“We’ve got to get moving now on our next contract. In TDU, we’re the ones who are going to be asking the tough questions and pushing for stronger standards and better benefits.”
Jimmy Rickert, Roadway
Local 429, Lancaster, Penn.
Get it Straight at UPS Freight
TDU members in Freight are launching a campaign to build support for our union's efforts to win a strong national contract at UPS Freight—and to make sure that the Hoffa administration does not mortgage our future by settling short.
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February 27, 2007: Bargaining is underway at UPS Freight, formerly Overnite. Nothing less than the future of Teamster Power in trucking is on the line.
Rank-and-file Teamsters are launching a campaign to build support for our union’s efforts to win a strong national contract at UPS Freight—and to make sure that the Hoffa administration does not mortgage our future by settling short.
Under the slogan Get It Straight at UPS Freight, Teamsters are unifying behind the three absolute must-haves in any Teamster contract with UPS Freight:
- A national contract, covering all UPS Freight workers.
- A contract that matches or exceeds the National Master Freight Agreement, with no concessions.
- The inclusion of all UPS Freight workers in our Teamster Pension Plans, not a UPS corporate plan or 401(k).
Settling short on any of these three points will put Teamster jobs, benefits and union standards at risk—both at UPS and in the freight industry.
Eight months ago, Hoffa announced that a “historic card-check agreement will soon bring 12,000 UPS Freight employees under IBT contract.” The IBT now says there are more than 15,000 potential Teamsters at UPS Freight. But for now, our union leadership is bargaining at just one terminal in Indianapolis, which employs 125 UPS Freight workers.
Hoffa has promised that the contract will be extended to all UPS Freight terminals across North America. That’s a promise he needs to keep.
Early bargaining at UPS gives our union the leverage to achieve this goal. Shippers and stockholders are pressuring the company to settle the 2008 contract this year.
We need to put the bargaining power of 200,000 plus Teamsters at UPS behind the 125 Teamsters at UPS Freight and win a master contract covering all UPS Freight Teamsters nationwide.
There should be no early settlement at UPS that doesn’t include a national contract at UPS Freight.
Master Freight Standards in All Respects
UPS is the largest and most profitable transportation corporation in the world and it does not need concessions. If the Teamsters make givebacks to the top dog, we know they will spread.
Yellow Roadway’s CEO has made clear any concessions given to UPS Freight will “set precedent” for the NMFA negotiations. UPS could also take advantage of givebacks at UPS Freight to shift tractor trailer work currently done by UPS feeder drivers into lower-cost freight operations.
It’s common sense that we can’t undermine the UPS or freight agreements by allowing these concessions.
On the positive side, if we win a strong contract at UPS Freight, that will protect Teamster standards, expand our holding in trucking by 15,000 Teamsters and position us to organize other nonunion trucking competitors.
Strengthen Teamster Benefits
This is perhaps the most critical of all issues: the UPS Freight contract must put all employees into our Teamster pension plans.
This will extend quality union pensions to our brothers and sisters at UPS Freight. And, it will strengthen our plans by adding 15,000-plus new participants from a growing carrier into the Western Conference Plan, Central States, New England, the Chicago plans, and all the Eastern Region plans.
Top Teamster officials have already hinted they may not bargain UPS Freight into the Central States Pension Plan. This would totally undermine the fight to restore our benefits.
Teamster Action Needed
If Hoffa is serious about reversing pension cuts and strengthening our benefits for the future, he has to draw a line in the sand at UPS Freight. If not here, where?
UPS Freight is our union’s opportunity to win our biggest victory since the 1997 UPS strike—and we can’t afford to fail. Achieving these three priority goals will protect the UPS and freight contracts, strengthen our pensions, and position us to organize the nonunion competition.
Failure would put our jobs and benefits at risk and undermine future organizing.
President Hoffa needs to make it clear he will settle for nothing short of a national contract that meets or exceeds UPS and NMFA standards and brings UPS Freight employees into Teamster pension plans across the country.
If and when he does, Teamster members need to get behind him to win at UPS Freight.
For now, the campaign to Get It Straight at UPS Freight is the best way to inform and unite Teamsters to achieve this critical victory.
