TEAMSTERS ROUND-UP: Hoffa on Social Security; Contract for Greenburgh, NY DPW; 1000 Illinois Bus Drivers Win Protections
Teamsters General President James Hoffa entered the “fiscal cliff” fray last week urging the President and Congress to reject cuts to social security via the chained consumer price index (CPI) approach. In a statement, Hoffa insisted that “chained CPI” would hurt our nation’s oldest and poorest retirees. The Teamsters argue that because housing and health care costs are rising faster than other costs, chained CPI would not be accurate for the elderly for whom health care and housing are the main expenses.
“Social Security does not contribute to the budget deficit and should remain off the table in these year-end budget negotiations,” Hoffa said. “Americans work all their lives to earn the Social Security benefits they were promised. It would be a terrible mistake to go back on that promise.”
Analysis suggests using chained CPI would cut $112 billion from Social Security over 10 years. There have also been many proposals floated in the “grand bargain” to raise the eligibility age from 65 to 67. The Teamsters are opposed to this as well. In the past, President Obama has said that he would consider raising the age as part of a deal to cut federal spending. So far in this round of discussions, though, the President has been mum on the matter.
Wendell Potter, consultant for the Center of Public Integrity, wrote in a Huffington Post op-ed that raising the Medicare age makes no sense given the upcoming changes mandated by the Affordable Care Act.
GREENBURGH, NY TEAMSTERS REACH DEAL
A contract was finally settled for the Department of Public Works in Greenburgh, NY. City workers, represented by the Teamsters, had been working for several years without a contract. Negotiations in recent months had become heated as the workers demanded a raise and some relief in terms of health care costs. Via the Greenburgh Daily Voice:
After receiving no salary increases in 2009 or 2010 and a 1 percent increase in 2011, employees will receive a 1.75 increase in 2012 and 2013 plus an additional $500 each year, and a 2.25 percent increase in 2014 with an additional $400.
The additional money will mostly go toward health-care contributions employees will have to pay, which will amount to about $600 each year, said Town Supervisor Paul Feiner.
“I feel it’s a fair contribution. The employees work really hard and didn’t slow down during the storm,” said Feiner, referring to the department’s overtime hours during Hurricane Sandy.
MASTER AGREEMENT BOOSTS SAFETY FOR 1000 TEAMSTERS IN IL
Over 1000 Teamsters will be reaping the benefits of Local 777 and Local 179 entering into a master contract with Illinois Central School Bus, the fifth largest provider of school bus transportation in the country.
The contract, which was ratified by a 3 to 1 margin, will improve working conditions and job security. According to a press release:
The five-year agreement includes 48 articles securing workplace protections and improvements and providing strong language to raise standards for Teamsters at Illinois Central. The master agreement includes the right of drivers to refuse to drive an unsafe bus, an important step in ensuring the safety of schoolchildren and communities throughout Illinois.
Economic terms and additional workplace improvements will be negotiated in supplemental agreements with each individual Illinois Central location.
Teamsters Local 777 in Lyons, Ill., and Local 179 in Joliet, Ill., represent more than 1,000 Illinois Central workers. Since April 2012, more than 673 Illinois Central workers at seven Illinois Central school bus yards have joined the Teamsters.
The contract is a major victory for the Teamsters’ Drive Up Standards Campaign, a nationwide initiative to improve work and safety standards in the public school bus and transit industry. The idea is that better working conditions for drivers equals better riding conditions for children.
Tom White, who has been a driver for Illinois Central’s Mount Prospect location for the past 6 years, now serves as shop steward:
“I feel great about our contract. It’s a huge first step in an industry that needs unions. We will have a process and transparency. Seniority will have to be honored. We’ve made progress.