GCC/Teamsters — New Look, Old Challenges
“Why would you not want to have a say in your livelihood, and just leave it to someone else to make all the decisions for you?” Tedeschi poses. “What non-union plants are telling you is, ‘Leave everything to us. We know what’s best. You really don’t know anything. Let us make the decisions for you.’
“I believe that workers are intelligent and understand their jobs—in most cases, better than the employer—so they should have the legal right for input in those conditions.”
In addition to growth initiatives, the GCC/Teamsters have changed their method of organizing and have proven they are not shy about rattling corporate cages. From mid-2005 and for much of last year, the GCC and Montreal-based Quebecor World traded barbs publicly. The printer filed a complaint in U.S. federal district court, claiming GCC/Teamsters violated the neutrality and organizing agreement between the two parties by making denigrating, adversarial and negative comments.
The two sides have hammered out a cooperative agreement, and the suit has been shelved in the interest of maintaining forward-moving dialogue. Tedeschi feels the sides are negotiating contracts in a more positive atmosphere. There have been three “yes” votes at Quebecor World on the question of organizing, and an accord has already been reached with the Fernley, NV, facility.
“When there’s cooperation between employer, its employees and the union, the company can prosper,” he says. “That’s important to us, because it assures jobs. But it has to be fair and reasonable; that’s all we’re asking for. In cases where you have one side trying to exert authority over the other partner, it creates problems.”
More recently, the GCC/Teamsters mobilized in Philadelphia, Boston, New York, Los Angeles and St. Louis, among other cities, protesting what it feels are unfair labor practices being used by Cenveo and its CEO, Bob Burton. Workers leafleted the retail outlets of Cenveo accounts, including Starbucks, Ann Taylor and Blue Tulip. The main issue at hand is weakening employee benefits, namely healthcare.