Standing Together, We Win!

More than 160 Teamster drivers, helpers and warehouse workers at Centrex stood together and won big gains in their new contract.

Centrex is the largest beer, liquor and wine distributor in Rhode Island. The company has been profitable for years, but Teamsters saw little change in their wages and benefits—until they organized and fought for them through a contract campaign.

“This contract marks an exciting time for us at Centrex,” said night steward Dave Gareau. “People are excited and ready to fight for from here on out.”
Members built solidarity by coming together in parking lot rallies and cookouts. This summer, pressure escalated and Centrex Teamsters unanimously voted to authorize a strike.

High-seniority members united with newer hires, to demand higher wages for lower-tier workers and to shorten the progression to top rates. They won a $5/hr. increase for new hires, and a $4.50/hr. increase for existing workers. Members also won an extra week of paid vacation and maintained employer-paid Teamster healthcare.

“For too long, we weren’t seeing the wealth we create for Centrex reflected in our pockets,” explains steward David Donofio. “This contract not only pushes us closer to where we should be, but it gives us respect and power over our working conditions, with vacation and healthcare, too.”

Celebrating Al Torigian

Al Torigian worked as a UPS package car driver for 25 years before being elected to serve as a full-time union Business Agent.

Al cut his Teamster teeth during the 1997 UPS strike, when he was arrested and terminated for “disorderly conduct” on the picket line. Teamster President Ron Carey got him and others exonerated and back on the job following the successful strike.

Al was always exceptionally honest and trustworthy—the qualities you depend on in a Business Agent and union brother. He also has a great sense of humor.

The Local 251 Family will miss Al’s leadership and we wish him many happy years in retirement. He deserves them.

Members Reverse Some Concessions at YRCW

Local 251 members at YRCW and New Penn voted to approve a new 5-year contract that raises wages, restores a week of vacation and protects benefits.

YRCW and New Penn workers are struggling to reverse concessions after bad business decisions and mismanagement put YRCW on the verge of bankruptcy.

Improvements won in this contract include:

  • $4.00 in wage increases over five years for the vast majority of workers (an 18% increase for most drivers and dockworkers).
  • The highest pension contributions in the country, totalling $1.25 over the life of the contract.
  • Significant increases for dock-only, clerical, maintenance employees, janitors and porters hired after February 2014.
  • Restoration of the week of vacation that was given up years ago, effective April 1, 2019.
  • Protection of health and welfare benefits with no employee premium co-pays.
  • Improved language to curb excessive executive bonuses.
  • Prohibitions against using driverless trucks.

Hospital Teamsters Won Best Contract in Years

In 2019, more than 2,500 Teamsters who work at Rhode Island Hospital won their best contract in years with wage increases, a $15 minimum wage, Teamster health care, retirement security, and job security protections.

Members set these bargaining goals by speaking out at meetings and filling out contract surveys.

A Contract Action Team organized unity actions and members stood behind the elected Negotiating Committee to win contract improvements. Members approved the contract with a 97.5% yes vote.

“This is the best contract I’ve seen in my 25 years as a Rhode Island Hospital Teamster,” said Paul Santos, Local 251 President and an over 30-year veteran hospital employee.

“We’re very proud of the membership. You don’t win a contract like that without sticking together,” Secretary-Treasurer and principal officer Matt Taibi said.

Tentative Agreement Reached at STA/Ocean State Transit

A tentative agreement was reached between Teamsters Local 251 and Ocean State Transit, a subsidiary of Student Transportation of America (STA). A strike vote had been before the agreement was reached.

“Our coworkers will be very happy with this tentative agreement,” said Ocean State Transit Bus Driver Charlene Gomes. “They were willing to strike to get a fair deal and the company knew it.”

“Our rank-and-file committee members were invaluable in these negotiations; they knew the business inside and out and were able to prioritize the needs of the workers,” said Nick Williams, Local 251 Business Agent.

