Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bush Board Launches Massive New Assault on Workers

With its term coming to an end, the Bush Administration's craven fealty to the most extreme interests of corporate America is reaching unprecedented heights in agency rule making throughout the government. It is hard to believe that any is more egregious however than the massive assault on worker rights by the Bush majority on the National Labor Relations Board last month.

In the month of September alone, on the eve of the close of the fiscal year, the Bush NLRB issued 61, mostly anti-worker, decisions -- fully 20 percent of its total output of decisions for the year.

The National Labor Relations Board was established to encourage "the practice and procedure of collective bargaining" and to protect the "exercise by workers of full freedom of association, self-organization, and designation of representatives of their own choosing, for the purpose of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment or other mutual aid and protection."

We have said for years that the NLRB system is broken and has become a tool of corporate interests and not the worker interests it was supposed to serve. That is why the labor movement and its progressive allies are pushing to amend the law with the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). But the recent NLRB decisions say that the corporate Bush backers are not satisfied. They want the law completely eviscerated before Bush leaves office to make it even more difficult for a new President and Congress to address the problems of the denial of worker rights in America.

The onslaught of decisions that are a direct violation of the intent of the National Labor Relations Act that established the NLRB is particularly interesting given that more than half of the decisions were on cases that are over four years old. For an agency notorious in its use of delay as a way to deprive workers of their rights, the sudden spate of decisions suggests that the Bush Administration is in full court press mode and will use its last months in office to gut as much as it can in the area of worker, consumer, environmental, and other protections.

This President has not only run roughshod over the Constitution, he has also destroyed the administrative rules by which our progressive laws have been enforced. And he plans on finishing the job before he leaves office. Labor, consumer, environmental, and other advocates for the American Dream need to link arms together to stop him.

Greg Tarpinian is the Executive Director of Change to Win.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Leaders Make Progress at Freight Supplement Talks

National Proposal-Exchange Set For November 26

Teamster leaders made significant progress in October during negotiations involving supplements as the union prepares to exchange national contract proposals with the bargaining arm of the unionized general freight trucking industry.

"The leaders from freight local unions accomplished a great deal during October, giving us strong momentum in the 2008 National Master Freight Agreement negotiations," said Tyson Johnson, Director of the Teamsters National Freight Division. "However, some supplemental issues need to be resolved in the coming weeks."

The union is scheduled to exchange national contract proposals on November 26 with Trucking Management, Inc., (TMI), the primary multi-employer bargaining arm of the unionized freight trucking industry.

"We will exchange national proposals once the major supplemental issues are resolved," Johnson said.

As talks proceed, the union’s goals include increasing job security, securing members’ pensions, and health and welfare benefits, and creating more Teamster freight jobs.

"Our members have done a great job giving us input through the contract surveys and local union meetings," Johnson said. "We wouldn’t be this far along without our members’ help, and we will be calling for their help and support throughout the negotiations. Together, we will negotiate supplements and a national contract that will give our members and their families a brighter future."

UPS Freight Launches Reliability Guarantee

Starting with the new year, UPS Freight will back its on-time performance reliability with the same type of service guarantee that long has been enjoyed by UPS’s small package customers.

“We have so much confidence that our enhancements and investments have transformed the customer experience that we will guarantee our on-time delivery performance at no additional cost,” said Jack Holmes, president, UPS Freight. “It’s the next logical step in making UPS Freight the best in the business.”

The on-time service promise will be available Jan. 2 to less-than-truckload (LTL) customers who ship using the current UPS Freight 560 tariff in the continental United States. This new guarantee promises that customers can request a waiver of their freight charges if their shipment doesn’t arrive on time.

Since acquiring the former Overnite Transportation Co. in 2005, UPS has enhanced UPS Freight’s service portfolio and reliability, optimized its delivery network and invested significantly in assets, people and technology. As a result, the LTL and truckload carrier (TL) is aligned with the global operations and performance standards of UPS’s small package and supply chain services.

