DHLers Debate Contract

March 27, 2008: DHL Teamsters are voting on their future.

The deal has sparked opposition from a broad network of stewards and members.

In mid-April some 8,000 DHL Teamsters will get ballots to vote on a proposed national contract that would allow the company to hire an unlimited number of low-wage part-timers.

The deal has generated opposition, not from a few dissidents, but from a broad network of stewards and long-time Teamsters who have held meetings and conference calls, issued emails and leaflets, and sparked a nationwide debate on the contract.

The International Union is using all its resources to sell its proposed deal. The point man behind the bargaining and sales job is President Hoffa’s special assistant Brad Slawson.

Slawson has played on members’ insecurities about the company’s future. DHL, which is part of the largest transport corporation in the world, is losing money in the U.S. due to poor operational management.

Lack of Protections

The International Union has hyped the small protections provided to drivers in the short-term while downplaying the long-term threats to good, full-time jobs and union power.

The agreement allows DHL to gradually convert all sort, airport and dock work to part-time. Even if current full-timers are laid off, part-timers can be hired at less than half wages.

If all full-timers are working, the deal allows for part-timers to be used as afternoon drivers, up to 15 percent of the full-time complement.

Union protection is lacking. There is no percentage limit on part-timers in terminal operations.

If the contract is approved, the first impact will be to take overtime opportunities away from drivers. The long-term effect is worse: the company will move toward majority part-timer operation, with union strength greatly weakened.

In exchange, the deal includes a “red circle by name” provision so that current full-time drivers cannot have their jobs eliminated. Benefit contributions will match UPS, but full-time wages will fall to $7 an hour behind the UPS rate by the end of the contract.

The Teamsters Union will get more dues from part-timers, and a card-check agreement to allow some 1,200 gateway workers to become Teamsters under a cut-rate contract that Slawson will negotiate.

This is a one-sided deal.

Click here to read more at Teamster Viewpoint.

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