monitors, analyzes and corrects media reporting errors and bias concerning messengers and couriers.

Messenger Institute
 for Media Accuracy

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What kind of union are the Teamsters? Who do they represent - the owners or the workers?

  • Teamsters went to management without approval or consent of the workers to work out a collective agreement.
  • The Teamsters' agreement does not even bring messengers the minimum employment standards that virtually all other workers have such as vacation pay.
  • If a messenger works 40 hours per week (but most work more) and the average income will now be about $312 then they make about $7.80/hr - gross. Deduct the $8/week for the Teamsters, deduct bike maintenance, deduct pager and radio costs and average courier is making much less than the Quebec minimum wage of $7.45/hr.

Does that sound like the kind of contract negotiated by a union on behalf of workers interests - less than minimum wage and no vacation?

In comparison CUPW just spent the last few years fighting (and winning) a court case to gain couriers in Saskatchewan payment for statutory holidays and vacation.

Bosses took us for a ride

Want to unionize - "Phony deals" reached without consent

Montreal Gazette, August 28, 2004

By Kazi Stastna

A mere six months after they began organizing some of the city's bicycle couriers are card-carrying union members. Unfortunately, it's of a union they never asked to be part of.

About 50 of the city's bicycle couriers gathered at Phillips Square yesterday afternoon to protest against collective bargaining agreements negotiated by the Teamsters Union Local 931 in their name but without their input.

The couriers accuse the Teamsters of undercutting their efforts to get accredited with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers by entering into negotiations with the very courier companies for which the CUPW had requested affiliation in March.

Companies that feared the CUPW bid would be successful pre-emptively approached the Teamsters, which in Quebec represent 3,500 mostly motorized couriers at Purolator, UPS and other companies, to get a contract in their favour, said Andre Frappier, CUPW director for Montreal.

Under Canada's Labour Code, employers in industries under federal jurisdiction can voluntarily recognize a union and draw up a collective agreement without prior approval by workers.

"The employers prefer to have a phony contract with the Teamsters than to hold real negotiations with the postal workers," Frappier said.

At least three companies have signed such agreements, which were presented as fait accompli to couriers and voted upon. One of these was Courrier 2000, where couriers approved the contract.

"It's a little company. I guess nobody wanted to make trouble with the boss," Benoit Tremblay said at the rally. The 32 year-old bike courier avoided the meeting but had no choice when it came to signing a membership card if he wanted to keep his job.

The agreement will do little to improve his working conditions, he said. Vacation and sick days will still be unpaid; bike maintenance remains at his own expense. He will get three per-cent raise on every commission, for an extra $12 a week on his average earnings of $300. But with $8 a week in union dues, that's not much of a profit, he said.

Tremblay and other couriers say they have a better chance of getting some of the things they've been fighting for, such as a minimum daily rate, with CUPW.

The Teamsters union denies wrongdoing. "Local 931 made the request, submitted the collective agreement to a vote - even though it's not legally required to - and the CUPW was offended by that. We can't help that," Teamsters-Quebec president Rejean Roy.

The two unions will meet with the Quebec Labour Federation on Tuesday.

See April 2004 articles for more on Montreal labour issues:
Respect would be among new benefits - Montreal Gazette, April 03, 2004
Bike couriers want a better ride - Montreal Gazette, April 3, 2004
Bike couriers want to unionize - Montreal Gazette, April 02, 2004


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