picked the name “Rebuild” because we want to stop the decline of our union and we think the only way to do that is to empower our membership for a fighting, democratic union.

Don’t believe we’re in decline? Let’s take a look at some numbers filed by Local 695 with the Department of Labor.

Starting from year 2000, we had a peak membership of 7,014 which has fallen to 4,256 in 2018. Is this all Act 10? Right to Work? No. The biggest dip in membership was all before 2011, and we’ve only continued the downward trend.

Last year, Wis Pak in Watertown, WI voted overwhelmingly to decertify Teamsters Local 695 as their union: 76 to 25. This is an embarrassment for our union and only demonstrates how low confidence has gotten in Teamsters 695 by the membership.

In the meantime, officer salaries have shot up from an average of $89,000 in 2000 to $130,000 in 2018. Let that sink in for a second: our membership cut nearly in half while the salaries for leadership keep getting higher. What does it matter to the current leadership if our contracts are getting worse or our membership falls off? They’ve never had it better.

This is why we need a change in leadership and to REBUILD Teamsters Local 695. Vote!

Source: United States Department of Labor, LM-2 forms filed by Teamsters Local 695. https://olms.dol-esa.gov/query/getOrgQry.do . Available September 24th, 2019.

Metro Teamsters: We Want Our Contract Meeting

“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 rebuild695@gmail.com 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.

Have a great Thanksgiving all! Solidarity!

What We Got From Running

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.

Even less than 100 days to assemble a slate and campaign, and with all of those advantages for the incumbents, we still took 47% of the vote. In 2016, only 475 members in Local 695 voted in the IBT General Presidential election; this election had 1097 votes, engaging the membership in a way that hadn’t been done in decades. We are damned proud.

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: rebuild695@gmail.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.

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SOLIDARITY!

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Detailed Election Results

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).

We’ll write up some thoughts on these results later, but as many are surely curious we wanted to make sure this information was out ASAP.

Election Results (short)

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.

Solidarity, REBUILD 695!

Votes Counted Friday

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!

Rebuild Works For You

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.

So what will we do when we win?

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.

Vote!

En español

Hello Teamsters! Ballots should be at your homes by now. Be sure to fill them out and send them back in the mail. In case you need a little help, here’s the basics of how to fill it out:

If you have not received a ballot or need a replacement, call 877-324-7655.

Vota!

Si no has recibo tu boleta para votar antes de 11 de octubre o necesitas una nueva llama al 877-324-7654.

All They Got is Fear

Sister and brother Teamsters,

This week we will be receiving ballots for the election of officers for our union, Teamsters Local 695. This will be the first election of officers since 1998 – that is because information about our union and how to participate is regularly hidden from the members. Only one sitting officer, President Dave Brugger, was elected and all officers since that time (including Wayne Schultz) have been appointed and brought on through acclamation.

We are proud of the campaign that we have run. We have reached out to as many members as we are able to talk about the union and to hear from fellow workers about what their experiences have been. We have put forward ideas, a vision and a plan for how our union can and should be. We’ve made information open to members to empower the rank and file. Where we have criticized, we have talked about actions and behaviors, not attacks on the personal character of our opponents.

The Schultz Slate, on the other hand, has been obsessed with discrediting rank and file Teamsters, attacking each of us personally, and using the boss’s tactics to stay in office. They have offered no plans for addressing the problems of our union, and instead said that there are no problems! They have made claims that we will “clean house”, which we have never said.

They do this because they have no answers, all they have is fear. They try to scare the hell out of people with lies and empty accusations, and bully members so that no one sees that beneath it all they have nothing to offer. Their argument for keeping them in office is because they are already there. This is how they run the union: keeping information from members, appointing their own people to keep control, and then forcing members to accept what they’ve done – they give us 24 hours to read a contract before forcing a vote, because they know that if you look at what they have to offer it is junk.

Strong unions are built on a strong membership. The Rebuild 695 Slate is our effort to give name to the problems that Teamsters in this Local have, and to offer that there is another way. We want a democratic union, run by members for the members. The Schultz Slate’s appeal is for protecting themselves.

Solidarity. VOTE REBUILD 695!

Nominations Meeting Report

We are on the ballot!!! Last night, Tuesday 9/17/19 about 40 Rebuild supporters attended the Teamster Membership Meeting to nominate our candidates and make sure that we’re getting a fair election. There were two Teamster brothers from UPS Freight in attendance and I believe one retiree; the rest were staff for Local 695 and the current Officers.

President Brugger handed the meeting over to Matthew Fitch from Merriman River Group to be the election consultant. We then took turns nominating for each office between the incumbents and our slate. No surprise, the incumbents were nominated by their Business Agents and we were nominated by rank and file Teamsters. We will be running a full slate, and after a coin toss the ballot will be divided left/right, with REBUILD 695 slate and candidates on the RIGHT side.

Ballots will be printed September 26th in Skokie, IL and sent to every member of 695 by mail on Friday, September 27th — you should have it in your mailbox starting Monday, September 30th (it will be mailed from Chicago, so there might be a day or two extra depending). Ballots will be returned by mail to the election consultant’s address in Connecticut, so they are not being delivered to Local 695; same thing for undeliverable ballots, they go back to CT. More details on the voting process as it becomes available.

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Quick candid picture from the floor.

Other things: the nominations were at the beginning of the meeting and the election details were at the end, so everyone sat through the membership meeting. Meetings are suspended over the summer, so Recording Secretary Whedan read four months worth of meeting minutes to be approved. A few highlights:

  • They gave themselves and all the staff a $500 bonus at the beginning of the summer
  • They bought a new car
  • They contracted new carpet cleaning and snow removal for the Hall
  • They spent $150 on candy/flag hats for the Labor Day parades in La Crosse and Janesville each
  • They read statements thanking them for said candy and hats

With the exception of Business Agent Rob Moss’s report on negotiations at Saputo Cheese, all the Business Agents quickly reported their activity as “general barn maintenance and negotiations” and moved on — we heard more about the candy than the activity of the union.