Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Building a Stronger Labor Movement

Change To Win Coalition http://www.changetowin.org/index.asp?Type=NONE&SEC={E6AF9F22-F1A2-4609-A447-50073D1BF928}}

DHL drivers return to work, but conflict endures

A dozen drivers who deliver packages on behalf of DHL on Monday morning returned to their jobs with an independent contractor accused of violating their labor rights.It may be a few months, however, before the Teamsters labor union and Rydbom Express iron out an employment contract for the drivers, who had been out of work since March, according to Teamsters officials.Union leaders and a few politicians stood by outside Rydbom Express' offices on Parkway South as the 12 drivers, half of whom were wearing yellow DHL shirts, reported to work at 8:30 a.m.The federal National Labor Relations Board has issued a complaint against Rydbom Express, a Harrisburg, Pa.-based company accused of violating labor laws when it was given a contract earlier this year to handle DHL's local operations. The drivers had worked for Black Bear Courier of Orono, which lost its Brewer and Presque Isle contracts with DHL after its employees voted in January to join the Teamsters. DHL has denied that the vote had anything to do with the contract.According to an amended charge filed earlier this month with the NLRB, Rydbom Express is accused of having "interrogated prospective employees regarding their union activity, threatened prospective employees, made statements to the effect that unionization is futile, and created an impression of surveillance."Kathleen McCarthy of NLRB's Boston office said Monday a hearing on the complaint has been scheduled to take place in front of a judge on Aug. 2. A location for the public proceeding has not yet been selected, she said."We'll schedule it someplace in the Bangor area," McCarthy said. No complaint is being pursued against Granite State Express, the Portsmouth, N.H., company that took over DHL's deliveries out of Presque Isle, because all but one of the 25 former Black Bear Courier drivers there have been rehired or found jobs elsewhere, Teamsters officials have said.James Carson, president of Teamsters Local 340 in South Portland, said Monday that though the drivers have returned to work, it likely will take several months of negotiations for Rydbom and the Teamsters to agree on an employment contract. One issue likely to be discussed is back pay that Rydbom allegedly owes the union drivers, he indicated."Stayed tuned, because this is a long way from over," Carson said. "It's quite a game, I tell you, and it's being played nationally."

Roadway plans to consolidate billing in Toledo

Trucking company Roadway Express Inc. plans to consolidate its national billing operations in Toledo, bringing at least 75 jobs that pay about $20 an hour.
The firm, in its notice this month to the Teamsters who represent the affected workers now in 18 states, said it hopes to complete the move in August. Employees would be permitted to transfer, but the plan could mean some would not, creating employment locally.
Where the office would be is uncertain, but the firm has a trucking terminal at 6180 Hagman Rd.
The company did not return calls yesterday seeking comment. Bill Lichtenwald, president of Teamsters Local 20 in Toledo, said the proposal is far from a done deal, because each of the affected Teamsters locals and the union's top executives would have to agree to it.
"There's always that possibility it could not go through," he said.
However, the company said the consolidated office would mean 78 union jobs in Toledo, including three already here.
Those jobs would pay $20 an hour through the end of the labor contract in May, 2009.
It was unclear whether additional non-union jobs also would be part of the consolidation.
Mr. Litchenwald said Teamsters locals in 17 states that would lose jobs to Toledo have a right to protest.
Each site with the clerical operation typically has one to three employees, but the largest operation is in Atlanta, with 11 jobs, according to the Roadway notice.
Roadway, of Akron, said in its June 7 letter to the Teamsters that the move complies with the National Master Freight Agreement between the company and union. It would allow the company to enhance its competitive advantage, a key item for obtaining approval, by reducing costs, improving shipping accuracy, and permitting more flexibility.
The company now performs the billing operations at many of its terminals, which "creates disruption of freight movement, lower productivity, and reduced quality," the firm said in its letter.
The trucking firm plans to centralize its customer-billing calculation operation in Toledo and to set up a centralized collection department in Los Angeles, with 14 jobs.
The company, in its notice to the union, has proposed an Aug. 22 transfer of affected employees, but Mr. Lichtenwald said the union's hearing process could take two months and a decision is unlikely until September.

Yellow's $45M deal puts plan for China into a higher gear

Yellow Roadway Corp. will spend $45 million to buy a 50 percent stake in a Chinese freight-forwarding business.
Overland Park-based Yellow said June 17 that it and Shanghai Jin Jiang International Industrial Investment Co. Ltd. would be equal partners in Shanghai-based freight-forwarding company JHJ International Transportation Co.
The joint venture is subject to approval by the government and is expected to close in the fall. It will include equal board membership from Jin Jiang and Yellow Roadway.
Although excited about the JHJ venture, Yellow Roadway CEO Bill Zollars said the company would continue to look for a Chinese trucking company to add to its portfolio, as well.
"Part of our strategy will still be to look for an opportunity in the ground transportation area in China," he said. "But what this (JHJ venture) does for us is it raises our profile there and gives us more scale and a chance to learn as we go."
He said he did not have a timeline for adding wheels on the ground in China, adding that "we're trying to be careful with every step we take in China."
Zollars said in May that he wanted to acquire a trucking company in China this year. The plan, he said then, was to start small in the Shanghai region, supporting big customers that Yellow serves in the States.
In March, Yellow Roadway cracked into the booming Asian market when its logistics subsidiary, Meridian IQ, bought Shanghai-based GPS Logistics Group.
JHJ is the second-largest air-freight forwarder in China and also offers ocean freight-forwarding and logistics services through a network of 22 locations. JHJ employs more than 1,000 people and reported 2004 revenue of $330 million.
Shanghai Jin Jiang, a publicly traded subsidiary of conglomerate Jin Jiang International Holding Co., also engages in the passenger transportation and logistics industries in China.
"Jin Jiang is one of the most recognized brand names in China," Yellow Roadway said in a release