November 26, 2012: On November 29 officers from freight locals will meet in Kansas City to review the contract proposals that the International union will present to ABF.
ABF Teamsters have every reason to be concerned.
Earlier this fall, the IBT mailed contract surveys to ABF employees. The survey results have not been revealed to members or local unions, but the survey itself was worrisome. Some of the questions were fine, but others looked like they were prepared by management, asking which concession we would like to give to the company.
It's true that ABF is operating in hard times: the economic recovery in trucking is painfully slow.
TDU has done outreach to active members, and found that Teamsters are reasonable but have a bottom line of holding firm on no givebacks on the contract.
"Every ABF Teamster I talk to says the company doesn't need any help from us when it comes to money," commented Larry Capesius, a utility driver for ABF in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
"We do our jobs and ABF is making a profit," he continued. "We voted down givebacks once and we'll do it again if there's any attack on our wages, benefits or pension contributions."
Also, Teamsters have seen that ABF has the money to pay bonuses and salary hikes to top execs, and to buy Panther in 2012.
The IBT negotiating team needs to stand firm and keep ABF Teamsters and their brothers and sisters at YRC, Holland and New Penn informed and involved at every step of the negotiating process.
Members will act to defend the freight contract but they need a leadership that has the confidence to lead if we are to win a fair contract.