February 27, 2007: When President Hoffa announced a card-check and neutrality agreement for UPS Freight at the Teamster Convention last June, I stood to applaud with all my brothers and sisters. I was running on the reform ticket with Tom Leedham, but when it comes to organizing, we’re all united.
That was eight months ago. We’ve received reports that bargaining continues for one terminal in Indianapolis, and that the union will not settle without an agreement that we can take national, to cover all UPS Freight.
I represent freight Teamsters at Yellow, Roadway, and ABF. Our members know it is critical to expand our bargaining power, especially at UPS Freight. UPS has the deep pockets to chart the course for other employers.
Freight bargaining will start by the end of this year. UPS Freight Teamsters need a contract that lives up to NMFA standards so we can go into bargaining strong and united.
That will put wind in our sails and give our members confidence that we can win a good contract and build our union in the trucking industry.
Scott Webber is the Recording Secretary of Local 728 in Atlanta.
Yellow has abandoned its Change of Operations plan to expand its Premium Service in the East, South and Midwest, after the change was approved by the change of operations panel on Jan. 17. Apparently it was because the IBT Freight Division insisted on rules that would require it to run new Premium Service freight, not just converting existing three-day freight to two-day freight.
The panel’s decision, at the insistence of the Teamster Freight Division, specifically ruled out conversion of existing freight to Premium Service. It also stated that management could not fill out PSE trailers with other freight.
The union also put into the record terms from the agreement on ABF’s operation, which would mean that if a regular road run was dropped when a PSE load moved from that terminal on the same day, the driver would have to be paid.
Faced with these reasonable terms, which merely aim to enforce the contract, management dropped the operation, at least for now. Premium Service was written into the contract to allow carriers to go for new business, not to rearrange existing business and break down our classifications of work.
Our NMFA is up March 31, 2008, and we need Mr. Hoffa and the International Negotiations Committee to stop treating freight Teamsters like second class union members. We are paid far short of the UPS drivers, yet we do the same work as they do, plus the additional responsibility of hauling hazmats. We also have to work forced overtime and our companies manipulate workers into doing the work of three or more employees for the salary of one.
After our last contract was approved, our union said we “negotiated the best and most lucrative contract in the history of the Teamsters.” I say, “That needs to be seen.” The fact is, in the past ten years, our hourly rate went up only $3.80.
Yellow Transportation has made record profits and owns multiple trucking companies (Roadway, New Penn, Holland, Reddaway, Meridian IQ , Reimer Express). Our union needs to make our unionized companies bring more than 25, 35, and 50 cent raises to the bargaining table.
Local 641, Yellow
The IBT Freight Division has signed contracts with USF Bestway, a division of Yellow Roadway, in Missouri and Texas that put Teamsters there into the Western Conference Pension Fund. Missouri and Texas are in the heart of the territory of the Central States Fund, so what gives?
Apparently the corporation prefers the Western Fund, because it doesn’t have to carry unfunded liability on its books. What about protecting our Central States Fund by putting Teamsters into it, not stealing them out of it?
Yellow Roadway recently dissolved Bestway into its Reddaway and Holland subsidiaries, so now this problem passes to those carriers.
Subcontracting Layoffs At Ohio Yellow Terminal
Back on Nov. 8, 2006, Yellow management decided to start using a local nonunion cartage company to deliver commercial and residential shipments to customers who required lift-gate and straight truck equipment. When Local 407 members found out about it, they immediately filed grievances under Article 32 of the NMFA (subcontracting), and objected because seven city drivers had been laid off on Nov. 5. Two layoffs later, 14 were out of work.
It took two months for the city and clerical grievances just to be heard at the local level. The clerical grievances for the subcontracting of setting the appointments were settled, but the drivers’ grievances were deadlocked to the Cleveland City panel. Rumor has it that they will deadlock them to the Ohio state panel.
Let’s hope that these panels put a stop to the subcontracting of Teamster jobs to nonunion companies just because management won’t provide the equipment to make deliveries.