Beyond achieving new levels of performance, UPS Freight has been aggressive in adapting technology to simplify the needs of LTL users. For example, UPS:

* Equipped freight drivers with real-time visibility enabling technology so customers can follow their shipments from origin to destination
* Implemented a Dispatch Reservation System that improves service center visibility of orders and drivers, ensuring improved on-time pickups and deliveries
* Invested in new trailers equipped with extensive decking systems and load bars to minimize the risk of damage
* Applied its Web-based tracking and proactive notification technology, Quantum View, to freight shipping so customers can more accurately plan for inbound and outbound shipments
* Extended its billing data and analysis tools, called UPS Billing Solutions, to freight customers so they have the full picture of their transportation spending with just a few clicks of a mouse

New in 2008 will be enhancements to UPS WorldShip and UPS Internet Freight Shipping that address the specific needs of freight shippers. UPS WorldShip is a software suite that integrates customers’ existing databases, eliminating the time-consuming task of re-entering names and addresses, while providing access to all the functions of including delivery verification and tracking.

In 2008, in addition to being able to create a Bill of Lading (BOL) for LTL shipments, UPS WorldShip users will be able to send e-mail notifications, save BOLs for later completion, import commodities and view their negotiated rates. UPS also will make it easier for non-technical staff to integrate their business systems with WorldShip through a new ‘wizard’ feature that guides customers through the integration process using step-by-step instructions.

UPS Internet Freight Shipping, meantime, is designed for use by large numbers of distributed users and includes the most popular features of shipping software including storage of an address book, tracking directly from shipping history, professional label printing and customization of shipping preferences.

“Our customers are thrilled to tap into Web-based visibility, processing and billing technologies that historically just weren’t available for shipping freight. Now, with the addition of a new guarantee on our standard LTL service, we’re bringing the powerful combination of reliability, technology and convenience to the freight shipper,” added John Fain, UPS Freight senior vice president of worldwide sales and marketing.

According to the American Trucking Associations, UPS Freight now is the nation’s fourth-largest LTL carrier. UPS Freight offers a full range of regional, interregional and long-haul LTL and TL capabilities in all 50 states, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam along with comprehensive cross-border service in Canada and Mexico.

'Bring It Home' Campaign to Culminate With Arrival of Marshals Artifacts

ABF Freight is transporting artifacts bound for the planned U.S. Marshals Museum in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The shipment is scheduled to arrive at noon for a riverside ceremony on the future site of the museum.

The U.S. Marshals Service selected Fort Smith as the host city for the agency's new museum in January after receiving recommendations from a 10-person museum committee that had been studying the issue for the past two years. The city's campaign to secure the museum used the slogan, "Bring It Home."

When the selection committee visited Fort Smith, ABF pledged to donate its transportation services to relocate the artifacts to Fort Smith. "We asked the selection committee to let ABF 'bring it home' where it belongs," said ABF President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Davidson, a member of the Marshals Museum Board. "ABF is proud to be actively involved in the many communities we serve through our corporate efforts as well as the individual involvement of our 13,000 employees."

The Marshals Museum will be constructed in Fort Smith at North B Street and Clayton Expressway on property donated by the Robbie Westphal Family. Fort Smith also is home to the Fort Smith National Historic Site featuring the courtroom and gallows of Federal Judge Isaac C. Parker. Dispensing justice for western Arkansas and what is now Oklahoma from 1875 to 1896, Parker became known as the "Hanging Judge" for the stern justice he handed out to those who came before his court. Typically, the accused were brought there by the U.S. marshals and deputy marshals.

"Efforts by the Fort Smith community and the State of Arkansas to establish the U.S. Marshals Museum will move closer to fruition today when those ABF trailers cross the bridge into downtown Fort Smith," says Dr. Sandi Sanders, Marshals Museum project director. "A marching band, cheerleaders, and a host of dignitaries, including the Fort Smith mayor, members of the United States Marshal Service, and members of the Marshals Museum Board of Directors, will greet the trucks as they complete the journey from Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Fort Smith."

Sanders says artifacts for the planned U.S. Marshals Museum will be stored by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism until the building is complete. "The museum will provide an interactive experience for visitors utilizing historical artifacts, various types of technology and special exhibits to honor America's oldest federal law enforcement agency. The museum also will serve as an educational center and memorialize the Marshals Service's past, present, and future law enforcement roles," says Sanders

Provision cutting cross-border trucking is kept

A congressional committee preserved a legislative provision yesterday that would cut off funding for a federal pilot project allowing long-haul trucking across the U.S.-Mexico border.

The provision was retained in a $105.6 billion transportation spending bill approved by a House-Senate conference committee. That bill includes $50.9 billion in discretionary spending.

Opponents of the cross-border trucking program, who hailed the committee's action, see the provision as their best hope to end the two-month-old experiment. They contend that the program lacks sufficient safeguards to ensure that Mexican trucks meet the same standards as American trucks, a charge that U.S. transportation officials deny.

