November 25, 2009: In an unprecedented power grab, the Hoffa administration has abolished all the Chicago-area freight contracts and imposed concessions on some 1500 YRCW Teamsters who have decisively rejected them.
In abolishing the contracts, Hoffa imposed the national master freight agreement on 2000 Teamsters, most of whom work for YRC.
The five affected locals – 179, 301, 673, 705, and 710 – were apparently not even consulted, nor were the members given a vote on abolishing their contracts. The attack came yesterday via a three paragraph memo, available here, from IBT Freight Director Tyson Johnson.
The memo states that the General Executive Board voted for the takeover; reportedly, Local 710 secretary treasurer Pat Flynn, who is on that Board, is telling members that he abstained from the vote. He abstained from standing up for the rights of his own members.
How can this memo overturn a signed and binding contract between a local union and the employers, which does not expire until 2013?! Chicago Teamsters are demanding an answer to that question.
Local 705 YRC steward Mike Jordan told us that “We’re proud that we stood strong against concessions, and we did it on our own. Now our own International union comes in and undercuts us. They’ve sold themselves to the company.” Jordan was on the union negotiating committee.
The Chicago locals have bargained separately for 45 years, generally getting the same wage increases but setting a better standard on some terms. This has benefited all freight Teamsters, because higher standards in one area make it easier for others to win those improvements in the next round.
The late James R. Hoffa once stood in front of the Local 705 membership and urged the freight members to give him the power to bargain their contract. They voted no. But another Hoffa now wants to deny them any right to vote. But Chicago Teamsters are not ready to take it lying down.
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