Behind The Brown Curtain
Chapter 3
N.A.B.E.R. INC.
National Alliance of "BROWN" Employees and Retirees
Hoffa later found himself embarrassed into continuing Carey's feeble organizing efforts in the freight business, at Overnite, Jevic, Saia and Central Freight.

Of course, Junior found ways to sabotage all of those organizing drives, most dramatically by launching a kamikaze, no win strike effort at Overnite, a company that had fired 8% of it's entire workforce in the mid 1990's just to keep the IBT out, and was using all of the resources of it's parent company, Union Pacific Railroad, to stay non union.

Hoffa made sure that the strikers fought with one hand tied behind their backs from day one, which insured their defeat.

Hoffa let those drives die so as to "resolve" the IBT's outstanding disputes with those companies..by, basically, abandoning the pro union workers at those firms.

As for UPS, they LOVED Junior ["Traffic World" magazine had an article in May 2002, that their editors actually entitled "In Love With Hoffa", describing how big brown management just adores Junior, and his slavishly pro corporate mentality].

Big brown knew that there'd be not even a token effort by Jim to fight for UPS workers rights....they knew they had a free hand for unlimited employee abuse. They couldn't fire people at will anymore..they lost that privilege in 1994..but they could still fuck with people to the point where they'd quit on their own.

UPS took things to the next level in the barns.

In one unbelievably vicious move, the company, in what was billed as an "anti theft" measure, banned UPS workers from getting any personal phone calls at work..even emergency calls.

Under this new "method", the many women loaders and sorters with kids can't even get a call from the babysitter telling them their child is sick.

UPS actually ripped out the payphones at their service centers, and banned workers from using cellphones or pagers in the service centers or on the trucks.

The IBT, of course, did absolutely NOTHING about that attack on their members.

And, of course, UPS part times continued earning poverty level wages, averaging only $ 114 bucks a week..with most of them quitting their jobs in disgust, or being injured and forced out, after an average of less than 3 months on the job.

Meanwhile, full timers had the "golden handcuffs" type situation of $ 70,000+ annual earnings..at the price of having an endless 60 to 70 hour workweek..where OT is mandatory, and those who try to only work 8 hours a day...or happen to be the "least best driver"in their group....are subject to endless harassment.

UPS had made one major change after 1997..they became a public corporation.

The company's supervisors, managers and executives, who'd owned the firm as a private partnership since 1907, got paid lovely in return for giving up a portion of the ownership to the investing public. And, a lot of UPS's more affluent workers, those 70 hour a week $ 70k a year package car drivers, pumped their savings into UPS common stock.

United Parcel was no longer independent from the capital markets..but, they had, in return, gotten access to the means of financing the largest expansion in the company's history.

And expansion which, incidentally, included major growth in the company's NON UNION trucking subsidiary, UPS Logistics. That division was fast becoming one of the leading carhauling firms in America, displacing a couple of thousand Teamsters who drive for union carriers like Allied, Ryder and Leaseway.

Coming into the 2002 UPS-IBT negotiations, big brown needed "labor stability". The reason was simple, that onrushing orange and blue blur in their rearview mirror..FedEx.

UPS had managed to beat it's other competitors.. Airborne, who's union contract, while sub NMFA, isn't as bad as big browns, was sputtering, and actively seeking a buyout by DHL, a European airfreight outfit owned by Deutshe Post, the German Postal Service. Even with a new, more giveback filled, white paper agreement, Airborne Express was being left in the dust by big brown.

Roadway had stopped even trying to compete with United Parcel Service..it completely abandoned it's package delivery business, RPS, in the late 1990's.

But, RPS didn't go out of business..it was absorbed by FedEx, and renamed "FedEx Ground"..with it's owner operator-driven delivery trucks getting a new white with green and blue trim pattern, so they won't be confused with the traditional FedEx white orange and blue vans.

FedEx was fast reinventing itself as the nation's leading freight company...with a goal of being far bigger and stronger than big brown.