Rod Nofziger, director of government affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said the group was confident that Congress would pass a transportation bill that would shut down the program.

The Teamsters union, another opponent of the program, also expressed satisfaction with the committee's action.

U.S. transportation officials were disappointed with the bill.

“It's sad news for U.S. truck drivers and U.S. consumers,” agency spokesman Brian Turmail said after the committee retained the provision to end the pilot project.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters has been lobbying lawmakers to support the program, which she insists is safe. She has said opening the border to commercial truck traffic will benefit the economies and consumers in both countries.

The agency announced this week that it awarded a contract to San Diego-based Qualcomm to install a satellite-based tracking system in participating trucks to monitor their compliance with U.S. regulations.

The conference bill is expected to win passage in the House and Senate, but it faces a veto threat from President Bush, who objects because its cost exceeds his request by several billion dollars. If it were vetoed, Congress could either override the veto with a two-thirds majority vote or send the president another bill.

One congressional aide said the legislation could be voted on by the House as early as next week and later by the Senate.

Bush favors the cross-border trucking program, which was conceived to determine if it's safe to open the southern border to unrestricted commercial truck traffic as required by the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Teamsters Denounce House Vote on Peru Trade Bill

Hoffa Encouraged That Most Democrats Opposed the Bill

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa today said the U.S. House of Representatives let down American workers by passing the Peru Free Trade Agreement.

However, a majority of voting Democrats opposed the bill.

“Just as I expected, the powerful opposition within the majority party makes clear that this deal was not a good deal for workers and should never have been put forward,” Hoffa said.

The agreement undermines U.S. sovereignty, encourages offshoring of American jobs and does nothing to protect workers, consumers or the environment in either country.

“I’ve watched families destroyed and communities devastated as American businesses pack up and move away because of these agreements,” Hoffa said. “We’re supposed to believe that they’re good for our economy? I don’t think so.”

“Trade agreements like this have been in place in Latin America for years and they’ve done nothing to improve living conditions,” Hoffa said. “There are millions of workers in Mexico who are far worse off because of NAFTA. This is just more of the same.”

“American workers deserve more from their political leaders than one disastrous trade agreement after another,” Hoffa said. “It makes absolutely no sense for Congress to pass another trade bill when the dollar is in free fall because of the trade deficits we’re piling up.”

“I hope that the Democratic leadership tells the Bush Administration that Congress will now focus on job creating trade policies and no more of these job-killing free trade agreements,” he said.

Candidates must answer to workers

Presidential contenders need solid positions on trade, pay and unions

As Thanksgiving approaches each year, I list things for which I am grateful. Spending time with family and friends tops the list, along with good health, warmth and a tasty meal. I'm far from unique -- this time of year many of us recognize things that are important.

In another part of my life, there's one more thing I'm thankful for: knowing that we have the chance to vote for a new president in 2008. We have the chance to select a president who realizes the widening economic chasm between our rich and poor citizens, and who grasps the impact of unfair trade agreements.

In short, we can vote for a president who stands up for American workers. In Michigan and across the country, we can't weather another four years of President Bush-style priorities, boosting the wealthy at the expense of workers and their families.

As presidential debates continue -- the first primaries are early next year -- we need to learn exactly how our next president will ensure workers won't be sold short again.

How will workers have the ability to earn fair pay and benefits for themselves and their families?

According to a Wall Street Journal story from last month, the amount the top earners hauled in stretched to a postwar record. "The wealthiest 1 percent of Americans earned 21.2 percent of all income in 2005. . . . sharply up from 19 percent in 2004," the Journal reported. Meanwhile, the same story notes that from 2000 to 2005, the median income actually fell 2 percent. Full Article.......

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

DHL National Negotiations News

Tentative Agreement Reached on National Non-Economic Language; Regional Bargaining Begins in November

After nearly a month of negotiations, the Teamsters national negotiating committee secured tentative agreements with DHL representatives on October 28. The agreements address various non-economic provisions for the DHL National Master Agreement and operational supplements.

“Hammering out non-economic language is the first step of negotiating a contract,” said Brad Slawson, chair of the Teamsters national negotiating committee. “We believe that we’ve got language that enhances job security. While we made progress there is still a long way to go.”

During the often-contentious negotiations, the committee reached tentative agreement with DHL on the non-economic national portion of the agreement as well as the non-economic language for each of the four major national operating supplements: pick-up and delivery, clerical, gateway, and hub operations.

