Friday, April 18, 2008

Workers' Memorial Day Statement by Teamsters President Jim Hoffa

In the United States, Canada, and many other countries worldwide, Workers’ Memorial Day is when we remember and honor our fallen Brothers and Sisters in the labor movement. It is a time to look back and mourn for workers killed and injured on the job, as well as a time to look ahead and rededicate ourselves to the fight for safe workplaces.

Last year, many working men and women throughout the United States and Canada, including Teamster members, were killed and injured on the job due to unsafe conditions. On behalf of all 1.4 million Teamster members, I ask that each of you take a few minutes on April 28th and remember these workers.

Thirty-seven years ago, Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act, promising every worker the right to a safe job. Decades of struggle by workers and their Unions have resulted in significant improvements in working conditions. Unions have won laws and protections that have made workplaces safer for all workers. Union contracts have also given workers a voice on the job.

Nonetheless, the toll of workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths remains enormous. Hundreds of thousands of workers are injured or killed every year. Highway incidents continue to be the leading cause of on-the-job fatalities, and truck drivers suffer more on-the-job fatalities than any other individual occupation. Ergonomic hazards cripple and injure hundreds of thousands of workers every year and remain the nation’s biggest workplace safety and health problem.

Some groups of workers are particularly at risk, suffering very high rates of job injuries and fatalities. Hispanic and immigrant workers, who often work in the most dangerous jobs and are exploited by employers, have no union protections and are afraid to speak out. Many public sector workers also have no OSHA protection. Hundreds of workers are fired or harassed by their employers each year simply for voicing job-safety concerns or reporting injuries. OSHA, Department of Transportation (DOT), and Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) whistle-blower and anti-retaliation provisions are too weak to provide any real protection to workers who try to exercise their legal rights.

On this Workers’ Memorial Day, we need to join hands to seek stronger safety and health protections and better standards and enforcement. To quote Mother Jones, a small woman but a giant in the American labor movement, “Mourn for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”

Teamsters Fight for Workers' Rights in America

Hoffa Says Bad Trade Deals Costing Thousands Of Jobs

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said Thursday that bad trade agreements made by this administration are costing thousands of workers their jobs at a time of economic uncertainty in this country.

Hoffa made his remarks at a rally with thousands of Teamsters to highlight the union's fight for workers' rights. The rally was part of the three-day "March From Hollywood to the Docks" that brought together working people from all industries, other unions and activists to the Port of Los Angeles at San Pedro.

"The Teamsters took part in this march because we believe the fight for workers' rights must be a top priority among lawmakers in this country," Hoffa said. "Our most immediate struggle is taking place now, as bad trade deals are taking the jobs of so many Americans in this country."

Hoffa said Americans greatly need a president who will put workers first and end trade deals where U.S. companies shut down their domestic plants and ship the jobs to foreign countries. The Teamsters have endorsed Sen. Barack Obama, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president.

Hoffa was joined at the Teamsters rally, and at the march's final event, by workers who recently joined the Teamsters or are seeking union representation.

United Airlines mechanic Rich Petrovsky told the crowd he voted to join the Teamsters because of the union's efforts to battle outsourcing of maintenance work. Last month, a majority of mechanics voted to join the Teamsters, adding more than 9,000 new members to the union.

"Even before we became Teamsters, the union showed us their dedication and determination to keep United from outsourcing our jobs," said Petrovsky, one of the lead mechanics in the organizing effort. "That kind of representation is what workers need in this economy."

Port driver Oswaldo Hernandez said he hoped one day to join the Teamsters. The port drivers have been trying for more than 20 years to gain union representation for better wages and working conditions.

"We need a stronger voice in our workplace to keep our jobs safe," Hernandez said. "We must all stand together in solidarity and fight for workers' rights."

Hoffa said the Teamsters would not rest until the union gained economic justice for all workers. Hoffa remarked on the string of organizing victories the union has racked up this year alone -- at United Airlines, UPS Freight, DHL and with school bus drivers nationwide.

The Teamsters rally was highlighted by hundreds of members driving trucks and motorcycles to lead the union's contingent to the march's final event. Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, other Teamster leaders, United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez, and Unite Here President Bruce Raynor also spoke at the rally.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

USF Holland Executive Leaves

YRC Worldwide Inc., the biggest U.S. trucking company by sales, replaced the head of one of its regional carriers as part of efforts to reorganize and stem losses.

USF Holland president John O’Sullivan, 48, will relinquish his title to Keith Lovetro, who leads YRC’s Regional Transportation unit, the company said Wednesday.

O’Sullivan was named USF Holland president almost a year ago after serving as chief financial odcer of the YRC Regional Transportation division, which includes USF Holland.

He left Holland on April 14 “to pursue some other interests,” YRC said. Shares of the Overland Park, Kan.- based company had fallen 22 percent this year before Wednesday.