In a conference call with local unions on Oct. 2, Ken Hall and James Hoffa reported that there is a "card check" deal with UPS Freight, which will make it easier to organize the various terminals. If the majority of workers at a terminal sign Teamster cards that are independently verified, the company will recognize and bargain with the Teamsters Union at that barn.
The union agreed to management's demand to make that card check agreement conditional on ratification of the UPS national contract, including the break-out of 44,000 Teamsters from the Central States Fund. That was management's central demand in national bargaining. As reported on the call, signing of cards cannot start until after the whole UPS contract process is done.
The UPS Freight contract will not be under the National Master Freight Agreement, or a supplement to it, but a white paper contract. Wages go up 65¢ immediately, and then 70-75-80-85-90¢ over the next five years (the wage increases are split in half each year, in January and July). It has company pension, apparently with no improvement, and company health benefits. A Teamster must pay $150 per month to get family health coverage. No change in sick days, personal days or vacations.
The company previously provided matching money for a 401(k), and that was given up in the contract. That and the co-pay for health insurance are two of the issues that a number of UPS Freight drivers have forcefully objected to on the internet forum truckingboards.com.
But they now get union protection: a grievance procedure (not the freight panels, a company-based procedure) and seniority rights.
Some in the Freight Division have expressed concern that relief given to UPS, the most profitable transport corporation in the world, will weaken our bargaining power with freight carriers which compete with UPS Freight. On the conference call, Hall appealed to them to hold their fire and "trust us."
Organizing by locals at UPS Freight terminals could start by the end of the year, if the UPS national contract and the pension fund break-out are approved. The "card check" deal has a three-year duration, so our union has that period to sign up the majority at as many terminals as possible. Many locals are eager to take a crack at bringing some of the 15,000 UPS Freight workers into the Teamster fold.
Attempted Decertification in Reno
A potential sour note in the organizing effort was struck a week earlier at the Reno Nevada UPS Freight terminal. This is one of a few UPS Freight terminals under Teamster contract; it was formerly Motor Cargo, a company bought by Overnite, which later became UPS Freight.
On Sept. 25 a vote was held to decertify the Teamsters and go nonunion. Fortunately the union won 32-31, but there are three challenged ballots to be resolved. Hopefully Local 533 will hold onto that Teamster unit.
October 17, 2007: The Freight Division is taking two very different strategies from others in the Hoffa administration. First, Freight Director Tyson Johnson has said that the union will not allow any carrier to split from any Teamster pension plan. This is the opposite of what Hoffa and Ken Hall are trying to do at UPS, where they gave in to the company’s demand to pull out of the Central States Pension Fund in return for a card check agreement.
Second, the Freight Division intends to bargain with TMI first, then hold ABF to mirror the same contract. This is the opposite of what Hoffa and Brad Slawson are doing at DHL. The 27 locals with DHL units under the NMFA have been pulled out of the Freight Division, and only an organized rank and file is holding back Slawson from giving the company whatever it wants, including part-timers.
Preserving national master contracts, and preserving our pension plans: both of these are key to maintaining Teamster power.
We should resist any move to break up master contracts or pension plans. We need to turn that around and bring more companies into master contracts, and more into our pension plans.
The government had asked for a 12-month stay, with the intention of trying for a third time to convince the same court that their regulations are in compliance with the intent of the law.
Employers will likely push the FMCSA to issue a new notice and a new explanation, a new comment period, and rush through the same regulations to once again present to the court. Hopefully they will not take that approach.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) should do the right thing and use this 90-day period to direct the industry to transition to the 10-hour limit. It's time for the carriers to make plans to operate under the 10-hour driving time.
September 24, 2007: As the rank and file campaign for a good DHL contract heats up, DHL management has responded by firing two stewards in Pittsburgh. This attack on our union has to be addressed head-on.
On Sept. 25, management fired Local 249 chief steward Gary Alward while he was representing a member who was being questioned about a gap report. Just five days earlier, they fired Local 249 committeeman Mark Woods while he was representing a member. In short, they were fired for acting as stewards, a clear unfair labor practice. Woods was removed from the job in blatant violation of the innocent-till-proven-guilty clause in the Western Pennsylvania contract supplement.
Local 249 Teamsters are sticking together. After Woods was fired, the entire Local 249 DHL union committee signed a statement that they would resign as stewards unless Woods was promptly reinstated with back pay.
DHL management is testing the union, looking for weakness. And they are attacking our stewards, who are on the front lines in the battle for a good contract. We cannot let that happen.
DHL Teamsters should ask your local to demand the company reinstate brothers Alward and Woods. Demand that the International Union refuse to bargain with them unless our stewards are reinstated.
Taste of the Future?
One contract concession that DHL wants is to scrap the grievance procedure in favor of a DHL-only system. Just think what would happen to these fired stewards under that company-dominated plan. They would be at the mercy of the company—off for months, or worse.
We cannot agree to that grievance procedure.
A third national DHL steward and activist conference call on September 23 drew new participation and new plans. As the contract bargaining is set to begin in Arizona in October, DHL Teamsters are getting informed, involved and united.
