Spring 2012 Edition

Volume XV - Issue #2

IN THIS ISSUE: 2) Secretary-Treasurer’s Report, Sue Mauren. 3) President’s Report, Joanne Derby. 4) Vice President’s Report, Brian Aldes 5) DRIVE Report, Sami Gabriel. 6) Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus, Tom Keegel’s Retirement. 7) Upcoming Meetings and Events.


Teamster Counterattack Against the War On Workers: What We Did to Fight Back and Win!
By Sue Mauren
By all accounts, Minnesota Teamsters kicked some major behind this legislative session. We squashed the “Freedom of Employment” scam, also known as right to work FOR LESS! With Govenor Dayton’s veto pen we killed another devastating bill, HF 1974, which would have drastically impacted PELRA as it pertains to union contracts. It stated that when your contract expired, you became an at-will employee until another contract was bargained. On March 12 Teamsters and other members of the Minnesota labor movement converged on the State Capitol to fight the freedom of employment scam with our voices and our numbers. More than 1,500 workers surrounded the committee room chanting, “vote no, vote no!” Having been in Wisconsin during the initial 2011 protests at their Capitol, I can tell you firsthand Minnesota responded in full force! Teamsters mobilized over 200 workers to the Capitol with just three-days notice. Something like that had not been done before and the politicians knew it. The anti-worker crowd was warned, and Teamsters will take our concerns all the way to the ballot box when we are threatened. In addition to Local 320’s engaged membership, the other key to success was our action alert system. Through emails and mobile texting, we were able to communicate with Local 320 members on a timely and consistent basis throughout the session. We made over 3,500 contacts to supporters from January through April and facilitated over 1,500 follow-up actions!
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By means of emails and texts, we created an advanced “direct lobbying” campaign to combat anti-worker legislation such as the freedom of employment scam. Teamsters received emails or text notifications regarding important events or when we needed to influence key decision makers at the Statehouse. Through these follow-up actions, state lawmakers were put on notice like never before. This was our first time around, so you can expect us to gather more steam as our response time and efficiency grows.

It was great to have our action alert system fully utilized during Session and put to good use in derailing anti-union legislation. Going forward, the hope is this: soon workers will employ our action alert system and tools not just to fight back, but to gain leverage during difficult contract negotiations and for other contentious situations where workers need a voice. When there is a fight for workers’ rights, Teamsters Local 320 will be there!


Taking it Up a Notch: Big Fight in Otter Tail County Ad placed in five major Otter Tail papers

By Joanne Derby
As chief negotiator and business agent for employees of Otter Tail County Human Services, I am appalled at the utter disrespect we have encountered during our bargaining sessions with the County. The two Human Services units in question are predominantly female workers who strive every day to provide a safety net for the citizens of Otter Tail County. They answer the phone when a citizen is in need of assistance and/or must report abuse or neglect of our children, our elderly, or our mentally ill. These are the hardest phone calls any person can take, as well as the toughest situations to investigate. At the October 4th, 2011 Commissioner’s Board meeting, members passed a motion to give themselves and non-union employees a $25.00 increase towards their health insurance, stating: “This equalizes the benefits contribution with all other employee groups.” In February, the Human Services bargaining units met with the County in negotiations and mediation requesting the same $25 contribution only to have the County reject the Union’s proposal. At that point, I knew we had to fight back. We took out five ads in the major papers of Otter Tail County and made our case to the public. We know we got their attention because a week later the Fergus Falls Journal printed an article defending the Board against our complaints. Unfortunately, the Journal never thought to contact me for comment; it was a clear case of damage control on the part of the County. Moral of this story: if you mess with Teamsters Local 320 members, WE WILL EXPOSE YOU!

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Fighting Broken Promises and Broken Steps

By Brian Aldes
When I sit down with an employer to hammer out a collective bargaining contract, I go into negotiations in good faith hoping that both sides will reach an agreement that is adhered to by all. In Crow Wing County, Teamsters have been denied their contractually-obligated step increases. Public defense employees are in the same boat. This type of behavior in not only disingenuous, but it’s just plain wrong! In Crow Wing County we have joined with other Teamster bargaining units under Local 346 as well as AFSCME units to file a class action lawsuit against the employer. We have a similar suit pending for our public defense employees against the State. These are good cases, meaning; that we have an excellent chance at winning. There is a strict precedence in our favor for this type of litigation. Certainly, it is not comforting to have employers play games with our trust. It is a waste of time and money for both our Union and the employer. Remember, taxpayers fit the bill for employers’ mismanagement. At the State level, public defense employees decided to fight back with a public pressure campaign. They tied their fight to their work. “Protect our Constitution”, it is called. Because public defense is mandated by the U.S. Constitution, an assault on public defense is an assault on the Constitution! Thus far, public defense employees have initiated a petition drive to gather support from friends and neighbors. This will provide additional leverage at the bargaining table.
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Imagine being an employer and having stacks of paper with signatures plopped down at the bargaining table in front of you. It would not be a pretty sight! The support we garner from the petitions not only increases our bargaining position, but it also sends a message that we are going to fight both at the table and in the community. If you haven’t signed the petition yet, I encourage you to do so. You can find it on our website at www.teamsterslocal320.org. These are tough times we are going through, but we have the skills, tools, and diligence to fight back in the legal, political, and public arenas. We will not be deterred!


