IBT Gives Yellow the Green Light for Premium Services

Yellow Freight is about to utilize combination jobs in the Midwest to facilitate the movement of “Premium Service” (one- and two-day delivery) freight. The change of operations was modified and approved at a hearing on Dec. 16 in Dallas.

January 28, 2005: This is the start-up operation for Yellow to test out the letter of understanding that the union agreed to insert into Article 18 of the NMFA, allowing combination road-dock employees to move premium service freight. The letter of understanding clearly states that it is “not intended to divert other traffic from the present method of operation and deprive employees of premium day work opportunities.” But Yellow is going to do exactly those things.

Management initially proposed that they be permitted to divert up to 15% of existing freight to “prime the pump” in the premium service operation. After strong opposition from members and some local unions (why didn’t all locals oppose it?), management made changes. The change of operations now states that only 9% of existing freight can be diverted. That amount could still be a lot: If Yellow were to extend this operation nationwide and divert 9% of existing freight, some 1,600 Teamster jobs could get downgraded.

The other major modification was to take out several locals, including some larger ones, so there will be no premium service employees in Cleveland,Chicago, Dayton, or Cincinnati. But premium service drivers from the satellites will come into those terminals. This modification helped cool some locals’ opposition.

Most Teamsters we hear from are surprised to see just how quickly the “no diversion of existing freight” clause was allowed to be violated.

The number of initial premium service positions was reduced to just 21. So in the beginning this is a small deviation from our contract. The larger issue remains: is this an opening that management will push through and expand over and over? Or will it be contained and allow the employer to increase market share in express freight, while preserving our jobs and working conditions? That will be answered by the vigilance of the members and union leadership.

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