August 21, 2009: The cancer of give-backs of wages and benefits is spreading in the freight industry. YRCW and the Hoffa administration are now using “salami tactics”: one slice of Teamsters at a time.
Meanwhile, ABF is in talks with the Hoffa administration, and also softening up members, to try to get a deal of its own.
Teamsters by the Slice
New Penn Teamsters are now re-voting on YRCW’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), after voting it down by 726-463. IBT Freight Director Tyson Johnson says that they will close New Penn (with IBT blessing, or at least with no resistance) if the MOU is not accepted. The votes will be counted on Sept. 9.
The next slices off the salami will be in Chicago. The big freight Locals 705 and 710, with their own separate contracts, voted No on the MOU by a 2-1 margin. We expect that the threat there will be to relocate terminals out of their Chicago jurisdiction, again with Hoffa’s blessing.
That threat has already been delivered to 130 Holland Teamsters in Joliet Illinois Local 179, south of Chicago. They voted No, and they are under a contract separate from the NMFA. Management has told them that the work will move to other terminals, unless they vote Yes on their own re-vote.
Mechanics under the white-paper Indiana Maintenance Agreement have been told by Local 135 that if they vote No a second time then the work will be moved to more company-friendly shops, and they will have no right to follow their work.
The final slice will come out West, at Reddaway. Bargaining for their separate contract in the Northwest has been put on hold by the company, apparently expecting the most resistance here. Reddaway Teamsters already make less than NMFA wages and pension contributions. In a July 31 memo to all local unions, Tyson Johnson wrote that Reddaway members would start voting on the concession package by September 5; but no bargaining is scheduled until mid-September.
ABF Wants Some
ABF management is in talks with the International Union, asking for their piece of the action. They are encouraging Teamster members to ask their union officers for a chance to vote on “job security.”
Most Teamsters don’t blame ABF for trying. The video they are showing to all their Teamster employees at various terminals this week reminds Teamsters that they are now paying over $11 per hour more than YRCW in wages and benefits. They claim they will not be able to compete.
But ABF Teamsters from various areas report that they are competing: the flow of freight continues to be from YRCW to ABF, not the other way around.
At this point, ABF Teamsters are in no mood to give up their pension benefits.
This difficult situation is a result of a union leadership with no plan for organizing and defending our union in trucking over the past decade. That failure to strengthen our union and our pension plans really hit us hard after the recession contracted the trucking industry.
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