Hoffa Administration OKs Carhaul Sweetheart Deal

April 3, 2013: Rhode Island Local 251 signs a substandard deal covering carhaulers in Kansas City, undercutting the national contract in the process. It reads like an April Fools story, but unfortunately it’s real, and Hoffa’s Carhaul Director signed off on it.

Jack Cooper Transport’s goal is to have a mobile force of underpaid owner-operators who fill in all over the Midwest and the country, as needs arise to haul cars from plants and rail yards.

Now Local 251’s principal officer Joe Bairos has made the company’s dream a reality.

Bairos inked a four-page contract rider that allows the company to set up an owner-operator division called Jack Cooper Specialized Transport.

The rider provides for pension payments of $3 per hour, instead of the $8.55 contract rate. The owner operators are reportedly paid less than Allied’s owner operators, who get full pension benefits.

Supposedly they will haul used cars and not do work presently done under the national carhaul contract, but that is a fiction. So is the part of the rider that claims the owner-operators will work out of a terminal. This is a roving substandard workforce that will undermine jobs and standards of the national contract—unless the deal is stopped.  .

Jack Cooper already tried to use this group to haul traffic out of Chicago, but the pay was so low the owner operators refused, and the company was forced to use regular drivers to haul the work. Then Jack Cooper abandoned the traffic. 

Why would Carhaul Director Roy Gross sign an approval of this deal which undermines the national contract he is paid to defend? Carhaulers are demanding to know. 

At present the operation has only a handful of drivers; but the company’s recorded recruiting message says they plan to hire 200. This deal needs to be reversed, before the problem snowballs.

Why did the honor of signing the sell-out go to Joseph Bairos, the head of Local 251? 

It’s not hard to connect the dots. Bairos is a good friend of Paul Houck, a former Teamster officer who turned against the union and went to work with Jack Cooper management.

When Houck needed a local to sign a sweetheart agreement that undercut other Teamster locals, he turned to Bairos. 

Bairos never met a weak contract that he didn’t like –and happily signed on for his old buddy Houck. When Bairos inked the deal, there were not even any carhaulers hired to ratify the contract. The carhaulers who have since been hired under the deal live in places like Kansas City, which is 1,475 miles from Providence Local 251.

It’s a sweet deal for Bairos who gets the dues money, but not the hassle of representing any nearby members. But it’s a bad deal for Teamster carhaulers, our national contract, and the integrity of our union. 

This same proposal was rejected by the Teamster negotiating committee in the last contract bargaining. It should not be allowed as a mid-contract concession.

What can be done? Louisville Local 89 has filed NLRB charges against the employer, Local 251 and the International union, as well as a grievance on diversion of work, a violation of the Work Preservation agreement. Carhaulers have also asked TDU about a possible lawsuit. 

But the most important thing to do right now is for carhaulers and local unions to demand that the Carhaul Division change course and break up this sweetheart arrangement, or any deal which violates and undermines the national contract.

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