By joining together, Teamsters have more say in working conditions. We can negotiate with management to make jobs better and make sure we are all treated fairly.
Most Teamsters, except for some public employees, are covered by a union contract with the employer. Contracts cover such rights and benefits as:
Your contract is negotiated with management by your co-workers and Teamster leaders. Every member has the right to make suggestions about what should be in the contract and to vote on the final agreement.
To win a good contract, workers have to show management that they are united in support of their negotiating team. Sometimes workers have to get support from other unions, community groups, public officials, consumers, or other organizations to convince management to reach a reasonable agreement.
The rights and benefits in the contract are guaranteed. Management cannot legally change them without negotiations with the union.
Everyone wants to have smooth working relationships on the job. But problems sometimes come up in every workplace.
A Teamster contract includes a procedure to protect you from being treated unfairly or fired without good reason. It also protects you from discrimination or favoritism in the way work assignments, promotions, layoffs, or other issues are handled.
A complaint that the contract has been violated is called a "grievance". If you think management may have violated your rights, or have any questions or problems about work, tell your Teamster steward. The steward and other local union leaders can answer your questions and help you figure out the best way to solve the problem. Sometimes that involves discussions with management. Sometimes it requires getting the support of other workers for a fair solution.
When you join the Teamsters, you become a member of a local union. Your local union has the main responsibility for enforcing your rights under the union contract. Most Teamster contracts are negotiated by the local union. Your local union has seven officers, all elected by the membership. Some locals employ business agents to represent members and help the officers coordinate union activities. Your most direct link to the union is your Teamster steward. Your steward is a co-worker trained to help represent and organize union members. You should go to your steward when you have a question or problem.
Read your contract. Ask your steward to explain parts that seem unclear. Insist on your rights. Let your steward and other coworkers know if you think management is acting unfairly. If a manager asks you questions that might lead to discipline, you have a legal right to have your union steward present during the questioning. Support your coworkers If someone else isn't being treated fairly, back them up. Our union is strong because we stick together. Back up your union leaders when they ask for your support.
Support campaigns to win better contracts. Give your local union representative your ideas for what to negotiate in your contract. Join in activities to show management that you support your union. Help reach out to community groups if their support is needed.
Back other workers' campaigns for fair contracts. When other Teamsters or members of other unions win better contracts, that helps set higher standards that make it easier for your group to negotiate improvements. Other workers may ask you to help them by boycotting a certain product, displaying a bumper sticker, or attending a rally to demonstrate your support.