Friday, June 29, 2007

Teamsters Union Says Good Riddance to Fast Track Trade Authority

This weekend, President Bush's "Fast Track" trade negotiating authority expires for good. It has been a long and difficult five years for workers everywhere. With the expiration of Fast Track, perhaps this finally means that we can move in an entirely new direction on our trade and globalization policies.

Since Fast Track, trade negotiations have been accelerated to an alarming speed, denying legislators and the public the appropriate time to consider the serious ramifications of these agreements. The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has used Fast Track to push too many job-killing, NAFTA-style trade agreements.

Such agreements have included the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), Chile, Singapore, Morocco, Australia, Bahrain and Oman. Just a few weeks ago, the State Department announced that Bahrain and Oman have been added to its list of worst offenders in failing to suppress human trafficking and forced labor -- which is "a modern day form of slavery." The fact that under Fast Track we passed free trade agreements with these countries is further evidence that these FTAs are nothing more than a one-way street to the bottom for workers everywhere.

Such misguided trade policies have exacerbated stagnant wages and growing job insecurity in the United States. We have lost more than 3 million manufacturing jobs since 2001, many to offshore outsourcing, while an increasing number of white-collar service-sector jobs are also at risk. At the same time, our trade deficit has ballooned to nearly $800 billion. For the USTR to call for more Fast Trade deals is ridiculous.

Unfortunately, the damage that Fast Track has done is not entirely over. Still lingering is the Peru, Panama, Colombia, and the South Korea free trade agreements. This Saturday, as the Fast Track clock expires, the terribly negotiated South Korea FTA will be signed.

The Teamsters Union strongly opposes ALL of these job-killing trade deals. Until the U.S. trade model and policies begin to focus on job creation here at home, we will continue to oppose such deals.

I also would like to add that it is offensive and insulting to trade unionists that the Bush administration and Congress would even consider an FTA with Colombia. We should not be entering into a new free trade agreement with a government that allows workers who fight for their right to organize and for better wages to be killed with impunity.

Rather than staggering blindly into extending Fast Track, our nation needs to regain our economic footing. We must have a real discussion about the real costs and impacts our trade policies have had for working men and women here at home and abroad. We need to pass China currency legislation such as Ryan- Hunter and Stabenow-Bunning. We need to stop the skyrocketing trade deficit that we are facing. We need to promote and encourage more Buy-America procurement policies. We need to pass anti-offshoring legislation. The list goes on. Absent real action and an honest assessment of our trade agreements and policies, we will undoubtedly find ourselves in an even worse predicament 10 years from now.

And so on June 30th, the Teamsters Union celebrates the end to this terrible process, and we look forward to working with members of Congress on a new economic trade model that creates jobs at home and lifts up workers everywhere. International Brotherhood of Teamsters

ABF recognized for exceptional security practices

ABF Freight System Inc. has been recognized by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) for exceptional security practices, earning the 2007 Excellence in Security Award from the ATA Security Council. The 2007 award was presented in Orlando during the group’s annual Trucking Security and Law Enforcement Conference and Exhibit. Including the inaugural award in 2001, ABF has earned the Excellence in Security Award an unprecedented four times, ABF reported.

“Each year, the council recognizes the motor carrier that has excelled at protecting personnel, equipment and freight and has surpassed all others in securing its company’s and customers’ assets,” said Susan A. Chandler, executive director of the ATA Security Council. “ABF is a company that has evaluated the risk, implemented the programs, applied the tools, trained the personnel and managed the systems and processes that successfully minimized theft and violence. ABF constantly evaluates and improves its security measures, personnel training and experience records, and as a result, insures future prevention and recovery.”

The ABF security program is led by 15 regional security managers located throughout the carrier’s North American system. Each security manager is a former law enforcement official who works closely with ABF management and local, state and federal authorities and regulators, according to ABF.

“Protecting our customers’ freight and company assets and the safety and security of our employees are major concerns for the company,” said Jim McFarlin, ABF safety and security director. “ABF security procedures and guidelines were formulated as a guide for all employees-from upper management to touch labor — so they have the knowledge to conform to the security requirements of the company.”

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Trucking Shipments Fall in May

The amount of goods shipped by truck in the U.S. fell by 3.6 percent in May from a year earlier amid a sluggish economy, an industry group said Wednesday.

