Monday, April 24, 2017
John McKown has been working in the trucking industry for more than 20 years – 12 of them as a Teamster at UPS Freight in Pennsylvania. But his greatest achievement on the road happened when he was selected to join the American Trucking Associations’ “America’s Road Team” program.
“I can’t put in to words how great it felt to be chosen to be part of this elite road team,” said McKown, who is a safety trainer at UPS Freight and a member of Local 776 in Harrisburg, Pa.
It wasn’t his first attempt at joining the two-year program, which was established in 1986 to help educate the public about the trucking industry. Last time McKown went through the rigorous application process and was among 32 finalists, but he was not selected for the program.
McKown explained that the process begins with being nominated by a supervisor. Drivers then have to submit application materials showing an accident-free safety record and strong community involvement.
“I have been heavily involved in the community through UPS Freight, working with the Salvation Army, the Red Cross – and on my own time I umpire Little League and volunteer at a nursing home. And I also help at the local VFW,” McKown said.
The second time around, McKown knew the process and his hard work paid off. He was selected for the 2015-2016 program along with 19 other drivers from various companies.
“There was such a strong feeling of pride, a feeling that I was following in my dad’s footsteps,” he said, referring to his father who is a 35-year retired Teamster. As a captain on the ATA Road Team, McKown takes part in community outreach at public events to raise awareness about trucking in America and conduct safety demonstrations for high school students.
“The ‘Share the Road’ program we do is so gratifying because you can see how you are really teaching these young kids about driving safely,” McKown said.
He recently went to a high school with the Road Team to teach students about blind spots on trucks. “We bring a truck to the school and park a car in the blind spot. When you get these kids up in the cab of the truck and they don’t see the car, you can see their eyes get big and you know you’re getting to them,” he added.
Even before being selected for the Road Team, McKown had experience teaching younger generations about trucks and road safety. He volunteers as a guest speaker in several high school drivers’ education classes. He is also participating in events at community colleges and other venues to promote careers in truck driving to students.
“The trucking industry is imperative to our economy – without trucks America doesn’t work, everything stops. That’s why I am so honored and humbled to be a captain on the ATA Road Team,” he said.
Monday, April 17, 2017
International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa announced the appointment of the following union officers to regional coordinators for the National Freight Division:
Lendon Grisham, President of Teamsters Local 480 in Nashville, Tenn., has been appointed the Southern Region Freight Coordinator for the IBT Freight Division.
John Murphy, Business Agent of Teamsters Local 25 in Boston, Mass., has been appointed as the Eastern Region Freight Coordinator for the IBT Freight Division.
Bob Paffenroth, Business Agent of Teamsters Local No. 63 in Rialto, Calif., has been re-appointed as the Western Region Freight Coordinator for the IBT Freight Division.
They will work under the leadership of Teamsters National Freight Division Director Ernie Soehl. Soehl was appointed by Hoffa to division director on Feb. 10.
“Brothers Grisham, Murphy and Paffenroth bring decades of experience in this critical sector of our union to their new positions as regional freight coordinators,” Hoffa said. “They, along with our National Freight Division Director Ernie Soehl, will help guide our union through the ever-changing landscape of this core industry.”
A Central Region Freight Coordinator for the IBT Freight Division will be appointed in the near future.
Charlton Paul has been driving with UPS Freight for 21 years. During that time, he’s maintained an accident-free driving record and has received accolades from the company for his safe driving. Earlier this year, the industry took notice of Paul’s clean record and professional driving skills, too.
“I was very excited when they told me that I was selected,” said Paul, who has joined the American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) “America’s Road Team” program for 2017-2018 to help educate the public about the trucking industry. Paul is a trustee on the Teamsters Local 707 Executive Board in Hempstead, N.Y. and has been a shop steward for the past eight years.
The program started in 1986, selecting captains from a pool of applicants who must demonstrate their strong safety records and social skills to represent the industry in public forums.
“I was told not to be disappointed if I didn’t make it the first time after going through the application process, so I was prepared for a letdown. It was an honor, one of my proudest moments, when I learned that I was selected to be part of the team,” Paul said.
Paul was a finalist out of a group of 33 drivers from various companies. The group ultimately selected for the ATA program includes 20 drivers.
As part of the America’s Road Team, captains participate in safety demonstrations at schools and civic functions around the country. They also provide ride-alongs for lawmakers and reporters to give the public a better understanding of the trucking industry.
“The first event I did was at Mount Vernon High School in Alexandria, Virginia where we talked to kids who are about to get their driving permits about how to share the road with trucks and other vehicles. We’re teaching kids about blind spots, not following too close, the dangers of distracted driving and texting. It’s a really good educational tool,” Paul said.
