Friday, July 11, 2008

YRC North American Transportation Announces Leadership Changes

YRC North American Transportation, a subsidiary of YRC Worldwide announced today that Phil Gaines was named President of Yellow Transportation and Ken Bowman was named Senior Vice President of Finance.

In his role, Gaines will be responsible for leading the Yellow Transportation organization, which offers a full range of national, regional and international services for the movement of industrial, commercial and retail goods. Gaines began his career with the company in 1989, as a staff accountant, and has grown with the company serving in various leadership positions in Finance, Accounting, Investor Relations, Government Relations, Corporate Development, and most recently, as the Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for YRC North American Transportation.

Gaines graduated with the highest distinction from Nebraska Wesleyan University with a bachelor's degree in business administration and accounting. He will report to Mike Smid, President and CEO of YRC North American Transportation.

"Under Phil's leadership, I am confident that we will continue the strong history at Yellow Transportation of providing a broad array of outstanding services including guaranteed, time-definite, defect-free, hassle-free transportation services for business customers worldwide," said Smid.

Bowman will move to the role of Senior Vice President of Finance for YRC North American Transportation. He joined the company in 2002, and has worked in a variety of finance and accounting positions supporting both Yellow Transportation and Roadway. Prior to this role, he served as the Vice President of Finance for Roadway. Bowman graduated with the highest distinction from Baker University, with a bachelor's degree in accounting. He also will report to Mike Smid.

"Ken's experience across Yellow Transportation and Roadway is a great advantage for us as he takes on his new assignment leading the finance groups for all the asset-based companies," said Smid.

These changes are effective immediately.

Obama speaks out on potential job losses in Ohio

Democrat Barack Obama said Friday that the potential loss of thousands of jobs in Ohio underscores the urgency of dealing with the nation's economic troubles.

Obama, in town to discuss energy policy, said he met privately with local officials about plans by express shipper DHL to move work away from its air cargo hub in Wilmington.

DHL has said it wants to hire United Parcel Service to replace ABX Air and ASTAR Air Cargo in transporting DHL packages. That would mean much of the work normally handled at Wilmington Air Park would be transferred to UPS facilities, threatening at least 6,000 jobs.

"It gives you some sense of emergency that we feel when it comes to our economy," said Obama, who met with Wilmington Mayor David Raizk.

Obama said he met with Gov. Ted Strickland a few weeks ago after Strickland learned of DHL's plans. They also discussed plans by Continental Airlines to cut flights out of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and plans by General Motors Corp. to close an SUV plant in suburban Moraine by 2010 at a cost of 2,400 jobs.

"In total, he had seen 12,000 jobs potentially vanish from this great state in the span of a week," Obama said. "So it gives you some sense of why we are gathered here today because we've got a lot of work to do."

Raizk said Obama was on top of the DHL situation.

"I can tell you that he wants to approach it as if he's going to be the president in November and that this would be high on his agenda to get us the kind of help that we're going to need to redevelop and retrain and retain these jobs," Raizk said.

Their meeting also included Martin Godly, managing director of operations and finance for ASTAR; David Ross, president of Teamsters Local 1224, and a representative from the office of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain expressed his concerns over Ohio job losses at a townhall meeting in Portsmouth in southern Ohio on Wednesday.

Real 'Norma Rae' has new battle involving cancer

Crystal Lee Sutton, 67, says she never lived on easy street and wasn't born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but none of that stopped her from making a difference in this world.

Sutton grew up like most in the small North Carolina town of Roanoke Rapids - her family relied on the textile industry and in Roanoke Rapids that meant the J.P. Stevens mill, where pay was poor and conditions were worse.
She worked the 4 p.m. to midnight shift at age 17. By 19, she had her first child and by 20, she was widowed. Her second child arrived a year later and her third came four years down the road.

The whole time she worked at the mill, just trying to make enough to take care of her family. She even hauled an Avon bag around the rural community trying to make a few extra bucks on the side.

Her second husband, "Cookie" Jordan, moved her up in the world to a "fancy" house, but that only lasted a few years. He often complained that she was never home. By that time, she wasn't selling Avon out of that shoulder bag anymore. It was filled with papers about the union. Full Story......

Hoffa: The Right Choice

By Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa

As this year's election draws closer, we are going to hear a lot about how to improve our economy here in Michigan and across the U.S. After eight years of President Bush's policies, our government will need a plan to restore our economy to an engine that benefits all Americans, not just the wealthiest.

