While unions often try to portray themselves as "democratic," Teamster members of several local unions working at United Parcel Service have learned that this is not always the case.
While most of today's unions do allow union members to vote on certain matters, if the results do not match what union bosses want, these same unions most often have the ability to override their members through a complicated set of union rules called a union constitution.
At UPS, for example, members upset with their Teamster bosses for implementing a contract that they, the members, voted to reject.
According to the Wall Street Journal, union bosses overrode the members at three local unions who rejected the contract offered by UPS.
The unusual move, described Wednesday in an internal memo reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, took local union leaders by surprise. The Teamsters union said the UPS national negotiating committee "voted overwhelmingly" to declare the new contract in effect.
This decision superseded rejections by three locals of parts of the national contract, known as riders or supplements, that address issues such as wages for part-time employees, pension contributions and overtime restrictions. [Emphasis added.]
For UPS, the company got a "cheap deal," reported the Teamsters for a Democratic Union.
How did the Teamsters do this to their members? By following its more than 200-page book of rules, its union constitution.
In the Teamsters' constitution, Article XII, Section 2 describes the complicated procedures through which members' can find themselves in a contract they voted against.
It is Article VII of the Teamsters' Constitution that Teamster bosses cited in their memorandum (in PDF) to its local unions:
Under Article XII of the International Constitution, the General Executive Board gave the National Committee the authority to declare a contract in place when the members are repeatedly rejecting a Supplement/Rider based on language that has already been ratified. This authority is very narrow in scope and does not affect the autonomy of Supplements/Riders to negotiate over issues that are properly contained in their Agreements, nor does it affect the rights of members to vote on their Supplements/Riders. [Emphasis added.]
If the Teamster members at UPS never read their union's rules, it is little wonder why they're upset and accusing union bosses of having "sided with the company and forced through concessions."
Despite the fact that most of these rules (union constitutions) are available to union members (upon request), union members are often unaware of the rules their unions have until, as is the case of UPS Teamsters, it is too late.
"Truth isn't mean. It's truth."
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)
Cross-posted on LaborUnionReport.com