IBT Takes Control of Chicago Freight Talks

September 19, 2008: In an unprecedented move, in mid-September James Hoffa imposed International Union control over the bargaining of Local 705’s freight contract.

As Convoy Dispatch goes to press, the International Union is trying to make a deal which satisfies Yellow Roadway Corporation and yet can get Chicago Teamsters to vote to approve it.

Freight Teamsters in Local 705 are covered by their own contract which is separate from the National Master Freight Agreement. In ongoing bargaining, Local 705 has focused on protecting union jobs—including guarding against the diversion of work to YRC Logistics. The same issue is being contested elsewhere where it has been deadlocked in the grievance procedure.

Corporate Shell Game

Local 705 is concerned that once Yellow Roadway Corporation Worldwide (YRCW) completely integrates its sales force, then Yellow, Roadway, Holland, and other subsidiaries could be treated simply as vendors that YCRW assigns work to. YRCW could also assign the work to YRC Logistics or another nonunion carrier.

One goal of Local 705 is to get YRCW to be party to the freight contract, so the company cannot use a corporate shell game to divert union work. In early September, Local 705 members leafleted an event where Yellow-Roadway CEO Bill Zollars was speaking to draw attention to their job security concerns. Two days later, Hoffa took control of Chicago freight negotiations.

Too Strong a Stand?

In a letter dated Sept. 10, Hoffa accuses the Local 705 Executive Board of taking too strong a stand in bargaining and of using unacceptable bargaining tactics.

Hoffa appointed International Vice President and Assistant Freight Director Gordon Sweeton to take over bargaining with ABF, Holland, Yellow and Roadway. Hoffa also named Chicago Local 710 Secretary-Treasurer Pat Flynn, who is also an IBT Vice President, as his Personal Representative to Local 705.

The unprecedented bargaining takeover by the International Union shocked many rank-and-file members. Local 705 has long guarded its independence and its practice of bargaining separately from the International with both freight carriers and UPS.


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