Friday, March 14, 2008

UPS Freight Workers in the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore Area and California Sign Cards to Become Teamsters

In Latest Victories, About 210 Drivers, Dockworkers Will Join Teamsters

An overwhelming majority of 210 workers at the UPS Freight terminals in the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore area and California have signed authorization cards to become Teamsters, bringing the total number of drivers and dockworkers seeking to join the union to about 8,200 since January 16, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa announced.

The workers are seeking to join Local 639 in Washington, D.C., Local 355 in Baltimore, Local 453 in Cumberland, Maryland, and Local 87 in Bakersfield, California.

"These victories, from the East Coast to the West, show the determination of UPS Freight workers to join the Teamsters," said Ken Hall, Director of the Teamsters Package Division.

"These workers know the Teamsters will negotiate a strong contract for them that addresses their needs and provides them with a secure retirement future," said Tommy Ratliff, President of Local 639. "These workers are dedicated and they can't wait to be part of this great union."

"We've got to thank Ken Hall and Jim Hoffa for the agreement to make it easier for the workers to become members," said Larry Wolfe, President of Local 453 in Cumberland, Maryland.

Denis Taylor, president of Local 355 and Joint Council 62, also credited card check neutrality for the victory there.

"The workers are more than satisfied with the way things have gone and they look forward to joining the Teamsters," Taylor said.

"The workers here are very excited about the prospect of joining a strong union and hope that their concerns about seniority are addressed soon," said Garrold Meeks, Business Agent at Local 87.

Why Obama should be president

Sen. Barack Obama is the only presidential candidate who can right the destructive wrongs of the past eight years.

Looking at Obama's impeccable record on trade issues and issues dear to working families -- such as his commitment to passing the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) -- the choice was clear for the Teamsters Union.

I've had several candid conversations with Obama. There's no doubt in my mind that he has a genuine concern about not only our country's trade policies, but about the hardworking men and women whose livelihoods and families are affected by them.

Every bit of the Democratic primary fight between Obama and Hillary Clinton, and every bit of the general election, will be an uphill battle to show people how important it is for the United States to have trade policies that take American workers into account.

Anyone who thinks our country's trade policies do not have an impact on Michigan is mistaken. We've got the highest unemployment in the nation, and there's a direct correlation between those numbers and bad trade policies like the North American Free Trade Agreement. Jobs have been lost. Factories have closed

Obama has long said NAFTA was oversold since its inception, and will work with Canadian and Mexican leaders to fix it so it's fair for American workers. Michigan cannot continue losing jobs, factories and other facilities as a result of NAFTA.

Obama understands that America needs fair trade policies that will create a level playing field with our trading partners. He understands that the corporate race to the bottom has had a devastating impact on our economy and our communities. Obama also understands that the trade policies of the Bush administration have done nothing to raise the standards of workers globally.

Labor will work closely with Obama to achieve a better balance -- to keep good jobs in America and raise wages, establish benefits and improve working conditions abroad. He has consistently stood firm against agreements that would undermine our nation's economic security.

But Obama realizes that the misguided trade policies of the Bush administration are not the only problems. As president, Obama will pressure the World Trade organization to stop countries from continuing unfair government subsidies to foreign exporters and nontariff barriers on U.S. exports.

Take the South Korea Free Trade Agreement, which Obama opposes (and Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, supports). While the agreement would be great for banks and telecommunications firms, it fails to ensure that American-made cars and trucks receive fair treatment in the Korean market.

America has an $11 billion deficit in automotive trade with Korea. Last year, Korea sold 700,000 vehicles in the United States, and the United States sold only 4,556 in Korea. This is largely due to the centralized regulatory and tax structure in South Korea that discriminates against our cars. The proposed agreement does not do nearly enough to change these discriminatory practices or enforce commitments by Korea to open its market.

Trade, of course, is not the only reason why the Teamsters Union endorsed Obama. He understands what working people are going through. He will fight for an improved health care system, retirement security and good jobs. He will join us in our commitment to rebuild our nation's transportation infrastructure and will make appointments that make sense -- people who will protect workers. A President Obama will ensure our toys and food are safe, the Environmental Protection Agency actually protects the environment and enforces worker safety laws and wage and hour laws.

I am proud of our union's support of Obama and will continue to stand with him in his commitment to a trade policy that benefits American workers.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

UPS Freight Workers in New Jersey Sign Cards to Become Teamsters

In Latest Victory, About 175 Drivers, Dockworkers Will Join Local 641

An overwhelming majority of 175 workers at the UPS Freight terminals in Carteret and Moonachie, in New Jersey, have signed authorization cards to become Teamsters, bringing the total number of drivers and dockworkers seeking to join the union to about 8,000 since January 16, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa announced.

