August 18, 2007: From Traffic World: ABF Freight System is seeking its own road toward a new Teamster contract and single employer pension plan.
The LTL carrier Aug. 17 said it is pulling out of Trucking Management Inc., the multiemployer bargaining unit that negotiates the National Master Freight Agreement, and plans to seek its own contract with the Teamsters union.
That decision is a step toward withdrawing from the union's multiemployer pension plans, a company spokesman said.
In an Aug. 17 Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the company said it would conduct future contract negotiations directly with the Teamsters "for the purpose of entering into a new collective bargaining agreement applicable only to ABF."
"We have a strong interest in providing secure benefits for all our employees," said ABF spokesman Danny Loe. "This requires withdrawing from the multiemployer pension plans. Withdrawing from TMI gives us the undiluted voice we need to do that."
ABF's departure from TMI is an historic road mark for the trucking industry and the Teamsters union. When then-Teamsters chief James R. Hoffa negotiated the first NMFA in 1964, the contract covered 450,000 drivers employed by about 16,000 carriers.
ABF's departure will leave just four LTL carriers represented by TMI within the NMFA: Yellow Transportation, Roadway Express, New Penn Motor Express and USF Holland. All are subsidiaries of one company - $9.3 billion YRC Worldwide.
ABF is a $1.8 billion multiregional LTL carrier based in Fort Smith, Ark.
August 17, 2007: Industry journal Logistics Management reports that the IBT has made "substantial progress on the union’s talks with UPS, its largest employer." But according the to the journal: "There has been little if any progress with the unionized freight carriers such as YRC Worldwide and Arkansas Best."
August 16, 2007: Teamster master contracts and benefit funds are under attack—at UPS, freight, DHL and Carhaul— and now ABF is moving to break out of the National Master Freight Agreement.
It’s now official: ABF has pulled out of Trucking Management Inc (TMI), the employer association which bargains the National Master Freight Agreement. Freight members need to stand shoulder-to-shoulder to maintain one freight standard and one freight contract.
ABF management has let it be known for some time that they would split. ABF CEO Bob Davidson has already stated he wants to pull out of Teamster pension plans and force ABF employees into a 401(k). We need to let him know this isn’t going to happen: ABF always has been part of the NMFA and always will be.
In the past, other carriers have split off. Yellow Freight, for example, bargained separately. The union held them—and all split-off carriers—to the NMFA. This unity has always been Teamster policy, through many General Presidents. ABF needs to hear that this policy still stands.
Hoffa Signals Weaknesses
DHL management also informed the union that they would try to break from the NMFA. The weak response from Hoffa has encouraged ABF. Hoffa assigned Brad Slawson to bargain with DHL, and Slawson proceeded to negotiate a partial contract which was riddled with concessions.
DHL Teamsters responded with unity and action—flooding IBT headquarters with petitions, postcards and phone. This strong answer by the Teamster rank and file forced the Hoffa administration to scrap Slawson’s draft sellout. But DHL has detected weakness at the top of our union and will no doubt keep the pressure on.
That’s what corporations do—they go after a weak leadership. Allied Holdings got 17 percent wage concessions in the carhaul master contract, and now Performance Transportation Services is seeking concessions as well. These are the two largest employers of carhaul Teamsters.
UPS senses weaknesses at the top of our union too, and they’re making their move. Brown wants to save billions on benefit costs by ripping 42,000 Teamsters out of the Central States Pension Fund.
Save Your Contract & Benefits
Teamster members need to follow the example of the brothers and sisters at DHL who are uniting to defeat concessions and defend their master contract, the NMFA.
Bargaining for UPS is resuming soon. Freight and carhaul will follow. Now is the time to save our contracts, our union, our future.
Help build a strong network to defend our master agreements.
August 12, 2007: Election Appeals Master Kenneth Conboy has issued a decision that could result in a victory for Teamster democracy. The decision is a blow against retaliation aimed at Teamsters who run for IBT office. The decision questions the legality of Hoffa’s firing of Dan Virtue and Carlos Ramos last January.
The firings came days after the 2006 IBT Election was certified, an election won by Hoffa’s slate against the reform slate headed by Tom Leedham and Sandy Pope. Virtue ran on an independent slate, along with Joint Council 73 president Don DiLeo, for Eastern vice president. Ramos supported Virtue.
