Thursday, November 23, 2006

USF Bestway Workers Choose Local 104

Phoenix Employees Are Latest to Organize

On November 20, approximately 130 USF Bestway workers at the Phoenix terminal became the newest organized USF Bestway workers under the Teamster card-check neutrality agreement with the company, which was ratified in July.

Local 104 in Phoenix sought and received recognition for the drivers and dockworkers. The workers in Phoenix follow their counterparts in San Leandro, Modesto and Sacramento in California, all of whom have organized under the agreement during the past several months.

The dockworkers, line drivers and city drivers in the West will be organized through the Master Bestway Agreement card-check neutrality clause, negotiated in the Southwest and Southeast.

Seventy-nine of the workers in Phoenix signed cards to form a union for increased job security, seniority rights, a way to address favoritism and improved pension benefits. Because a majority of workers signed authorization cards, the company recognized their wish to form a union.

“We’re very excited to be able to provide these workers with the best representation,” said Andy Marshall, Local 104 Secretary-Treasurer. “We’re getting calls from Bestway workers in Tucson who want to receive the same strong representation.”

“This campaign began about two years ago, but it was the card-check neutrality agreement that was the breakthrough for us,” said Kathy Campbell, Local 104’s organizer. “The International Union’s Freight Division did a great job by negotiating this agreement.”

Teamsters Urge Secretary of State Rice to Demand Reopening of Soto Murder Case

Teamsters Continue to Seek Truth About 2004 Murder of Union Organizer

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa is urging Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to demand the government of El Salvador take immediate action to reopen and support a transparent investigation into the murder of Teamster Port Division representative Gilberto Soto.

"Just as they did in the height of the anti-union death squads during the 1980s, the Salvadoran government attempted to cover up this assassination from the first day by labeling it a 'common crime' and stonewalling a proper investigation," Hoffa said. "We urge that Secretary of State Rice use her influence to ensure that this murder becomes a top priority with a transparent and aggressive investigation."

Soto, a U.S. citizen born in El Salvador, was assassinated on November 5, 2004, in Usulutan, El Salvador, while on assignment for the Teamsters to build a network of Central American port workers. Salvadoran authorities, lacking credible evidence, rushed to charge and jail his mother-in-law with hiring hit men because of a domestic dispute. Two alleged gunmen were also charged for the killing.

A Salvadoran court, however, later acquitted the mother-in-law and one of the gunmen. Authorities made no attempt to determine if the slaying could be connected to people working to prevent unions from gaining strength in El Salvador's Acajutla port.

"We can't tolerate the murder of an American citizen, especially when the murder may be connected to organizing workers to protect and improve living standards," Hoffa said in his letter to Rice.

The Salvadoran government never conducted an objective investigation and continues to obstruct the work of the country's Human Rights Ombudsman, Beatrice de Carrillo, who has been investigating the assassination and cover up. Carrillo has received threats for examining Soto's killing and other human rights violations in El Salvador.

"Unless this murder is solved and the Salvadoran government agrees to properly fund, support and protect the investigation, no labor leaders or human rights activists will be safe in El Salvador," Hoffa said.

Hoffa's letter to Secretary of State Rice asks her to insist that the government of El Salvador:

* Reopen the investigation into Soto's murder, including the possibility
that the killings may have been related to his work as a Teamster

* Grant the Human Rights Ombudsman access to the police case files; and

* Strengthen and support the work of the Ombudsman, including steps to
assure the funding, safety and security of the Ombudsman and her office.

"We have got to get to the bottom of this," Hoffa said. "The Salvadoran government's inactions allow impunity for those truly responsible for Gilberto's murder."

Hoffa's letter is available on the Teamsters web site at

Hoffa's letter follows a condemnation of the Salvadoran government's handling of the case by the United Nations' International Labor Organization (ILO). The Geneva-based ILO on November 15 called on the Salvadoran government to reopen the case file and stop thwarting an honest inquiry. The ILO's Committee on Freedom of Association issued a report criticizing the Salvadoran government's handling of Soto's murder. The report is available at

Monday, November 20, 2006

James W. Keenan Named ABF Vice President of Sales

ABF Freight System, Inc., announces the appointment of James W. Keenan to vice president of sales, effective February 1, 2007. Mr. Keenan, who has been with the company for 24 years, currently serves as vice president administration and treasurer.

As vice president of sales, Mr. Keenan will lead all activity related to revenue growth through management of sales activities at all of ABF's customer service centers. He will assume the position being vacated by Arthur N. Lynch who is retiring on January 31, 2007.

"The experience Jim brings to this position will continue ABF's long standing tradition of customer service and responsiveness in our sales leadership. Jim is a person valued for his insight, intelligence, and integrity," noted ABF President and CEO Bob Davidson. "I am confident that under his leadership we will continue providing our customers the best value in the transportation industry."

Mr. Keenan came to ABF with the East Texas Motor Freight acquisition in 1982, starting as a pricing analyst. He became a pricing manager in 1985 and was promoted to regional vice president sales in 1988. Mr. Keenan later served Arkansas Best Corporation as vice president sales & marketing for Clipper Exxpress before returning to ABF in 1999. He assumed his current position as vice president administration & treasurer in February 2006.