Yellow Making Changes
Management at YRC has been busy as 2007 rolls in. First, they announced they were folding USF Bestway operations into USF Holland and Reddaway. Holland is taking over terminals in Little Rock, Wichita, and Jackson, Miss. Two weeks later, they announced that Yellow and Roadway would operate under a united management: YRC National Transportation. In commenting on the realignment, CEO Bill Zollars said, “Creating a single management team will allow the company to go after the next round of cost reductions.”
Meanwhile, new changes of operation will probably be implemented at both Roadway and Yellow following January hearings.
DHL Plans Border Expansion; IBT Needs Organizing Success Now
DHL will spend $100 million over the next five years to expand cross-border services. The company plans to establish terminals in the Mexican border cities of Tijuana, Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa and Matamoros, as well as expand U.S.-Canada operations. This is in addition to previously announced plans for a $1.2 billion expansion of their U.S. ground delivery network. All this investment occurs as the IBT attempts to organize nonunion DHL terminals and DHL’s contractors. We need a muscular organizing plan that will organize DHL before their nonunion expansion makes it harder. We’ve had the PR, now we need results.
Black Boxes on the Way
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has proposed a new rule regarding electronic on-board recorders (EOBR) that would encourage industry-wide use. The FMCSA would provide incentives to carriers for voluntary use, though specifics were not reported. The proposal would require EOBRs to record basic information needed to track driver identity, duty status, date, time and location of the commercial vehicle. Most importantly, it would record distance traveled. It would also include a GPS function as a means to enforce hours of service regulations. Truck and bus companies with a history of serious hours-of-service violations may be required to install the EOBRs in their fleets.
Court Hears Arguments on Hours-of-Service
Last December saw another day in court over hours-of-service rules. Public Citizen and other safety groups presented arguments for rejecting the January 2006 rewrite of the regs. At stake is whether issues of driver health and road safety have really been addressed by the recent rule changes. A three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals is expected to rule within months.
Yellow’s proposed Office Change of Operations reared its head again and will be heard just days after this is printed, on Dec. 7 in Kansas City. The proposal would move work to Sioux Falls, but not move a single Teamster.
It was first slated to be heard in September, but postponed after a barrage of questions and protests from members, stewards and locals. Teamsters are concerned that the real goal of the proposal is to relieve management from paying grievances when Teamsters wrongfully lose their office work.
Once again stewards and concerned local leaders plan to speak out against it, and call for it to be withdrawn or denied.
Tonnage Down, YRC Profits Up
The economy appears to be slowing if freight industry figures are the indicator. Teamster drivers agree, based on their experiences this fall. Most carriers reported declines in tonnage in the third quarter and weren’t predicting significant improvements in the fourth quarter peak season. Net profits at ABF slipped 22 percent. Bob Davidson, chairman of Arkansas Best, stated that “Something unusual is taking place and I don’t pretend to understand it.” Yellow Roadway CEO Bill Zollars is optimistic and said that “This doesn’t feel anything like the 2000 time frame as we were going into a recession.” YRC profits rose 12.4 percent in the third quarter to a record $95.9 million. He expects profits to grow more in 2007.
FedEx Freight Expands in Canada
According to Patrick Reed, Chief Operating Officer of FedEx Freight, “within three-to-five years we want to be a major player in Canadian LTL.” FedEx plans to use its recent purchase of Watkins Motor Lines as a springboard. Watkins, now FedEx National LTL, will be known to the north as FedEx Freight Canada. FedEx may start using truck-rail intermodal transportation in Canada—something they have shied away from in the US because of service issues. FedEx Freight (non-union) ranks second to YRC (union) among North American LTL carriers.
DHL Won’t See Profits Until 2009
In a recent report to shareholders and analysts, the Deutsche Post chief financial officer reported that DHL won’t reach profitability until 2009. He did say DHL “achieved a trend reversal” this year. When DHL bought Airborne Express the company predicted profits by 2006.
Democrats Take Lead in Congress
Representative James Oberstar (D-MN) is slated to become chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in January. Oberstar is vocal in his opposition to triples. He has also called for more vigorous enforcement of the hours-of-service regulations. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) is expected to chair the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. That panel oversees the Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
February 26, 2007: In this report, Stephens Inc., an investment banking firm, looks at the effect the Bush administration's new policy on Mexico-domiciled trucks will have on truckload carriers in the US.
