Daily Archives: November 18, 2011

Hoffa, With 57% Of Vote, Set To Win Re-Election As Teamsters President.

Washington — James P. Hoffa is expected to easily win re-election to another five-year term as president of the 1.4 million-member International Brotherhood of Teamsters, officials said Thursday.

According to a tally posted on a union website, Hoffa — who has been president since 1999 — has 57 percent of the vote, with two challengers splitting the remainder of the votes.

Hoffa has 97,046 votes, while challenger Fred Gegare has 42,480 votes and Sandy Pope 30,279 votes.

To date, the vote has been counted in the southern, central and eastern regions, with the western region and Canada still to count. The remaining regions will include about 65,000 votes to count, officials said.

In an interview Thursday, Hoffa said he expected to win with more than 60 percent of the vote.

“This is a vindication for everything we’ve worked for,” Hoffa said. “We’ve worked to keep the union strong during the worst economy in 80 years.”

Hoffa said the union was talking to airline pilots as part of its current organizing efforts.

“It’s hard to organize right now, and people are looking to the Teamsters,” he said.

The union has voiced support for Occupy Wall Street movements and has said the economic climate is encouraging more people to join unions.

“People need a union more than ever today,” Hoffa said.

The defeat in Ohio of efforts to restrict collective bargaining was a sign of overreaching by Republicans, Hoffa said. People, including even some Teamsters, have expressed regret to him for voting for Republicans in 2010 elections, he said.

“They are seeing that Republicans want right-to-work, they want to take away collective bargaining for public employees,” Hoffa said. “They are for tax cuts for the rich and passing on expenses to the poor.”

Pope is a former truck driver, warehouse worker and steel-hauler, and is president of Teamsters Local 805 in New York City.

Gegare is a Wisconsin Teamster who joined Local 75 in 1972 and has served in a number of positions. He’s also a trustee on one of the nation’s largest pension funds and Teamsters international vice president.

Hoffa plans to be active in the 2012 elections, stumping for President Barack Obama and union-friendly candidates. Hoffa was one of the first labor leaders to endorse Obama in February 2008 for president.

Earlier this year, Hoffa gave a fiery speech in Detroit on Labor Day ahead of Obama’s appearance.

“We’ve got to keep an eye on the battle that we face — a war on workers. And you see it everywhere. It is the tea party,” he said. “And there’s only one way to beat and win that war — the one thing about working people is, we like a good fight.”

He added: “President Obama, this is your army; we are ready to march.”

The Teamsters have made organizing new members a top priority. On Thursday, the union announced that a majority of the nearly 20,000 correctional, probation and parole officers with the Florida Department of Corrections voted to join the Teamsters. “FDOC officers have shown that in tough times, they want a tough union to represent them,” Hoffa said.

The union also faces contract talks with UPS in 2013. The Teamsters represent 240,000 workers at the shipping giant — the single largest bargaining unit at any company in the nation.

By contrast, the United Auto Workers represents about 117,000 workers at Detroit’s Big Three.

Michigan is home to about 50,000 Teamsters and 35,000 Teamster retirees.

Hoffa is set in the coming months to surpass his father’s 13 years of service as head of the Teamsters.

Hoffa was a lawyer for the Teamsters from 1968 to 1993 and lost an election for Teamsters president in 1996, before winning a new election in December 1998.

Born in Detroit in 1941, Hoffa graduated from Cooley High School and played football. He holds a degree in economics from Michigan State University and a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School.

Hoffa, who is a big Detroit Lions and Michigan State sports fan, splits his time between Washington, where the Teamsters are headquartered, and Oakland County, where he has a home. Source: David Shepardson/ Detroit News Washington Bureau.

Federal Employees Give Agency Leaders Failing Grades.

Working in government and feeling discouraged with your leadership team lately? You’re hardly the only one. According to the 2011 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings, released Nov. 16, many government agencies received the equivalent of “failing grades” from their own employees when it came to being satisfied on the job.

The 10 best places to work in federal government.

Even the top-ranked Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which jumped to the lead spot as the best large agency to work for, received an overall employee satisfaction score of only 85.9 out of 100. This is more than a 30-point satisfaction increase at the FDIC since 2005, the first year it was ranked. But satisfaction at other agencies only goes downhill from there.

Government-wide, the average grade was 64 points out of 100, a 1.5 percent decrease from 2010. This puts the overall satisfaction of government workers about six points lower than that of workers in the private sector.

And this does not just reflect the view of a few isolated and disgruntled employees. The Best Places to Work rankings are based on data from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, which polled more than 266,000 federal workers between April and May 2011. The rankings were then compiled by the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit, non-partisan organization in Washington, D.C.

While many dynamics influence an agency’s ranking, the report shows that the employee satisfaction grade is most critically correlated to a single component: senior leadership.

For the sixth year in a row, the efficacy of senior leadership emerged as the No. 1 factor that makes or breaks federal employees’ overall satisfaction with their jobs. And this year there appeared to be more “breaking” than “making” in that department. While the FDIC and Nuclear Regulatory Commission scored relatively high marks in the effective-leadership category , the average agency’s score was 49.3 out of 100—which puts effective leadership among the lowest-rated workplace categories that federal employees were able to grade.

Low as it is, though, that score has at least a meager bright side: It’s nearly 1 percent higher than last year’s.  Source:  Melissa Steffan, WashingtonPost.com.

UAW To Cut Retiree Health Benefits. “We don’t know what they’re doing with all the money.”

The medical benefits of approximately 820,000 retired auto workers and their spouses in the US are in danger of being sharply reduced or eliminated outright, as the retiree health care trust fund, run by the United Auto Workers union, is short of money.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the fund—known as the Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association or VEBA—will impose new cuts in medical benefits and impose higher out-of-pocket costs on retired General Motors, Chrysler and Ford workers and their spouses in the coming year.

Facing a shortfall of at least $20 billion, the UAW-VEBA web site announced plans to increase deductibles on retirees in 2012. During its first year of operation in 2010 the fund eliminated of coverage of some prescriptions and boosted co-payments.

“I’ve already gotten letters saying they are raising premiums for dental and eye coverage,” said Lyle Roussey, a worker who retired from GM’s Saginaw Metal Casting plant in Michigan two years ago. “I never had faith when the UAW took over medical benefits. We don’t know what they are doing with all the money.  Read the full text by Jerry White at WSWS.org here.

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