The tentative national language for the pick-up-and-delivery and clerical agreements largely reflect the relevant Articles (1-39) of the National Master Freight Agreement. The existing contracts covering gateways and hubs were used as the template for those operational supplements.

Economic Negotiations to Follow Agreements on Regional Supplements

The next step in negotiations concerns regional supplements and riders, which govern much of the day-to-day operations. Local union leaders and DHL will begin negotiating these supplements in November.

If negotiations are concluded by the end of November, the national committee anticipates that it and DHL representatives will convene again in December to discuss economic portions—wages, health insurance and pensions—of the DHL National Master Agreement.

The new DHL National Master Agreement will cover all local unions covered under the National Master Freight Agreement (NMFA) and a number of locals that previously negotiated stand-alone “white paper” agreements.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Biggest U.S. trucker battling economy's headwinds

Keith Graham says times are not good, but they have been worse.

"I was down to two deliveries a week at (auto supplier) Pullman Industries in South Haven," said the truck driver at USF Holland, a unit of America's largest trucking company YRC Worldwide Inc. "Recently, they went back up to four deliveries a week, which is good news."

"When it comes to the auto industry, Michigan could do with a whole lot more good news like that, " Graham, 47, said.

Those extra deliveries were related to new product lines for General Motors Corp, officials said.

But if good news like new product lines at a U.S. automaker is rare these days -- the industry has been decimated by shrinking market share for Detroit-based automakers GM, Ford Motor Co (F.N) and Chrysler LLC -- the same can be said for YRC and USF, which YRC bought in 2005. Full story.............

FedEx pays $253K to settle dispute

Agreement paves way for union election

FedEx Home Delivery and the National Labor Relations Board have reached an agreement awarding more than $253,000 to five present and former workers, a settlement which also clears the way for a union election in February.

Four former workers and one current employee for FedEx Home Delivery’s operations on Lyman Street received compensation as a result of a settlement over complaints the company harassed and fired workers active in a union organizing effort with the Teamsters.

The settlement checks awarded to the drivers ranged from $16,809 to the sole employee still working for FedEx Home Delivery, to $73,197 paid to one of the four who were fired and have declined reinstatement, according to the Oct. 25 settlement. The case was slated to go to trial yesterday.

There were no findings of unfair labor practices and the workers will hold an election Feb. 1 to see if the Teamsters will be the drivers’ collective bargaining unit.

“It’s an important ruling,” said Michael P. Hogan, secretary-treasurer for Teamsters Local 170 in Worcester. “It’s a step in the right direction for these workers. Certainly, we thought a settlement would be reached.”

In bringing the April complaint, the NLRB determined the drivers are company employees, rather than independent contractors as the company has asserted, and are eligible to unionize.

Mr. Hogan said 95 percent of the drivers signed union cards in November 2005. A vote to determine if the Teamsters would be the drivers’ collective bargaining unit, set for February 2006, was postponed after the company began harassing workers, including using some drivers to make an anti-union video, he said.

Former driver Robert V. Williams of Berlin, who was awarded $40,000, said he was pleased with the settlement. He said he had been terminated by FedEx after testifying at an NLRB hearing held in 2006 to determine if the workers were company employees or independent contractors.

He said he is not interested in returning to work for FedEx Home Delivery.

“This backs our original contention that we have the right to have an election,” he said. “The people terminated were made whole. FedEx hasn’t won any of these cases around the country.”

Perry Colosimo, spokesman for FedEx, emphasized there was no finding in the settlement that FedEx engaged in any unfair labor practices at the Northboro facility.

“This matter has been pending for nearly two years and this settlement allows all parties to move forward,” he said in a statement. “We are committed to working with contractors to continue to grow our thriving home delivery business, and to ensure all contractors have the opportunity to succeed — without the interference of a third party. FedEx Ground looks forward to the election on Feb. 1.”

Mr. Hogan said a key finding by the NLRB was that the workers were employees of the company rather than independent contractors.

“If they were not employees, and were independent contractors, the company could do whatever it wants,” he said. “FedEx could terminate them at any time. When these drivers were found to be employees, and then the company appealed, they started to wage this anti-union war against them. Then, when they found they were not making any headway, fired them.”

Gov. Bill Richardson's Address to the Teamsters

Sen. Hillary Clinton's Address to the Teamsters

Sen. Chris Dodd's Address to the Teamsters

Sen. Joe Biden's Address to the Teamsters

Sen. Obama's Address to the Teamsters