IBT Muscles in on Chicago Freight Talks

September 17, 2008: In an unprecedented move, James Hoffa has imposed International Union control over the bargaining of Local 705’s freight contract.

Freight Teamsters in Local 705 are covered by their own contract which is separate from the National Master Freight Agreement. In ongoing bargaining, Local 705 has focused on protecting union jobs—including guarding against the diversion of work to YRC Logistics. The same issue is being contested in other areas where it has been deadlocked in the grievance procedure.

Local 705 is concerned that once Yellow Roadway Corporation Worldwide (YRCW) completely integrates its sales force, then Yellow, Roadway, Holland, and New Penn could be treated simply as vendors that YCRW assigns work to. As the umbrella corporation, YRCW could also assign the work to YRC Logistics or another nonunion carrier.

One goal of Local 705 is to get YRCW to be party to the freight contract, so the company cannot use a corporate shell game to divert union work. Last week, Local 705 members leafleted an event where Yellow-Roadway CEO Bill Zollars was speaking to draw attention to their job security concerns. Two days later, Hoffa assumed control of Chicago freight negotiations.

In a letter dated Sept. 10, Hoffa accuses the Local 705 Executive Board of taking too strong a stand in bargaining, of allowing talks to get “bogged down” over job security issues, and of using unacceptable bargaining tactics.

According to the letter which is now circulating among Chicago freight Teamsters, Hoffa has appointed International Vice President and Assistant Freight Director Gordon Sweeton to take over bargaining with Holland, Yellow and Roadway. Hoffa has also named Chicago Local 710 Secretary-Treasurer Pat Flynn, who is also an IBT Vice President, as his Personal Representative to Local 705.

Local 705 has long guarded its independence and its practice of bargaining separately from the International with both freight carriers and UPS. The unprecedented bargaining takeover by the International Union has shocked many rank-and-file members.

Click here to read Hoffa’s letter to Local 705.

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