Fred Smith brought out a number of non union less than truckload (LTL)freight companies, including Yellow Freight's double breasted Jevic and Saia subsidiaries, and Roadway's non union trucking subsidiary, Viking. They became "FedEx Freight", (they have their own color scheme too, white with blue and red trim) and are now the nation's largest LTL freight company.

FedEx also has 4 logistics subsidiaries, which transport special freight, like trade show exhibits.

FedEx still hasn't consolidated these businesses fully, and still has an awkward system where they have 3 different terminals in every market, one FedEx, one FedEx Ground and one FedEx Freight, as well as separate terminals for the logistics operations. But, they have the competitive advantage over UPS in having an almost 100% non union firm (only the pilots are organized).

And, despite being non union, FedEx actually pays it's part timers more than UPS does. FedEx loaders start at between $ 11 and $ 13 an hour..as opposed to UPS's $ 8.50/hr. The average FedEx part timer makes $ 13.50 an hour, as opposed to the average UPS part time loader's $ 10.72. And, FedEx intends to keep pushing it's part timer wages up..so as to compete with UPS for the best unskilled labor available.

UPS is going to have a hard time fighting FedEx..and they need the active assistance of the bosses of the IBT to win that fight. Big brown's # 1 demand..."labor stability"....that is, the longest possible contract, with as few wage increases as possible.

And Junior was prepared to give big brown whatever they wanted.

Of course, he'd have to make a show of "militancy"...and Hoffa did just that, spending about 2 years on a propaganda campaign aimed at UPS Teamsters, telling them how he was going to fight for a good contract.

To complete the public relations charade, Junior even went out and hired a labor consultant with a longstanding radical image, one Greg Tarpanian, to help him bargain this pact.

Tarpanian is the head of the Labor Research Association, a once left wing labor think tank founded by the Communist Party,USA in 1924. Tarpanian left the Communist Party in 1991.

Tarpanian lost his wife, CPUSA Central Committee member Judith Le Blanc, and their two kids, when he left the party, (Le Blanc had to between choose him or the CP..she chose the CP). But he managed to keep LRA under his control, and wrested the organization away from the party's orbit.

Tarpanian was seeking to reinvent the leftist think tank as a "respectable" mainstream union-side labor consulting firm. He's spent most of the last 11 years trying to give a 'militant' image to < cosa nostra > dominated Teamster locals here in New York City, where LRA is headquartered.

Junior knew of the work that Tarpanian was doing in New York City..and decided to bring him in, to make it look like he was going to fight UPS.

But the reality was very different.

In the end, Junior Hoffa and Teamsters Small Package Division head Ken Hall gave UPS a 6 year agreement..the longest contract that the IBT has ever granted them.

There were lots of givebacks in the regional supplemental agreements, including New England UPS workers losing the Columbus Day holiday.

The company also got a new subclass of workers. Part timers will now get a .50 cent raise, but only after 90 days on the job. Interestingly enough, the average UPS part time Teamster QUITS, GETS FIRED OR GETS HURT AFTER ABOUT 3 MONTHS ON THE JOB... Very convenient.

Part timers who manage to get promoted to driver will have to wait 2 1/2 years to get full driver pay. Of course, that won't happen til 2004..because there's a 2 year freeze on part timers becoming full time.

The full timers will get a raise of $ 5 dollars over the life of the agreement [75 cents, 75 cents, 80 cents, 80 cents, 90 cents and $ 1 dollar] with current part timers getting $ 6 dollars [85 cents, 90 cents, 95 cents, $ 1, $ 1.10 and $ 1.20]

Of course, with UPS's 400% turnover rate..almost no UPS part time loader will actually see that $ 6 bucks. Instead, the part timer starting rate is frozen at $ 8.50/hr for the 6 year life of the pact...

The part timers will get $ 9 bucks.....if they don't quit or get hurt in their first 3 months.

If big brown is true to form, of course, damn near all of the part timers hired during the life of the agreement will be forced to quit or have their body broken by the blistering pace and have to go out on comp. And most of them will be gone from the UPS payroll before they've even racked up 3 months seniority.

