Saturday, March 04, 2006

Roadway Express adding nearly 130 jobs at Buffalo operations

Roadway Express is revving up its local employment, adding nearly 130 jobs as the trucking company reshapes its North American distribution network.
The carrier is expanding the role of its Buffalo area operation, creating the need for more jobs, said Michael Smid, president and chief executive officer of Ohio-based Roadway Express.

The site's broadened task involves consolidating and distributing freight from a wider regional area, as well as consolidating freight for shipments to the West Coast, Smid said. The local operation is in the North America Center, a business park in West Seneca.

Its employment will rise from the current 250 jobs to a total of 375, said Suzanne Dawson, a spokeswoman for YRC Worldwide, Roadway Express' parent company.

The additional jobs allow some laid-off Roadway Express employees to return to work, and some other Roadway Express workers will transfer here to fill positions. But most of the new hiring will occur locally, Smid said.

Most of the new positions will be unionized jobs represented by the Teamsters, except for some administrative and support jobs being added, Smid said.

Among the applicants for the new jobs are employees who lost their jobs when Consolidated Freightways abruptly shut down in 2002.

The switch in the Roadway site's role is set to take effect March 12, and the carrier is working to staff up in time for that date, Smid said.

As Roadway Express reconfigures its distribution network, some communities, such as Dallas, Chicago and Akron, Ohio, are gaining jobs, while other communities are losing positions.

Buffalo's job gain is among the largest in Roadway Express' network, Smid said. Worker performance and geography influenced that decision.

"It is an environment that has worked well for us from a performance standpoint," Smid said. The Buffalo area is also well-positioned to serve other markets, including Canada, he added.

Roadway Express expects the changes will allow the company to move freight more quickly and efficiently, and reduce the number of "touch points" where freight is handled.

Roadway Corp. was acquired in 2003 by Yellow Corp. The combined company was known as Yellow Roadway until its recent name change to YRC Worldwide.

Thomas Kucharski, president and CEO of Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, welcomed Roadway Express' decision and noted that transportation and logistics is an area that BNE has targeted for job growth.

"We think this could be a growth industry," Kucharski said.

The region would enhance its chances of building that industry by resolving infrastructure challenges, such as ensuring smooth traffic flow at the Peace Bridge, he said.

Expansions by companies such as Roadway Express also help business recruiters as they try to persuade other companies to expand in Buffalo, Kucharski said.

"If they make an expansion decision here, that gets noticed," he said.

Friday, March 03, 2006

NLRB says firm wasn't wrong in closing Red Star

The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that USF Corp. did nothing wrong when it abruptly closed its Red Star division after a brief strike that started in Philadelphia on May 21, 2004.
About 2,000 people, including 200 in Philadelphia, lost their jobs.
In 2004, Robert F. O'Brien of Cherry Hill filed unfair-labor complaints in Philadelphia on behalf of union workers at Red Star, saying the closure was in retaliation for the strike, to chill organizing efforts at other terminals, or to void the company's contract with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
"The investigation disclosed that the decision to close Red Star was prompted by legitimate concerns over future losses resulting from the May 21 work stoppage and was not motivated by anti-union animus or a desire to avoid the Red Star contract," regional director Dorothy L. Moore-Duncan wrote in her decision Tuesday.
O'Brien said he would appeal.
Teamsters officials said they had offered to go back to work the next day, Saturday, May 22, but the company told them it would close on May 24. A company attorney said the union had not told management that workers would return.
USF Corp., of Chicago, is now owned by YRC Worldwide Inc., of Overland Park, Kan.
In January, a federal judge in Philadelphia approved a $7 million settlement to 1,700 union employees in a related class-action lawsuit based on federal laws requiring firms to give 60 days' notice before closing.
The saga of Red Star's demise began at Philadelphia's Bridesburg terminal, which employed 200, mostly union drivers and warehouse workers.
When the firm refused to agree to allow office members to join the union, the Teamsters called a strike. It spread from the Bridesburg depot to all of Red Star's terminals, which were around the Northeast United States. Some trucks already on the road finished deliveries.
Holland, another USF division, now operates the Bridesburg terminal, and some former Red Star drivers work there under a Teamsters contract.

