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What’s At Stake in RI Hospital Contract Negotiations?

The Local 251 Union Negotiating Committee and RI Hospital management have exchanged contract proposals.

RIH Teamsters are standing up for good jobs, living wages, better benefits, and the opportunity to advance ourselves by transferring into better jobs.

Management is trying to cut overtime pay, reduce benefits, and make it more difficult to bid into new opportunities.

The contract proposals will change with the give and take of negotiations. But the stakes are clear.

We need show the Hospital that we will stick together. Together, we can win a fair contract and a better future for RIH employees.

Read the Contract Update to compare our union proposals to management’s.

Rest In Peace – Dennis Lavallee

Dennis was a proud second generation member of Teamsters Local 251. For 25 years, he worked as a driver at McLaughlin & Moran where his peers elected him union steward.

In 2015, Local 251 hired Dennis to run its Driving School. As the lead instructor, Dennis trained dozens of truck drivers helping them expand their skills and career horizons. He was elected Local 251 Trustee in 2016. He passionately served the membership as Assistant Business Agent for the Local 251 for the last two years.

Although Dennis was wildly successful in all things he did, one thing he never won any awards for was his ability to get anyone he represented out of a jam. He was passionate, smart and fought until the end. He was always one step ahead of everyone else. Dennis had an innate ability to make people understand his point of view. If you were ever in a situation and needed help, there was no one better to represent you then Dennis Lavallee.

Dennis also worked diligently as a Local 251 Charity Fund Trustee, helping on events that benefited children of Teamsters and those in need in the community. In 2017 Dennis (along with two co-workers) volunteered five days of his personal time to drive a Teamster semi filled with donations to Houston’s victims of Hurricane Harvey. Dennis twice ran for Rhode Island State Senate falling less than 200 votes short in his second attempt. As evidence of his grit and determination, he was mulling a third run.

Throughout his career, Dennis fulfilled his dream of helping Teamsters, fellow workers and his community. Local 251 staff and members will miss his strong work ethic, vibrant personality and sharp wit.

View Obituary

Local 251 Scholarships—Now Accepting Applications

The Teamsters Local 251 Charity Fund is proud to continue its annual scholarship program for dependent children of active Teamster members in good standing.

Those interested in applying are required to complete the form and return it to Local 251 by December 31, 2018.

Click here to download the application form.

The Teamsters Local 251 Charity Fund is proud to honor the following children of Local 251 members, each of whom was awarded a $1,500 scholarship for 2018.

Madeline Choquette
Jessica Mulholland
Nicholas DiBiasio
Alyssa Choquette
Zachery Fagundes
Joshua Greenwood
Kayla Soberanis
Alexander Byron
Emily Iwuc
Cosmin Iacoban
Aidan Morrison
Matthew Wilson

First Student Members Approve New Contract, End 11-Day Strike

Teamsters Local 251 and First Student reached an agreement Friday, October 12 that provides the key driver demand of retirement security. After unanimously ratifiying the agreement Saturday night, the drivers returned to work to provide safe transportation of Providence school children and passenger transit needs.

“It is clear from the unanimous ratification vote and solidarity among the drivers through this difficult process, that collective action by workers is the single most effective method for improving living standards for working class families,” said Matthew Taibi, Local 251 Secretary-Treasurer. “I commend the team effort by the drivers on the negotiating committee, the dedicated staff of Local 251 and the leadership of New England Joint Council 10, led by Sean O’Brien.”

The agreement ends a difficult labor dispute that was felt by children, parents, striking drivers, First Student, the City of Providence and the State of Rhode Island. The drivers were forced on strike on September 27 following months of negotiations.

The new agreement provides fair wage increases that continue to set the standard for the region and allows Providence to attract and retain the most qualified bus drivers. Currently, Rhode Island is experiencing a statewide shortage of bus drivers. The job’s qualifications demand, part-time nature and the split shift are largely due for the shortage. The new contract addresses some of these issues by increasing morning and afternoon pay guarantees and improving driver healthcare benefits.

Providence drivers have long set the standards for dignity and respect on the job in the industry. A 24-day strike in 2000 secured healthcare benefits for the first time. Now Providence sets the standard in retirement security.

Driver retirement security was addressed in the contract by the establishment of a new pension for the drivers. The New England Teamsters established a new plan that addressed First Student’s concerns about unfunded liability. The constant issue of 401k funding and matching will be a thing of the past. And all drivers will benefit from this enhanced retirement benefit regardless if they make any contributions with their own hard earned money.

“The drivers were committed to securing a fair agreement that rewards them for safely transporting our most precious cargo, our children, to and from school every day,” said Nick Williams, Local 251 Business Agent. “A secure retirement and more guaranteed hours further encourages long term loyalty to the job and care for the children.”

DHLNH & DHL Express Workers Ratify First Contract

By standing together, Teamsters Local 251 members at DHLNH fought and won a first contract that demonstrates the power of a union.

“This is a strong first contract for workers willing to fight for one,” says Matt Maini, Teamsters Local 251 Business Agent. “These brave workers went on strike for nine weeks and demanded the respect that they deserve.”

“We faced poverty wages, unsafe working conditions and disrespect by the company,” said Sarong Rath, a Local 251 DHLNH steward. “The solidarity we built over the last 14 months delivered a strong future.”

DHL Express clerical workers voted to join Local 251 separately, and were negotiated into the national agreement between the Teamsters and DHL Express. Their local agreement calls for strong wage improvements and fully-paid Teamster-sponsored healthcare.

“Honoring the picket line of our brothers and sisters at DHLNH tested our commitment,” said Steward Bethany Stamp. “But the Teamsters national contract and Local 251 contract delivers big improvements in working conditions, wages and benefits.”