In a related issue, the part timers got an increase in their pension benefits, and, for, the first time, will get retiree health coverage.

But, that's merely a paper increase, that the vast majority of UPS part timers will never actually benefit from.

As I've made clear above, the average UPS part timer's career at big brown lasts about 3 months.

Now, you have to work at a firm for 10 years to have vested pension benefits..and, of course, 90 days is about 117 months shy of vesting.

At the end of the agreement, UPS full timers will make $ 28.50 an hour..and, it's very likely that the average part timer will still be only making $ 11 bucks an hour for a 20 hour week in the year 2008. That will create a recordbreaking $ 17.50 an hour wage gap between UPS full timers and part timers..

Breaking down the numbers..in 2008, the average UPS full timer will, assuming a typical 60 hour UPS workweek, earn roughly $ 1,995 a week, breaking the 100k barrier at $ 103,000 a year.

Meanwhile, the UPS part timers will, if present trends continue, still be chugging along, at $ 220 a week, and a miserable $ 11,440/yr.

That's a big problem....it's hard to speak of the International BROTHERHOOD of Teamsters if some "Brothers (and Sisters)" are clocking $ 100k+ a year..while other "Brothers (and Sisters)" subsist on only $ 11.5k.

That $ 91,000 dollar gap is pretty damned wide..Filet Mignon on one extreme...Mc Donalds Dollar Menu on the other.

There's nothing wrong with drivers making $ 100k/yr, of course....it's a hard job, and they earn every penny of it, and then some. But, the sorters and loaders and air express drivers work just as hard....they deserve the same money for their efforts, not insulting chump change wages, pay so abysmal that they're actually eligible for food stamps and Section 8 housing assistance.

Bottom line, the idea of restoring equal pay for equal work at UPS, which was destroyed in the 1982 agreement, just isn't on the union's radar scope.

But things aren't all gravy for UPS's full time drivers. This contract has pitfalls for them too.

Among the continued abuses for the full time workers, UPS will be allowed to continue forcing full timers to take mandatory OT, and the full timers will also receive no pension increase over the life of the agreement.

And, above all, there are the issues that this agreement does NOT address at all. Most importantly, the Teamsters will do nothing to stop UPS employee abuses, or it's many flagrant OSHA violations [they get more OSHA complaints than any other firm in America].

I can best summarize the 2002-2008 UPS IBT national agreement with the words of an anonymous UPS part time Teamster, posted on Teamster.Net, [http://www.teamster.net], the rank and file Teamster Internet bulletin board :

"THIS CONTRACT SUCKS"

The question remains, what can UPS Teamsters do about this abortion of a contract?

Voting NO on the pact would be a good start..but, then they'd just have the gruesome threesome of Junior Hoffa, IBT Small Package Division head Ken Hall and Greg Tarpanian going back into a closed room with UPS management..and brining back another bad agreement.

Then again...perhaps UPS workers can keep voting NO til Junior, Hall and Tarpanian get it right!!!

Of course, UPS Teamsters can, and should, vote against Junior Hoffa, and indeed against all the incumbent officers in all the UPS Teamster locals in the country, in the next elections. Thanks to the heroic efforts of TDU activists in the 1970's and 80's, Teamsters are fortunate enough to be members of just about the only union in America with anything resembling a truly democratic internal structure.

TDU really made the Teamsters a much better union..most importantly, thanks to their efforts, the IBT is the most democratic union in America. UPS Teamsters have a special reason to feel loyalty to Teamsters for a Democratic Union..thanks to Ron Carey's efforts in 1994, they have the innocent until proven guilty clause, which is the closest that any private sector unionists have in America to the right to a fair trial if the company wants to fire them.

But..despite all those achievements, TDU's not necessarily the answer either..

Remember, it was under their watch in 1997 when Carey signed that really bad 5 year agreement with big brown. And, even the 1994 contract, with all it's advances, stopped short of removing that fundamental inequality between UPS full timers and part timers.

