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February 22, 2017

On This Day in 1834:

Responding to a 15 percent wage cut, women textile workers in Lowell, Mass., organize a “turn-out”—a strike—in protest. The action failed. Two years later they formed the Factory Girl’s Association in response to a rent hike in company boarding houses and the increase was rescinded. One worker’s diary recounts a “stirring speech” of resistance by a co-worker, 11-year-old Harriet Hanson Robinson.

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Labor Headlines

US labour news headlines from LabourStart

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Updated: Feb. 22 (05:01)

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Teamsters Local 355
 
     
BOOM = Because Our Opinions Matter
Updated On: Oct 22, 2014

(L-R) Shop stewards Dave Beach and Bill Stramm, Operations Manager Mark Fischer, Local 355 Vice President Ervin Williams, and Business Agent John Caparatta.

Penn Fibre Teamsters participate in repair, revitalization of their workspace

Note: Local 355 has represented workers at thermoplastics manufacturer Ensinger/Penn Fibre for more than 40 years. Our members – many of whom are long-term employees – work in every department throughout the plant. The following is an update to an earlier story, "A Win-Win at Penn Fibre," reported in 2012.

Greenwood, Del. —  In September 2012, Penn Fibre began construction of a warehouse extension (right) to store the overflow of materials used in the production of high-performance engineering plastics, the company's signature product. The tight space and aging floors of the old warehouse raised concerns about worker safety. At the time, General Manager John Cowperthwait told his workers the company was committed to undertaking the necessary measures to avoid unnecessary accidents.

Penn Fiber's German parent company, Ensinger, launched BOOM — "Because Our Opinion Matters" — a bottoms-up initiative designed to teach its plant locations how to continuously improve and maintain their workspace. The BOOM program promotes a process by which employees – union and non-union alike – are encouraged to tell management what improvements are necessary to make the plant more efficient, productive and safe. It is the employees, working hands-on, day-to-day within their spaces, who know what is broken and in need of fixing, said Cowperthwait.

Workers began by surveying and analyzing their own departments, making lists of recommendations. The various departments then met to discuss and determine priorities. Almost all recommendations were approved.

The first phase of BOOM completed, the company moved to the second phase in July with a one-week "maintenance shutdown," limited production schedule and, with "all hands on deck," assigned employees to cleaning, painting, organizing, repairing and sprucing up their workplaces, all according to the final recommendations and suggestions for change. Everyone was paid their regular weekly rate.

"Though we do a maintenance shutdown annually, this year we accomplished much, much more," said Mark Fischer, operations manager. "Historically, we change motors and pumps and do other busy work. This year was different, well beyond the norm. Teamwork was essential."

Work projects included sealing large floor cracks (right) thus eliminating tripping hazards and easing fork-lift vibration, often the cause of back injuries; re-configuring the old warehouse's aisles that were too close together with materials stacked too high making them hard to access; machines were cleaned — one was re-located to improve productivity and safety — and a new drive controller was installed to maintain consistent flow of the thin plastic sheets used to make product. Interior walls were reinforced and re-painted, building exteriors received a fresh coat of paint, the company's outdoors logo was hand-painted, and new gravel was distributed on walk and pathways.

"The program really upped the morale," said David Beach, a die shop employee and Teamster shop steward since 2014. "It makes us feel good to work in a clean environment."

Penn Fiber's newly hired maintenance manager is moving to address other areas where improvements were recommended by the employees, including the installation of better lighting.

Shipping department employee and Teamster steward Bill Stamm said it made a big difference to know management trusted the workers to make sound decisions about the clean up. "For example, if one department no longer needed a piece of equipment or storage rack (left), we checked around with other departments to see it if could be repurposed. The company was fine with that." 

Today, not only does the plant look good, it's much safer. Penn Fiber Teamsters are proud of their contribution and hard work that helped to make it all happen.

"Our members were enthusiastic about the BOOM program because the changes were happening with them, not around them," said Local 355 Vice President Ervin Williams adding, "Their opinions mattered."


General Membership Meetings:
Mar. 5, 2017  - Baltimore
Mar. 12, 2017  - Salisbury

10:oo am.
Please be present and on time.

Bring a coworker!

Current Campaigns
  • The ‘Let’s Get America Working!’ campaign seeks to restore a dynamic and prosperous middle class to drive economic growth by helping to advance policy decisions that create and maintain good middle-income jobs, guarantee retirement security, expand access to the American Dream, and ensure that the benefits of the ongoing economic recovery are felt by the many, not just the few.