The workers are seeking to join Local 641 in Union, New Jersey.

“I’d like to thank the UPS Freight workers in my area who worked very hard to achieve their goal,” said Billy Cunningham, President of Local 641. “The workers attended numerous meetings and did a good job communicating with one another. They are building their union.”

“The workers in Northern New Jersey have shown a great initiative and have kept a sharp focus, and their effort has paid off,” said Ken Hall, Director of the Teamsters Package Division. “The workers in Carteret and Moonachie are united, and we will negotiate a strong contract soon that will address their needs.”

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

UPS Freight Workers in Cincinnati Sign Cards to Become Teamsters

In Latest Victories, About 160 Workers Will Join Locals 100, 549 And 992

An overwhelming majority of about 160 workers at the UPS Freight terminals in Cincinnati, Ohio; Williamsport, Maryland; and Bristol, Tennessee have signed authorization cards to become Teamsters, bringing the total number of drivers and dockworkers seeking to join the union to about 7,800 since January 16, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa announced.

The workers are seeking to join Local 100 in Cincinnati, Local 549 in Blountville, Tennessee and Local 992 in Hagerstown, Maryland.

“I’d like to thank the International Union leaders and the Organizing Department, which helped us set up an effective volunteer-organizing committee made up of current members,” said Troy Stapleton, Local 100 President. “The card-signers at UPS Freight have remained strong since 1999 and their commitment has helped close the deal.”

“Our Secretary-Treasurer, Tom Krause, has worked hard on this campaign and we all look forward to representing this strong, dedicated group of UPS Freight workers,” said Bob Fahnestock, Local 992 Business Agent. “UPS Freight workers Ron Wharton and Doug Delauter did an outstanding job on the campaign.”

“The UPS Freight workers got together and took the necessary steps toward a brighter future,” said Scott Armstrong, Local 549 President. “Thanks to the International Union and the Organizing Department, we are on our way.”

“Once again, our Teamster members have worked hand-in-hand with the UPS Freight workers, something we are seeing happen across the country,” said Ken Hall, Director of the Teamsters Package Division.

UPS expects earnings of $4.30 to $4.50 a share in '08

United Parcel Service Inc. executives noted at an investors conference in New York on March 12 a volume decline in February and that meeting earnings guidance for the first quarter may be tough, but said the company is set for long-term growth globally.

UPS Chief Financial Officer Kurt Kuehn told Wall Street analysts and investors several economic indicators recently worsened. The Atlanta-based shipping giant's U.S. package segment experienced a solid January, but volume fell in February almost across the entire customer base.

"If these trends continue through March, our earnings guidance for the first quarter will be difficult to achieve," Kuehn added.

Other areas of the business are performing well. For example, international average daily volume, including U.S. export volume, continues to show strong growth. Kuehn also said the international and supply chain segments remain on target for the quarter. Despite short-term economic challenges, UPS said it still expects earnings for 2008 to be in the range of $4.30 to $4.50 a share.

UPS Chairman and CEO Scott Davis echoed Kuehn's bullish take on the international market.

"Today, only 20-to-30 percent of trade actually crosses a country's borders," Davis said. "By 2025, that statistic is expected to be 80 percent. This means there's a lot of opportunity going forward."

In 2008, UPS plans to expand UPS-owned operations in China, open its new Shanghai hub, buy its package agent in Romania, boost delivery times on thousands of UPS Freight lanes in the United States, add Express morning delivery to five more countries, begin a new air freight product portfolio and receive seven 747-400 jet freighters.

Change to Win Urges Congress to Reject Colombia Free Trade Agreement

Change to Win released a print ad today demanding the United States Congress reject the Colombia Free Trade Agreement deal that the Bush administration is threatening to send to Congress in the coming weeks despite strong opposition.

"American workers are sick of job-destroying trade deals that benefit multinational corporations," said Bruce Raynor, General President of UNITE HERE. "A trade deal with Colombia is particularly outrageous because workers seeking to form unions there face brutal oppression and even murder. We are proud to stand with human rights activists, religious groups, unions and workers in Colombia in opposing the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement."

Colombia remains the most dangerous country in the world for union members. More than 2,200 workers have been murdered by Colombian death squads for trying to form unions since the 1980s, and there have been more than 400 murders since President Uribe took office five years ago. Yet the Colombian government has done nothing to effectively stop death squads from murdering workers for trying to form unions.

Trade agreements like NAFTA, CAFTA, and others have primarily benefited multinational corporations and the world's elite, at the expense of jobs and decent wages for working families, not only in America, but throughout the world. The proposed "free" trade deals perpetuate a discredited trade model that hurts U.S. workers, destroys jobs, and lowers living standards for workers here and in many trade partner countries where independent labor unions are restricted or outlawed.