Beyond that, unfortunately, besides electoral reform, and one member one vote elections, TDU really doesn't have a program for turning the Teamsters around, and rebuilding the union in it's core jurisdictions...

Basically, I believe that, if UPS Teamsters are ever going to be in a position to turn their union around, make UPS a decent place to work, and organize FedEx and the other non union companies that now control 90% of trucking, then they are going to have to turn the IBT away from business unionism.

As I explained above, business unionism is an ideological system based on the belief that workers and businesspeople have common interests, and that the union's job is to promote harmony and class collaboration between workers and bosses.

In the Teamsters, there are two different types of business unionist ideology..

There's the crass, often corrupt "old guard" style business unionism practiced by people like Junior. That system of business unionism often includes despotic, and often gangster-connected, union bosses, who use the members dues to pay themselves bloated salaries, and, occasionally, extort bribes from employers who want to screw the members.

But, there's another type of business unionism in the IBT..reformist business unionism, the ideology practiced by TDU and union officers like Ron Carey. This version of business unionism is more democratic and less corrupt than the "old guard" version..and does deliver somewhat better contracts...but, at the end of the day, they still make deals with the employers at the members expense..just, unlike the "old guard", they don't demand payoffs in exchange.

As we can see, by looking at conditions at UPS, and how they've declined over the years, Teamsters need another way, an alternative to business unionism.

I believe that alternative is something called revolutionary unionism. I've written a number of articles on GANGBOX that explain the basic ideas of revolutionary unionism, on the website, at:

http://www.geocities.com/gangbox/csu1.html

http://www.geocities.com/gangbox/downbylaw.html

http://www.geocities.com/gangbox/contract2001.html

and on the GANGBOX listserv, at:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gangbox/message/2466

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gangbox/message/2659

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gangbox/message/4738

and

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gangbox/message/5059

To summarize, a revolutionary union recognizes the simple fact that, under a capitalistic system, there is a basic conflict of interests between workers and businesspeople. Basically, our labor creates their wealth. To further enrich themselves, the businesspeople try to get more work out of less employees, and to lower our incomes... That can, and at UPS does, take the form of, for example, forced OT for full time workers..and paltry hours and low pay for part time workers.

A revolutionary union recognizes that it's the job of a labor organization to fight for the workers, not to make "compromises" with management. Unions are supposed to fight for a decent income for ALL workers [not just full timers], and equal pay for equal work [not $ 28.50 for some..and $ 11 for others].

That's why UPSers need a revolutionary Teamsters union to fight for them..and to unite them with their brothers and sisters at FedEx and Airborne to improve wages and working conditions in the whole small package shipping industry.

Starting out in the service centers, UPS Teamsters need elected shop stewards, on each shift, for each craft [drivers, loaders, sorters etc], plus a pool of elected assistant stewards sufficiently large enough so that there is one union representative for every UPS supervisor, and with a general shop steward to coordinate the work of the stewards.

The general steward, shop stewards and assistant shop stewards at each service center would constitute the shop committee for that facility.

These shoppies need authority to stop work, immediately, if the contract is being violated, or supervisors are doing bargaining unit work, or if workers are being asked to do hazardous work, or if any other violation of the rights of an individual worker, or a group of workers are occurring.

Of course, if one work group stops working..the whole center should be shut down immediately in solidarity. In a time-sensitive business like package shipping..that WILL get the man's undivided attention.

Also, a common UPS tactic is to intimidate or harass a worker so as to force him/her to quit. The dense network of stewards would be used to counteract any attempt by the supervisors to isolate a "least best worker" from his/her coworkers.

In other words, the union and it's stewards would actively assist, by whatever means necessary, any worker who management was trying to force out. That could even include using UPS's own industrial psychology tricks against them...that is, charting the intergroup relationships between supervisors, and isolating particularly abusive supervisors from their fellow managers. This might lead to big brown having to fire those particular undesirable supervisors, since they'd no longer be effective team leaders.