He credits his background as a Teamster and his years as a UPS safety trainer for the skills that got him into the program.
“Being on America’s Road Team and being a Teamster, we have the same goals. We all want to get home safe to our families. As an active Teamster, I have a sense of responsibility and leadership when it comes to showcasing the industry. I’m setting an example, introducing the trucking career to young kids, and putting a positive light on what Teamsters do in the industry,” he said.
“We are honored that one of our brothers is representing our local in this industry,” said Kevin McCaffrey, President of Local 707. “Charlton is an exemplary member and leader in our union and we congratulate him on this great achievement.”
The drivers--America’s Road Team Captains--gave a personal tour to President Trump as he took a seat inside the cab of a truck in front of the White House. The rig included a trailer with TMAF promotional imaging.
Later, a round table of trucking company leaders introduced themselves and their companies one-by-one to the president. President Trump stressed the importance of American companies and his pledge to repair the nation's infrastructure problems.
Trucking company executives explained that trucking is the backbone of the nation’s economy, employing one in 16 people in the United States. “Driving a truck is the top job in 29 states,” Spear said. “Trucking moves 70% of the nation’s freight and 56% of GDP. To grow our economy, we need to take care of the people that move America forward.”
ATA Chairman Kevin Burch, president of Jet Express Inc, said: “The 7.3 million people who work in the trucking industry--of which 3.5 million are professional truck drivers--have a common thread to be safe and dependable and that requires a healthy professional behind the wheel. One thing for certain the professional men and women drivers in America are proud of hauling America’s freight. We are here to tell you Mr President, that the trucking industry will support you as you work towards solving America’s health care challenges. In addition, we look forward to working with you on improving our workplace, which is our highways.”
America’s Road Team Captain Don Logan, a professional truck driver with FedEx Freight, from Eskridge KS, said: “Truck drivers are in all 50 states--every single day. As a driver, we feel the weight of the numerous regulations placed on us, as well as our companies, and those that we serve. We proudly stand with you in your effort to improve the current healthcare law making it easier for us to make a living and serve America.”
Burch and Logan were joined by a number of trucking executives: Jim Burg, president and CEO, James Burg Trucking Co, Warren MI; David Congdon, CEO, Old Dominion Freight Line, Thomasville NC; Mike Ducker, president and CEO, FedEx Freight, Memphis TN; Eric Fuller, CEO, US Xpress Inc, Chattanooga TN; Neal Kedzie, president, Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association, Madison WI; Rich McArdle, president, UPS Freight, Richmond VA; Dennis Nash, CEO, Kenan Advantage Group, North Canton OH; Tonn Ostergard, president and CEO, Crete Carrier Corp, Lincoln NE; and John Smith, chairman, CRST International Inc, Cedar Rapids IA.
In addition, ATA’s image truck--Interstate One--joined a trailer provided by Jet Express featuring Trucking Moves America Forward imaging, hauled by ATA’s Share the Road Truck. These trucks are being driven and escorted by 12 professional drivers with a combined 319 years of driving experience and 29.4 million accident-free miles: Steve Fields, Independence MO (YRC Freight); Ralph Garcia, Albuquerque NM (ABF Freight System); David Green, Hot Springs AR (Werner Enterprises); Rhonda Hartman, Des Moines IA (Old Dominion Freight Line); John Lex, Monroe GA (Walmart Transportation); David Livingston, Springfield GA (TCW Inc); Don Logan, Eskridge KS (FedEx Freight); Charlton Paul Jr, Chester NY (UPS Freight); Russell Simpson, South Vienna OH (Holland Inc); Todd Stine, Altoona PA (Carbon Express); Barney Earl Taylor, Orlando FL (Penske); and Derrick Whittle, Fieldale VA (Cargo Transporters Inc).
Service centers in Nebraska, California, Texas and Arkansas awarded
ArcBest is pleased to announce that four of its ABF Freight service centers have earned the President's Quality Award for their achievements in 2016: Grand Island, Nebraska; Long Beach, California; Waco, Texas; and Little Rock, Arkansas.
The prestigious award recognizes service centers that have exemplified the Quality Process for the previous year. Each facility receives a President's Quality Award trophy and earns a spot on a wall of honor at the General Office in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
"The hard work and dedication of the employees at Grand Island, Waco, Long Beach and Little Rock have resulted in profitable growth, safe freight handling and ultimately improvements in customer satisfaction and loyalty," said ABF Freight President Tim Thorne. "Their teamwork and collaboration to meet our customers' needs has fueled their success."
