Saturday, April 04, 2009

Drivers at the YRC facility in Maybrook say the new jobs expected at the facility when the company closed its Pennsylvania facility did not materialize.

Instead, they say, all the jobs were filled by drivers transferred from closed YRC facilities elsewhere.

What's worse, drivers who used to work full-time are getting less work as they compete with other drivers for hours.

YRC announced in January it would cut 309 jobs from its Tannersville, Pa., Roadway Express plant and move about 150 of those jobs to Maybrook, and that about a third would be filled locally. Instead, all the jobs were filled by drivers from other YRC facilities, said driver John Kelder.

"There was not 150 new jobs coming to Maybrook," he said. "That was a play on numbers."

'Guys aren't paying their bills'
Kelder transferred from Maybrook to the Missouri facility last July, but when YRC started making cuts there, he opted to come home. He's one of the lucky ones. With 24 years under his belt, seniority means he's still working full-time. But other guys are down to part-time, and some aren't working at all.

The cut in hours, on top of a 10 percent pay cut union members agreed to in January, has left many workers struggling, Kelder said.

"Guys aren't paying their bills," he said.

YRC did not make a spokesperson available.

Kevin McCaffrey, president of Teamsters Local 707, which represents some of the Maybrook employees, said there was no guarantee the jobs would be filled locally, and that the union contract requires jobs to be offered first to workers displaced at other facilities.

He confirmed that overall hours for workers at the Maybrook facility are "down significantly."

And layoffs may be on the way. About 20 Maybrook workers are already on layoff, and talks were under way Thursday for more possible layoffs, McCaffrey confirmed.

YRC Worldwide to cut 600 jobs

YRC Worldwide Inc. is eliminating about 600 non-union jobs by the end of April related to the integration of two subsidiaries and the harsh economy.

The Overland Park, Kan. based trucking company said the cuts result from efficiencies gained from combining Yellow Transportation and Roadway into YRC on March 1 and from ongoing cuts prompted by the economy. Eliminated positions include corporate staff and support positions throughout the company in locations throughout the country.

YRC offered eligible workers an early retirement option, which includes subsidized medical coverage until age 65. Affected employees will get severance benefits, the statement said.

Integrating Yellow and Roadway has been expected to bring about 1,000 job cuts in the second and third quarters. YRC said Wednesday that it is not currently announcing more layoffs.

According to a March 11 presentation by YRC CEO Bill Zollars, Yellow and Roadway had 521 facilities, 37,000 employees and 16,700 trucks at the end of 2008. Around the March 1 integration, about 2,000 employees and 70 facilities were cut. By the end of the year, the combined unit was expected to have 430 facilities, 34,000 employees and 14,000 trucks.

In the presentation, YRC gave no indication that the long-struggling freight industry was recovering and said its first-quarter results would be disappointing, though it expects to save millions because of internal measures.

On Jan. 29, YRC reported a loss of $974.4 million in 2008 and a 7 percent drop in revenue compared with 2007.

Earlier this year, employees who belong to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union approved an amended labor agreement that included a 10 percent wage cut through 2013 and suspension of cost-of-living adjustments in exchange for a 15 percent stake in the company. Wages for nonunion employees, including executives, were cut by 10 percent until June 30 and by 5 percent from then until Dec. 31 in exchange for a 7 percent stake in the company. The 401(k) match for nonunion employees was eliminated for the first part of the year and reduced for the second part

Two YRC drivers named champions in Arizona Truck Driving Championships

Two YRC drivers won their classes at the 2009 Arizona State Truck Driving Championships on March 28 in Phoenix.

*David Messmer, of our Glendale, Ariz. (841), service center won the Flatbed class.

*Greg Nauertz, also of the Glendale service center, is the 5-Axle champion and was also named state Grand Champion.

Messmer and Nauertz will represent YRC at the 2009 National Truck Driving Championships, which are scheduled for Aug. 17–22 in Pittsburgh. Both are previous state champions.


About 330 Union Members Affected

USF Holland has announced it is closing 11 terminals, affecting about 330 Teamster freight members, who will get preferential hiring at New Penn or YRC terminals.

The decision was finalized this week. A special change of operations hearing was held on March 25 in Philadelphia concerning the closures. The terminals being closed are in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Allentown, Dubois, Wilkes-Barre and Bedford, all in Pennsylvania; Baltimore, Maryland; Albany and Syracuse, New York; Richmond, Virginia; and Wichita, Kansas. Also, the Pittsburgh terminal’s operations will be shifted to Youngstown, Ohio.

USF Holland requested an emergency change of operations hearing due to a severe downturn in business resulting in a loss of approximately $2 million a week in revenue.

Some of the local union demands of the company were that the company would implement the WARN Act where they were required to (Philadelphia and Harrisburg), abide by the National Master Freight Agreement (NMFA) and the Area Supplemental Agreement, pay all earned vacation, sick leave and holidays including the health & welfare and pension on the earned leave.

We all suffer when we go through job losses but the union is doing everything in our power to protect the job and livelihood of our member’s jobs and the integrity of the NMFA.