Ten reasons it's good to win an Oscar

It's not really about the recognition from your peers. It's not really about the pride of winning. And it's not even about the money.
Winning an Oscar is so much more than that.

In fact, there are so many good reasons that actors and actresses want to win an Oscar, it would be almost impossible to list them all in a single column.

But we'll give it a try.

1. No more nudity - The members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expect an actress to bare her soul if she is to be considered for the profession's top prize. If she is willing to bare her body for her art, even better. And many actresses have taken this well-traveled route to success (for example, Halle Berry in "Monster's Ball"), but once the Oscar is safely in hand, the actress need no longer reveal anything but her talent.

2. More nudity - Male actors, on the other hand, are never expected drop their pants in pursuit of the Holy Grail of show business. However, once they have an Oscar or two, they are permitted to show a little skin, even if it's just for laughs (Jack Nicholson in "Something's Gotta Give").

3. To give the speech - If you think you're the only one who ever gave an Oscar acceptance speech in front of a mirror when you were a child, think again. At least you stopped giving the speech when you were, like, 12. Professional actors and actresses never stop giving that speech. They practice it until the day they die, or win an Oscar, whichever comes first.

4. To impress the Teamsters - Young actors tell stories of how intimidated and in awe they were when they first arrived on a movie set to work with an Oscar-winning actor. The recipients of that adulation will insist that they were unaware of the deferential treatment. They couldn't care less what young actors think of them.

The reason is that Oscar winners are more concerned with what the crew thinks of them. Not only is it important to have a good working relationship with the crew, because they are responsible for how you look on screen (camera, lighting, makeup, hair, etc.), but actors think of the crew as "real people," and everybody in Hollywood believes that it is important to connect with real people.

5. To die with dignity - Actors and actresses have a startlingly clear vision of their legacy. They know that an Oscar win is forever, and we don't mean forever in the metaphorical sense. An Oscar win is truly eternal. Whenever an Oscar winner is referred to a newspaper articles or television feature, he or she is given the title "Oscar-winner so-and-so." More importantly, when that actor or actress ascends to that great green room in the sky, the obituary will begin: "Oscar-winning actor/actress so-and-so."

6. To decorate the mantle - Famous people hang out with other famous people. Famous people go to other famous people's homes for dinner parties. Famous people look around other famous people's homes. If you have a shiny Oscar sitting on the mantle in the middle of the living room, it doesn't matter what the rest of the house looks like.

7. To collect unemployment checks - It's one of the many oddities of show business that a surprising number of Oscar winners suffer through a slump of sorts after the big night, particularly if it is their first win. Explanations abound, including the one favored by most actors ("I guess they thought I was booked for years to come"), but there is one possible explanation that no actor wants to think about: What if the Oscar win was a fluke, and everybody in Hollywood knows it?

8. To scoff at their Golden Globe - When all you have is a Golden Globe, you make the best of it. You might not necessarily place it prominently on the mantle for Oscar winners to sneer at, but a mention of it will remain in your bio until something better comes along, like an Oscar. Once you have the Oscar, the Golden Globe win is erased from your bio, and the statuette is packed away.

9. To make up for that 50-yard-dash medal - Let's face it, the type of person who pursues an acting career from an early age probably was not the quarterback, the head cheerleader or the captain of the debate team. These people were loners. They were not joiners. They only joined the drama club because it was filled with other loners and nonjoiners. It was their only chance for recognition, and an Oscar win makes up for all the missed grade-school medals and high-school trophies.

10. To feel loved - See all of the above.

YRC Worldwide reduces size of board as two directors depart

YRC Worldwide Inc., following the departure of two directors, has decided to reduce the number of directors on its board from 11 to nine.
The change will become effective immediately preceding YRC Worldwide’s next annual meeting of shareholders, May 16 in Overland Park.
Frank Doyle recently notified the Overland Park-based trucking leader that he would retire from the board upon turning age 75. Doyle, retired vice chairman and chief executive officer of Compaq Computer, has been a director since 2003.
Paul Liska also recently decided not to stand for re-election. Liska joined the board in May 2005 following the former Yellow Roadway Corp.’s acquisition of USF Corp. Liska had been executive chairman of the USF board.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Bill would require tracking health care

It's no secret that many Mainers work at low-paying jobs and aren't able to afford health insurance even if their employer offers it. But when that employer is a major multinational corporation with record-breaking profits year after year, is it right for overburdened Maine taxpayers to pick up the health care tab for its employees?

