November 28, 2012: On the eve of bargaining with ABF, the International Union has given the company a 65¢ per hour concession in the 13 western states. Members were not consulted, and most are still unaware of the giveback.
The concession was quietly implemented on August 1, by prior arrangement between ABF and the Hoffa administration. On that date, ABF was required by the contract to increase pension and health and welfare payments by $1 per hour. In the west, the allocation was 35¢ to H&W and 65¢ to pension, but the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Fund has not received any of the 65¢.
Instead, the money has been put into an escrow account, and the matter will be settled in the upcoming bargaining. It seems likely that the money will be given back to the company.
On November 29, Teamster officers and agents from all freight locals will meet in Kansas City to hear the IBT's proposed bargaining proposals and plans.
Meanwhile, management is busy softening up Teamster members. They mailed a DVD to all ABF Teamsters, making their case for concessions.
They are also making the case to Teamster officers. For example, in early November ABF Freight CEO Roy Slagle was given the floor to address Teamster officers from across the west to present a slide show on ABF's case for big concessions, including on pensions, wages, and health coverage. Slagle cited the YRC concessions and the growth of nonunion carriers.
With the company taking an aggressive posture on concessions, and the IBT already giving them away in advance of bargaining, it will be up to rank and file Teamsters to draw a line to protect Teamster standards and benefits.