In a monthly report, the American Trucking Associations said its seasonally adjusted truck tonnage index in May fell 1.3 percent from a month earlier.

"Most carriers indicated that volumes were soft and spotty in May, which was clearly reflected in our index," Bob Costello, the group's chief economist, said in a prepared statement.

In April, the year-over-year index fell by 2.7 percent, after rising by 1.6 percent in March.

Because more than two thirds of all manufactured and retail goods in the U.S. are carried by truck, the industry is considered an important economic bellwether.

The Alexandria, Va.-based trucking group said its tonnage index stood at 110.6 in May, compared with 112.1 a month earlier. The index measures the weight of freight hauled by U.S. truckers, based on surveys from its membership.

Trucking companies have seen their fuel costs surge in the past few years, though they have been able to pass most of those extra expenses through to customers.

Shares of J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. rose $1.26 to close at $29.38 Wednesday. Shares of YRC Worldwide Inc. rose 18 cents to close at $37.57, while shares of Arkansas Best Corp. fell 6 cents to $40.17 in after-hours trading after rising $1.10 to close at $40.23.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Teamsters Making Strides at UPS Freight Talks

Union, Company Prepare to Tackle Economic Items

The Teamsters’ UPS Freight Negotiating Committee met with UPS from June 18-20, and agreement was reached on nearly a dozen additional articles relating to non-economic working conditions.

The contract talks for the 125 drivers and dockworkers, represented by Local 135 in Indianapolis, were held in Richmond, Virginia.

“We’ve been focused these past sessions on negotiating language for the Indianapolis UPS Freight workers that will improve their day-to-day working conditions, and give them the voice on the job to ensure that the company treats them fairly,” said Ken Hall, Director of the Teamsters Parcel and Small Package Division and co-chairman of the committee. “During this latest round of talks, we reached tentative agreement on many contract articles, and we’re now ready to start discussions on economic items, such as wages, and pension and health care benefits.”

Brian Buhle, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 135 was also pleased with the steady progress of the negotiations.

“I look forward to meeting with our UPS Freight members to prepare them for the next round in bargaining,” Buhle said. “Due to the fact that we’ve been negotiating a stand-alone contract, this process has been an extended one. I know our members will be happy to hear that we will soon be moving on to dollars and cents.”

Freight and UPS Teamsters, in addition to the 15,000 UPS Freight workers at nearly 300 terminals throughout the country, have been avidly following the talks.

“Everyone knows it would be a historic moment to achieve a strong contract for a group of former Overnite workers. Based on the work we’ve accomplished thus far, I believe that we can reach such an agreement,” said Gordon Sweeton, Assistant Director of the Teamsters National Freight Division who also serves as co-chairman of the committee.

The union intends for the Indianapolis agreement to serve as a model contract, one that will answer the questions the remaining UPS Freight workers around the country have about joining the Teamsters.

The next round of talks is scheduled the week of July 23.

YRC agrees to buy Chinese company

YRC Worldwide Inc. has a preliminary agreement to buy Shanghai Jiayu Logistics Ltd., one of the largest providers of less-than-truckload ground transportation services in China.

In a release after the market closed on Tuesday, Overland Park-based YRC Worldwide said that Shanghai Jiayu Logistics has more than 30,000 customers, 1,600 employees, 300 tractors and a network of more than 3,000 vehicles.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, YRC Worldwide said that it also is considering buying other companies in China and that it expects the combined purchase price for Shanghai Jiayu Logistics and the other companies not to exceed $115 million.

"Initially, this acquisition will allow us to build a service network that will provide greater reliability for our customers as they move shipments within China as well as provide seamless, end-to-end service for international movement in the critical U.S.-China trade lane," YRC Worldwide Chairman Bill Zollars said in the release.

YRC Worldwide Unit Changes Name

Trucking company YRC Worldwide Inc. said Tuesday that its Meridian IQ subsidiary is changing its name to YRC Logistics to emphasize the division's operations and ties to its parent.

The change is effective immediately.

Overland Park, Kan.-based YRC Logistics provides logistical and supply chain management services in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Shares of YRC Worldwide fell 82 cents to close at $37.39 Tuesday. The shares rose 26 cents to $37.65 in after-hours trading.