The Most Crucial Decision You Will Make as a Teamster

March 16, 2006: This is a pivotal time for all of us. Perhaps the most crucial decision we will make as Teamsters is the choice we make in the upcoming election for General President of the IBT. That person will be responsible for, among other things, negotiating the next UPS contract and National Master Freight Agreement.

Both have trickle-down effects on every other Teamster contract that is negotiated. It is imperative that James Hoffa not be that person. A look at what happened to nearly 2000 Red Star Teamsters tells you why. Bear in mind that Yellow Roadway Corp. (YRC) and Bill Zollars will be negotiating for four of the five freight companies left in the National Master Freight Agreement.

Consider how USF transformed USF Red Star into USF Holland, and how that will impact your contracts and working conditions in the future. USF Red Star closed and reemerged shortly after as USF Holland. Unfortunately, what didn’t reemerge was close to 2,000 Teamster jobs. Despite promises to the contrary, when the dust settled the IBT recouped only around 20 percent of those Red Star jobs. In addition to that, our contract was replaced by Holland’s oppressive work rules. What do those work rules mean to you?

Well, if you work on the road for Yellow, Roadway or New Penn you just might have to get accustomed to sleeping out five to seven consecutive days. If you are a straight dock man, then you may be out of a job. If you are a city driver, get used to working the dock for three to four hours before you hit the street.

YRC owns USF Holland; to think that they wouldn’t want those same advantages is foolish. And, although Hoffa and Tyson Johnson vowed to “fight” for us, it seemed like they were more interested in accommodating the company. If they “fight” for you the same way, get used to working conditions that are substandard to even nonunion companies.

Red Star Teamsters were left to fight for ourselves. We filed a WARN Act lawsuit and unfair labor practice charges against USF when it was clear to us that Hoffa had abandoned us. We recently won a $7 million settlement for the members from USF and YRC from that lawsuit. Then, Hoffa shamefully took credit for the efforts of the rank and file.

To read more about what could be your future, go to: We need strong leadership that will stand up to YRC, UPS and other companies, not a president who will placate these corporate giants, and in doing so sell out the membership. We need a president with integrity and compassion for the members, as well as passion for the job. What we need is a president who will lead, instead of being led.

These characteristics and attributes describe Tom Leedham. He will inspire and rejuvenate the membership and replace the apathy that has gripped every local with a renewed sense of pride. Leedham will also reestablish and demand respect for Teamsters at the workplace, where—under Hoffa—management abuse of members has apparently become commonplace. Also, the stagnation of the growth of our union is rivaled only by the almost nonexistent increase in our rates of pay. Things must change now, before it is to late!

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