Friday, June 09, 2006

Spreading democracy empowers unions

James P. Hoffa

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Working people are fighting back at conventions and their work places. Working people are under assault from all sides these days. Labor laws are stacked against us. Too many politicians don't understand -- or don't care about -- the needs of working families. Greed is the modus operandi of corporate leaders.

But don't think I'm giving up for a second! There are signs all around that, despite these obstacles, working people are successfully fighting back.

During the next three weeks, thousands of union members from all over the United States and Canada, from different industries, young and old, men and women, and of all races and ethnicities will come together as equals to actively steer the course of their unions.

Unions practice democracy

Next week, United Auto Workers members from around the country will gather in Las Vegas to debate the future of their union. In a few weeks, members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, including 70 delegates from Michigan, will do the same.

A union's convention is an incredibly important event. It is the democratic process at work. In the Teamsters Union, our Constitution guarantees "One member, one vote." All across the country, members gathered at their local union halls to elect delegates to represent them at our convention.

Now, the delegates will come together to debate proposals and vote on them. Our members will shape the union's policies at all levels, from the big picture to the day-to-day operations of the union.

In these tough times, their decisions will be more important than ever.

In the Teamsters Union, we saw the writing on the wall five years ago. We knew that the only way we could take on all of the forces threatening working people was to get our own house in order first. And that's exactly what we've done.

Our union was struggling to maintain our membership level and our finances were in disarray. So we put our Teamster power to work to fix these two vital areas.

How Teamsters refocused

We restructured our union, streamlining our operations to get our union back into the black.

As we straightened out our finances, we also began concentrating on growing our union. To maximize our new fiscal strength -- and increase our power to negotiate strong contracts, make our voices heard in the halls of power and improve the lives of our members, their families and their communities -- we had to organize and consolidate strength in our core industries.

We are dedicating more resources than ever to organizing. Thousands of workers around the country saw the changes we were making and voted to join our union. So did three other international unions. The end result is that our union was one of only a few unions in America to grow during the last five years.

Each of these changes helps us be more successful, creating a circle of growth for our union.

Next, we turned our attention to the labor movement, which has had declining membership for years.

Organizing labor to win

Together with six other progressive unions and their 6 million members seeking change, we formed a new labor federation. Change to Win's central objective is to organize the 50 million American workers in industries whose jobs cannot be outsourced or shipped overseas.

Change to Win affiliates are coordinating our efforts at all levels to unite the workers in these jobs -- and to turn them into good union jobs.

In less than a year, our new labor movement is already racking up victories and making great strides in reversing labor's decline. School bus drivers in Baltimore and Iowa City recently voted to become Teamsters. So did 1,200 police officers in Nashville.

With the Teamsters Union once again in a position of power and with the backing of a new federation, we can start defeating the enemies of working people. We are making our voices heard.

Take union issues seriously

Politicians and public servants must take our issues seriously -- or we will devote our resources to adding them to the ranks of the unemployed. We are also making our voices heard in corporate boardrooms as we lead efforts to restore corporate accountability and shareholder power.

History shows that when unions are strong, wages go up, health care coverage improves, pensions are strengthened and our democracy is more secure. When unions are under attack, as they are today, we're all in danger.

The theme of our Teamster convention is "Moving Forward Together." We are confident that by spreading democracy we can reverse the tide and move the labor movement back into a seat of power -- and improve the lot of all working families and our nation.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

YRC Worldwide Increases Earnings Guidance

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting YRC Worldwide Inc. today announced that it expects second quarter 2006 adjusted earnings per share ("EPS") to be in the range of $1.53 to $1.58. The company's previous guidance was $1.45 to $1.50 per share for the quarter. This guidance excludes estimated costs of $.04 per share related to reorganization expenses and net gains on property disposals that management excludes to more accurately compare results among periods. Including these costs, reported EPS is expected to be in the range of $1.49 to $1.54. Full year 2006 EPS guidance will be updated when the company announces second quarter results in late July.
"Overall the quarter is coming in better than our initial expectations," stated Bill Zollars, Chairman, President and CEO of YRC Worldwide. "In our view the economy is still healthy, and while our business volumes and cost management remain on track, pricing has been slightly better than we originally expected."

YRC Worldwide will release second quarter results after the market close on July 27, 2006. A conference call to discuss second quarter results will be held at 9:30 a.m. ET on Friday, July 28, 2006. Conference call details will be provided in early July.

