Friday, May 02, 2008

ABF President's Quality Awards Won by 'Best of the Best' Service Centers

ABF Freight System, Inc., service centers in Green Bay, Wis.; Rockford, Ill.; South Bend, Ind.; and Albuquerque, N.M., are the 2008 winners of the prestigious President's Quality Award, earning the distinction as the "Best of the Best." The Quality Award honors facilities that exemplify the ABF Quality Process and is the highest internal recognition available to ABF service centers.

All ABF service centers undergo extensive evaluations, including a nomination process, a quality awareness survey, an on-site validation audit and scrutiny by the ABF Quality Implementation Committee. The comprehensive process gauges resource management, damage/loss prevention, customer satisfaction and other key performance indicators. Finalists are reviewed by ABF President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Davidson, who selects the winners.

"ABF continues to enjoy external recognition for customer service, information technology, cargo care, safety, security and logistics competence. These best-in-class achievements are driven largely by our successful implementation of the Quality Process over the past 25 years. The ABF service centers earning these awards are leading the way, serving as role models demonstrating quality improvement as a strategy for performance excellence. ABF proudly recognizes and celebrates their success even as we continue working to raise the bar," said Mr. Davidson. "Our
continuing ability to meet agreed-upon customer requirements and to exceed customer expectations results directly from the training, experience and responsiveness of our local service center personnel."

Mr. Davidson is scheduled to present the awards in South Bend and Rockford on May 7, 2008, and in Green Bay and Albuquerque on May 8, 2008. Each facility receives a permanent plaque and a traveling Quality Cup in a ceremony attended by the ABF Quality Implementation Committee, local employees and special guests.

This is the fourth Quality Award won by the South Bend service center, which previously earned the distinction in 1999, 2003 and 2004. It is the second Quality Award for the Rockford service center, which also won in 2005. And it is the first Quality Award for the service centers in Green Bay and Albuquerque. "Each year, we see higher performance standards throughout the ABF system," said Joe Davis, ABF director of quality awareness. "This is a result of the Quality Process which quickly
identifies areas of nonconformance and develops procedures for correcting and eliminating problems."

DHL Express Workers Overwhelmingly Ratify National Contract

Agreement Boosts Wages, Benefits, Is Second National Pact in a Month

In votes counted late yesterday, more than 7,000 Teamsters working at DHL Express ratified their first national agreement by a solid 82 percent.

The contract is the union's second new national agreement in the past month. These are the first new national pacts negotiated by the Teamsters Union in more than 30 years. In votes counted on April 7, an overwhelming 89 percent of voting workers at UPS Freight ratified a new national contract that now covers approximately 10,700 new members.

"The vote from DHL Express members is a strong signal of support," said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President. "We were determined to obtain the best contract that we could for members, and I believe we have achieved that. I thank our national negotiating committee and our members on a job well done."

The contract boosts wages and benefits, improves working conditions and strengthens job security for drivers, freight handlers, warehouse workers, clerical workers and call center representatives at dozens of DHL Express locations across the U.S.

"This is a great agreement. We protected what we already had and we've gained more," said Patti McGuckin, a DHL dock agent and member of Teamsters Local 299 in Detroit. "We're getting steady wage increases, and our pension
and health-and-welfare plans are protected."

"I can't help but think that this is going to be a good thing for everybody," said Sam Conover, a DHL driver and member of Teamsters Local 135 in Indianapolis. "I believe this helps the company by giving them some avenues to do some cost-saving. At the same time, our jobs have been protected and this is the strongest wage-and-benefit package I've seen as a Teamster."

The five-year contract expires on March 31, 2013. Among the national contract's highlights: annual wage and benefit increases, including $8.35 over the term of the contract for pick up-and-delivery and clerical workers; all health-and-welfare and pension funds are maintained for current employees; a cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, applies to all employees and operations covered by the new agreement.

Negotiations took place in a difficult environment: Since purchasing Airborne Express in 2003, DHL has lost billions of dollars in the U.S., including $900 million last year. Under these difficult conditions, the Teamsters negotiating committee secured an agreement that significantly raises workers' wages and provides a path for further organizing at DHL.

In total, approximately 55.4 percent of eligible workers voted on the contract.

"Creating a national contract was a complicated undertaking and our members have shown that it was worthwhile work," said Brad Slawson,Co-chair of the Teamsters national negotiating committee. "Not only were we able to negotiate significant economic gains for members, this agreement provides job security by allowing DHL to better compete in this tough industry."

Hoffa optimistic about union growth

Globalization has been tough on unions, but at least one major group is seeing an increase in its numbers.

The Teamsters count 1.45 million members in North America, after a net gain of about 40,000 last year. This year, the union expects to do even better, general president Jim Hoffa said during a visit to Fort Wayne.

“Our numbers are up and we’re growing,” he said shortly before addressing about 60 workers at a SuperValu warehouse on Executive Boulevard Thursday afternoon. Hoffa was in Fort Wayne as part of an Indiana tour to endorse presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. He visited Yellow Freight and USF Holland, both on Merchant Road, later in the day.