The Employee Free Choice Act, a law that would boost the power of America's workers, should be a key component of our economic overhaul. It has the potential to revitalize our middle class. Our next president should make signing it into law a top priority.

Simply put, the Employee Free Choice Act would make it easier for workers to form a union at their workplace. In turn, more workers could negotiate as equals with their employers for fair wages, benefits, working conditions and retirement security for them and their families.

Under the Employee Free Choice Act, if a majority of workers at a workplace decides to sign cards stating that they want to join a union, then they have a union. The law would also provide a path for negotiating a contract with their employer and truly holds an unscrupulous employer accountable if a worker is intimidated or unjustly fired.

Union membership can make a major difference for a family. On average, workers who have a union at their workplace earn 28 percent higher wages than non-unionized workers, are 62 percent more likely to have employer-provided health coverage, and are four times as likely to have a pension. Our nation's history clearly shows that union membership is the best route to improving workers' pay rates and benefits. Unionized workers have a unified voice and the power to make a difference in their workplaces.

Unfortunately, unionization rates have declined significantly from their peak in the 1950s, when economic distribution was much more equal than it is today. Then, the middle class thrived in part because more workers were union members. There is a correlation over the past few decades. Unionization rates have decreased, just as income disparity and companies’ aggression against workers who seek to form a union have increased.

Today, the majority of CEOs have labor contracts that detail their obscene pay rates, stock options and golden parachutes—they wouldn’t work a day without their contracts. Yet CEOs and their corporations coerce and intimidate their employees who want to form a union in order to negotiate much more modest labor contracts.

Of course, not all companies do this—upstanding employers exist and they deserve respect. However, a 2005 study by the University of Chicago found that 30 percent of employers fire pro-union workers; 49 percent threaten to close a work site; 82 percent hire union-busting consultants to fight organizing drives; and 91 percent force employees to attend anti-union meetings one-on-one with supervisors.

These are the repercussions workers endure if they try to form a union today. Intimidating or firing a worker simply because he or she is exercising their right to form a union is un-American, as are coercive one-on-one meetings between a manager and an employee he or she supervises. Yet these one-on-one meetings are legal under our current, company-dominated system. In these meetings, employers use their supervisory power to coerce—after all, a supervisor has great power over an employee's working conditions.

The Employee Free Choice Act ensures that the person who conducts a worker's job evaluations, sets his or her compensation, and even determines whether he or she keeps their job doesn't decide whether workers should form a union: workers make that decision.

Considering the skyrocketing costs of gas, energy and food, working people are losing ground, not to mention health-care coverage, retirement security and jobs. They need the strength that union representation provides. As more workers across the country form unions, workers will have the strength to improve their wages and protect their benefits. There is strength in numbers, and if more workers are free to join unions then union members will be able to bargain more effectively with employers.

Good paying jobs with affordable health care and a secure retirement are pillars of the labor movement. All Americans should have the means to secure these benefits. As a key state in this year's election, we will have opportunities to talk to candidates for president and congress about this vital piece of legislation. We need to tell them that it's time to restore the American middle class. It's time to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.

ATA Testifies on Truck Productivity

The trucking industry today asked Congress to review federal laws that limit the ability of the trucking industry to increase productivity and more efficiently and safely move the U.S. economy.

Testifying on behalf of the American Trucking Associations before the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Michael Smid, President and CEO of YRC North American Transportation, said fundamental changes that permit increased trucking industry productivity will reduce congestion on the nation's highways, reduce energy use, and improve highway safety and air quality.

"Over the previous quarter century, the trucking industry has made continuous improvements that have allowed its customers to significantly reduce inventories and create manufacturing and supply chain efficiencies that have saved the U.S. economy billions of dollars, increased salaries, slowed consumer price increases and created countless jobs," Smid said. "Any disruption to the movement of freight on our nation's highway systems will jeopardize these gains."

Federal law that governs truck productivity has not been updated since 1982. Yet since then, truck tonnage has increased nearly 40 percent, driven by a 32 percent increase in the U.S. population and 82 percent growth in Gross Domestic Product.

While other freight transportation modes have adapted their equipment to meet these growing demands, the capacity of the trucking industry has remained virtually stagnant.

Under current federal and state truck regulations, the growth in freight demand will require a 41 percent increase in the number of commercial trucks, adding nearly 3 million trucks to the nation's roads, Smid testified.