The Times of Greatness Tour

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting A mobile museum dedicated to the history of the Negro Leagues will be at Great American Ball Park Friday night before the Reds play the Chicago Cubs.

The exhibit, known as "The Times of Greatness Tour," will be open for fans behind the Freedom Center from 5-7:30 p.m.

Presented by Roadway Express, a 53-foot trailer will feature historic photos, videos, uniforms and other memorabilia. It will also have a replica statue of legendary pitcher Satchel Paige and a regional display dedicated to the history of the Negro Leagues in the Midwest.

Bob Kendrick, director of marketing for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, said this is the second year for the mobile museum. The museum, located in Kansas City, has a three-year agreement with Roadway Express.

Kendrick said the goal is to educate fans who know little or next to nothing about the Negro Leagues. Kendrick said there are less than 200 former Negro League players living.

"It is certainly pretty easy for us to go to Ohio because it is so rich in black baseball history," Kendrick said. "There were various teams from Cincinnati to Cleveland."

The museum will travel to more than 30 cities this summer until Aug. 26.

Ryder Honors Top Carriers of the Year

Ryder System, Inc. a global leader in transportation and supply chain management solutions, today announced its top carrier selections for the 2005 Ryder Carrier Quality Award. This award recognizes excellence through a variety of metrics, including on- time performance, claims handling, customer service, technology applications, economic value and innovation. Ryder places more than $2 billion of its customers' freight on selected carriers in all modes of transportation.

The 2005 Ryder Carrier Quality Award Recipients:

Carrier Category

New England Motor Freight LTL Northeast Regional
PJAX Freight System LTL Midwest Regional
Southeastern Freight Lines LTL Southern Regional
Con-Way Western Express LTL Western Regional
Roadway Express LTL National
Estes Express Lines LTL Super-Regional
EXEL Global Logistics, Inc. International Air Commerce
Hanjin Shipping International Maritime Commerce
Pilot Air Freight North American Forwarder
Trans Provincial Freight Carrier Ltd. Canadian LTL Regional
TST Overland Express Canadian LTL National
Contract Freighters, Inc. (CFI) Truckload Dry Van National
Empire Truck Lines, Inc. Truckload Dry Van Regional
Riley Whittle, Inc. (RWI) Truckload Specialized Equipment/
Temperature Control
Triple Crown Services Intermodal

"Ryder is proud to recognize its top-performing carriers of 2005 who understand the demanding requirements of our supply chain solutions and transportation services and share our commitment to helping customers operate more efficiently," said Ryder Senior Vice President of Supply Chain Solutions Tom Jones.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bridgeville Resident is State Truck Driving Champion

Delaware's top truck driver resides in Bridgeville. Eugene Repp Jr. was named the best professional truck driver in Delaware after winning the twins competition and receiving the highest overall score in the eight competing categories at the 2006 Delaware State Truck Driving Championships. The annual event is sponsored by the Delaware Motor Transport Association, Inc. and held at the Delaware State Fairgrounds.

Repp, who works for Yellow Transportation, now qualifies to compete in the American Trucking Associations' (ATA) National Truck Driving Championships Aug. 15-19 in New Orleans, LA -- the "Super Bowl of Safety." The winners from each of the eight categories are also eligible to compete in the national championship.

The national competition includes the individual champions from each of the 50 states. The nearly 400 top professional truck drivers will travel to New Orleans to compete in their respective classes. From 18-wheeler five axle sleepers to tank trucks to twin trailers-they will drive a course that recreates situations truck drivers face daily. These maneuvers will include: an ally dock, a rear line stop, a side park, a scale stop, a right turn, a front line stop, and straight line driving through a diminishing clearance.

On Saturday night, August 19, the contestant with the most points drives away as the National Grand Champion Truck Driver.

Delaware winners for each category included:

Travis Boardman, Fed Ex Ground, Straight Truck

Robert Cross, Fed Ex Ground, Three-Axle

Russell Brady, Jr., Wal-Mart Transportation, Four-Axle

Ernest Powell, Jr., Oriole Chemical Carriers, Five-Axle

Cardale Church, Allen Family Food, Five-Axle Sleeper

John Rickwood, Jr., Wal-Mart Transportation, Tankers

Robert Baker, Jr., Roadway Express, Flatbed

Eugene Repp, Jr., Yellow Transportation, Twins

Drive for success saves jobs

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting The 40 employees at the USF Holland trucking terminal in Bethlehem got a nice surprise last month: six months after it appeared the terminal would close, management decided to keep it open after all.