DRIVE Report: We Will Remember Come November!

By Sami Gabriel
With the 2012 legislature in the rear-view mirror, Teamsters can thank their lucky stars that things didn’t turn out as awful as we had feared. Many things were threatened: our pensions, contracts, and rights. Our successful fight against so-called “right to work” has made us more aware of the enemies of labor and what their plans are for working folks. These corporate-funded politicians have made it clear that they want to destroy unions in Minnesota. Right to work, or freedom of employment, is a bad deal for working Minnesotans. It puts the safety of our families at risk by making it harder for us to negotiate safe staffing in our correctional facilities, hospitals, and police and fire departments. As Local 320’s DRIVE (Democrat, Republican, Independent, Voter Education) representative, I can assure you that the politicians who are working against us will be the focus of our upcoming election efforts. We will make them pay! Senate sponsors of “right to work” are as follows: Thompson, Chamberlain, Gazelka, Parry and Lillie. House sponsors are as follows: Anderson, Benson, Bills, Downey, Drazkowski, Erickson, Franson, Gottwalt, Gruenhagen, Hancock, Holberg, Kiffmeyer, Leidiger, Lohmer, McDonald, Myhra, Quam, Runbeck, Scott and Wardlow. Senators who voted for its passage in committee: Hall, Hoffman, Jungbauer, Limmer, Newman, Ortman and Thompson. Remember the names above! These are the politicians who want to bust our union and subvert our contracts.

The political actors involved in Minnesota’s “right to work” push are connected to anti-union groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) which is responsible for other pieces of union-busting legislation in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and a successful “Right to Work” push in Indiana. ALEC provides state governments with mock-up bills. In recent years, states have been flooded with ALEC’s model bills. Close to 1,000 of them are introduced every year, and roughly one-fifth become law, according to ALEC’s own count. ALEC’s bills can basically be copied and pasted onto legislative proposals across the country. In a recent op-ed piece penned by our General President James P. Hoffa for the Detroit News titled: “Public is right to be skeptical of ALEC”, Hoffa details how ALEC operates in an underhanded manner with its member-legislators. Hoffa reports that lawmakers get ALEC “scholarships” — paid vacations at luxury resorts where they meet wealthy political donors. Also, part-time legislators can bring the whole family to ALEC’s annual convention, work for a few hours, then stay at five star hotels and attend parties. The biggest problem from ALEC’s interaction with legislators is that most of it is done in secret. Recently, ALEC’s most egregious act came about in Georgia where four ALEC-backed senators tried to pass a law to make union picketing a crime punishable by a year in prison. Hoffa says this action is “clearly a violation of First Amendment rights” and “the tea party, civil rights groups and Teamsters united to defeat it.” When you have the Teamsters and the Tea Party working together to fight a bill, no one can doubt it’s a bad bill. And no one can doubt that ALEC is bad for Minnesota.

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Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus!
By Sue Mauren

A great friend of Local 320 members and all Teamsters, Tom Keegel, General Secretary-Treasurer of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, recently retired. While Tom rose to the number two position at the IBT, he never forgot where he came from, both in terms of having been a rank and file member who once drove a truck, and having been from Minnesota. Tom became a Teamster member of Local 544 in Minneapolis in 1959 as a driver for Sterling Cartage. He went on to hold every elected position of Local 544, including principal officer. When 544 merged with Local 120, he became president of that local.

Tom was also President of Joint Council 32 and currently holds the title of President Emeritus. In 1999 Tom and our General President, Jim Hoffa, took the reigns of the IBT, and ran the union together until Tom’s recent retirement. When he took over the IBT finances, they were in disarray. He was able to restore fiscal sanity to our Union, creating many benefits for our members, including a strike fund and Teamster Legal Defense Plan. If ever our members needed Tom, he was there. Whether it was a rally, a picket line, or a contract issue, Tom Keegel knew what it was like to struggle, and always supported the members. Tom came from the ranks, and he was for the ranks. We will miss Tom, but congratulate him on his retirement and finally being able to spend time with his family. You might just catch a peek of him out on our lakes this summer, casting his line and relaxing in a fishing boat. Tom is now forever commemorated with the title of General Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus and his portrait sits in the lobby at IBT headquarters in Washington DC alongside the portrait of General President Emeritus, James R. Hoffa. Good luck Tom, and thanks for everything you have done for all Teamsters.

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Upcoming Meetings and Events

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