The Quality Process involves a variety of tools, including a five-step problem elimination process: 1) define the problem; 2) fix the problem; 3) identify the root cause; 4) take corrective action; 5) evaluate and follow up. Education through quality seminars, job-skills training, focus groups and designated quality teams have ensured that quality throughout the ArcBest organization is a process, not merely a program.
Each year, all ABF Freight service centers undergo extensive evaluations that include a nomination process, a quality awareness survey and an on-site validation audit by the Quality Implementation Committee. The evaluations gauge customer satisfaction, resource management, damage/loss prevention and other performance indicators.
The President's Quality Awards were established in 1993; four ABF Freight service centers have been recognized annually since 1999.
"There is nothing we take greater pride in than providing our customers with first-class service. It's great to receive this vote of confidence from NASSTRAC shippers as this reinforces our ongoing investments in the customer experience. To be honored with this award means a lot to our 20,000+ hard working YRC Freight employees; we couldn't be more proud of this recognition by the members of NASSTRAC," said Darren Hawkins, YRC Freight President.
The annual NASSTRAC awards program recognizes carriers that have demonstrated excellence and also helps shippers identify the "best of the best" in carrier performance and value.
Through an online survey, NASSTRAC members ranked carriers on a four-point scale in the following five key areas: (1) customer service; (2) operational excellence; (3) delivery flexibility, billing accuracy and claims resolution; (4) business relationship effectiveness; and (5) leadership in technology.
NASSTRAC has been providing education and advocacy for shippers and carriers since 1952.
Drivers and warehouse workers at Clock Freight in South San Francisco overwhelmingly voted on Thursday, April 13 to join Teamsters Local 2785. The vote was 32 to 3.
The workers are fighting for better wages with overtime pay, affordable health care and respect on the job. They are currently forced to work 12 to 14 hours a day with no overtime pay. They have to pay an average of $1,000 a month for a sub-standard health care plan. Most have not seen a raise in almost five years and recently 10 workers were terminated for no apparent reason. They have no retirement plan and are fighting for the opportunity to negotiate their terms and conditions of employment.
"It's a great day and I can't wait to negotiate a contract that I can be proud of that protects me and my family's future," said Sam Veimau, a Clock driver for seven years.
"It's about time this company takes these workers seriously," said Joe Cilia, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 2785. "As Teamsters, they will have a strong voice to fight for fair treatment."
"I was promised a raise three years ago and haven't seen it yet. I make $16 an hour and have to work two jobs to provide for my family. The Bay Area isn't cheap," said Jose Sol, a seven-year warehouse worker.
"We welcome the Clock Freight employees and we will assist Local 2785 in negotiating a contract that addresses the workers' needs," said Ernie Soehl, Director of the Teamsters National Freight Division. "These workers deserve to be treated with respect and dignity for the job they do every day."
The Teamsters’ pensions are threatened with steep cuts because their fund has been determined to be insolvent, so on Sunday they used the movie to make a point as they demonstrated outside a theater near North 72nd Street and Crown Point Avenue.
About a dozen demonstrators, mostly retirees, lined Crown Point Avenue from about 5 to 6 p.m. holding signs protesting possible pension cuts and linking their cause to the movie.
A series of two signs read “GOING IN STYLE” and “IS NOT FICTION,” with the word “NOT” underlined.
“This isn’t fiction for people,” said Mary Packett, director of Protect Our Pensions of Iowa and Nebraska, a nonprofit group organized to help about 175 area Teamsters. “This isn’t funny to these guys because it’s their reality.”
Packett and her father, Freddie Lowry, 77, demonstrated Sunday. He is a retired Teamster who drove semitrailer trucks for 29 years and paid into his pension. He took occasional rest breaks Sunday during the demonstration, while others continued to stand along the street with their signs.
Last year hundreds of thousands of retirees with the pension fund faced benefit cuts — some by 50 percent or more. The proposal by the Teamsters’ Central States Pension Fund was intended to put the struggling fund back on a path to solvency. The plan was rejected by the U.S. Treasury Department, and retirees have been spared — for now.
The government’s rejection of the plan was only a temporary move, however, and the long-term future of the Teamsters’ benefits remains in doubt.
“This is about as unfair as you get,” said demonstrator Bob Bossung, “taking money away from retired old people” who budgeted based on pensions they thought they would receive throughout retirement. Bossung said he retired almost two years ago after driving trucks for 36 years, 22 of those for Roberts Dairy.
Teamsters “have stepped up and fought and won” in the past, Packett said, and they will continue to fight. About 20 members of the local Protect Our Pensions group will travel to Washington, D.C., to lobby lawmakers in June and push for an investigation and possibly an audit of the fund, she said.
