June 8, 2007: Thousands of Teamsters are working under the national freight agreement at wages that are at or below nonunion scale.
Most are not “trainees” but Teamsters with years of experience.
This problem can be corrected in the upcoming contract.
The NMFA has a starting wage of 75 percent of scale, which is now about $16.50 per hour. Over a two-year period, a Teamster will lose about $25,000 in wages before reaching union scale.
The tiered wage creates divisions among Teamsters. It gives companies an excuse to use more casuals, because they claim they are having trouble hiring people. It’s to time return our contract to union scale for all.
IBT Survey: Too Weak
In late May the Teamster Freight Division sent all local union officials a survey on the NMFA. The good news is that the survey recognized that the tiered wage is a problem.
The bad news: it didn’t even offer the option of eliminating the tiered wage. It offered three choices: shorten the progression, increase the start rate, or start experienced Teamsters at full scale.
That last option—retain the tiered wage except for experienced Teamsters—it might look inviting, but it could be a disaster. If you give an employer a choice of hiring an experienced Teamsters at $22 or someone from a nonunion carrier at $16.50, you may make it hard for Teamsters to gain work in freight.
The answer is clear: end the tiered wage.