The group of 105 school bus drivers voted to join Local 251 in May 2019. Last month 95 monitors and aides also joined the union. A date will be set soon for a ratification vote.

“We believe this tentative agreement recognizes the commitment the workers have to safely transporting our children every day,” said Local 251 Principal Officer Matthew Taibi. “While we have a few minor details to work out, we anticipate that the workers will ratify this recommended tentative agreement, averting a strike. We appreciate the community support. We believe it was a big reason we were finally able to break through the last remaining issues and get a deal.

“We recently agreed on a new contract with STA/Ocean State in South Kingstown and we look forward to discussions for a new agreement in Coventry. We would like to thank the Teamsters Passenger Transportation Division for their support, especially from a national perspective. STA is the second largest school transportation company in the country, with contracts at many other Teamsters locals.”

Getting on the 9.5 List

Local 251 has given management the names of Package Car Drivers who want to be on the 9.5 list for the next five months. The new 9.5 list will take effect on January 15 and stay in effect through June 15.

If you want to get on the 9.5 list now, or in the future, it’s not too late.

All you have to do is fill out the 9.5 Add/Cut Form and have your shop steward turn it into management. You will be added to the 9.5 list for the following week.

Once you are on the 9.5 list, management should not dispatch you to work more than 9.5 hours three times in a work week.

If you work more than 9.5 hours on three days in a week, talk with your shop steward to file a grievance for triple time pay for all hours worked over 9.5 in a day and to have your dispatch adjusted if necessary.

Who is Eligible for the 9.5 List?

If there are any 22.4 drivers working in the center, then every Regular Package Car Driver is eligible to be on the 9.5 list.

If there are no 22.4 drivers working in the center, then Regular Package Car Drivers are eligible to get on the 9.5 list as long as: (1) the driver covers a route for a full week; (2) the driver bids or is assigned to cover a route for a full week but is prevented from completing that bid or assignment due to reassignment by management; or (3) the driver has four years of seniority as a full-time package driver.

22.4 Drivers are not eligible for the 9.5 list.

New Benefit Improvements

Effective January 1, 2020, members who participate in 251 Health Services through their contract have new and improved health benefits.

Click here to read the list of improved benefits.

These new benefits reflect the Trustees efforts to add cost-conscious benefit improvements whenever possible.

The Trustees of the Local 251 Health Services & Insurance Plan work to ensure our hard-working members and your families are getting the best benefits possible. We’re constantly working to improve and enhance our benefit offerings—and in turn help improve your quality of life.

2019 Local 251 Election Results

Teamsters Local 251 completed our Local Election of Officers & Agents at the nomination meeting on September 14, 2019, overseen by an independent election service.

Congratulations to the officers and agents elected, and thanks to all the members who attended the nomination meeting.

The following candidates were elected for a term from January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2022:

Secretary Treasurer: Matthew Taibi
President: Paul Santos
Vice President: Antonio Suazo
Recording Secretary: Brooke Reeves
Trustee: Michael Simone
Trustee: Carl Chicoine
Trustee: Decio Goulart
Business Agent: Paul Santos
Business Agent: Matthew Maini
Business Agent: Bob Sayer
Business Agent: Thomas Salvatore
Business Agent: David Robbins

Notice Of Nomination Meeting And Election Of Officers

A Special Membership Meeting of Local 251 will be held for the sole purpose of nominating candidates for the Offices of Secretary-Treasurer, President, Vice President, Recording Secretary, three (3) Trustees and five (5) Business Agents of Local 251, IBT.

The terms of office for these officers will begin on January 1, 2020 and end on December 31, 2022. Merriman River Group, an independent election management firm, will conduct the nomination meeting and subsequent election.

The nomination meeting will be held on:

Saturday, September 14, 2019 10:00 a.m.
Local 251 • 121 Brightridge Avenue • East Providence, RI 02914

Members in good standing are welcome to attend the meeting. Respectful and courteous behavior is asked of all participants. Disrespectful behavior towards a candidate or candidates will not be tolerated.