“They’re good people,” Packett said of the Teamsters demonstrating Sunday, “and they deserve more than this.”
Thousands of upstate retired Teamsters have dodged a potential pension cut, at least for now, thanks to a recent decision by the federal government.
And the retirees may face smaller cuts than the original plan called for as reductions could have been up to 31 percent.
Still, the respite could be short-lived as the timetable for possible cuts has been pushed forward from July 1 to Oct 1.
"We need to file another application to the Treasury Department," said Tom Baum, volunteer retiree representative for the Teamsters' Local 294.
Also known as the Upstate Teamsters, Local 294 represents about 16,500 retirees and another 18,500 who are currently employed.
Many are or were truck drivers or other employees of the UPS parcel delivery service, as well as drivers who worked for car haulers, who transported new vehicles from train depots to auto dealerships across the region. Most are in upstate New York with a few in New Jersey.
Like a number of private sector unions, the Teamsters over the years have seen their membership dwindle due in part to federal deregulation of the trucking industry.
With fewer members to support retirees and following the 2008 crash, the pension fund has hit rocky financial waters. Fund administrators say if cuts aren't made they could become insolvent by 2025.
Any cuts, though, must be approved by the federal Treasury Department.
Earlier in April, the Treasury Department sent back the Upstate Teamster's application to make cuts.
They offered several suggestions including an updating of the fund's actuarial mortality tables. They also wanted the fund operators to make a more optimistic assumption about their rate of return, which was pegged at 6.75 percent for the next decade.
"The Fund's investment earnings during the last few months have been better than expected, which could help make deeper cuts unnecessary. It's still possible, however, that the new proposed cuts will be deeper than 31%,'' according to a web page that has been set up http://nysteamstersfundretireerep.com.
"The 6.75 percent (projection) is too conservative,'' Baum said of what federal regulators told union officials.
In the meantime, UPS has offered a plan of its own which would enact across-the-board cuts of 20 percent rather than the cuts of up to 31 percent contemplated in the current proposal.
Under the current plan, cuts would vary based on length of service and age, as well as disabilities.
The UPS plan, though, would give no preference to disabled retirees.
It would also enact a $10 monthly employee fee. They would also seek low interest loans from the government in order to shore up pension fund finances.
UPS spokesman Steve Gaut in a written statement said that was just one of several options the company was exploring in efforts to help deal with the problem.
''The company is working with stakeholders to explore legislative solutions which could help minimize the impact of required restructuring of multi-employer plans facing critical funding problems,'' he said. "However, there is no single proposal or agreed solution to comment on at this time."
A number of pension plans from various unions including Teamsters have run into financial problems in recent years. They can seek to lower payouts, but if the Treasury Department says no, then the plans can be at risk of folding.
That means that many of the most endangered plans need to eventually devise a proposal for benefit cuts that the Treasury Department agrees with.
At least one Teamsters fund has already become insolvent: the New York City based Teamsters Local 707 fund.
The federal Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. a federal agency, stepped in but they are only paying $570 per month, which was less than half of most pensions.
The cuts were enabled by Congress in 2014 as part of that year's ongoing budget resolution to fund the federal government.
The pensions in question are "multi-employer" plans which cover employees like union truck drivers who may have worked for a variety of employers such as delivery or trucking companies over the years.
"A lot of retirees are very nervous about this," said Joellen Leavelle, Communications and Outreach Director at the Pension Rights Center, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that advocates for pensioners.
Leavelle said Vermont Senator and former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders has proposed cutting tax loopholes to help shore up pension funds. She said that proposal is expected to come again in May.
Also voting on Friday, April 14, drivers in Elgin, Illinois and dockworkers in Aurora, Illinois were not successful at this time seeking Teamster representation. The actions of XPO and its high-priced union busters has been egregious and suspect throughout the company's campaigns and will be challenged through the National Labor Relations Board.
The 34 drivers in Trenton join the hundreds of workers nationwide who have already formed their union as Teamsters. The earlier victories were in Aurora (drivers); Miami; Laredo, Texas; Vernon, Calif.; North Haven, Conn.; and King of Prussia, Pa.
"The victory in Trenton and the company's desperate actions in Illinois show that the XPO workers' campaign is getting stronger and stronger, as freight, warehouse and port drivers fight for a more secure future," said Ernie Soehl, Director of the Teamsters National Freight Division, who is also President of Local 701 in North Brunswick, New Jersey. "The workers help make XPO very successful and they deserve to be rewarded for their hard work."
The drivers are seeking decent and affordable health insurance, a secure retirement, job security and a voice on the job. Port, freight and warehouse workers at XPO are coming together across the country in their fight for a more secure future.