Beyond that, a revolutionary Teamsters union would build on the strong foundation for workers rights that was laid by the enactment of the innocent til proven guilty clause. I would suggest creating a rule that, if UPS wanted to fire a worker, for ANY reason, (including "cardinal sins" like theft), they should be required to present evidence of good cause for termination to a union tribunal.

If the union tribunal finds that, by preponderance of the evidence, that the worker indeed did commit misconduct that merits termination, big brown would be allowed to fire that worker. That worker would, of course, have the right to appeal that termination through union channels, and, if he/she didn't get satisfaction from the union's internal justice system, they could take their case to the courts.

But, if UPS can't make their case, the worker keeps his/her job. And, of course, either way, the worker would stay on the payroll until the union reviewed the case.

Of course, the biggest issue related to high turnover at UPS is the prevailing culture of inequality between full timers and part timers.

A revolutionary Teamsters union would have to address that..by, as soon as possible, forcing the company to pay the same wage for all UPS workers...that is, the current wage received by full time workers. The only UPS Teamsters who should get a higher wage should be the pilots of big brown's cargo planes, who should get the same wage that Airline Pilots Association members get.

Also, every UPS worker should have the "8 hour minimum" that prevails in other Teamster contracts, that is, if they report to work, they get 8 hours pay, even if there isn't 8 hours of work. Also, there should be a "5 day minimum", to make sure that everybody gets a 40 hour workweek every week.

On the other extreme, nobody should be forced to work OT. The company should be forced by the union to shorten driver routes, so the driver can complete his/her route in 8 hours. If necessary, helpers should be assigned to the drivers who service extremely busy routes, so they can get their work done in 8 hours.

Of course, that would only work if the entire package shipping industry was under one common Teamster agreement. Problem is, that's currently not the case..

Airborne Express is covered under a white paper rider to the National Master Freight Agreement, even though they are not a trucking company. And, of course, FedEx and it's subsidiaries are totally non union.

I would propose that Airborne and UPS both be covered under one common Teamster small package industry national agreement...after all, they're in the same industry, why should they have two different wage scales, and two different sets of work rules?

As for FedEx, that company needs to be organized..not just for the sake of it's workers..but to keep up union standards in the small package industry..and, as FedEx becomes more and more a less than truckload common carrier, organizing FedEx is the key to reorganizing that industry.

But, the problem is, all the efforts to unionize FedEx up to now have failed miserably. Mainly because they've followed the legalistic Railway Labor Act method of organizing..and, just like the National Labor Relations Act, RLA is full of methods to delay unionization.

I'd propose using the method which the Teamsters originally used to unionize the freight industry in the late 1930's..that is, a wave of nationwide recognition strikes.

Now, it might seem that, since Federal Express is a global corporation, that might be difficult to do.

Not necessarily...FedEx Express [the small package division that's the core of the company] is a very centralized operation. Every FedEx driver has a computer, which records every package that's picked up and delivered, and reports that data to FedEx world headquarters in Memphis.

Also, most of their airfreighted packages go through their terminal at the Memphis International Airport. They have what's known in aviation as a 'hub and spoke' system..their planes fly out of Memphis to all the other airports they serve..and then they come back to Memphis with the packages, which get routed to planes bound for their ultimate destination.

That means, if, for example, a labor dispute shut down their Memphis operations..their whole airfreight system would shut down, and possibly even the computer system that routes every one of their packages, and the trucks that deliver them.

FedEx Freight isn't as centralized..but, like most trucking lines these days, a lot of their service runs along the "NAFTA Corridor"...Interstate 35, running from Dallas, through San Antonio, and down into Laredo, where they pick up freight from the factories on the Mexican side of the border.

Viking, Saia and Jevic, the companies that FedEx brought to start their freight division, were all originally Texas-based firms..which means that a lot of their drivers, and much of their freight, originated in that I-35 corridor to Mexico..get those drivers and dockworkers to walk out..and you'd bring that company to it's knees very quickly.

Also, that could be a base for organizing Central Freight, Overnite, Con-Way and all the other non union carriers that also service that route....as well as the approximately 30,000 non union warehouse workers who transfer freight from Mexican to American trucks in Laredo.

