Time To Get Ready for the '08 Freight Contract

May 9, 2007: Teamsters in the Freight Division are determined not to be ignored in the upcoming bargaining. It is time for the voices of the members and locals to be heard.

A network of freight Teamsters is forming, initiated by members of Teamsters for a Democratic Union, and will become visible in the days to come in the shops, local unions, and on the internet.

Initial plans call for a website and a series of conference calls to be held nationally and by supplemental region, to share information and arrive at a target list of critical issues for Teamsters to rally around.

Some initial issues being discussed include:

Compiling the Best Benefits and Conditions in Various Supplements. If the carriers are already living and profiting with better bidding procedures, more paid time off, or better protection against abuse of casuals in some supplements, then it can be spread nationally.

Winning Fair and Equitable Wages. Freight Teamsters have fallen far backward in the past decade. In May 1997, 10 years ago, a city driver who made $18.68 per hour makes $22.11 today. Just to have buying power equal to 1997, that driver would have to make $23.97, nearly $2 more. A UPS package car driver now makes $5 per hour more than a freight driver. It’s time for some serious improvement in wages.

The Tiered Wage Structure Should End. Experienced Teamster drivers who are hired in freight start at $16.50 per hour (75 percent of scale) and will lose at least $20,000 over the next two years. It’s time to end it.

Working Conditions Need To Improve. Dispatch procedures have broken down by playing locals against each other and through changes of operations. We must put limits on forced overtime for dock hands and local drivers. Not only will Teamsters have more time for their families, more Teamsters will be put to work.

Winning Back and Protecting Good Pensions and Health Benefits. The current UPS bargaining may set the pace here, but if it falls short of what is needed, it will be up to freight Teamsters to take the lead.

These are only starter ideas, and by no means a comprehensive program. The Freight Committee needs far more input and discussion to arrive at a program and plan to win it. Call 313 842-2600 or email letters [at] tdu.org for more info and to get involved.

We are committed to winning real gains. We are not powerless. Some 60,000 freight Teamsters now work for YRC, DHL, or ABF. These are profitable corporations, and it’s time for freight Teamsters to join hands in unity and determination to win.

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