May 20, 2011: The national carhaul contract will expire on May 31, but it is apparent that it will be extended. With national negotiations starting late, moving slowly, and the industry in turmoil, no settlement is expected in the near future.
Reports from negotiators indicate that little has been agreed to, and major issues are not even on the table, in bargaining with the major carriers: Cassens, Jack Cooper and Allied.
Unfortunately members are being kept in the dark, and rumors are the main basis of contract discussions. No reports from negotiators, no meetings with members on bargaining and no input from members and stewards in the process.
The mushroom treatment should end. It’s a critical time which calls for leadership and an informed and united membership.
The International Union needs a plan to save and expand unionized carhaul as vehicle sales pick up. Jack Cooper recently bought a small carrier and may be looking to buy more. They’ve bought a number of trucks from nonunion outfits. This expansion needs to be encouraged, with insistence that new acquisitions are union work.
Because of the shake-out presently rocking the industry, it makes good sense for the union to extend the current contract for a definite period, to give a chance for some dust to settle. It does not make sense to have no plan and no communications with members.
Allied’s Move To Drive up Rates
It is becoming clear that Allied’s strategy to drive up rates paid by the manufacturers and importers is not working.
In March, Allied refused to haul any more traffic without a rate hike, hoping to create a bottleneck and get a better rate structure in the industry.
Vehicles piled up in the USA and in Canada. Ford agreed to new contracts with Allied, but GM and Chrysler have held out and moved on. GM gave its former Allied traffic to Jack Cooper and Chrysler gave its work to Cassens.
There continue to be bottlenecks and problems with service, but the manufacturers are not going to go back to Allied. Allied now has predominantly Ford work, and hopefully can make it on that and other traffic they pick up.
Canada: Turmoil Up North
Allied has laid off about half of its 600 workers in Ontario, after giving up the Chrysler (Windsor) and GM (Ingersoll and Oshawa) traffic. Both Jack Cooper and Cassens are struggling to move the traffic they acquired.
AWC has hired a number of the laid-off Allied workers as drive away workers to get Chrysler vans across the Ambassador Bridge to Detroit for Cassens. Cars and vans are still piled up around the plants.
Furthermore, Jack Cooper has a substandard, percentage pay Teamster contract in Quebec, and the company wants to extend that contract to its new work at the Ontario GM plants.
This would undercut the Teamster contract with Cassens and the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) contract with Allied and AWC. It could also open the door to the Jack Cooper drivers leaving the Teamsters for the CAW.