Friday, May 23, 2008

Teamsters Now Represent More Than 11,000 UPS Freight Workers

Teamsters Nearing Goal of Representing 12,600 Workers

In four months, more than 11,000 UPS Freight drivers and dockworkers in 40 states have signed cards to become Teamsters, the largest organizing victory in the freight industry in 25 years.

More than 9,900 of these workers have already ratified a new contract which improves wages, benefits and working conditions. The Teamsters won card-check agreement from UPS in December 2007, and began collecting cards from UPS Freight workers on January 16, 2008.

“The determination and dedication of these workers to join the Teamsters is tremendous,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “We are proud to represent them and we are closer to our goal of representing 12,600 UPS Freight workers.”

“To have organized more than 11,000 workers in such a short amount of time continues to amaze me,” said Teamsters Package Division Director Ken Hall. “These employees work tirelessly for UPS Freight and they should be rewarded with good wages and benefits.”

In the latest victories, workers will be joining: Local 624 in Santa Rosa, California; Local 512 in Jacksonville, Florida; Local 983 in Pocatello, Idaho and Local 483 in Boise, Idaho which includes the Twin Falls terminal; Local 279 in Decatur, Illinois; Local 568 in Shreveport, Louisiana; Local 891 in Jackson, Mississippi, and; Local 492 in Albuquerque, New Mexico which includes the Farmington and Albuquerque terminals.

“These workers can now look forward to better job protection and better workplace conditions, and we welcome them,” said Walter Maestas, Secretary-Treasurer for Local 492.

“This proves that workers who want to join a union can come together and organize to get the job done,” said Jerry Conner, President of Local 279.

“The UPS Freight employees worked long and hard to get representation and it’s a relief for them to finally be Teamsters,” said Jim Shurling, President of Local 512.

“The Teamsters will match the commitment and drive the UPS Freight workers showed us to get the benefits and wages they deserve,” said Ralph Miranda, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 624.

“Being a Teamster brings you respect on the job, and a voice. These workers deserve that,” said Robert Watts, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 568.

“These workers now can look forward to a new future that includes a secure retirement,” said Willie Smith, President of Local 891.

“We welcome these workers to the Teamsters and we will represent them tirelessly,” said Robert Lee, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 983.

Teamsters Strongly Support Bill to Crack Down on Misclassification

Widespread practice cheats workers, taxpayers and companies that play by the rules

New legislation to prevent corporations from abusing workers and cheating taxpayers has the Teamsters' strong support, General President Jim Hoffa said Thursday.

The Employee Misclassification Prevention Act of 2008 will make it harder for employers to improperly classify employees as "independent contractors."

"This scam robs 10 million American workers of overtime and benefits," Hoffa said. "Companies are forcing workers to pay for their own fuel, repairs and uniforms by illegally classifying them as independent contractors.

"This 'independent contractor' scam hurts employers that play by the rules," Hoffa said. "It gives an unfair advantage to their competitors that don't play by the rules.

"It also forces taxpayers to make up the difference when employers avoid paying payroll taxes by misclassifying workers," Hoffa said.

The bill is sponsored by Democratic Reps. Rob Andrews of New Jersey, Lynn Woolsey of California, Mike Michaud of Maine and George Miller of California.

Misclassification is a serious problem in the construction and small package delivery industries. It has been spreading to the hospitality industry.

The bill would:

* Require companies to disclose on workers' records whether they are employees or non-employees;

* Require employers to notify workers of their classification and of their right to challenge it;

* Raise penalties for misclassifying workers;

* Require state unemployment insurance agencies to audit employers to identify those who misclassify employees.

"This is a big deal for us," Hoffa said. "Every day we see the misery that workers go through because of this misclassification scam. It's time to end it."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Support grows for pass-through diesel

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is putting its political muscle behind the “Truthful Reliable Understanding of Consumer Costs” or TRUCC Act introduced in April and sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), that would guarantee that non-union truckers who pay for fuel be reimbursed the full amount of any surcharge levied by shippers.

The Senate bill matches the one introduced May 6 by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), and co-sponsored by Rep. Thomas Petri (R-WI) and Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN), which also seeks to mandate 100% pass-through of fuel surcharges to whoever actually buys the fuel.

“Non-union owner-operator truck drivers are going broke because of fuel prices,” said James Hoffa, the Teamster’s general president, in a press statement. “Since they’re the ones paying for diesel, they’re the ones who should be reimbursed for the entire amount of any fuel surcharge.”

“This bill will go a long way toward helping truckers and their shipping customers weather the brutal cost of fuel,” said Todd Spencer, executive vp of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), which is also supporting the measure.

“Fuel surcharges have been a staple in the industry as a way that trucking companies can recoup the high cost of fuel. And now with skyrocketing fuel prices, more and more is being collected – but not passed on,” Spencer said. “It’s all too common for middlemen in the trucking industry to push shippers to pay fuel surcharges, but only pass along a portion of those surcharges to the truckers who are actually hauling the freight and paying the fuel bill.”

