What follows are the legislative priorities of the Teamsters Union for the second session of the 111th Congress. Included are links (govtrack.us) that provide a summary and the status of House and Senate bills that support our goals, as well as a list of companies and organizations that support or oppose the bills. You can also join the discussion in the Q & A section.
Creating and Keeping Good Jobs
Pension Reform: With unemployment rates at all-time highs across the country, it is time to save jobs by protecting pensions. Reps. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) and Pat Tiberi (R-OH) have introduced H.R. 3936, the Preserve Benefits and Jobs Act of 2009. This legislation would provide funding relief for both single- and multi-employer pension funds. The Teamsters Union supports H.R. 3936.
Health Insurance Reform: With nearly 40 million uninsured Americans, the Teamsters Union supports health insurance reform. Any reform measure should require employers to provide coverage, prohibit lifetime and annual limits on benefits, make insurance affordable, and control costs.
Energy and Climate: We must get America running on clean energy by creating clean energy incentives while protecting jobs, wages, benefits, and labor standards. The Teamsters Union supports a balanced approach to comprehensive energy and climate legislation.
State Recycling Programs: Recycling creates 10 times as many jobs per ton of waste as landfills and incinerators. The Teamsters Union supports more investment in recycling programs and incentives to expand recycling infrastructure. In particular, the Teamsters support the State Recycling Program included in S. 1733, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.
Fair Trade: The U.S. has lost more than 3 million manufacturing jobs since 1998. Our trade policy must be fixed. The Teamsters Union supports S. 2821, the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development, and Employment Act (TRADE Act), and its House companion, H.R. 3012. The TRADE Act establishes a new trade policy framework for the country, lays the foundation of how trade agreements should be negotiated and articulates what agreements can and cannot include.
Protecting Workers' Rights and Safety
Employee Free Choice Act: If given the chance, most American workers would join a union; however, a recent study showed that 30% of employers fire pro-union employees. The Teamsters Union support S. 560, the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), and the House companion bill, H.R. 1409. The Employee Free CHoice Act would give workers a fair and direct path to form unions through majority sign-up, help employees secure a contract with their employer in a reasonable period of time, and toughen penalties against employers who violate their workers' rights.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization/Express Carrier: Workers at different companies who perform the same tasks in the same industry – such as express delivery drivers – should be treated equally under the law. Unfortunately, they aren't. Last year, the House passed the FAA reauthorization bill, H.R. 915, with the Express Carrier Employee Protection Act included. The Act requires employees of express delivery companies to be covered by the Railway Labor Act only if they perform airline-specific functions; other jobs at express carriers would be covered by the National Labor Relations Act. The Teamsters Union supports inclusion of Express Carrier Employee Protection Act in the final FAA reauthorization bill.
Clean Ports Campaign: Ninety-five percent of the goods imported to the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico flow through our ports. For decades, a loop in the law allowed employers to deny port drivers' basic rights by misclassifying them as independent contractors. The Teamsters Union, as part of the Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports, supports a federal amendment to the Motor Carrier Act. The amendment would allow ports to require harbor trucking companies to employ their drivers instead of using them as independent contractors.
Worker Misclassification: For many years and in many industries, employers have wrongly classified employees as "independent contractors." It deprives workers of employment protections, and gives employers an unfair competitive advantage by driving their costs down. The Teamsters Union supports H.R. 3408, the Taxpayer Responsibility, Accountability, and Consistency (TRAC) Act, and the Senate version, S. 2882. This legislation would solve the growing problem of worker misclassification by closing the Section 530 "safe harbor" loophole which currently allows employers to circumvent the Internal Revenue Service's classification test, and misclassify workers as independent contractors.
Cross-Border Trucking Pilot Program: In 2007, the Bush Administration opened the borders to trucks from Mexico. As many as 100 Mexican carriers, who do not meet U.S. safety standards, were granted authority beyond the commercial zones. The Teamsters Union persuaded Congress to end the program in 2009. In response, the Mexican government is now imposing tariffs on certain U.S. exports. The Teamsters Union urges the U.S. Trade Representative to challenge the Mexican tariffs on U.S. products, and to support a permanent ban.
Ensuring Financial Security for Working Families
Financial Services Reform: In the aftermath of a full-blown global economic crisis and the worst recession in decades, bold action is needed to secure economic security, eliminate predatory lending, ensure fairness for taxpayers, and protect workers and their jobs. The Teamsters Union supports the House-passed bill H.R. 4173 – the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009.