Hoffa said he likes Obama’s plans to revisit the North American Free Trade Agreement and calls him the best candidate for working families. Fellow Democratic hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has also called for changes to the agreement, which became effective in 1994 after her husband and former president, Bill Clinton, signed it into law.

Hoffa blames the agreement for moving jobs to Mexico. But he thinks other factors, including a poor economy, have hurt American workers as well. Despite its membership growth, the Teamsters union has not been immune to job cuts, including at SuperValu, said Walter Lytle, president of Teamsters Local 414. In 2001, the company announced it would layoff 425.

But Hoffa said negotiations with employers have been promising.

“We have relatively stable relationships with our employers.”

He added that the union’s diversified membership from freight to school bus drivers has helped it stay strong and increase membership, while another major union tied to manufacturing jobs, the United Auto Workers, has seen its membership decline.

Still, Hoffa – the son of former Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa who mysteriously disappeared in 1975 – thinks the American worker is facing difficult times.

“The economy’s bad, you’ve got these high gasoline prices … (and) people are losing their houses.”

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Companies cut corners to save on fuel as gas prices rise

This time last year, Pat Moffett looked at the world differently. As vice president of global logistics for electronics seller Audiovox, he moved goods from Asia by sea to West Coast ports, then by truck to East Coast distribution centers.

Now, given record fuel prices, those goods will move by sea all the way, via the Panama Canal. Moffett will wait four to five days longer to get them, but he'll save $1,500 per container on transportation costs, or about $100,000 a quarter. That's hardly chump change for a company whose latest quarterly profit was $4.7 million.

"It's a ton of money," Moffett says.

Audiovox's focus on transportation has always been intense as it, like other companies, seeks to minimize costs and boost profits. But with the unprecedented run-up in fuel costs, many companies are changing operations to soften the blow, especially if they can't pass increases on to customers.

Along with altering shipping routes, companies have slowed trucks to boost gas mileage, stepped up tire-pressure checks for the same reason, combined deliveries and deployed technology to improve routes — to the point of avoiding left turns because waiting for lights or for traffic to pass can consume more fuel than driving alternate routes. Full Story........

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

UPS Freight Workers in Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and Oklahoma Sign Cards to Become Teamsters

In Latest Victories, More Than 150 Drivers, Dockworkers Will Join Teamsters

An overwhelming majority of more than 150 workers at UPS Freight terminals in Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and Oklahoma have signed authorization cards to become Teamsters, bringing the total number of drivers and dockworkers who have signed cards to 10,700 since January 16, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa announced.

The workers will be joining Local 483 in Boise, Idaho; Local 50 based in Belleville, Illinois which covers the Mt. Vernon terminal; Local 61 in Asheville, North Carolina which covers the Hickory terminal; Local 957 in Dayton, Ohio, and; Local 886 in Oklahoma City.

“Our organizing campaign gained members in two new states this week, Idaho and Oklahoma,” said Teamsters Package Division Director Ken Hall. “We now have members in 39 states and we are nearing our goal of organizing 12,600 UPS Freight workers. This campaign has never lost momentum.”

“The UPS Freight workers in Oklahoma City knew what other workers across the country were gaining by joining the Teamsters and they jumped aboard,” said Randall Loewenkamp, President of Local 886. “We are a right-to-work state so this is tremendous.”

“It’s a great day for the workers in Boise and they will quickly see the advantages of being in a union,” said Mark Briggs, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 483. “Idaho is also a right-to-work state and these protections really count more than ever here.”

“It’s a huge victory for us because these workers have waited so long to join the Teamsters,” said Bill Bradley, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 50. “They will be gaining many benefits.”

“UPS Freight workers in Dayton now are guaranteed a more secure future as Teamsters,” said Varney Richmond, President of Local 957. “We are proud to represent them.”

Earlier this month, more than 89 percent of UPS Freight workers who are already Teamster members ratified a new contract, which improves wages, benefits and working conditions.

A majority of UPS Freight workers in 39 states have submitted cards.

ABF Named Best in Claims/Loss Prevention for a Record Fourth Time

For a record fourth time, ABF Freight System, Inc.(R), has been recognized by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) as the benchmark for claims/loss prevention. The ATA presented ABF with the Excellence in Claims/Loss Prevention Award in Long Beach, Calif., during the 2008 Freight Claims and Loss Prevention Annual Conference April 27-29, 2008.

"Increasingly, our customers appreciate the importance of selecting a carrier that provides superior cargo care. Loss and damage issues are a critical part of the overall supply chain costs, especially when improper carrier handling increases a shipper's administrative costs or even affects the shipper's relationship with its own customer. ABF has a well-deserved reputation for adding value, and that is demonstrated clearly by the best-in- class cargo care delivered by the ABF team. Our long-established Quality Process is deeply engrained in the ABF culture and provides the engine for continuous improvement," said ABF President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Davidson. "ABF's industry-leading cargo-care record, acknowledged again by the trucking industry, gives ABF customers a significant supply chain advantage in the marketplace."

