December 22, 2008: TDU salutes Teamsters who made a difference in 2008, like carhaulers who united to fight concessions.
Earlier this year, Teamster carhaulers went into national bargaining with the deck stacked against them. But in a decisive vote on August 11, carhaulers united to beat back concessions.
They rejected the national contact and all three regional supplements, and they forced most concessions off the table.
Paul Kubal, a driver for Jack Cooper in Detroit Local 299, summed it up: “We beat back the concessions that both the companies and our union bargainers claimed they had to have. We knew times were tough but we stood strong in preserving our contract. That took organization to get it done, and that’s where TDU comes in.”
Despite all the odds against workers battling concessions in the auto industry, carhaulers said No and made it stick.
Tom Landwehr, a driver in Nashville Local 327 who was an observer at the vote count, said he was very nervous as they started the count. It was hard to believe that members could beat the employers and International officials. “But then the No votes just kept piling up.”
Concessions defeated include:
- a tiered progression wage for new-hires;
- Article 53.1 in the West, which would have allowed union carriers to open nonunion terminals;
- the use of GPS to fire drivers;
- a five-tour concession that would have allowed companies to force drivers out for a week;
- and the elimination of equalization of loads between terminals.
Teamster carhaulers didn’t win all they wanted, but they got a taste of what organized members can do. Now they want to build on that start.
“We learned in 2008 that carhaulers can have power when we get informed, spread the word, and work together,” said Ken Kontrath, a PMT driver in San Jose Local 287. “But we also learned that we could achieve a whole lot more if we don’t wait till the last minute. We won’t make that mistake again.”
Carhaulers are organizing now to build a strong national network of members, stewards and local officers, in conjunction with Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU).
Teamsters for a Democratic Union is running a series of stories about Teamster members who made a difference in 2008.
You can help make a positive difference in our union in 2009. Click here to join Teamsters for a Democratic Union and become a part of our movement.
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