Tuesday, March 06, 2018
Brown was appointed last week to co-chair an unusual joint committee of the House and Senate. By the end of the year, it’s charged with coming up with a way to restore the precarious finances of what are called multi-employer pensions for groups like the Teamsters, mineworkers and carpenters.
Brown has been pushing a fix called the Butch Lewis Act, which would provide a low-interest, 30-year loan to the pensions. Though the union hall was filled with Butch Lewis signs and shirts, Brown acknowledged uncertainty.
“I don’t have preconceived notions on what we end up with," Brown said. "I’d love to end up with Butch Lewis, I think that’s the best idea. But I also understand we’ve got to get five Republican and five Democratic votes.”
The 16-member committee is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. If it gets the bipartisan deal from at least 10 of them, the measure will go to the full House and Senate for a straight up-or-down vote.
Following the announcement of the final members of Congress that will serve on the bipartisan, House-Senate Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans tasked with finding a solution to the nation’s looming pension crisis, the Teamsters Union called for a commitment by the legislators to report a bill as soon as possible, and not wait until the November deadline.
The retirement security of as many as 1.5 million active and retired workers could be at risk if pension legislation is not passed soon. The committee, which is comprised of eight senators and eight members of the House evenly divided by party, will work toward reporting a bill to solve the pension crisis. The Teamsters Union supports the passage of the Butch Lewis Act of 2017 (H.R.4444/S.2147) which was introduced in Congress last November by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) and has received bipartisan support.
“Now that party leadership has appointed the members of Congress who will serve on the committee it is time to get to work,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “Millions of active and retired workers can’t wait until November for this committee to act. We already have a strong piece of legislation already in Congress in the Butch Lewis Act and the Teamsters Union believes it offers the best solution to the pension crisis.”
“We still believe it is early in the negotiations process and things are progressing. We are maintaining our stance on issues that members have indicated are the most important,” said Denis Taylor, Director of the Teamsters Package Division and Co-Chairman of the Teamsters National UPS Negotiating Committee.
The following issues were on the table this week:
Article 6 – Technology and Discipline;
Article 14 – Temporary Alternate Work;
Article 15 – Military Leave – spousal transfers;
Article 16 – Maternity Leave;
Article 17 – Paid For Time; dealing with members’ ability to review hours and rates of pay as well as confirmation and identification of grievance payments;
Article 18 – Building Heat and Distracted Drivers;
Article 29 – Funeral Leave;
Article 35 – Drug and Alcohol Testing;
Article 37 – Overtime; and,
Article 43 – Delay Time and Extensions and Diversions of Runs
“During UPS Freight national negotiations this week, we continued to make gains,” said Kris Taylor, Co-Chair of the Teamsters National UPS Freight Negotiating Committee. “In particular, Article 4: Stewards; Article 5: Seniority; Article 6: Discipline; Article 14: Military Clause; and, Article 37: Suspension or Revocation of License and Employee’s Bail.”
The next round of negotiations will take place March 19-22.
Representatives from the union and the company discussed the status and role of ABF within the ArcBest corporate family and had a positive dialogue concerning the future of ABF in the evolving transportation marketplace. The two sides also discussed various methods for growing work at ABF Freight and preserving Teamster jobs, and both sides also discussed equipment improvements.
Only a few issues remain unresolved in terms of the National ABF National Master Freight Agreement (NMFA) language articles. Both sides also had discussions on some supplemental agreements.
Negotiations resume in Kansas City on March 12 where economics will likely be on the table as well as language in supplemental agreements. Prior to the next round of negotiations, the company will be sharing additional economic and business data with TNFINC’s economists.
“This week’s session was positive and productive,” said Ernie Soehl, Director of the Teamsters National Freight Division and Co-Chairman of TNFINC. However, Soehl cautioned that “the upcoming economic discussions, including pension and health and welfare are likely going to be very difficult.”
Soehl reaffirmed that “TNFINC is 100 percent committed to getting the best possible contract” and that the union committee remains united and focused on addressing the membership’s objectives.