ABF also earned the Excellence in Claims/Loss Prevention Award in 2005, 2002 and 2001. This year, for the first time, the ATA recognized both a truckload (TL) and a less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier with awards. ABF won the LTL division.

"The Excellence in Claims/Loss Prevention is the only national award of its kind in the trucking industry," said Susan Chandler, executive director of the ATA Safety and Loss Prevention Management Council. "This prestigious award pays homage to the two companies that set the bar for claims management, loss prevention and damage control and that have mastered the art of inspection and investigation; perfected claims filing and process; and eliminated, minimized and recovered loss above and beyond all others."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hoffa daughter replaced on St. Louis County bench

Gov. Matt Blunt has named a replacement for St. Louis County Judge Barbara Ann Crancer — who takes with her from the bench a little slice of labor lore.

Crancer, 70, retired at the beginning of the month, nearly 20 years after first being appointed by then-Gov. John Ashcroft.

But she is perhaps better known for her lineage than her rulings: Crancer is the only daughter of famed union leader James R. Hoffa.

Crancer met her future husband Robert – the son of a St. Louis steel boss — at a Teamsters convention in Florida in 1961.

As the story goes, Robert and Barbara went on a date each night of the convention, which was enough time for Robert to decide he wanted to propose before she went back to Detroit.

That was the easy part, I imagine. The next step, asking Jimmy Hoffa — Mr. Hoffa, sir – for permission to marry his daughter might have been just a tad more intimidating.

Crancer’s brother is James P. Hoffa, who has followed in his father’s footsteps to become president of the Teamsters. James P. has been to St. Louis at least twice in the last several months, stumping for Democratic candidates Jay Nixon and Clint Zweifel.

Blunt has appointed Mary Elizabeth Ott, a Brentwood attorney, to fill Crancer’s spot.

Truck line's closure leaves void

Stockton firm's customers cite personal touch

Moore Truck Lines, a family-owned trucking company that specialized in delivering small loads up and down California, has closed in the face of heavyweight competition and rising fuel prices.

Founded April 1, 1947, in Stockton by Frank Moore Sr., the firm at one time operated terminals in Fresno, Yuba City and Stockton carrying general commodities and specializing in "less-than-truckload" deliveries within the state.

"He built it up into a pretty good-size business in the LTL," said Frank Moore Jr., senior general partner, who formally closed the business March 28.

The elder Moore handed over the reins of the company in 2002 and died Feb. 15, 2007.

But changes began earlier, in 1995, with the deregulation of the trucking industry. Large corporate carriers, such as United Parcel Service and FedEx - "FedEx especially," Moore said - ate away at the company's customer base.

"They are pretty efficient and can offer clients things we can't," he said.

It's hard for a small company to compete with services that will carry anything from a single envelope or package to a pallet, a truckload or more, overnight in California or the rest of the United States and offering rapid international delivery as well.

"They've really been hurting all the carriers," Moore said.

The company downsized, closing its terminals in Yuba City and Fresno, but it continued to fill a niche in the industry, serving mostly small businesses with which it had built relationships over the years.

This year's rising fuel prices proved the last straw, Moore said.

"We've been absorbing the increases since the first of the year," he said. And when he began to add surcharges to cover some of the expenses, his clients balked.

"They just could not absorb the increases we needed to cover our costs," Moore said.

After taking a diesel delivery March 20 and paying $3.97 per gallon, he called it quits.

Fuel costs are hitting the entire industry hard, said Julie Sauls, a spokeswoman for the California Trucking Association

"It's tough," she said. "Fuel is surpassing even labor as the biggest expense for the transportation industry."

That's nearly unprecedented. And remaining companies face a profit squeeze.

"While some cope, it's still to a degree," Sauls said. "It's taking away any margin."

Larry Gorham, owner of Cal-Sierra Pipe Inc. in Stockton, said he long relied on Moore Truck's personal, professional service.

"If we just had something that needed to go in a hurry, either a few small pieces of pipe or a valve or a fitting that we needed to get to a customer in a hurry or to get from a supplier in a hurry, they were always there for us," he said. "They are definitely going to leave a vacuum."

Armando Alonzo, a Teamsters union representative with Local 439 in Stockton, echoed those sentiments.

"It's really tough seeing them go," he said. "They were a vital part of our community for a long time."

Moore Truck was a union shop from start to finish and had loyal Teamsters employees, Alonzo said.

"The guys that remained were sad to see it close. It was really hard for them," he said.

And, he noted, "Frank (Moore) closed on good terms with everybody."

Moore said he's in the process of selling the company's remaining trucks and other equipment.

He owns the 2.7-acre site at 3400 Newton Road, along with the office, shop and cross-dock loading facility, which he believes will be attractive to a buyer or lessee.

Moore said he had no regrets about the company.

"It's been good for everybody," he said, saying it provided a good living over the years for employees, the owners and their families.

As far as having to close is concerned, he said, "It's just economics. It's a sign of the times."