What was unusual about the announcement was the reason why. Profit played a part, but USF President and Chief Executive Bob Zimmerman said there were other reasons: the good attitude of the employees and the customers.

"Our customers have remained loyal to the USF Holland brand," Zimmerman wrote in a letter to customers last month. And "our employees have remained resilient and committed to serving our customers during difficult times."

It was a welcome letter for the terminal, which specializes in LTL, or less than truckload, shipment. The vote of confidence came about, employees say, in spite of a loss of salespeople and managers who jumped ship when word came of the imminent closure of the terminal a week before Christmas 2005.

Mark Maxwell, a driver and shop steward for Teamsters Local 294, said employees worked hard to make sure customers knew that the company was not going to leave them without a way to ship products. Truckers made sure to act like ambassadors, giving out USF T-shirts, note pads or ball caps and playing up the company in the face of bad news.

In the end, he said, "it was easier for the company to keep us open," he said. Full story here

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Number of long-haul truck drivers dropping

After 20 years of living out of a suitcase, Joe Reyna decided to call it quits.

The long-haul truck driver said the stress of the job and never being home finally got to him.

"I woke up one morning and said I couldn’t do it anymore," the Mission resident said.

Reyna, like a growing number of truck drivers in the Rio Grande Valley, has decided to give up his life on the road for one that’s based closer to home.

And he’s not alone.

There is a 20,000-driver deficiency in the trucking industry right now, said Tiffany Wlazlowski, director of public affairs for the American Trucking Association in Washington, D.C. Wlazlowski said the deficit may grow to 111,000 by 2014 unless more people decide to enter the field.

Market trends are part of the problem, she said.

When the economy does well, there is a natural loss of workers as people are lured into other less demanding and better paying professions like construction — professions that have the added benefit of allowing workers to go home at the end of the day, Wlazlowski said.

There are currently 1.3 million long-haul truck drivers in the United States, but the amount of freight is constantly growing. In the Yellow Pages alone, there are 45 listings for truck brokers, which work with long-haul truck drivers to help them find loads to transport.

In 2001, truck drivers’ wages dropped below that of construction workers. Since then, companies have increased wages fourfold in some places, but companies have said that that has not been enough to retain employees.

The American Trucking Association has worked to make it easier for people to become truckers by bringing together carrier companies, trucking students and financial institutions. The trucking company co-signs the educational loan of the student, making it easier for more students to qualify for loans to go to trucking school.

While most truckers are Anglo men between the ages of 34 and 54, ATA has also started an ad campaign to attract other types of truckers. The campaign targets women, ex-military, Hispanics, couples and retirees.

What generally lures people into the profession is money. Long-haul truckers can make as much as $70,000 a year, without a college degree, said Juan Robles, office manager of Vigar Express in Hidalgo. But not being home with the family and rising gas prices are making drivers rethink their occupation, he said.

"This job is tough on the spouses," Robles said.

He said the average driver at Vigar Express is on the road seven or eight days, and then home for three or four. But he said the company tries hard to have all of its employees home on Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter.

"Ninety-nine percent are in on the holiday," Robles said.

He said that many people stay in the field for about five years, make their money and move on to a different profession, keeping the industry on shaky ground.

Larry Daniels, president of Clinton, Miss.-based American Independent Trucking Association, said independent truckers are being squeezed out of the market.

He blames the fact that freight rates have not kept pace with gas prices. He said freight rates were established in the 1980s, when a gallon of diesel cost about a $1.10, and they have not been adjusted since.

Large trucking can force businesses to pay the "gas surcharge," or the difference between the freight rate and the gas price, but independent truckers don’t always have the influence to do that.

This means that to haul freight, independent truckers — who unlike those who drive for a company are the owners and operators of their vehicle — lose about 30 cents a mile because they are not compensated for the higher cost of gas. Trucks get approximately 5 miles to the gallon, so the 30 cents difference adds up quickly.

"Trucking is one of the most underappreciated industries in our economy," he said. "Without truckers you wouldn’t have the things you have today. They make America move."