Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Local Teamsters set for a strike vote over DHL contract

A strike vote has been set for Sunday against a subcontractor of DHL Solutions Inc., a package and freight delivery service that serves Tallahassee and has a $2.5million annual contract with the state, a union official said Monday.
"The primary issue for the employees has been compensation," said Jim Gookins, principle officer and secretary/treasurer of Teamsters Local 991, which is headquartered in Mobile, Ala. If called, the strike would only affect the Tallahassee office, he said.
Gookins said Tallahassee members of the Teamsters Union would vote Sunday on whether to ratify a contract offer or to set a strike date. He said the drivers were seeking an hourly wage and benefits instead of being paid a salary with no benefits.
Gookins said drivers now receive a salary of about $1,800 every two weeks but must pay Commercial Cargo Inc. to lease the vans bearing the DHL logo, pay for their own gasoline and maintenance and also pay for cargo insurance.
After paying their own expenses, Gookins said, drivers make from $800 to $1,000 every two weeks.
Gookins said about 25 drivers - all independent contractors - deliver packages for DHL in the Tallahassee area. They were hired by Commercial, which is headquartered in Tyrone, Ga.
Colleen Englert, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Management Services, said DHL has a $2.5million annual contract with the state but added Tallahassee DHL revenues were only part of that total.
DHL officials could not be reached for comment. The company's headquarters is in Plantation, and Hurricane Wilma, which hit South Florida on Monday, interrupted phone service to the area.
Fred Grub, the lead negotiator for Commercial, declined to discuss specifics but said he thought the talks "have gone very well" and that "Commercial Cargo and the Teamsters have agreed on a lot of things that are very beneficial to employees and employer."
Grub said DHL has similar arrangements with independent contractors in other states.
FedEx uses independent contractors for its ground deliveries, but uses company employees for its air service deliveries, said company spokesman Howard Clabo.
UPS deliveries all are made by company employees, said company spokesman Norman Black.

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