Sunday, January 6, 2008

Teamsters voting on master freight pact

WASHINGTON (PAI) -- Approximately 75,000 Teamsters nationwide will vote, starting in mid-January, on theNational Master Freight Agreement the union reached with a group of trucking companies in mid-December. The vote will follow a Jan. 8 meeting at Teamsters headquarters in D.C. for local leaders to go over details of the 5-year pact, the union added.

Negotiators are recommending its ratification.

The new contract "provides good wage increases and protects members' jobs and their health, welfare and pension benefits," said lead negotiator Tyson Johnson, director of the IBT's National Freight Division, in a statement. "It also allows the unionized freight companies to better compete with the non-union companies and gives the unionized companies opportunities to grow business in new areas."

He added the pact improves the grievance procedure for workers and addresses the issue of excessive overtime, though he was not specific. The contact is with TMI, Trucking Management, Inc., the primary multi-employer bargaining arm of the unionized freight trucking industry. Unionized TMI member firms include Yellow Transportation, RoadwayExpress, USF Holland and New Penn.

Settlement details were withheld pending the meeting in D.C., but dissidents at Teamsters for a Democratic Union discussed some provisions. TDU conceded the proposal "secures the $1 an hour needed to protect our pensions and health benefits. It also contains concessions that severely weakenour contract," TDU claimed.

Among the alleged concessions: Letting "utility drivers" do both road and city work, with a slight pay premium, reportedly of $1 an hour; permission for the trucking companies to use "low-wage casual" drivers, part-timers who would earn $14 an hour, and; a 4-year pay progression scale for new hires, though the new hires would start at 85%, not 75%, of base pay.

"Reports indicate wage increases of $2.20 over the 5-year contract, ending in 2013," TDU said. "That would bean average of 1.9% increase per year. Reportedly it would be 50¢-40¢-45¢-40¢-45¢. Road mileage increases would be 1.25¢-1¢-1.125¢-1¢-1.125¢."

TDU also conceded the new pact included improved overtime language that "would limit overtime during layoffs through a formula that would require carriers to recall a laid-off Teamster if a certain number of excess OT hours are worked."

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