"American workers are outraged by the very idea of an agreement with Colombia," said James P. Hoffa, General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. "It's beyond the pale that the Bush administration would even start to negotiate with Colombia. For decades that government has attacked and murdered trade unionists."

"Workers need trade policies that create jobs. They don't need more deals that destroy jobs. Voters across the country are making this point increasingly clear every time they go to the polls. America is hemorrhaging jobs because of so-called free trade agreements. They must be stopped," continued Hoffa.

Rising fuel prices having ripple effect on economy

Rising costs at the pump are putting a pinch not only on Quad-Citians but also on the places they frequent — from the grocery store and neighborhood tavern to the local restaurant and those delivering their goods.

Although gasoline prices climbed to a new record high Tuesday — hitting a national average of $3.23 a gallon — higher prices at the pump are not a new phenomenon. In fact, with more money going into the gas tank, companies big and small have been forced to tighten expenses, plan deliveries more carefully and adjust their budgets — all with the goal of holding down costs for their consumers.

“It’s just a really volatile market right now. It’s a wild and crazy ride and we’re just hanging on,” said Chris Friesleben, director of communications for Hy-Vee grocery stores.

As the Energy Department delivered a grim forecast for future prices Tuesday, she said rising prices will continue to increase overhead costs for the Midwest grocery chain. Rising gas prices are hitting Hy-Vee’s fleet of vans, which serve its catering and floral businesses. “Our trucks run on diesel, but those prices are skyrocketing just as much,” she said. Full Story.......

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Peters' Testimony on Mexican Trucks Was Frightening

Hoffa Lauds Pryor, Dorgan for Standing Up for Safety and the

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said today that Americans should be frightened by the Bush administration's low regard for safety as it opens the border to dangerous trucks from Mexico.

For example, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) chief John Hill told reporters today that a Mexican trucking company with a horrendous safety record didn't have a history of serious violations before it was accepted into the pilot program. Hill spoke after his boss, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, testified before the Senate Commerce Committee on why she chose to ignore Congress and keep the program going.

According to the FMCSA's own data, Trinity Industries de Mexico had 75 out-of-service orders and should have had another 476, according to its own standards, in the year preceding Sept. 21, 2007. According to federal law, a truck or vehicle is placed out of service when an "imminent hazard" is present. Trinity is no longer in the pilot program.

"Trinity Industries had a horrible safety record and never should have been in the pilot program in the first place," Hoffa said. "I'm amazed that Peters is still defending the program after such an egregious lapse in
safety. It's frightening."

During Tuesday's hearing, Peters continued to insist that the pilot program is lawful, though Congress passed a law cutting off funds for it. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., told her that Congress's intent to end the program was clear.

"There is an arrogance here," Dorgan told Peters. "There will be

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., said, "The secretary and her legal counsel will not have the last word. Congress will have the last word."

A revelation arising from the hearing was the low standard for determining that a driver is proficient in English, a requirement for driving in the U.S.

Inspector General Calvin Scovell testified that a memorandum had been issued by the Transportation Department stating that if a driver could accurately describe the meaning of four road signs in any language understood by the inspector, then he would be considered proficient in English.

"It's absolutely absurd that a truck driver doesn't have to respond to questions in English in order to be determined to be proficient in English," Hoffa said.

"Sen. Dorgan told Mary Peters that her arrogant behavior would have consequences, and I hope he's right," Hoffa said. "Under our Constitution, only Congress can decide how the government spends money, and I hope Mary Peters understands that some day."

Peters also stated that the trucks in the pilot program were safer than American trucks, but the inspector general pointed out that there are too few participants in the pilot program to make statistically valid findings.

Scovell also said the FMCSA had no way of knowing whether every truck was checked every time it crossed the border.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hoffa Blasts Bush Administration's Indifference to NAFTA Harm

Teamsters General President Says U.S. Drivers at Risk to Unsafe Trucks From Mexico

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa blasted the Bush administration today for its reckless indifference to the economic struggles of working Americans who are suffering under the North American Free Trade Agreement with more than a million lost jobs and billions of dollars in lost wages.

“No matter how many jobs we lose, no matter how many foreclosures, no matter how many people die on the highways, the Bush administration just doesn’t care about the safety and security of American workers,” Hoffa said.

Hoffa’s comments followed a news conference by Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, who extolled the so-called benefits of NAFTA. Peters claimed that closing the border to unsafe Mexican trucks would hurt American businesses that want to sell to Mexico.

Hoffa said he doubted that because of the crime problem in Mexico. “I mean, hello, do you really want to take a load of Cadillacs down there and park? I don’t think so.”

Peters also claimed that Mexico will retaliate against the United States if it closes the southern border. Full Story......