The FedEx Ground system is even more decentralized..but, their drivers are owner operators, who have a lot of grievances against FedEx..and there have even been efforts at self organization among these drivers. The current business unionist leadership of the Teamsters is terrified of organizing owner operators [their lawyers are deathly afraid of anti trust suits]..but, a revolutionary Teamsters union would be ready to face the challenge of signing up these self employed workers.

As a first step, it would help to persuade the only unionized bargaining unit at FedEx, the pilots, to affiliate their organization with the IBT..and, it would also help to set up Teamster locals for Federal Express workers in areas where FedEx has major operations, such as Memphis, New York, Chicago, Dallas, San Antonio, Laredo, Los Angeles etc. In other areas, FedEx workers could be organized into existing locals that represent UPS and/or Airborne workers.

The local's members would be workplace activists at FedEx, who'd use these paper locals to help their organizing efforts at the company.

In any event, it would be entirely possible to organize FedEx..if the IBT was willing to take the risk of starting a mass movement of workers at all of FedEx's far flung divisions....of course, a revolutionary Teamsters union would be willing, and in fact eager, to do just that.

Once FedEx was organized...their workers should be put under that same Teamsters small package industry national agreement that I proposed above, and should bargain commonly with their counterparts at United Parcel Service and Airborne Express.

That kind of united front bargaining would require some organizational changes in the union.

Obviously, the locals representing these package workers would have to be very democratic. And I don't just mean having regular elections with minimal fraud...that's a narrow, and basically business unionist, definition of a "democratic" union.

I'm talking about locals where there would be a separation of powers. That is, there'd be legislative, executive and judicial branches, that would balance each other out, to guarantee that the local was democratic, and fought for the member's needs.

The dominant body in these locals would be a council of delegates, composed of rank and file delegates elected from the service centers by direct, secret ballot, serving a single, non re electable, 3 year term of office, and receiving no more compensation than a full time UPS driver would get in wages and benefits.

This council would decide on union policy, draw up the budget, and oversee the work of the union staff, the officers and the union's trial committee.

There would still be an executive board, composed of a president, secretary-treasurer, organizer, and BAs. In the case of multi craft locals, at least one BA, would be elected from among the ranks of UPS, FedEx and Airborne workers, and would deal with small package worker issues exclusively.

Where possible, there would be separate BAs for each of those 3 companies, elected from among the workers at that particular carrier. Ideally, there would be separate locals for each of those 3 firms, (kind of like the current situation that prevails in New York, where UPS workers have their own local, 804, and Airborne workers have 2 locals, 295 and 858).

In any event, the officers of these locals would be required to have actually worked in the trade for 3 years (that means that guys like Junior Hoffa, who's never been a Teamster, would be ineligible to run for any office). They'd earn the same wage and benefits that the workers they represent get, and they'd have minimal to nonexistent expense accounts...In the event they GENUINELY NEEDED A VEHICLE FOR UNION BUSINESS, they'd get a late model, UAW made domestic compact car, like a Ford Escort...no more Lincoln Town Cars!!!

The officers would be subject to review by the council of delegates, and could be impeached from office if they engaged in misconduct. The council would also be able to override the decisions of the officers, and the executive board, if a simple majority of the delegates thought it was in the best interests of the members. The officers would be elected to 3 year, non re electable terms, and would have to go back to work at the trade for a minimum of 3 years before they'd be eligible to run for office again.

The third branch would be a trial committee. That would be composed of rank and file members, elected on the same terms as the delegates and officers.

This trial committee would be the union tribunal that would review all employer efforts to fire a member..management would have to present evidence that they had good cause for termination.

The worker would stay on the job unless the trial committee found that the employer had proved, by preponderance of the evidence, that the worker had committed conduct that merited termination.

If the firing was upheld, the worker would be able to appeal to the local union executive board. If the e board upheld the verdict..the member could then appeal to the council of delegates. If they upheld the tribunal's decision..the next avenue of appeal would be the IBT Small Package Division, and then the International Executive Board, and then the International Convention.