A bill before the Legislature would require the state to compile information each month about employed participants in its Medicaid program, called MaineCare. That information would include the type of work performed by the MaineCare member, the kind of business where he or she is employed, the number of hours worked and the hourly wage earned. The information would be presented in an annual report to the Legislature and used to guide health care policy.

LD 1927, sponsored by Senate President Beth Edmunds, D-Freeport, has been casually referred to in Augusta as "the Wal-Mart bill" because it was modeled after recent legislation in Maryland that specifically targets the Arkansas-based megaretailer. Maryland's so-called "Fair Share" bill requires the state's Wal-Mart stores to spend 8 percent of their payroll on employee health care or to contribute an equivalent amount to the state's Medicaid program. Wal-Mart is considering filing suit. Full story here......

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

UPS Says Overnite Will Become UPS Freight

UPS Inc., the world's largest shipping carrier, said Tuesday that trucking company Overnite Corp., which it purchased for $1.25 billion last year, will be renamed UPS Freight in May.

The Atlanta-based company said the name change will include new uniforms and newly branded trucks. The rebranding includes a move to the UPS logo and new colors that blend a gray similar to the Overnite gray with UPS brown.

A new Web site for UPS Freight also will be launched.

The facilities and fleet, which includes 22,000 trailers, will be rebranded to UPS Freight over several years. UPS Freight will continue to operate independently of the UPS package delivery network.

UPS' acquisition of Richmond, Va.-based Overnite was announced in May 2005 and completed in August. It was UPS' largest single acquisition.

Shipping heavy freight has been a small percentage of UPS' overall business, but the company wants to put more emphasis on it.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Freight, Carhaul Members to Receive COLA

Teamsters under the national freight contract will soon receive a cost-of-living allowance (COLA) of about 10 cents per hour on top of the negotiated increase of 45 cents per hour, while members under the national carhaul contract will receive a COLA of about 21 cents per hour on top of the negotiated 40 cents per hour increase.

“This is great news for our freight and carhaul members,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President. “When we negotiated these contracts, we put teeth into the COLA provisions so that they would provide security to our members. We’re seeing that pay off now.”

Members covered by the 2003-2008 National Master Freight Agreement (NMFA) will be due the COLA under Article 33 when the next scheduled hourly and mileage increase takes place on April 1, 2006.

Members covered by this agreement are eligible for an annual COLA in 2006 that allows a one cent ($0.01) per hour and .25 mills per mile increase for every .2 increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W) in excess of 3.0 percent and at least totaling $0.05. Reaching an index level of 194.0 in January of 2006, the CPI-W increased 4.1 percent since January 2005 that translates to the following COLA increases:

$0.10 per hour, and

.250 cents per mile (or a ¼ penny).

These increases are in addition to the negotiated increases per the 2003 NMFA settlement which are effective April 1, 2006:

$0.45 per hour, and

1.125 cents per mile.

This means that hourly wages are scheduled to increase by 55 cents per hour and 1.375 cents per mile on April 1, 2006.

This is the first wage COLA payable to freight members covered by the NMFA since 1982. The COLA in 1983 and 1984 was diverted to health, welfare and pension. In addition, the 55 cents payable on April 1, 2006 will be the largest annual increase Teamster freight members have received since 1981 when the COLA paid 77 cents.

“In 2003, we won a real cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) that protects members against inflation,” said Tyson Johnson, Teamsters National Freight Director. “The situation this past year is exactly what we had in mind when we were at the bargaining table.”


Teamsters covered by the 2003-2008 National Master Automobile Transporters Agreement (NMATA) will be due a COLA per Article 23 when the next scheduled increase takes place on June 1, 2006.

Members under the NMATA are eligible for an annual COLA in 2006 that allows a one cent ($0.01) per hour, .50 mills per loaded mile, .25 mills per running mile and .1 percent flat or zone rate increase for every .1 point increase in the index in excess of 3 percent.

