May 20, 2015: Over 300 carhaulers joined a conference call on May 14 to form a national network of stewards, officers, and active members to defend their contract and change the national leadership of the union. Now the organizing work will begin.
Paul Kubal, Jack Cooper driver at Wayne Michigan in Local 299, said “We need to get organized if we’re going make sure negotiations deliver what we need. We need a carhaul contract committee with stewards and active members. We need a rep in every barn.”
The national network call was initiated by Teamsters United, the reform slate headed by Tim Sylvester out of New York Local 804. Carhaulers had a chance to question candidates on the Teamsters United team, and also talk about organizing a strong grassroots campaign and a strong network to win a decent contract.
Politics vs Teamster Unity
Negotiations are slated to begin in June, so the timing is perfect to unite the rank and file for positive changes and to block concessions or sell-out deals.
The Hoffa administration has already sent a dangerous signal to members and the employer by excluding major carhaul locals from the bargaining table based on politics. Louisville Local 89, with some 700 carhaulers at three assembly plants and two large railheads, has been excluded from the committee. Local 89 President Fred Zuckerman and VP Arval Thompson are experienced negotiators, so that is not the issue.
Also excluded from the table by Hoffa are St Louis Local 604, headed by carhaul leader John Thyer, and Columbus Local 413, which has some 250 driveaway Teamsters that haul Kenworths out of Chillicothe, Ohio, the largest driveway unit in the country. Tony Jones heads Local 413, and is on the Teamsters United slate, as is John Thyer.
Excluding these large carhaul locals is politics, pure and simple. Hoffa will not allow any independent voices on the bargaining committee. That cowardice is bad unionism.
Rank & File Power
Carhaulers who want to be plugged into the network should contact Teamsters United at info [at] teamstersunited.org or call 917-745-3931.