March 8, 2006. Freight and carhaul Teamsters will make less this year than last due to wages lost to inflation—despite COLA increases which will take affect next month.
Freight Teamsters will get an extra 10c raise on April 1 because inflation has jumped to 4.1% over the past year, triggering a payout from the cost of living clause in the National Master Freight Agreement. Under the NMFA, a COLA kicks in when inflation exceeds 3.5 percent—so freight Teamsters will get an extra dime or slightly less than 1/2 percent of the wage rate.
The carhaul contract has superior language, so carhaulers will get 21c per hour, or about 1%, on June 1. Carhaulers suffered a two year wage freeze in the present contract, and lost 6% of real wages to inflation, so the 1% increase is more than welcome.
These COLA increases are in addition to the regular wage increases of 45c (2.0%) for freight, and 40c (1.9%) for carhaul. The COLA for freight mileage pay is .25c per mile, and for carhaul it is 1.05c per loaded mile and .525c per running mile.
Even with COLA payout, freight and carhaul Teamsters will lose real wages over the year to inflation. Freight Teamsters will make 33c less this year than last, measured in “real wages”, the economists’ term that takes into account inflation. Carhaulers will make 27c per hour less.
International officers will get a COLA raise on July 1, calculated on a rather different formula, the details of which will be known in May. If inflation for that period is 4.1%, the COLA raise for James Hoffa will be $5.03 per hour, with similar increases for other IBT officials.
The National Review Committee (Tyson Johnson for the IBT and Jim Roberts for TMI) ruled Teamster members covered under NMFA Supplements will no longer have the option of requesting a 3rd doctor’s evaluation in cases involving DOT medical examinations.
This giveback to the employers was tacked onto the end of a decision involving a Harrisburg Local 776 ABF member. This protection has been in place for decades and helps prevent the employers from imposing decisions made by company doctors. Prior to the latest ruling, the decision of the 3rd Doctor was binding.
It’s unclear now how the difference of opinion between a member’s doctor and that delivered by a company doctor will be resolved. Leaving each such case up to the panels is not a solution, especially when a better procedure has been in place for so long.
Confronted by members, Tyson Johnson now claims that he did not sign the decision (even though his signature appears on it) and there are rumblings that it could be overturned.
What is going on at the IBT and in the freight division? Why are long-time provisions being traded away? If the decision is overturned, what will the IBT end up giving the employers in exchange?
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