February 21, 2008: Just before downsizing operations in the U.S., YRC found the money for expansion in China.
YRC Logistics will spend close to $70 million to acquire Shanghai-based Jiayu Logistics. Jiayu is an LTL carrier with 1,800 employees and 3,000 vehicles.
February 21, 2008: The next round in the fight over drivers’ hours of service rules is likely to come at the end of 2008 or in January 2009, before the Bush administration leaves office. That will be when the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will likely issue their final rule to try to maintain the 11-hour drive time and 34-hour restart provision.
A change in federal administration could mean a change in policy on the controversial move to extend driving time.
Those rules have twice been overturned in court, in 2004 and again in 2007, thanks to action taken by Public Citizen. It is expected that Public Citizen will challenge the rule again, at the same Court of Appeals.
Until then, Teamsters and all DOT-regulated drivers will continue to work under the “interim” rules that retain the 11-hour drive time and 34-hour restart.
February 21, 2008: Die-hard Freight Teamsters swallowed a bitter pill when the National Master Freight Agreement (NMFA) was approved by a two-to-one margin.
When the most concessionary freight agreement in history was first proposed, freight Teamsters were shocked by the givebacks. That shock turned to anger and a nationwide Vote No movement.
In freight locals across the country, working Teamsters rejected the contract, including New Jersey Freight Local 641, Worcester Local 170, Philadelphia Local 107, Pittsburgh Local 249, the Central Pennsylvania Region, Atlanta Local 728, Cleveland Local 407, Youngstown Local 377, Cincinnati Local 100, Detroit Local 299, Milwaukee Local 200, Rockford Local 325, Seattle Local 174, Portland Local 81, and San Francisco Local 85, and more.
The opposition to the NMFA concessions cut across our union’s political lines. In reform locals and Hoffa strongholds, tens of thousands of freight Teamsters said No to the givebacks and Yes to uniting to defend our contract.
But when the final ballots were tallied, Yellow-Roadway and ABF got what they wanted: utility employees, part-time dock workers, outsourcing road work to carriers who aren’t covered by the NMFA and more.
Why the Contract Passed
Why would the contract pass by a wide margin in some locals, and be defeated in others?
After all, freight Teamsters everywhere understood that the concessions gave away decades of struggle by our union. And the International Union mounted the same sales job everywhere to convince Teamsters that the concessions were necessary to keep the corporation competitive.
So why did the vote tally vary so widely from local to local?
The answer is that in some areas, Teamster members believed their solidarity would make a difference. They saw their fellow Teamsters speaking out and passing out Freight2008 bulletins. They sensed a commitment that other union members wanted to stand up to employer takeaways, not lay down and say “nothing can be done.”
They had the same fear that others had, but they voted No for the future because they saw enough members around them taking a stand, and they wanted to be part of that kind of union solidarity.
“Freight Teamsters in Milwaukee cast an informed vote because of the information we got from TDU and the Freight 2008 website. That’s what made the difference,” said Darryl Connell, an ABF Teamster.
“Local 200 members knew what the problems were with this contract. We saw our fellow Teamsters standing up and we voted the contract down,” Connell said.
We needed to strengthen that network of freight Teamsters who are sharing information and standing united. Where we had it, the contract was rejected. During the short period that the International Union allowed for contract discussion, that movement grew. But not fast enough.
The positive side of this story is that over 1,000 freight Teamsters participated in the Freight2008 network. We need to continue to keep in touch, to reinforce each other, to build a national army of freight Teamsters who are willing to work together to rebuild our union’s power.
A Turning Point
Some freight Teamsters say this marks the end of the line for the National Master Freight Agreement. We don’t think so.
But the wholesale concessions in the 2008 Freight Agreement does mark a turning point—and point to two possible futures for our Teamsters Union.
The Hoffa administration stands for leveling the playing field in our industries by bringing us down toward the nonunion level.
Teamsters for a Democratic Union and the Freight2008 network believe we can defend and improve our contracts and benefits—by mobilizing the power of Teamster solidarity and organizing the nonunion competition into our national contracts and benefit funds.
“I called my business agent to see where the local stood on the contract. He told me they were recommending a Yes vote. That one call convinced me that I needed to join TDU,” said George Roussopoulos, a 28-year Teamster and Local 294 member at USF Holland.
“I’m done playing games. We can’t throw away what our union built up. We need to stand up for the next generation and I’m prepared to do my part,” Roussopoulos said.
The future of our union is at stake. Our brightest days can be ahead of us if we work together. Let’s do it.
February 21, 2008: Ready mix drivers in the metro Louisville area have won a new contract that keeps them in the Central States Pension Fund—despite the company’s threat to replace their defined-benefit pension with a 401(k).
Local 89 members at Irving Materials Inc. started gearing up a year early to head off the pension threat and win improvements in their contract.
“We went through the contract line-by-line and wrote better language,” explained Louis Bowling, an IMI driver and elected member of the bargaining committee. “We gave it to our BA and told him that’s what we want in our new contract.”