“This bill won’t affect our members because their employers pay for fuel directly,” Hoffa noted. “Still, we stand in solidarity with truck drivers struggling to make ends meet because they have to bear the entire financial burden of owning and operating their vehicles.”

Truckers: Slow down to save gas

The trucking industry says there’s an easy way for Americans to save on gas — slow down.
Former Kansas Gov. Bill Graves, head of the American Trucking Associations, recently presented a proposal to slash fuel use by 86 billion gallons and carbon dioxide emissions by 900 million tons over the next decade — roughly the amount of CO2 emitted by the population of Chicago in one year. Among the recommendations:

Reduce the national speed limit to 65 mph for all vehicles. Install engine governors to limit new trucks to 68 mph. And reduce congestion by investing in highway improvements.

Graves called the proposals “practical, reasonable and doable,” and he called on Congress to help support the program.

Good luck on that. In 1995, Congress repealed a national speed limit, and 32 states, including Kansas, now have speed limits of 70 mph or higher on some highways.

No lawmaker has stepped forward to endorse the ATA proposal. How serious are we about conserving energy?

Transportation Stocks Rise

Surging transport stocks and renewed cooperation negotiations between Microsoft and Yahoo! combined to send U.S. stocks higher in afternoon trading on Monday.

The Dow Jones transportation average reached new records, and was up 1.9%, as investors exude optimism that the American economy may be past the worst of its recent slowdown.

The Conference Board's monthly index of leading indicators rose 0.1%. The forward-looking reading is geared toward predicting economic activity three to six months out. While the slight uptick does indicate only sluggish growth, it also shows the economy is not contracting.

Among the transports, railroad CSX added $2.77, or 4.2%, to $68.31, and trucking company YRC Worldwide jumped 94 cents, or 5.1%, to $19.51.

The rise in transportation stocks comes despite soaring oil costs. Crude was virtually flat Monday, up 3 cents to $126.32 a barrel, but comes off a week in which it hit fresh records over $127.

Monday, May 19, 2008

National Share the Road Highway Safety Program Visits Cheyenne to Promote Safe Driving

Life-saving highway driving tips were presented today as part of the American Trucking Associations' national Share the Road highway safety tour by top professional truck drivers.

With families preparing for summer vacations, highway traffic will soon increase and make safe driving techniques all the more important. And according to the Wyoming Department of Transportation, traffic fatalities in the state occur at a rate 23 percent higher than the national average.

The American Trucking Associations, Wyoming Trucking Association, AAA MountainWest, and the Share the Road sponsors, Mack Trucks and Michelin North America, joined the elite group of drivers to discuss highway safety with Wyoming motorists. The Cheyenne, Wyo. Share the Road stop demonstrated to drivers how to share the road safely with large trucks.

"When the summer rolls around, we tend to see a significant increase in highway traffic," said Ralph Garcia, a professional truck driver from ABF Freight. "Additional cars on the road means safe driving habits become all the more important. That's why we're out here today - to educate the public and make us all a little safer."

Featured at today's event were professional truck drivers Ralph Garcia (ABF Freight), David May (Con-way Freight) and Tony Sifford (FedEx Ground). These drivers are members of an elite team of million-mile, accident-free truck drivers who deliver the trucking industry's safety messages across the country.

Wyoming Trucking Association President Sheila Foertsch told reporters at the event that, "Share the Road is a vital part of our efforts to make the highways safe in Wyoming. By being aware of the blind spots around trucks, all drivers can more easily avoid crashes. This information, and other safety advice, will help everyone to share the roads safely."

Today's presentation of Share the Road safety measures is important to area motorists because, according to statistics:

149 fatalities occurred on Wyoming highways in 2007 (WyDOT).

35 percent of all truck-involved highway fatalities occur in a truck's blind spots (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration).

According to three different studies - including the AAA Traffic Safety Foundation and DOT, 3 out of 4 truck-involved fatalities are unintentionally initiated by car drivers.

Following the safety demonstration today at the ABF Terminal at the Little America Hotel/Truck Stop, reporters and photographers were given tractor-trailer rides on I-25. From the truck driver's perspective they viewed safe merging and stopping distances, and learned up close and personal some of the differences between how cars and large trucks operate on the highways. Today's demonstration was designed to teach specific skills in order for motorists to drive safely around other automobiles and around trucks on the highways, so that they arrive safely at their destinations.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

DHL to Open Air Sorting Facility for NW Arkansas

DHL will open its air sorting facility at the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport at Highfill on April 14 with daily air express services to and from the region.

The new service speeds inbound shipments and accelerates delivery services by offering daily air express services to and from the region.

DHL is the only express carrier to fly directly to the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport. Establishing a facility at the airport will speed express services for Fortune 500 companies, such as Wal-Mart and other retailers, consumer products, manufacturing, and business service companies.

Previously, shipments to and from northwest Arkansas were trucked to Tulsa. With the new facility businesses in the region will have immediate access to DHL's air network.

DHL's customized air sorting facility was built to handle large shipment volumes and twice daily air service between XNA and DHL's air and ground hub at Wilmington, Ohio.