Saturday, July 15, 2006

Stop NAFTA highway from killing jobs

Two months ago, the Teamsters sent an independent investigative reporter to Mexico to explore the inhumane conditions that drivers there are forced to endure. The findings, which will be released on and to our membership next month, were startling: Most of the drivers interviewed said they had used illegal drugs to stay awake on the road. Many drivers interviewed said they had been involved in fatal accidents.

What does this mean for Americans? Right now, not much, since the Teamsters successfully lobbied Congress to require Mexican trucks to meet a series of environmental and safety requirements before they can deliver goods in the United States under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Full story here........

A gem of an inn goes on the block

HIDDENITE - Wanted: Someone to buy 16-room bed and breakfast.

The Hidden Crystal Inn in Hiddenite will be sold, down to the linens used by its guests, at auction on July 22.

Lynn Hill, daughter of the late Eileen Sharpe, an arts visionary who opened the inn in 1989, said she wants to focus on her real estate sales and can't devote the time it takes to manage the establishment. She said her two siblings have no interest in running it.

Sharpe died in 2004 at age 94, after years of spending her wealth to boost Alexander County's arts community. Her husband, the late Ruel Yount Sharpe, started Pilot Freight Carriers in 1941 in Winston-Salem, transforming the one-truck operation into a national trucking empire. When his health started to fail, the couple sold Pilot in 1981 and returned to Hiddenite.

Eileen Sharpe started the nonprofit Lucas Mansion art museum and the Hiddenite Center arts and history education complex, as well as the inn.

Hill and her siblings hope a buyer will come forward to maintain the inn for its original purpose.

"It was a labor of love for Mother," Hill said.

Sharpe envisioned the Hidden Crystal, named for Hiddenite's precious gems, as an English-style country inn, similar to the Alexander County inns built around mineral springs in the early 20th century that she remembers from her childhood.

Each guest room is named for a different gemstone and takes its color scheme from it. Yellow is for topaz, purple for amethyst and, of course, green for emerald, the stone that made Hiddenite famous as a precious-gem source.

Murals show scenes of Alexander's past, and menus in the inn's restaurant detail Hiddenite's history.

The inn takes up four buildings on nearly 4 acres across from Hiddenite Elementary School, with 16 bedrooms and suites, and two swimming pools. County records list its tax value at $817,700.

Since Sharpe died and Hill, 65, branched into real estate in Blowing Rock, marketing of the inn for conferences and meetings dwindled.

And in another page of what has become the region's familiar story, Hill said the economic downturn in bedrock furniture and textiles took away the inn's bread and butter of traveling vendors and designers.

Even though Hiddenite lies off the beaten path, the inn is "reasonably close to major airports, yet secluded enough and adult enough so that people enjoyed it," said Dwaine Coley, Hiddenite Center director.

He remembers Sharpe's close involvement with the inn. "She loved to be the grande dame and sit at the door and make people feel welcome."

Inn Auction

Date: 11 a.m. July 22.

Location: 471 Sulphur Springs Road, Hiddenite.

Inspection times: 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Sunday, July 21 and before auction on July 22.

Details: 800-479-1763.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Organising boost for Hong Kong

A two-year project to organise up to 3,000 DHL workers in Hong Kong has been launched as part of a global strategy to unionise the key hubs of one of the world's leading logistic and integrator multinationals.
At the same time UNI is to open a development and organising centre - a UNIdoc - in Hong Kong to back the DHL project and others under consideration in other sectors.
Backing the DHL project are ver.di and the FES foundation of Germany, UNI and UNI-Asia Pacific along with Hong Kong's Union of Postal Employees (UPOE).
The aim is to roll out a union for DHL workers in Hong Kong by the end of the year and, following initial research, set up a project team with an action plan and milestones to measure progress over the next two years.
On July 7 a team led by ver.di's Rolf Buttner and accompanied by UNI Tokyo's Eiichi Ito met DHL's Hong Kong management at Chek Lap Kok airport to discuss the developments.
DHL operates in more than 200 countries with 238 gateways and 170,000 workers worldwide.
Ver.di has built 95% membership in DHL's Leipzig hub and US affiliate the Teamsters is organising at the Wilmington, Ohio hub - with all pilots there now unionised and an organising campaign planned for sort staff.
Rolf Buttner sits on the Supervisory Board of Deutsche Post World Net, which owns DHL - a fast growing integrator that recently bought Exel of the UK. Full story here.........

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Meridian, Miss., Resident Is State Truck Driving Champion

Charles Lucas, of Meridian, Miss., was named the best professional truck driver in Mississippi after winning the three-axle competition and receiving the highest overall score in the eight competing categories at the 2006 Mississippi Truck Driving Championships. The annual event is sponsored by the Mississippi Trucking Association.

Lucas, who works for Roadway Express, now qualifies to compete in the American Trucking Associations' (ATA) National Truck Driving Championships Aug. 15 – 19, in New Orleans -- the "Super Bowl of Safety." The winners from each of the eight categories are also eligible to compete in the national championship.

The national competition includes the individual champions from each of the 50 states. The nearly 400 top professional truck drivers will travel to New Orleans to compete in their respective classes. From 18-wheeler five axle sleepers to tank trucks to twin trailers -- they will drive a course that recreates situations truck drivers face daily. These maneuvers will include: an ally dock, a rear line stop, a side park, a scale stop, a right turn, a front line stop and straight line driving through a diminishing clearance.

On Saturday night, Aug. 19, the contestant with the most points drives away as the National Grand Champion Truck Driver.

Mississippi winners for each category included:

-- Donald Glover, Wal-Mart Transportation, Straight Truck

-- Charles Lucas, Roadway Express, Three-Axle

-- Paul Brownlee, KLLM Transportation Services, Four-Axle

-- Steven Jones, KLLM Transport Services, Five-Axle

-- Willie Wallace, Wal-Mart Transportation, Five-Axle Sleeper

-- John Maddox, Con-way Inc., Tankers

-- John Smith Jr., FedEx Ground, Flatbed

-- Marcus Byrd, FedEx Freight, Twins

Monday, July 10, 2006

Wachovia Discloses 4.93% Stake in YRC Worldwide

In a 13G filing just released to the SEC, Wachovia Corporation disclosed a 4.93 stake (2.8 million shares) in YRC Worldwide Inc. There is no other recent record of a meaningful stake disclosed by the investment firm.

YRC Worldwide is one of the largest transportation service providers in the world, is the holding company for a portfolio of successful brands including Yellow Transportation, Roadway, Reimer Express, Meridian IQ, USF Holland, USF Reddaway, USF Bestway, USF Glen Moore and New Penn Motor Express.

Shares of YRC Worldwide are trading down 0.07% to $42.75 in afternoon action Monday.