January 26, 2007: In a recent statement on UPS national contract talks, IBT Parcel Division Director Ken Hall announced he would also continue bargaining with UPS Freight on a contract covering 125 employees at the Indianapolis terminal—the only UPS Freight barn represented by our union.
The outcome of the simultaneous contract talks will determine the future of benefits and contract standards for UPS and freight Teamsters alike for years to come.
- Will our union use our bargaining leverage at UPS to win the right to organize UPS Freight company-wide without interference from management?
u Will the UPS Freight contract protect Teamster standards—or will it undercut the UPS and National Master Freight agreements?
- Will we strengthen our benefits by including UPS Freight in our Teamster funds—or will Hoffa give in to UPS management’s designs to undermine our benefits and break out of the funds?
Our union leaders have sent mixed signals about where they stand. With the future on the line, Teamster members need to demand that our negotiators hold the line and protect our future.
Standing with Hall and Freight Director Tyson Johnson on the podium at the Teamster Convention, Hoffa announced, “A historic card-check agreement will soon bring 12,000 UPS Freight employees under IBT contract.”
Later it was revealed that the card-check agreement only covered 125 employees at one terminal, just one percent of the company’s workforce.
Now top Teamster officials are openly saying that UPS Freight Teamsters may be kept out of our union pension plans. Brad Slawson, General Secretary-Treasurer Tom Keegel’s right-hand man and an International rep in the Freight Division, announced at a union meeting that any contract with UPS Freight will probably not include the Central States Pension Plan.
If Slawson is right, that would be a disaster to Teamster efforts to reverse our benefit cuts. UPS Freight would add $180 million in contributions to Teamster pension plans every year—strengthening our benefits and protecting our funds for the future.
A UPS Freight contract that fails to include the Central States Pension, and other Teamster pension plans, should be rejected by the Freight Division and the IBT.
Organizing UPS Freight Wall to Wall
The simultaneous negotiations with UPS and UPS Freight increase our bargaining power and give us the leverage we need to win a company-wide contract at UPS Freight that meets or beats NMFA standards.
Yellow Roadway CEO Bill Zollars has already announced that any deal between the Teamsters and UPS Freight will “set precedent” for the National Master Freight Agreement. Zollars has also expressed interest in early bargaining. Translation: if our union settles short at UPS Freight, Yellow Roadway wants early talks to bargain the same concessions.
The UPS Freight contract will also set the standard for other nonunion freight competitors we need to organize. A weak UPS Freight agreement would also give UPS the incentive to siphon away work done by UPS feeder drivers.
The IBT needs to put the power of 215,000 UPS Teamsters behind the 125 Teamsters at UPS Freight.
UPS management is hungry to settle early. If our union is going to give UPS an early deal, we need to win a company-wide UPS Freight agreement that meets the standards set by the NMFA and UPS contracts, including strong Teamster benefits.
President Hoffa and our union negotiators need to make it clear to the company and to Teamster members that we will settle for nothing less. If and when he does, Teamster members need to get behind him in this fight.
Because Hoffa’s card check and neutrality agreement covered only one terminal and is now void, Zollars expects any contract that UPS Freight would accept will fall far short of the NMFA, and will not allow the employees into the Central States Teamster Pension Plan. Hence Zollars’ interest in using the deal as a precedent to gain concessions in the NMFA.
Yellow Roadway Wants Early Bargaining Too
“We’d be interested in doing that,’” Yellow Roadway’s CEO William Zollars told the Akron Beacon Journal on July 28, referring to opening early bargaining with the Teamsters to dodge any possible strike threat.
Yellow Roadway Corporation employs 50,000 Teamsters under the National Master Freight Agreement at Yellow, Roadway, Holland, New Penn, Bestway and Reddaway. Since the UPS and freight contracts do not expire for two years, the union has less bargaining power this far in advance. The Beacon Journal reported that is the reason that “UPS decided to move up the start of talks.”
Hoffa claims that he “forced UPS into early negotiations” but it is clear that the big Teamster employers are eager for the chance to bargain when the no-strike contract clause binds the union and decreases union leverage.
Yellow’s Zollars says he will approach the Teamsters about early bargaining, but no date is set yet.