  • We Are eXPOsing XPO’s Global Greed

    XPO Logistics is a top ten global logistics and transportation company with annual revenue of $15 billion and 89,000 employees, another 10,000 workers classified as independent contractors, and thousands more working for firms that subcontract with XPO. We are the REAL workers at XPO Logistics worldwide exposing the truth about the company’s global greed, illegal wage theft, unsafe conditions, and abhorrent and vicious anti-worker, anti-union tactics. 

    This greed includes mistreating former Con-way Freight workers in the United States who are being kept in the dark about terminal closures and layoffs, and the company’s illegal refusal to bargain contracts and denying their workers’ federally protected right to organize. It also includes port, rail and last-mile drivers around the country and in Southern California fighting wage theft in excess of $200 million because they are misclassified as independent contractors and denied the right to form their union. This greed has caused numerous lawsuits and strikes.  Greed also means an unsafe workplace and mistreating its warehouse employees.

    XPO’s greed extends to Europe beginning with breaking its promise to not layoff any workers for at least 18 months. French workers and the unions have been fighting back against XPO’s disrespect, lies and attempts to slash jobs. Similar struggles are taking place in Great Britain, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, and across Europe.

    Join the worldwide struggle now! Get involved with this campaign by joining the Facebook group “XPO Exposed.”

    Together, we can eXPOse the company’s global greed and win fairness, respect and dignity for tens of thousands of XPO employees around the world!

  • This webpage provides information on the Teamsters Union’s legislative advocacy at both the federal and state level as well as our field activity to support those policy positions and to get strong labor candidates elected to office.  Among other resources, you will find our federal legislative scorecard, formal statements of policy position and communications to Capitol Hill,  a weekly update on federal legislative happenings, an overview of bills we are tracking at the state level, and quick links to take action on priority issues.

  • Negotiations for the National Master Automobile Transporters Agreement (NMATA) recently concluded and a tentative agreement has been reached. On Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017 representatives from carhaul local unions met in Detroit to endorse the National Agreement and the Central-Southern Supplement, paving the way for members to vote. The Eastern and Western Supplements were approved in 2016, and will not be re-voted. However, all carhaul members will get to exercise their right to vote on the National Agreement and General Monetary Changes.

    Ballots will be mailed out on or about March 10 and are tentatively scheduled to be counted on March 30.

    The tentative agreement is from September 1, 2015, until May 31, 2021.

  • The IBT-Airline Division has established this page as a place to get up-to-date information about the Republic Airways Holdings (RAH) bankruptcy.  Please check here for the latest information about the bankruptcy.

  • Workers’ pensions are being endangered by both Congress and those charged with overseeing them. The Teamsters and our members are standing united to say “No!” to cuts and “Yes!” to greater retirement security!

  • The Teamsters Union represents more than 250,000 members at UPS and UPS Freight. UPS remains an active member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) despite the organization’s anti-worker and anti-union agenda that seeks to undermine and weaken worker protections.

  • This web page provides information on our fight against fast-track legislation. The measure requires Congress to take only a quick up-or-down vote on secret trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and does not allow such agreements to be amended. It limits Congress’ constitutionally mandated oversight of such trade deals and lets others decide what’s best for America. The result is fewer good-paying U.S. jobs and unsafe food and products for Americans. Read more to find out why fast track is the wrong track for Teamsters and America.

  • Workers across the country at FedEx Freight and Con-way Freight are standing shoulder to shoulder to form their unions with the Teamsters to win a more secure future. Momentum is building with a first wave of victories with many more to come.

    There is growing worker resentment toward the companies after years of being treated unfairly. While the companies have suddenly made improvements since workers began to organize, workers know that without a legally binding contract the company can take these things away at any time.

    The unfulfilled promises that have been made to drivers and dockworkers over the past decade are coming back to haunt management.

    But now workers are taking action and standing up for themselves by forming their union. It's a different era now. It's Teamster Time! LIKE our Facebook page, here.

  • Teamsters are been standing together to protect good jobs at Sysco and US Foods. Our solidarity on many fronts helped to defeat the mega-merger of the two companies, which would have put thousands of jobs at risk. But challenges remain as both companies refine their plans. Join our campaign to ensure these foodservice giants honor their agreements with 11,500 Teamsters and help us bring more Sysco and US Foods workers into the Teamster family. LIKE our Facebook page, here.

     

 
 
Teamsters Local 355
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