It's always fascinating to see the tables turned on union bosses (who earn their livings bashing corporate bosses) when they are forced to deal with their own labor problems.
A source to LaborUnionReport.com has forwarded an internal letter sent from Teamster President Jim Hoffa and Secretary-Treasurer Tom Keegel to union locals around the country describing a potentially very costly political embarrassment at the union's Washington, DC headquarters.
In their letter, the union bosses complain about the tense negotiations going on between unionized staff at the Teamsters headquarters (known as the "Marble Palace") and the Teamster bosses.
In fact, in the letter (see below) to the union locals, the Teamster bosses blame the union representing the workers for its refusal to "acknowledge the current economic conditions," and take a potshot at the Teamster staff for not accepting the need for "belt-tightening." Hoffa and Keegel also share the possibility of the workers going out on strike and, in an almost threatening way, explain the necessity to operate in the event the unionized staff strikes the Teamster bosses.
We are writing to update you on the negotiations that are currently taking place with the union covering the IBT's building workforce. Unfortunately the negotiations are not going well.
All unionized workers at the IBT's Headquarters are a valuable part of our team and provide important services to Teamster members and our affiliate Locals. However, their union at the bargaining table refuses to acknowledge the current economic conditions and the impact on per capita revenues at the IBT. As you are well aware, Local Union affiliates are also feeling the pinch and we certainly recognize that the operations of the IBT rely on per capita payments calculated on membership dues.
The bargaining unit at the IBT was organized during the Carey years as building workers sought to protect themselves through representation by another union. Since 1998, when we took office, we successfully negotiated two collective bargaining agreements with terms that shared the improving financial condition at the IBT with those workers. We are now asking that workers share in the prudent belt-tightening.
As in any negotiations, these union members have a right to take strike action and their union knows the embarrassment that such an event would create for the IBT. However, no amount of embarrassment will cause us to commit to a collective bargaining agreement that jeopardizes the financial health of your International Union.
Though it pains us to do so, we must make contingency plans to operate in the event of a labor dispute.
In closing, we commit to our Locals that we will stay at the bargaining table as long as it takes in these difficult times. We will be considerate in the negotiations to our IBT employees and will remain true to the principles that our union stands for.
So, just to summarize, here we have the highest officers in one of the Top Ten largest unions in the U.S:
- Attempting to negotiate takeaways from their workers;
- Blaming their predecessors;
- Blaming the workers' union for its refusal to "acknowledge the current economic conditions";
- Firmly stating that they will not accept anything that would jeopardize the union's financial health;
- Preparing for a strike of their workers and, lastly;
- Explaining that the union will operate during a staff strike.
And, to make matters worse for the Teamsters bosses, according to Teamsters for a Democratic Union:
Hoffa and Keegel each took a huge raise two years ago in the form of a bloated “housing allowance.” They have increased the number of officials, consultants, and cronies getting big money: multiple salaries paid by the IBT have gone up more than ten-fold under Hoffa. The only officials they have let go have been those who dared to think independently of Hoffa. They have special pensions that will make them millionaires in retirement. International officials get a meal allowance of $100 per day when traveling, often to resorts. Even Bret Caldwell, their PR guy who will issue press releases against the employees, had a total compensation of $180,694 last year.
Hmmm. This certainly sounds a lot like Big (Union) Business to us...
Does anyone else smell just a hint of UNION H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-S-Y in the air?