“Teamsters 251 welcomes these 30 new members who stuck together in their righteous fight for fairness and decency in the workplace,” says Matt Taibi, Local 251 Principal Officer. “DHLNH had a history of wage theft, state wage & hour law violations and labor law violations. Forming a union is the only real way for workers to fight against these abuses.”

Rhode Island Hospital Scholarship Application

Local 251 is awarding ten $3,500 college scholarships to children of Rhode Island Hospital Teamster employees. This benefit was negotiated in our union contract with Lifespan. A drawing will be held to determine the scholarship winners. Applicants must be the son or daughter of a Teamster member in good standing at Rhode Island Hospital to be eligible to apply.

Applications should be returned to the Union Hall or submitted to a Liaison, Union Representative, or the RIH H.R. Department. Only one (1) application per student. Applications must be received by July 31.

Click here to download a printable application form.

Roger Williams Medical Center Teamsters Unanimously Ratify First Contract

Skilled maintenance workers at Roger Williams Medical Center represented by Teamsters Local 251 in East Providence, R.I. unanimously ratified a first contract following more than a year of fighting for improvements on the job.

The workers joined Local 251 on January 6, 2017, but faced an uphill battle during negotiations that led to the union filing five unfair labor practice (ULPs) charges against the company. The ULP charges included failure to bargain in good faith, failure to provide a scheduled wage increase and unlawful surveillance. The workers stood together in solidarity throughout the fight, staging an informational picket in front of the medical center in September 2017 to raise awareness of the company’s behavior.

“There’s a myth in America that as workers we have to just be thankful for what employers give us. But it’s just a myth. With a union you can have a say in your wages and working conditions,” said Matt Taibi, Local 251 Secretary-Treasurer. “We’re proud of this group for standing together. Their solidarity shows what workers can achieve when they collectively bargain.”

The three-year contract, ratified on February 4, 2018, includes strong language regarding seniority, equipment and safety, job security and protections against the expansion of per diem employees. The contract also includes wage adjustments for shift differentials, on-call pay and wage increases of an additional 5 percent over the life of the agreement.

The members also received an immediate wage increase and bonus triggered by the contract ratification. The skilled maintenance unit at Roger Williams Medical Center includes the boiler operators, electricians, HVAC techs and mechanics, carpenters, plumbers and pipefitters, painters, mechanics and maintenance engineers.

Teamster Drivers Secure First Contract With Construct Oil

Six months after voting unanimously to join Teamsters Local 251, drivers at Construct Oil Company ratified their first agreement. The drivers work in East Providence, providing onsite diesel fueling for trucking companies.

The contract was ratified unanimously on January 21. The union had reached a tentative agreement on January 11. The negotiating team, which included drivers Mike Souza and John Perry, are proud of the new agreement, which includes:

– Seniority bidding for work opportunities, open routes and shifts;

– Overtime after eight hours per day;

– Double time on Sundays;

– Safety bonuses per quarter;

– Language allowing the union and company to negotiate changes to the health plan if costs increase substantially;

– An annual shoe allowance;

– Entrance into the New England Teamsters and Trucking Industry Pension Fund;

– Strong wage increases; and

– Great contract language regarding discipline, grievance and arbitration, equipment safety and job security.

The drivers at Construct Oil initially approached the union about organizing after having concerns about job security and obtaining a secure contract. Construct Oil is a division of Taylor Oil, where there are Teamster members represented by Local 25 and other locals in the Northeast.

“This is one of the strongest first contracts I’ve witnessed. We made quite a bit of progress right off the bat,” said Michael Simone, Local 251 Organizer and Trustee. “It’s a testament to the fact that when workers come together and demand fairness, they can get it.”

“Contracts are never easy, but if you don’t stand up you’ll continue just taking what the company gives,” said Matt Taibi, Local 251 Secretary-Treasurer. “Without a union, the drivers would never have made this possible.”

“Organizing and getting a superb first contract cannot go without recognizing the passion, support and dedication of Local 251,” said Mike Souza, committee member. “Thanks so much for changing people’s lives for the better! We are proud to be Teamsters!”

Standard Parking Workers in R.I. Join Local 251

Drivers and Maintenance Workers Vote Unanimously for Union Representation

Shuttle drivers and maintenance workers employed by Standard Parking (SP Plus) at T.F. Green Airport in Rhode Island are the newest workers to join Teamsters Local 251.

The workers voted 18-0 to join the Teamsters on January 10. The election was certified on January 23.

“The vote says so much. In these times, 18-0 in favor of the union tells you how badly management was abusing these workers,” said Matt Taibi, Teamsters Local 251 Secretary-Treasurer.

The workers initially called the union in November 2017, with assistance from SEIU 1199 NE. Currently the top wage is only $12.50 an hour and new hires are paid the exact same wage as long-term employees. The company hasn’t offered a wage increase in years.

Other issues include bathroom access and conditions, the use of cameras that run 24/7, and unfair terminations and discipline.

“The only bathroom access allowed to them was a porta potty in the middle of a field. It’s rarely serviced, filthy and sweltering hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter,” said Michael Simone, Teamsters organizer and Trustee. “Simply put: it was disgusting.”

Joint Council 10 assisted Local 251 in the drive. Local 25 has Standard Parking members in the Boston area, and the Council was helpful in coordinating research during the drive.

“Working together, that is what a union is about,” said Sean O’Brien, International Vice President and Joint Council 10 Secretary-Treasurer. “Local 251 worked hard and the vote shows it. It was an amazing show of solidarity. And as these new members stand together, Local 251 will help them change their lives for the better.”