“Management tested the waters to see if they could get us out of Central States. Most of their other facilities in southern Indiana are under a 401(k),” said Bowling. “But IMI doesn’t have the deep pockets of UPS—we knew it would be a lot harder for them to write the check to get out of the fund.”
The elected members of the bargaining committee built a rank-and-file network to let members know what was going on in bargaining and to challenge the pension grab.
Members Stand Together
“Management tried to play hard-ball. They put a weak deal on the table and told us it was their last, best, and final offer,” Bowling said. “When we told the membership, the word went around that we would never let this contract pass. And the company came back with a better offer.”
On Feb. 7, members voted to approve an improved two-year deal that protected their pension and health and welfare and increased their wages by $1.20 over the life of the agreement.
The new contract also contained many of the new work-rule changes that the drivers had proposed, including language that makes the company call the drivers the night before if they are going to work the next day—a big improvement for drivers who used to be on-call every weekday.
“Everything came together for us,” said Phil Pennington, a driver on the negotiating team. “We had a big pour at a power plant, and the company didn’t want to risk disrupting that. Plus, the cost of our health and welfare actually went down for the first year of our new contract. Members stood together, and we were able to win a good contract because all of these things.”
“This two-year deal puts us in line to expire with three other IMI plants in southern Indiana. Right now we all work under different contracts,” Pennington said. “In the long run we can push for a common agreement with all those plants. And now is the time to start organizing the nonunion concrete plants too, and get us all working under the same standards.”
February 21, 2008: An “agitator” is the device in your washing machine that stirs things up and gets the dirt out.
That’s also the role played by Local 804 member and UPS package car driver Ken Reiman.
Better known by the name of his newsletter and website, the Local Agitator, Reiman exposes corporate greed at UPS and what working Teamsters can do about it.
Never one to duck controversy, Reiman uses his newsletter both to celebrate union achievements like the 1997 UPS strike and to cast a spotlight on Hoffa and Local 804 officials when they fail to stand up to Big Brown.
Reiman blasted his local executive board for unanimously endorsing the new concessionary contract—which Local 804 members voted against by a nearly three-to-one margin.
His website also lists the salaries of Local 804 officials who make $130,000 and up—noting that their salaries have grown by 40 percent in the last seven years, twice the rate of the UPS Teamsters they represent.
“I’m just trying to inform people and stimulate them and look at what UPS is doing to us and what’s happening in our union. Once members have the information, they can make their own minds.
“I don’t mind being called an agitator. We need to stir things up. That’s how you get change—and we need it,” Reiman said.
February 21, 2008: Wayne Shatkoff, president of Pittsburgh Local 249, was suspended from office on Feb. 8 for a year by the Local Executive Board, after the Board heard charges of blacklisting Teamsters in the movie industry. On February 13, a judge found the Shatkoff administration guilty of the same offense.
An administrative law judge who heard charges filed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ordered Local 249 to pay some $70,000 plus interest to the three Teamsters who lost work. Some Local 249 members are planning to ask Shatkoff to reimburse the local for what will have to be paid out.
The three Teamsters had complained to Shatkoff and to the International Union about contracts that Shatkoff had bargained and about how he ran the movie division of the local. The Executive Board and the NLRB judge ruled that Shatkoff punished them for their union activity.
Shatkoff told us: “I didn’t do anything wrong. It’s a political year in this local.” The Local 249 election will be later this year. The members of the E-Board ran on Shatkoff’s slate, but he now considers them political opponents.
Shatkoff has appealed the decision to Joint Council 40, and General President Hoffa has issued a “stay of effectiveness.” This is a common procedure, to allow someone to stay in office during the appeals process. Hoffa stipulated that Shatkoff must have nothing to do with job referrals in the movie industry.
One steward we spoke with called Shatkoff a “little dictator” and several others predicted that he will not be in office past the end of the year.
It looks like Local 249 may be headed for big changes in the near future.
Report from the Freight Vote Count
It was an honor to represent working Teamsters as an observer at the freight contract vote count.
Members can rest assured that the process was monitored and on the up and up.
But many members have questions about who got ballots, and why?
The explanation we got at the count was that all locals were responsible for creating the mailing list for the ballot. The IBT put it on the locals when it came to eligibility issues.
That said, the outcome was clear, as the majority supported this contract.
Now will come the job of enforcing the agreement and seeing how new language for utility employees and four-hour dock casuals plays out. It’s up to us to continue to defend our union standards.
Local 429, Roadway
Why Cincinnati Voted No
Local 100 members voted the contract down, both road and local. It’s important to note that the officers of our local supported the contract even though they campaigned against Hoffa.
They voted with him and against the wishes of the majority of our membership.
The members in Cincinnati were the best judge of this contract—not our leadership!
Local 100, Roadway
Our Right to Contract Info
In your last issue you covered members’ right to have a copy of their contract. Does that also apply to supplemental agreements? Many locals have side letter agreements, addendum’s, memorandums of understandings, part-time agreements, long-haul agreements, and more. What info can we get?
Local 848, Vons
Los Angeles, Calif.