The Election Supervisor investigated the firings, after Virtue and Ramos protested, and found that every reason offered by the Hoffa administration for the firings was bogus. Hoffa’s staff, in particular Executive Assistant Leo Deaner, made up one lie after another to justify the firings. Former Freight Director Phil Young and Freight Director Tyson Johnson testified that Virtue did an “excellent” job as Eastern Region Freight Coordinator. But the Election Supervisor ruled that since the election was over, Hoffa could fire him for any reason he wanted.
On appeal, Conboy sharply disagreed, and endorsed arguments advanced in Virtue’s appeal and by attorney Barbara Harvey, who represents TDU in the case. Judge Conboy has asked the U.S. Attorney to submit an opinion on this matter, and the U.S. Attorney has agreed to do so by Sept. 12. Some time after that a final decision is expected.
Virtue’s appeal made this powerful argument: “To allow this blatant discrimination to stand will no doubt have a chilling effect on democracy within our union. Potential future opposition candidates will have to look no further than how the Election Appeals Master handles this case in order to know whether or not they are truly free to exercise their right to run for office or nominate candidates without fear of systematic retaliation by an incumbent administration.”
That sums up why Teamsters for a Democratic Union will continue to fight for this principle, to protect the rights of all Teamsters.
August 10, 2007: In one of James R. Hoffa's last interviews before he disappeared in 1975, he was asked what the priority should be for the Teamsters Union. His reply: "I'd reinstate some additional organizers for the purpose of having master contracts. There's no way unions can survive without master contracts."
His words still ring true. Our master contracts, and even the unity of our pension plans, are under attack from global corporations. Some in the International Union headquarters as discussing how to go along. Fortunately, thousands of DHL Teamsters are discussing how to defend and expand our master contracts.
DHL Teamsters, stewards and some local officers have continued to take united action since they forced Hoffa to call off negotiations with DHL on the sell-out draft agreement. Across the country, DHL Teamsters are organizing to defend and expand the National Master Freight Agreement standards.
- The great majority of Pittsburgh Local 249 DHL Teamsters sent Hoffa a signed postcard calling for Brad Slawson to be replaced as bargaining chair and stewards to be included in bargaining. Click here to download the postcard.
- Petitions have come in from many stations, from Monterey California Local 912 to Cleveland Local 407.
- Over 200 DHL Teamsters in Oakland Local 70 asked their secretary treasurer, International Vice President Chuck Mack, to send a letter to President Hoffa voicing their determination to defend the contract and include stewards in bargaining. Click here to download Mack’s letter.
- In San Francisco Local 85 members circulated a letter expressing their position. Click here to download their letter.
And the movement is growing. From Portland to Boston, from Dallas to Los Angeles, Teamsters are spreading the word, distributing bulletins, and building a united movement.
Hoffa sent a letter to all locals calling them to Detroit for an August 21 “summit” on the DHL situation. He has promised to junk the sell-out contract negotiated by Brad Slawson, but continues to retain Slawson as chair of bargaining. All the more reason for all DHL Teamsters—including those in the white paper contracts in New York, Chicago, Upstate New York, Baltimore and elsewhere—to unite to fight for a strong master contract that brings all DHL Teamsters up to the NMFA standards.
Some union officers are trying to soften DHL Teamsters up for givebacks by parroting the company line that DHL needs concessions to be competitive in the U.S. market. This is baloney. For many years, DHL’s competitor UPS lost money in Europe and used its profits from the U.S. to subsidize its European operations, in order to operate globally. DHL wants to expand their operations in the world’s biggest market, the USA. Teamsters will give them high quality work, but we will not give away our master contract.
DHLers now just launched their own on-line forum. Check out www.dhlteamsterforum.com. This is an independent forum for all DHL Teamsters to exchange ideas and information.
What do you think should happen next to defend strong Teamster standards at DHL? Click here to send us your opinion.
August 3, 2007: DHL has a goal: “structural changes in DHL’s labor contracts to more appropriately reflect the fact that DHL is a small package delivery company.”