September 21, 2007: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has asked for a one-year stay of the Court of Appeals decision striking down two aspects of the Hours of Service regulations.
In July the court unanimously struck down the 11-hour driving time and the 34-hour restart, which allows drivers to work more than 70 hours in an eight day period. It was the second time the court had slapped the FMCSA for putting profits ahead of drivers’ health and public safety. The same rules were tossed out in 2004; at that time the employer got Congress to pass legislation retaining the 11-hour rule on an interim basis.
Now, instead of devising a plan to phase-in compliance with the 10-hour driving rule, the agency has decided to support the American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) motion for a long stay.
They want that time to try to repackage the regulations, in hopes of getting the court to agree that they are in compliance with the law.
Public Citizen, the public-interest law firm that won the case, will oppose this long stay.
The court has not yet set a date for a hearing on the issue. Until the court rules, the existing 11-hour driving time rule stays in effect.
September 18, 2007: On September 19, Brad Slawson (co-chair of the DHL negotiating committee) will meet with DHL management to set a schedule and location for bargaining. We are getting near to crunch time in the contract that will determine our Teamster future at DHL.
Meanwhile, another important set of negotiations is starting. On September 24, bargaining formally opens for the National Master Freight Agreement (NMFA). The Freight Division held a meeting for all affected locals on Sept. 13, where they announced they expect a fast bargaining pace, running through October. They also announced they will bargain with Yellow Roadway (Trucking Management Inc) first, and then hold ABF to the same contract. This is a good precedent for the approach we need at DHL.
It’s time for all DHL Teamsters to get informed, get involved, and get prepared.
Click here for Brad Slawson and Patricia Burke’s wedding pictures.
Click here for the latest informational bulletin of the DHL Teamsters United. DHL Teamsters United is the independent network of all DHL Teamsters who want a contract that mirrors NMFA standards.
Stay informed. Click here to get the latest updates on DHL from Teamsters for a Democratic Union.
What do you think? Click here to tell us what you think needs to be done to win a strong contract at DHL.
September 17, 2007: By Kevin Jones: The federal government is not being tough enough on trucking companies that are violating safety laws, says Rep. Jim Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat, on Friday cited a recently released report by the General Accounting Office, compiled at the committee’s request, that concluded the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is identifying high risk carriers, but not following through with tough fines mandated by law.
In a letter to FMCSA Administrator John Hill, Oberstar used the report findings to take the agency to task for not complying with specific enforcement mandates, calling the agency’s actions “indefensible and unacceptable.”
“I am deeply troubled by the GAO findings regarding FMCSA’s practice of assessing fines to motor carriers that repeatedly violate critical motor carrier safety statutes,” Oberstar wrote. “I strongly urge FMCSA to amend its policies immediately to be consistent with statutory requirements with respect to maximum penalties for repeat rule violators.”
FMCSA’s policy to assess maximum fines against serious rule violators is “essentially meaningless and violates the law,” Oberstar continued, quoting chapter and verse from the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999.
The congressman pointed out the discrepancy between the number of carriers that were given the maximum fine (280 in 2006) versus the number that GOA contends should have been (1,320) if FMCSA had followed the law.
Oberstar asked to know, within 30 days, what specific actions FMCSA has taken to comply with the statutory requirements.
According to the GAO report, “by and large” FMCSA does a good job of identifying carriers that pose a high risk of crash risks — following up with more than 99 percent of 1,196 carriers that received proposed unsatisfactory safety ratings from compliance reviews completed in fiscal year 2005.
GAO did find, however, that that the agency does not, as it should, assess the maximum fines against carriers with a pattern of varied serious violations. Similarly, the agency’s “three strikes rule” is contrary to the GAO’s interpretation of the statute, which calls for maximum fines after the second instance of a violation.
The GAO recommended that FMCSA select certain high-risk carriers in the accident safety evaluation area for compliance reviews and revise its policy for assessing maximum fines.
The Department of Transportation said that it would “assess the efficacy” of the first recommendation, the GAO noted, but that it did not comment on the other recommendations.
In an FMCSA statement, Hill responded by saying the agency had met with the GAO in June to review the initial findings, as well as with the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General “on similar issues.”
“Our efforts to target high-risk carriers for compliance reviews has no doubt contributed to the 5 percent reduction in large truck-related fatalities last year, and we appreciate the GAO’s acknowledgement of our successful record on these matters,” said Hill. “We agreed to change our policy at that time to address the findings of both parties and are in the process of moving forward.”
The 72-page GAO report is available on the Web
Kevin Jones is a reporter for The Trucker.
It is certain that there will be at least a short delay in the change, because of a motion filed by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington. The change back to 10 hours (and elimination of the 34-hour “restart” provision) cannot happen until at least seven days after the court rules on that motion and so far no hearing has been set.
The ATA has asked for an eight-month delay in implementing the change. Public Citizen, which successfully sued to strike down the regs, will oppose that kind of long delay.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) has not filed for a stay, but will enter their position by the time of the hearing.
Click here to read a report in TheTrucker.com
Click here to read commentary from Jim Hightower on the Hours of Service Regulations.