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  • Teamsters: Organizing For Power
         Forming a union at your workplace gives you and your coworkers the power to stand up for your families, your futures and yourselves. Through a legal, binding contract it gives you a strong, collective voice with which to demand decent working conditions, with fair pay and benefits.

    That's what the Teamsters are all about: decent working conditions, better pay, strong benefits and dignity and respect on the job.

         The Teamsters can help you explain the benefits of union membership to your fellow employees, and assist in planning an organizing drive.

         Once you and your coworkers become Teamsters, working with your local union representatives, contract language and proposals for negotiations are developed. Local union officers and business agents fight with you to win a fair, good-paying Teamster contract with job protection that you deserve.

         Teamsters contracts are the best in the labor movement. We have earned our reputation for bargaining hard and demanding the best protections and wages. For more than a century, Teamsters solidarity has kept corporate America from holding the cards and calling all the shots. When you join the Teamsters, you put that history to work for you.

    We are the Teamsters. We are 1.4 million strong and our membership is growing. Join us. WE WIN WHEN WE STAND AS ONE.    

    Feb 01, 2007

    In addition to job protection, benefits and wages provided for in Teamster Contracts, the International Union provides for additional services offered at a discounted cost to the membership. Because of the strength and size of our membership, the International is able to negotiate these lower costs for services ranging from legal to medical to financial. We are always on the lookout for ways to save our Teamster families money and increase their prosperity.

    Teamster Privilege

    A comprehensive package of benefits, services and discounts available only to Teamsters and their families.

    • Teamster Privilege Life Insurance

    • Teamster Privilege Accident Insurance

    • Teamster Privilege Credit Card

    • Teamster Privilege Dental and Health Plan

    • Teamster Privilege Mortgage and Real Estate

    • Teamster Privilege Legal Services

    • Teamster Privilege Loan Program

    • Teamster Privilege Family Savers Discounts 

    Teamster Scholarships

    James R. Hoffa Scholarship Fund: Created in 2000, the union awards college scholarships to Teamsters dependents through this fund. It awards seventy-five scholarships annually. Twenty-five of the awards, five per region, total $10,000 each. These four-year scholarships are disbursed at the rate of $2,500 per year and are renewable annually. Fifty of the awards, ten per region, are one-time $1,000 grants. 

    Teamster Disaster Relief Services

    Teamsters families can count on their brothers and sisters in times of crisis. In the past, the Union has coordinated relief efforts for Teamsters caught in the middle of earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, wildfires and droughts.

    Teamster Magazine

    Mailed eight times yearly to all 1.4 million members, The Teamster provides the latest information on organizing, contract victories, legislative affairs, health and safety, politics and human-interest stories.

    Division Newsletters

    These publications keep members up to date on union news in their particular industry or craft.

    In addition you also receive a wide array of additional benefits provided through your local union. These include additional local discounts, local scholarships and local union publications.

    These are just a few examples of the ways in which your Teamsters dues pay off.
    It Pays to Be A Teamster. 

    Feb 02, 2007

    The Teamsters are America’s largest, most diverse union. In 1903, the Teamsters started as a merger of the two leading team driver associations. These drivers were the backbone of America’s robust economic growth, but they needed to organize to wrest their fair share from greedy corporations. Today, the Union’s task is exactly the same.

    The Teamsters are known as the champion of freight drivers and warehouse workers, but have organized workers in virtually every occupation imaginable, both professional and non-professional, private sector and public sector.

    Our 1.4 million members are public defenders in Minnesota; vegetable workers in California; sanitation workers in New York; brewers in St. Louis; newspaper workers in Seattle; construction workers in Las Vegas; zoo keepers in Pennsylvania; healthcare workers in Rhode Island; bakery workers in Maine; airline pilots, secretaries and police officers. Name the occupation and chances are we represent those workers somewhere.

    There are nearly 1,900 Teamster affiliates throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, with the following breakdown:
      Teamsters Locals - United States
      Teamsters Locals - Canada
      Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers
    and Trainmen (BLET) Locals
      Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED) Locals
      Graphics Communications Conference (GCC) Locals   206

    Teamsters stand ready to organize workers who want to bargain collectively. Once a contract is negotiated and signed, the Union works to enforce it—holding management’s feet to the fire and invoking contract grievance procedures if management chooses not to. Wages and benefits under Teamster contracts are markedly better than those of non-union employees in similar jobs. Teamster contracts are the guarantors of decent wages, fair promotion, health coverage, job security, paid time-off and retirement income.

    The Teamsters Union also performs vital tasks in such areas as pension management, safety & health, community outreach, governmental affairs and communications. For more than a century, the Teamsters have been a public voice for the rights and aspirations of working men and women and a key player in securing them.

    Apr 01, 2008

    Feb 12, 2007

    There is a misunderstanding that organizing is somehow different, or more difficult, in so-called right-to-work-for-less states. In fact, organizing law and procedure is the same in right-to-work and non-right-to-work states. The only differences are that workers in states that have passed these so-called right-to-work laws are paid considerably less on average, and the states are more likely to have unfavorable political conditions.

