Freight Teamsters in New Era

June 20, 2008: This is going to be a year of change for freight Teamsters: whether we end up stronger or weaker depends on how we deal with the changes that are coming.

These changes can be summed up in terms like these: utility employees, Glen Moore line haul, and $14 casuals. These aren’t changes we wanted, but how we deal with them as Teamsters will shape our union power and job security in the future.

As one union president said, “If the companies can’t make money with all we’ve given up, then they sure as hell need new management.”

Utility Employees

In the YRC changes of operations in May the International gave the company what they wanted. Locals that argued for some limits and job protections were shot down. Bidding is going on now and they will soon implement the new utility employee (UE) program.

ABF’s change will follow. It builds on what they did earlier with Premium Service. ABF plans to submit another proposed change of operations later this year to spread the UE program to the West.

Now it’s up to our locals and members to monitor how all this is working and to enforce the contract, so we don’t slip further backward. There are lots of issues that are going to emerge, in terms of protecting work and avoiding playing one local against another. We expect management to be testing us with the new operation to see how much they can get away with.

Glen Moore Pulls YRC Loads

YRC is starting to utilize its nonunion truckload division, Glen Moore, to divert line haul work. Under the new contract, they can divert four percent of all road work this year and in 2009 to a designated truckload carrier (Glen Moore), which they will let the Teamsters organize, but under a cheap contract, below the NMFA. That four percent will grow to nine percent subcontracting by 2012.

YRC has already started this operation, as Teamsters west of Kansas City can tell you from seeing the Glen Moore teams pulling NMFA freight.

The IBT is supposed to check the operation monthly, using detailed company reports to enforce the contract and the four percent limit. Those reports should be made available to every affected local to help with enforcement. Bid drivers are protected for each dispatch day, and extra board drivers during the dispatch week, at the point of origin of the subcontracted loads.

$14 casuals

YRC is advertising in many areas to hire $14 dock casuals; we don’t have many reports of them being used, due to the freight slowdown and layoffs at many terminals. But in the future, we can expect the company to try to extensively use labor that costs less than half of seniority Teamster labor.

All the more important that every local strictly enforce the contract language that requires hiring when supplemental casuals are used over 30 shifts in a 60-day period (or whatever language the specific supplement provides).

Yellow Roadway CEO Bill Zollars stated in mid-June that the freight recession has “stabilized” and he expects to see improvement before the end of year. As freight volume increases, the new flexibility the employers have in the contract will be put into much heavier use.

We need to insist that the International and our locals police the contract, and it’s up to us to start doing it in the terminals.

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