To read the decision, click here.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

National Share the Road Highway Safety Program Visits Denver Auto Show

Life-saving highway driving tips were presented today as part of the American Trucking Associations' national Share the Road highway safety tour by top professional truck drivers.

The Denver Auto Show provided the perfect backdrop for the elite group of million mile accident-free drivers to share their message of road safety. According to the Colorado State Patrol, 534 lives were lost as a result of traffic crashes in Colorado during 2006.

The Denver, Colo., Share the Road stop demonstrated to drivers how to share the road safely with large trucks and is presented in conjunction with the Colorado Motor Carriers Association. The presentation will continue through Sunday evening, with drivers available for interviews in the cab of the truck or in studio.

"Denver is a great city and we are glad to be here to help educate motorists on how to safely drive around tractor-trailers," said Tim Dean, a professional truck driver from Werner Enterprises. "With Denver being a major transportation hub, there is quite a bit of traffic. Hopefully drivers can take the tips we give today and use them to drive a little more aware and arrive home safely."

Featured at today's event were professional truck drivers Tim Dean (Werner Enterprises), Frank Silio (Covenant Transport), Paul Gattin (ABF Freight System) and Clarence Jenkins (UPS Freight). Those drivers are members of an elite team of million-mile, accident-free truck drivers who deliver the trucking industry's safety messages across the country.

Gattin told attendees and reporters at the event that, "Share the Road allows me as a truck driver to give people life-saving advice. Most automobile drivers were never taught what they can do to avoid an accident with a tractor-trailer. By being aware of the blind spots around trucks, all drivers can more easily avoid crashes. This information, and other safety advice, will help everyone to share the roads safely."

Today's presentation of Share the Road safety measures is important to Colorado motorists because:

*51 Colorado motorists were involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer in 2006 (Colorado State Patrol).
*35 percent of all truck-involved highway fatalities occur in a truck's blind spots (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration).
*According to three different studies - including the AAA Traffic Safety Foundation and DOT, 3 out of 4 truck-involved fatalities are unintentionally initiated by car drivers.

The safety demonstration today at the Denver Auto Show will continue through Sun., with special arrangements available for media interviews through Sunday night. Reporters will be able to view the road from the truck driver's perspective, and learn up close and personal some of the differences between how cars and large trucks operate on the highways. Today's demonstration was designed to teach specific skills to motorists in order to drive safely around other automobiles and around trucks and large commercial vehicles on the highways, and to arrive safely at their destinations.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Employee Free Choice Act


You have to hand it to Big Business — they have a lot of nerve. We’re experiencing the worst economic crisis — and the worst economic disparity — in well over a generation. Yet the same CEOs, chambers of commerce and Wall Street banks who brought this upon us now want us to believe that legislation to improve economic fairness is somehow undemocratic.

You’ll pardon me if I don’t believe them right away.

Right on schedule, Big Business is once again getting desperate and is resorting to fear in its efforts to defeat the Employee Free Choice Act. To hear them tell it, you would think that every American was going to lose their civil rights at work if we reform our labor relations laws. Nothing could be further from the truth and it’s time to set the record straight.

The corporate spin has two key parts: They say that the new law would take away a worker’s right to vote on whether to join a union and would subject workers to intimidation by unions.

The facts show that both of these claims are disingenuous and patently false.

First, let me be very clear: The Employee Free Choice Act does not do away with the secret ballot election system in union organizing.

It is important to consider a historical perspective on this issue. Current law calls for an election once at least 30 percent of the eligible employees at a workplace have signed cards expressing their desire to join a union. However, prior to a 1974 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, it was the workers’ choice whether to have an election or to use majority sign-up as the method of forming a union.

Big Business sought the 1974 ruling because it took the choice away from the workers and gave it to the employer. The Employee Free Choice Act merely returns the choice of a secret ballot or majority sign-up back to the worker. If 30 percent of a bargaining unit wants an election under the new law, they can file cards and have one.

Big Business’ second key argument to keep current law warns that the new law would subject workers to union intimidation. Once again, independent data show that this idea is absurd.

According to National Labor Relations Board, there have been only 42 cases alleging intimidation or coercion against unions over the past 70 years. Yet, the board has investigated hundreds of thousands of charges against employers during that same time. In 2007 alone, there were more than 16,000 such cases filed by workers against employers.

Yes, intimidation is undermining America’s labor laws. But the danger clearly flows from Big Business, not labor unions. I am involved in union organizing campaigns every day in North Carolina, so I know, first hand, that managers routinely break the law by using intimidation to stop workers from enjoying the benefits of being union members.

A recent University of Illinois at Chicago study shows that 30 percent of employers fire pro-union workers during organizing drives. This creates fear in the workplace, causing many workers to back away from the union. As a result of intimidation, the question of joining a union never even comes to a vote in 40 percent of organizing campaigns.

Of course, Big Business doesn’t want you to know that. They want you to believe their tales of woe. The problem is, they don’t have any credibility left. It’s time to stand up to the corporate bosses and tell them, enough is enough. It’s time to stand up for workers’ rights and support the Employee Free Choice Act.

The writer is president of Teamsters Local 391.