Those words come from Labor Relations Vice President Patricia Burke, in a recent memo in response to TDU’s website.
Let’s translate that management-speak to Teamster-talk: they want to bust down conditions, and “restructure” the workforce with a flood of low-wage part-timers. They want a UPS-style contract. (But they don’t want to pay the $28.50 per hour that a UPS package car driver makes.)
Remember the Draft National Agreement, which rank-and-file power got shelved: it has language that all existing full-timers would be “red-circled by name” as our only protection against being forced down to part-time. That one line told us a lot about what they want, and what the International would agree to.
Burke goes on to tell management personnel to “stay close to the script” and tell Teamsters that DHL “never has, and would not now” be part of the NMFA bargaining.
It’s true that DHL has not been part of Trucking Management Inc (TMI) that bargains the NMFA with the Teamsters, but our union has also never let DHL get away from the NMFA contract language and standards.
Rank-and-file power shelved the Draft National Agreement. But DHL management isn’t going to give up on busting the NMFA and demanding concessions. Management has a plan.
We need a union plan.
- Stewards should be invited to the national meeting of locals to approve bargaining demands and strategy (as happened in the past). Stewards should be at the bargaining table.
- Slawson should be replaced as bargaining chair by an officer who represents DHL Teamsters, and has to answer to them.
- No less than the NMFA, and no white-paper contract.
- No increase in the number of part-timers. Protect good Teamster jobs.
- Use Teamster power to organize DHL’s non-union sectors.
Stay informed and help build unity. Click here to join the network of DHL Teamsters working to save the NMFA.
Got a question or a comment about DHL negotiations? Click here to contact TDU, or call (313) 842-2600.
August 2, 2007: Truck drivers will return to the 10-hour maximum driving time on September 14, unless the trucking employers are successful in getting the court to stay its July 24 ruling.
In a victory for truck drivers and highway safety, the court threw out the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) revised rules that allow 11 hours driving time, and a 34-hour restart. All other aspects of the revised hours of service regulations, including the 14-hour maximum on-duty time, remain unchanged.
The American Trucking Associations, representing UPS, YRC, FedEx and numerous other trucking operators, is lobbying the FMCSA to ask the court for a stay. Their real goal is to get a long delay, and then have the FMCSA go back to the court and again attempt to impose the 11-hour driving rule. To date the FMCSA has not stated whether or not they will seek a stay.
It may not be likely that the court will grant a long delay. This is the second time that the US Court of Appeals in Washington has unanimously struck down these two regulations. The first time, in 2004, the employers got Congress to pass a law imposing the revised hours of service regs on an interim basis. With the leadership change in Congress, and with the second defeat in court, this avenue for delay is very unlikely. So, even if the FMCSA goes to court for a stay, they may get either a short delay or no delay at all in the Sept. 14 implementation date.
Unfortunately Teamster carriers, especially Roadway, realigned their operations on the shaky foundation of an 11-hour rule that was illegitimately established and under legal review. Come September, they may be turning up the truck speeds or making other adjustments for some of their runs.
August 2, 2007: Thanks to a federal appeals court, an administration attempt to allow long-haul truck drivers to add an extra hour to their already long day has been overturned.
The court said the government provided insufficient evidence for lengthening the drivers' days from 10 to 11 hours.
August 1, 2007: TDU supplied the ammo, and now Teamsters from coast-to-coast are shooting down the sell-out of DHL Teamsters. And they won’t stop shooting till this monster is dead.
Today we received the good news that the deal has been stopped, at least for now. The Hoffa administration saw that the Draft National Contract was dead-on-arrival because it would never get approved by the members, and today called off negotiations and sent the local officials in Washington home early.
Rank-and-file power has won this round. But the battle for a good contract has only started.
On July 26, TDU made available to DHL Teamsters the Draft National Contract that would pull DHL out of the National Master Freight Agreement (NMFA) and give the company its long-sought white paper contract. And the draft contract was a stinker.
Teamster members, stewards and local officers are taking action. They continue to contact TDU, and are starting to network with each other. Petitions are circulating in DHL stations. Calls have poured into the Marble Palace. Stewards have called meetings to inform members.
That’s how we won this round.