    Right-to-work-for-less laws typically just outlaw union shops. In other words, once you win a union election in the usual way, you can’t negotiate a provision that says after 30 days employment a worker has to join the union.  Therefore, once workers are organized, they are in some form of open shop. That means internal organizing to keep the membership up is very important. But it is possible to have 100 percent voluntary membership in a so-called right-to-work state.

    But the organizing rules are the same, and organizing is the same. The same categories of private sector workers are still covered by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) or the Railway Labor Act (RLA) in so-called right-to-work states. The same organizing rights and procedures apply.

    State law, not federal law, governs organizing of public-sector workers. The law governing public sector workers varies a great deal from state to state, but this is typically not based on whether the state is right-to-work or not.

    In open shop states,  you need to constantly educate bargaining unit workers (especially in high turnover industries or mature contracts) on why they should join the union (the benefits they currently enjoy are the product of co-workers standing together, etc.).

    The bottom line is: the more organizing we do in right-to-work-for less states, the more union members we have, and the better chance we have to overturn the anti-worker, anti-union right-to-work-for-less laws.
    Feb 07, 2007


    What is a union?

    A union is a group of employees who join together within a company to bargain collectively for better wages, stronger benefits and safer working conditions.

    What do unions do?

    A union’s primary objective is to secure good contracts for its members and to enforce the provisions of that contract. The union also administers some of the contract's important benefits directly. Often these include health plans, pensions and labor/management partnerships and trusts. See The Teamster Contract.

    How do you organize with the Teamsters?

    Employees who want to join the Teamsters sign a “union authorization card.” When a majority of employees sign cards, they are forwarded, in most cases, to the National Labor Relations Board

    When the union is certified, the company is required by law to bargain over wages, benefits and working conditions. The laws governing public sector and the airline industry are different. See Getting Started
    (NLRB). The NLRB then schedules and conducts a secret ballot election. In some cases, when a majority of workers sign cards the company will recognize the union.

    If I sign an authorization do I have to vote yes in the election? What if I change my mind?

    The Teamsters are committed to organizing workers that want Teamster representation. Organizing is not about holding a vote; it is about gaining a voice in the workplace.

    When the NLRB conducts a union election it's a secret ballot. No one has any right to know how you voted.

    How does the union work out problems with management?

    Through the grievance procedure. The contract spells out what the grievance procedures are and explains how conflicts are to be resolved.

    When management engages in unfair conduct or violates a a provision of the contract there are steps spelled out in the contract to resolve the problem. First, talk with your supervisor. When he or she refuses to do anything about it, go to your Teamster shop steward for help. The steward sits down with you and management and tries to talk about the issue. If it can't be resolved at this meeting, a business agent from the union approaches the company to discuss the issue. If the problem still cannot be resolved to everyone's satisfaction, the business agent appeals to upper management. If this step fails, both parties bring in a neutral arbitrator to hear evidence and order a final resolution of the problem.

    What are shop stewards and business agents?

    A shop steward is one of your co-workers, who acts as an agent of the union in the workplace. The union membership and the Teamster local union determines procedures for electing shop stewards and negotiates how many stewards are in each job location, shift and department. The steward's job is to make sure your company lives up to your contract. When there is a problem with management and you need union help, your first stop should be a visit with your shop steward.

    A business agent is an official of your local union who handles any problems the shop steward cannot.

    What is a “bargaining unit”?

    A bargaining unit is made up of all the employees who are eligible to vote for and be in the union.

    Who negotiates your contract?

    The Teamsters and the company each choose their own negotiators. The company's team is usually comprised of lawyers, local management and upper management officials. The union team usually consists of bargaining unit employees and expert union negotiators. See Contract Negotiations.

    What kind of say do I get in the contract?

    Before contract talks start, the union asks you what you'd like to see in a contract. Usually the union sends out a survey to all a bargaining unit's members. Once the contract has been negotiated it's submitted to you and your co-workers for ratification. If a majority doesn't approve of the contract, your negotiating team goes back to the drawing board.

    How long do contracts last?

    Usually 3 to 5 years.

    What are union dues? What are they used for?

    Union dues are the money you pay to the union to help pay for support staff, legal costs, negotiation costs, arbitrator's fees, etc. See Facts About Dues.

    What’s a “local”?

    The Teamsters have a structure that includes a national body, intermediaries, and local unions. Most decisions are made at the state and local union level. See Teamster Structure.

    So what does the “International” do?

    The International's responsibilities include; lobbying Congress for laws that benefit workers, sending help to locals that need it and coordinating national organizing efforts.

    How democratic are unions?

    The whole process is open and democratic. You decide if you want to sign an authorization card. You decide whether to vote "yes" on joining the union. You decide which co-workers you want on your negotiating team. You decide what to tell your negotiators you want in a contract. You vote on the contract once it's negotiated. You vote on who will be your shop steward. You vote on who will be the officers of your local.

    Page Last Updated: May 05, 2009 (06:09:00)
  • Teamsters Local 391

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