November 19, 2010: YRC local management wasted no time scurrying to implement the newly ratified agreement at the barns, and in ways that destroy long-standing practices. At the Copley Ohio breakbulk, their high-handed actions included firing a shop steward for a nonexistent work slowdown.
A strong pushback from members and Local 24 helped to reinstate the steward and to stop unilateral changes, at least for now.
Normally contract changes as big as those in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) would be implemented with the agreement of the union. But at Copley, and some other terminals, management is using the MOU as an excuse to do whatever they want.
A big sticking point with Copley Teamsters was that management moved to immediately eliminate all the straight eight hour bids, and would eliminate seniority with respect to yard work.
These changes differed from what management told Teamsters earlier, when they were campaigning for a Yes vote on the MOU.
Management expected a grievance but they got a united bunch of Teamsters. Local 24 fired off an angry letter to the IBT Freight Division, requesting help to block it. “This shameful deceit of members must not stand,” the letter insisted.
Local 24 officials told stewards on November 5 that word came down that if the company instituted the changes unilaterally, a work stoppage may result. When a steward discussed this report with the rank and file, management fired him.
The resulting firestorm led to his reinstatement and put a hold on the company’s unilateral changes in working conditions. But at this point there is no settlement in writing, and the steward has to grieve for six days of lost wages.
The same kind of unilateral changes are being reported at a number of terminals. For example, in Kansas City management is distorting the language of the MOU to eliminate bid jobs shuttling trailers to the rail yard.
The rank and file voted for the agreement because they want the company to survive. But do not want all their rights as Teamsters stripped away. And they want the International Union to quit being YRC’s door mat and defend Teamster rights.