Freight Talks on Fast Track

December 5, 2007: As freight talks resume on Dec. 5, the information blackout continues and rumors are flying high. Members are left wondering what our goals are.

Freight negotiations between the International Union and Yellow Roadway resume in early December, with attention shifting from the supplements to the master contract. The information blackout continues, leaving rumors flying high and members wondering what the bargaining goals are.

Negotiations with ABF are on a slow track, waiting for YRC to set the pattern. The Hoffa administration has taken negotiations with DHL out of the Freight Division, and given them to Brad Slawson, who is determined to give DHL concessions, including part-timers.

The supplemental negotiations reportedly have yielded mixed results. Some areas report progress. Others are more deadlocked.

UPS Freight Sets Low Bar

The UPS Freight contract signed by the International Union at one terminal in Indianapolis hangs like a cloud over the bargaining table, negotiators report.

It allows unlimited casuals, part-timers, a much cheaper pension commitment by the company, and requires Teamsters to pay $150 per month to get family health coverage.

YRC is looking to get “operational flexibility” such as the UPS Freight contract allows. One danger is that the “utility driver” rules given in the last contract for Premium Service will spread to cover the whole contract.

Negotiations for the national master officially opened in mid-November. Teamsters have plenty of improvements in mind to win in this round, including ending the low starting wage, winning a catch-up wage increase, and safeguarding all jobs in the event of a merger down the road of Yellow and Roadway.

It appears that YRC will accept the benefit pattern set by the UPS contract of a $1 per hour increase each year, 35¢ to H&W, and 65¢ to pension.

In the first year, Central States Health and Welfare gets an extra 20¢ of that dollar, and will partially restore retiree health benefits. In the UPS contract, retirees over 55 can get coverage for $200 per month or $400 per month for a retiree and spouse. This is far worse than the $50 charge we had in 2003, but some improvement. We expect this is what freight Teamsters will get as well.

Freight Teamsters have every right—and a Teamster duty—to hold our leaders accountable to win a strong contract, with overdue improvements.

The UPS Freight contract should not be an excuse for any concessions whatsoever—why should the tail wag the dog? If we win a good NMFA, we can use that pattern to apply at other UPS Freight terminals that get organized into our union.

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