The following statement was issued by AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department President Edward Wytkind regarding the raiding of union membership by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

“As many of you are aware, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) has increased raiding activities directed at TTD affiliates. At a time when the labor movement – and more importantly, its membership – is under constant attack in Washington, at the state and local government level and on the job, these raids are weakening our movement and should not be tolerated.

“Specifically, the IBT has filed for an election with the National Mediation Board (NMB) to represent US Airways mechanics who are longtime IAM members. This election has now been ordered for July 8 by the NMB. Simultaneously, the IBT has filed for an election with the NMB to represent American Airlines mechanics who have been TWU members for decades.

“These raids are especially egregious and ill-timed. As you know, US Airways and American have a pending merger before our government and by all accounts, the merger is headed towards approval. Clearly, IBT is attempting to take advantage of the fear and uncertainty surrounding this merger, and to position itself to represent the combined mechanics workforce once the merger is consummated. This is not how to grow our movement.

“It is significant that American Airlines is just emerging from bankruptcy where TWU has had to wage a difficult fight under badly rigged bankruptcy rules to defend its members. Similarly, the IAM has represented mechanics at U.S. Airways through mergers and difficult economic challenges and the union is fighting to secure a new contract in the face of company stonewalling. Another important fact is that the IAM and TWU reached a joint council agreement in May to represent the employees together – a forward-looking approach to dealing with the wrenching employee challenges stemming from mergers. This will combine the strength of the two unions in representing workers at the new American Airlines who will be employed at the world’s largest airline.

“TTD stands solidly and completely against these raids. We will lend any assistance needed and urge all affiliates to do so as well. I have directed the TTD staff to no longer work or cooperate with the IBT on legislative or political activity in Washington. While we have had many transportation labor issues in common with IBT, we can no longer conduct business as usual while these raiding activities continue.

“In addition to the raids against the TWU and IAM, I know that IBT has raided other TTD unions. Recently, the IBT attempted to raid SMART – Transportation Division bus drivers in Charlotte, N.C. Fortunately, this raid was defeated by a vote of 268-94. Similarly, in 2012 IBT failed in its bid to raid SMART-represented bus drivers in Pennsylvania. We would appreciate receiving any information regarding other IBT raids against your union.

“This is of course a very challenging time for the labor movement and for the workers we represent. The last thing we need is to spend time, money and other resources on these types of destructive raids. It is my sincere hope that the IBT raids will be rejected and that this predatory behavior will end. More than 9 out of 10 private sector workers in America do not have collective bargaining. Surely, IBT could redirect its organizing resources to giving voice to those workers that desperately need union representation.”

UTU-represented school bus operators in Upper Darby, Pa., and members of UTU Local 172, turned back a raid by the Teamsters, voting overwhelmingly to keep the UTU as their bargaining representative on this First Student property.
The UTU’s ability to negotiate industry-leading contracts, process grievances and achieve workplace safety improvements were cited by many members as the reason they voted “UTU yes” once again. Local 172 members chose the UTU as their first bargaining representative eight years ago when the property was unorganized.
Rich Ross, the UTU’s director of organizing, credited organizer Mike Lewis and Bus Department Alternate Vice President Calvin Studivant as “a brain trust second to none in explaining the benefits of UTU representation.”
Ross also thanked International President Mike Futhey for providing the resources necessary. Since Futhey took office in January 2008, the UTU has organized 28 new properties and turned back two raids on UTU properties.
Also singled out for praise were numerous officers at Local 1594 (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority), including President Waverly Harris, Vice Local Chairpersons Brian Caldwell and Curtis Fulmore, and Treasurer Cynthia Kelly-Nash, along with Local 1596 General Chairperson (Transit Management of Charlotte, N.C.) Alvy Hughes.
Local 172 officials who worked diligently to turn back the Teamsters raid were Vice Local Chairperson Denise Hall and Secretary Kathy Sitongia. Ross said that “they have developed a loyalty among members.”

By Vic Baffoni,
Vice president, UTU Bus Dept.

Local UTU officers sacrifice much of their personal time, without compensation, to assist and serve their memberships, and they deserve recognition for their outstanding commitment.

That is what I intend to do in this month’s column.

Two such individuals deserving of recognition for their hard work and dedication are Lonnie Hookfin, president of Local 1496, Riverside, Calif., and David Ojeda, president of Local 1563, El Monte, Calif.

When the Teamsters initiated a representation drive on our members in Local 1496, who work for Laidlaw Transit in the Riverside area, Lonnie spent hours explaining to his membership the many benefits and advantages of UTU representation and solidarity.

David, a friend of Lonnie’s, volunteered to help and came to Riverside and gave to the members of Local 1496 the perspective of another local on how to work together and resolve internal issues.

This willingness and commitment to assist fellow officers and members, to help them identify, improve and advance their mutually beneficial goals for the betterment of all, is very important to labor-union members everywhere, and especially to those working for Laidlaw Transit.

It also forms the foundation of the UTU and its predecessor labor organizations; it is upon this foundation that the UTU has built 40 years of success.

If you are seeking a solution to a problem in your local, or are looking for information and advice on better serving your fellow workers, you always have brothers and sisters ready to assist.

Together, nothing can stop us.