Deadlock: ABF Wants to Replace Road Drivers

August 31, 2011: The freight national change of operations committee yesterday deadlocked over ABF’s proposed change, so it will not be put into effect at this time.

The proposal was vigorously opposed by some major locals, including Kansas City Local 41, Harrisburg Local 776, Atlanta Local 728 and St Louis Local 600, because it was a move to alter the national contract, and phase out parts of the road operation. Sadly, some Teamster officials from big ABF terminals didn’t show up or only raised token objections.

ABF proposed to use utility employees to replace regular road turn-arounds and meet-and-turns, by moving 119 drivers out of the breakbulks and replacing them with utility employees at outlying terminals.

Chicago Locals 705 and 710 also objected to the change. A letter from Local 710 secretary treasurer Pat Flynn complained that the IBT had “usurped our authority and took over our autonomy,” but that the directive still “protected our contract and our members.” Flynn stated that any utility drivers dispatched into Chicago area terminals could not perform any dock and yard work.

Another factor against the change was Hoffa’s utter lack of support in freight, where a big majority are expected to vote for Sandy Pope in October. Hoffa and Tyson Johnson need to pretend that they care about contract enforcement.

The use of utility drivers to replace regular linehaul turnarounds is a violation of the contract. When the contract was being voted on, the IBT issued a bulletin (January 15, 2008) which stated “The UE will not replace “meet-and-turn” or existing mainline longhaul turn runs.”

ABF management, in the preamble to the proposed change, stated flat out that they want to replace road turns with utility employees. The preamble essentially explains that since ABF has not gotten concessions like YRC, they need some operational relief to thrive.

The proposed change is available here.

What will happen now? No official word yet. ABF could propose a similar change, but move road work without trying to convert the runs to utility employees.

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