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Teamsters Local 61
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June 19, 2018
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US labor news headlines from LabourStart

Boeing won't recognize union win at North Charleston site as it appeals vote
Univ Pitt's grad-student union joins three other universities in the state that are fighting the same union-busting law firm
Welder who died at Institute plant remembered as jack-of-all-trades
Teamsters: Desperate To Prevent Employees From Exercising Free Speech, American Bottling Resorts To Harassment
Should Hawaii Hotels Help Their Workers Buy Homes?
Current Campaigns
  • This Web page provides the latest updates for the national contract, riders and supplements that cover about 3,500 Teamsters at DHL Express.

  • 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 page provides the latest contract information to the 7,500 Teamsters—drivers, dockworkers and office staff—employed by ABF Freight System, Inc.

  • 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 ‘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.

  • 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.

  • This web page provides information on the ongoing effort to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Since 1994, NAFTA has devastated working families, putting corporate profits ahead of people.  What’s worse is that NAFTA has become the blueprint for all other trade agreements, from the way that it was negotiated in secret, to the bad provisions that have made their way into every agreement that has been signed since then.  Now, NAFTA is being renegotiated and we demand that it be reframed to work for workers instead of corporate interests.

  • The Teamsters have stood in solidarity with worker struggles in other countries since our founding. With economic globalization, our ability to organize increasingly depends on our ability to build alliances with workers on a global scale.
    More than ever, Teamsters are organizing and bargaining with multi-national companies. A key objective of our Global Strategies Campaign is to build strong alliances with unions around the globe who organize and bargain with common employers. Our focus is on workers in the emerging global supply chains – the infrastructure of globalization.
    Globalization creates new opportunities for international worker solidarity. We seek common cause with workers around the world to build social justice for all workers and the communities in which they live.

  • The contributions of black members to the success of the Teamsters Union are numerous, varied and as old as the union itself. This month, the Teamsters Union spotlights some of those contributions.

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YRC , Goldman Sachs and the Teamsters
Updated On: Feb 11, 2010

Saving 30,000 Jobs

How the Teamsters Beat Goldman Sachs

By ANDREW COCKBURN

Among the causes of the  ongoing financial meltdown, many experts cite  the Commodity Futures Modernization Act,  smuggled through Congress late on a December evening in 2000.  The law exempted Credit Default Swaps (CDS) which are essentially bets on the value of securities from all regulation, including state gambling laws.  This allowed Wall Street to conclude that any risk could be hedged with a bet.  The result, of course, was disaster, with economic consequences that we will be feeling for a very long time. 

“When I wrote part of that legislation with these hands on my little keyboard,” a former financial industry lobbyist who helped craft the law recently told me,  “I didn’t realize that  this was going to make people lose their jobs, pension funds their reserves, universities their endowments.  But that’s what happened”  

There are now shelves full of books describing the disaster caused by the enabling of Wall Street as a wide open casino.  Butt amidst the wreckage and plaintive cries for “reform,” Wall Street is full tilt in the business of destroying companies and throwing thousands of men and women out of work in order to turn a quick profit on a CDS trade.

In recent weeks the 30,000 employees of  YRC Worldwide, one of the nation’s largest trucking companies, discovered that they had unwittingly been drafted as chips in the casino.  The company, built up through a series of misguidedly overpriced takeovers in the years of the credit bubble, had hit a financial wall thanks to the fall off of business in the recession.  Unless investors holding the company’s bonds could be persuaded to swap their debt for equity, the company would go bankrupt and its employees thrown out of work.

In a sane world the bondholders would have had little trouble in seeing the wisdom of the plan and signing on.  But the world we live in does things differently. We have, for example, the practice known as “basis packaging”  in which a company such as YRCW, while attempting to restructure its debt, discovers that some of the bondholders have simultaneously bet, through the use of credit default swaps, on the company going bankrupt.  As bondholders, they can sabotage any rescue operation by refusing to cooperate and thus collect on their winning bets even as the truck drivers begin collecting unemployment.

This was exactly what was happening in the case of YRCW.  According to Michael Greenberger, the University of Maryland law professor who  headed  Trading and Markets at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in the Clinton Administration, this was a case of  “Goldman (Sachs) et al seemingly forcing the country’s biggest truck company into bankruptcy in order to get pay-offs under CDS, with 50,000 jobs at stake.

Hedge fund entrepreneur David Einhorn, who denounced the malign practice at an investors’ conference earlier this year, claims that “basis packaging” has already been  a major contributor to the bankruptcy of  companies such as Abitibi-Bowater, General Growth Properties, Six Flags and even General Motors.  Deriding calls for regulation of the CDS business, he declared that “trying to make safer CDS is like trying to make safer asbestos. How many real businesses have to fail before policy makers decide to simply ban them?”

Waiting for policy-makers to do the right thing will take a while. Credible reports indicate that Rahm Emanuel is counting on Wall Street cash to get the Democrats through the 2010 election. But fortunately the YRCW workers had the backing of their union, the  Teamsters.

With strategic input from Greenberger, the Teamsters were able to identify whom they were up against.  “We picked up intelligence that Goldman (Sachs) was making markets (in CDS) and then we got some direct evidence,”  Teamster spokesman Ian Gold tells me.  But Goldman was not alone.  “All of Wall Street” was trying to bring the company down.

In response, the union made it clear that they were prepared to name names.  “We would make it our mission to hold people accountable,” says Gold.  Following advice from Greenberger on strategy, Teamster President James Hoffa wrote to  relevant  Senators, Congressmen, State Attorneys General and regulators detailing how “Certain financial firms, have been or are marketing and/or underwriting a strategy where bonds in YRCW would be bought by investors with the intent of voting against the exchange, thereby triggering a bankruptcy that would pay the investors and possible other financial firms huge profits from the high CDS payments which would be triggered by a YRCW bankruptcy or liquidation. The profit from the YRCW CDSs would far outweigh losses from the failed YRCW bonds.”   

Widely reviled as “the vampire squid”  of the financial world, Goldman proved unwilling to be charged with throwing 30,000 truckers out of work.  The bank not only caved, but offered its help.  “As well it should have,” notes Greenberger. In a sudden turnabout, the company began cooperating in an effort to recruit  bondholders who would  do the right thing and vote for the restructuring.  Even so, time was running out.  YRCW was forced to postpone the crucial vote on the structuring no less than six times.  By December 30, Brigade Capital,  a $5 billion New York hedge fund, was the last major holdout.  Only when the Teamsters prepared to picket Brigade’s Park Avenue offices did the fund fold. 

Just this once, a powerful union stopped the casino operators in their tracks.  Meanwhile, too many other workers are left simply to fulfill their role as chips on the tables.

Andrew Cockburn is the co-producer of the feature documentary on the financial catastrophe American Casino.  He can be reached at amcockburn@gmail.com


 
 
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