That translates to the following COLA increases:

$0.21 per hour;

$0.0105 per loaded mile;

$0.00525 per running mile, and

2.1 percent flat or zone rate.

Frozen rates and driveaway hourly, mileage rates and flat/zone rates will be increased in a similar manner.

These increases are in addition to the negotiated increases per the 2003 NMATA settlement effective June 1, 2006:

$0.40 per hour (includes drivers, yard, service and office);

$0.0200 per loaded mile;

$0.0200 per frozen mile;

$0.0100 per running mile, and

2.0 percent flat/zone/shuttle/incentive/loading and unloading or other wage rates (includes tool allowance and all other monetary items in the Supplements including skid drops).

This means that hourly wages are scheduled to increase by 61 cents per hour and 3.050 cents per loaded mile on June 1, 2006.

“We worked hard to negotiate these provisions for our members,” said Fred Zuckerman, Teamsters Carhaul Division Director. “Our members have given some employers concessions the past two years. This COLA will protect us going forward. It’s time to get something back for our members.”

COLA information for UPS Teamsters is not known at this time, because COLAs are determined on a May to May calendar basis. That information will be released in June of this year.

Teamsters, Safety Groups File Lawsuit to Reverse Hours of Service Regulations

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters joined highway safety groups today in filing a lawsuit challenging the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations after waiting five months in vain for the government to respond to their original challenge.

“We refuse to wait any longer for the government to rule on our challenge—we are stepping up the fight against these regulations that put Teamster drivers at greater risk,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President.

In late September 2005, the Teamsters and the safety groups filed a Petition for Reconsideration asking the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to re-evaluate several aspects of the new rule. The new rule took effect October 1, 2005 with a transition period for compliance through December 31, 2005.

Today, the Teamsters and safety groups pulled their petition and filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

The new rule is almost identical to the old rule and two additional changes the FMCSA made—the sleeper berth modification and the new short haul provision—put Teamster drivers at greater risk, Hoffa said.

The Teamsters filed a separate petition to address the sleeper berth modification, which was denied by the FMCSA on December 5, 2005. Earlier this month, the Teamsters joined a similar lawsuit over that issue to challenge the FMCSA’s denial.

The new sleeper berth provision requires an eight-hour rest period, forcing a team driver to “rest” for eight hours in a moving truck, with engine noise, vibration and other distractions around them.

The lawsuit filed today takes issue with the agency over the new short haul provision—a change that could potentially force hundreds of thousands of delivery drivers, operating within a 150-mile air radius of their reporting station, into a 14-hour on-duty period, with two 16-hour days allowed in a seven-day period.

These drivers would not be required to keep logbooks of their time behind the wheel. The Teamsters fought a similar Wal-Mart backed legislative proposal when Congress considered the highway bill early last year.

The union also opposes the 34-hour restart—a provision that resets the driver’s clock after a 34-hour rest period. In a seven-day period, this puts drivers behind the wheel 14 hours longer with considerably less rest than the old rules. The union also takes issue with the agency for keeping the 11-hour driving time, an additional hour than previously allowed under the old HOS rules.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Health care has become key in labor disputes as costs rise

Michael Blake, one of more than 3,000 striking Sikorsky Aircraft employees, sat in the cold on a noisy picket line last week worried about his latest tumor.

"Two days before the contract, I had another one pop out on my arm," said Blake, 57, who has cancer. "I have to stay on this medication the rest of my life."

Using a makeshift bench supported by tree stumps, he rested his arthritic legs, a side effect, he said, of his cancer medication. A fire burned in a trash can as workers screamed over a megaphone for better medical benefits.

For Blake and other workers around the country, contract proposals that would force them to pay more for medical coverage have become a fight worth taking to the streets.

"Workers don't want to give up what they've earned in terms of health-care coverage," said Robert Bruno, an associate professor of labor relations at the University of Illinois. "It's sort of the deepest wound you can cut."

Sikorsky, the helicopter-making unit of Hartford-based United Technologies Corp., has proposed doubling health-care co-payments in the first year of a three-year deal and increasing them an additional 15 percent over the next two years, union officials said. It's the same plan given to Sikorsky's 6,000 salaried employees, the company said. Rest of story here........