At every step, the trial committee would make sure that the member had adequate representation, by a BA, and their shop steward, and, if necessary, an outside attorney.

Continued below: 
BEHIND THE BROWN CURTAIN....Conclusion 
by GANGBOX : CONSTRUCTION WORKERS NEWS SERVICE
(No verified email address)  Current rating: 0
04 Aug 2002 
The trial committee would also handle cases where members were brought up on charges, either by the union, or by another member.

Now, since UPS, FedEx and Airborne are all international companies, there needs to be a body that would deal with those firms on a continent-wide basis. That would be based on the framework of the current International Brotherhood of Teamsters Small Package Division.

But, this revolutionary version of the Small Package Division would be very different than the present business unionist version.

Unlike the present body, which is run by an appointed director who serves at the pleasure of Junior, this reorganized Small Package Division would be led by an international council of delegates, with one delegate from each local representing workers at UPS, FedEx, Airborne, and any other small package, airfreight, logistics or other carrier that might end up under my proposed IBT small package industry national agreement. Locals with more than 5,000 small package industry workers would get 2 delegates, more than 10,000, 3 delegates, etc.

The Small Package Division delegates would be elected to 3 year, non re electable terms, and would receive the same wages and benefits they got when they were working, plus a modest housing allowance for those who'd have to relocate to participate in the council's work.

The three primary functions of this body would be - bargaining the IBT small package industry international agreement, coordinating national organizing drives at non union small package, airfreight and logistics firms, and handling appeals from local union trial committees.

Also, the Division would keep the members in that industry informed of the latest developments, by publishing a national newsmagazine, and maintaining a website,.as well as assisting local unions, as well as shop committees in service centers, and individual UPS, FedEx and Airborne workers, in setting up and maintaining labor related websites and newsletters.

The model I proposed above could also serve as a template for reorganizing the IBT as a whole..and a blueprint for organizing the nation's 500,000 unorganized freight workers, as well as the 2 million other non union commercial drivers and warehouse workers in America today.

Of course, I'll freely admit that my proposal is a radical plan, very far removed from the current setup in the IBT. Then again, considering the deep, and possibly fatal, crisis in the Teamsters..I think it's long past time for radical changes in the nation's largest blue collar union.

Needless to say, it would take a mass movement of Teamsters, and unorganized freight and small package workers, to transform the International Brotherhood of Teamsters so radically.

The question is, who'd organize and lead that movement?

The Teamsters for a Democratic Union caucus would be a logical choice..after all, they're the group that made the IBT the most democratic union in America. And, many rank and file activists in the IBT either identify with, or are actually members of, the TDU.

But, unfortunately, TDU's leaders seem wedded to bylaw and election reform as their only strategy.

Not that those things aren't important...but, without a mass movement to raise part time wages, establish full time jobs, and improve working conditions in the barns and service centers, an electoral strategy can very easily degenerate into merely exchanging one set of union bosses for another.. And that's far from the kind of radical change that the Teamsters need to survive as a trucker's union.

There's also the fact that those 70% of Teamsters who abstained from voting in the last general election obviously don't see the electoral strategy as viable..

This writer thinks it's long past time for TDU activists to look beyond just reforming business unionism, to a strategy of revolutionary unionism....

Otherwise, it's entirely possible that the once mighty IBT might continue it's decline. If present trends continue, in just a few years, just about all of freight will be non union..and the Teamsters might dwindle down to just UPS, Airborne, the 'nontraditional' teamsters and a few other odds and ends.

Imagine how bad the UPS contracts will be then....especially if the average United Parcel part time Teamster is still making Burger King wages....

In any event, it would be a real tragedy if rank and file activists within the Teamsters didn't try to rebuild their union, and reorganize the entire common carrier road freight industry.... And not just a tragedy for Teamsters, but for the entire American blue collar workforce.

That's it for now.

Be union, work safe.

GANGBOX: CONSTRUCTION WORKERS NEWS SERVICE

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http://www.geocities.com/gangbox/

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