On Monday, July 30, DHL union reps from various locals arrived in Washington for negotiations. Hoffa sent International Rep Ed Keyser to meet with them to try to put the fire out. Keyser stated that maybe the Draft Contract needs to be improved (!).
Hoffa’s assistant Brad Slawson, the person most responsible for this mess, didn’t show up till Wednesday, August 1. Slawson has been on the phone telling stewards and members that the Draft Contract doesn’t exist, that TDU made it up. (Earth to Brad: no one believes you.)
By the end of the day on August 1, the International suspended negotiations and sent the local officials home, with the statement that the Draft National Contract would be scrapped and a meeting would be held soon in Detroit with all affected locals, to start over. Stewards should be invited to that meeting, as they were in the previous DHL bargaining.
This movement now has to grow fast to prevent the return of the monster, and to lay the basis for a contract that protects our jobs and also uses our Teamster Power to organize the large non-union DHL sectors.
DHL Teamsters who want to get the latest news and learn what can be done, should contact TDU today. Call (313) 842-2600 or click here to send a message.
Download the bulletin, “Don’t Let DHL Pull Out of the NMFA”
Download the petition, “Preserve the NMFA at DHL”
August 1, 2007: Congress has passed new provisions strengthening “whistleblower” protections for truck drivers.
The new rules, part of the new anti-terrorism legislation, strengthen various whistleblower laws, including the employee protection provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act ("STAA").
The STAA, originally enacted in 1982, protects employees who file complaints with the Department of Transportation or their employers about violations of commercial vehicle safety regulations. TDU was instrumental in the passage of the law.
The STAA also protects employees against discipline or discharge if they refuse to drive in violation of a commercial vehicle safety regulation. However, in the past the STAA has provided no right to jury trial and required complaining parties to litigate their claims within the United States Department of Labor, where cases can drag on for years.
Here are improvements in the new law:
- Punitive Damages. In the past, a truck driver or other complainant under the STAA was only able to recover compensatory damages such as back wages, along with reinstatement to his job, attorney fees and court costs. In very serious cases, the new legislation allows someone who successfully prevails in a wrongful discipline or discharge claim to seek and recover up to $250,000 in punitive damages. This may deter some carriers from retaliating against a driver who refuses to drive in violation of hours of service regulations or refuses to operate unsafe trucks and trailers.
- Burden of Proof. The new legislation lowers the burden of proof for truck drivers and other parties who file claims with the Department of Labor under the STAA. The law specifically applies the proof burden required for whistleblowers in the airline industry such as pilots and airplane mechanics. This law provides that a claimant may prevail if he shows that his legally-protected activities were a motivating factor in the employer's decision to retaliate.
- Protection from Retaliation for Logging Accurately. The new legislation amends the STAA to specifically prohibit retaliation by an employer against drivers because those drivers accurately record their on-duty time, which would also include driving time. The new law also protects individuals who are perceived as being persons who are about to blow the whistleblower on an employer about violations of commercial vehicle safety regulations.
Jury Trials in Federal Court If DOL Fails to Act. Under the existing law, a truck driver or other complainant under the STAA must litigate his case solely within the structure of the Department of Labor. Complainants start with OSHA, which rules in favor of the truck drivers less than 10 percent of the time. A truck driver can then object and have a hearing before an administrative law judge of the Department of Labor. After the ALJ rules, the DOL's Administrative Review Board acts as an appeals court with the Department. The Board has sometimes taken 2 1/2 to 3 years to decide cases.
The new law allows complainants under the STAA to pull their case from the Department of Labor and litigate it in a United States District Court if the Department of Labor fails to rule on the claim within 210 days after filing. If the complainant chooses to proceed in Federal District Court, he is entitled to a jury trial. This may provide a useful approach in some cases where the DOL fails to act.
This legislation is a victory for whistleblowers within the trucking industry. Drivers and trucking safety advocates have been working for these changes for years. Special thanks go out to Adam Miles and Tom Devine of the Government Accountability Project and to my client and friend John Simon, who obviously touched a few hearts and motivated a few Congressional Representatives to take some action to address the concerns of truck drivers.
By Paul Taylor, attorney-at-law. Contact Paul at paul.taylor [at] truckersjusticecenter.com.
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