Smid highlighted that use of more productive trucks will limit the need for additional trucks as well as allow Congress and states to avoid some of the significant costs required to improve highway conditions and to address highway congestion.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Teamsters Praise Dorgan for Mexican Truck Amendment

Hoffa Lauds Sending of Clear Message to Bush Administration

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa commended the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday for approving an amendment to ban any and all programs to open the border to long-haul trucks from Mexico.

The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), removes the Bush administration's pretense that it can lawfully operate a pilot program to allow Mexican trucks to travel freely on U.S. highways. It passed by a vote of 20-9.

A federal law took effect on Dec. 26 that bans funding for the Bush administration's pilot program allowing dangerous Mexican trucks into the U.S. interior. In brazen defiance of that and other laws, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) claimed it didn't understand the intent of the law. FMCSA refused to shut down the pilot project that had begun shortly after Labor Day.

"This amendment makes it as clear as day that Congress wants the border closed to dangerous trucks," Hoffa said.

"The Bush administration apparently doesn't give a damn if Americans get killed on the highways," Hoffa said. "We're grateful that Sen. Dorgan and the members of the Appropriations Committee do give a damn."

"It's outrageous that this program has been allowed to continue despite the fact that it's endangering American lives," Hoffa said.

The Department of Transportation's inspector general reported earlier this year that FMCSA didn't know if it was inspecting all trucks from Mexico at the border.

FMCSA opened the border to a Mexican trucking company with a long history of hazardous safety violations, Trinity Industries de Mexico. Trinity's 16 trucks averaged 112 violations each -- according to FMCSA's own database -- in the year before it was admitted to the pilot program.

The amendment says none of the funds appropriated for the Transportation Department "may be used, directly or indirectly, to establish, implement, continue, promote, or in any way permit a cross-border motor carrier demonstration program to allow Mexican-domiciled motor carriers to operate beyond the commercial zones along the international border between the United States and Mexico, including continuing, in whole or in part, any such program that was initiated prior to the date of the enactment of this act."

The Teamsters believe the pilot program creates a dangerous precedent on American highways because Mexican trucks and truck drivers are not held to the same safety standards as their U.S. counterparts.

The Teamsters and other safety advocates challenged the legality of the program in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The judges have yet to release their decision.

YRC North American Transportation Significantly Reduces Transit Times in More Than 30,000 Lanes with its Velocity Network

Quality Enhancements to Benefit Customers at Yellow Transportation, Roadway and USF Holland

YRC North American Transportation, a subsidiary of YRC Worldwide is significantly reducing transit times in more than 30,000 lanes. The faster, more reliable lanes are part of service enhancements at three YRC North American Transportation operating companies: Yellow Transportation, Roadway and USF Holland. The changes and network improvements are a direct reflection of expanded customer needs for increased reliability with next-day and second-day service. The network optimization allows YRC to improve service by at least one day for more than 15 percent of its shipments.

"We're dedicated to providing comprehensive transportation solutions, so we are continually expanding our services and enhancing our networks," said Mike Smid, President and CEO of YRC North American Transportation. "By designing networks with fewer miles, we can offer increased predictability and more precise delivery options to our customers. The lanes involve fewer handoffs -- and fewer touches mean faster and more reliable deliveries."

In addition to meeting customer needs, the Velocity Network changes fit with ongoing, proactive environmental efforts underway at YRC North American Transportation. "More direct lanes save fuel as well as time," added Smid.

"Demonstrating good citizenship is a core value for our companies and our employees," said Smid. "As a SmartWay Transport Partner, making network changes that reduce mileage and fuel consumption is a natural fit for us."

The improvements cover most lanes in the eastern half of the U.S. The network changes launched on June 2 for USF Holland and July 6 for Yellow Transportation; Roadway implements the changes on July 14.

Unions say ‘free trade’ pact would stoke Colombia strife

Teamsters Union president James Hoffa and Jorge Gamboa, president of the National Petroleum Workers Union of Colombia, warn that ratifying the U.S.-Colombia “free trade” agreement would continue the long civil war that results in hostage-taking there.

The deal, they say, would let big multinational monopolies further cut Colombian workers’ wages and slash their few current on-the-job protections. Hoffa and Gamboa told a joint July 1 telephone news conference that if the trade agreement passes the U.S. Congress, thousands more Colombians will have no alternative but illegal coca cultivation to feed their families.

Coca cultivation and uncontrolled activity by right-wing paramilitaries financed by companies like Chiquita and Coca-Cola are widely acknowledged as major elements fueling the country’s on-going civil war. The paramilitaries have killed tens of thousands of Colombians, including 2,500 trade unionists, since 1991.

Gamboa explained the connection between the civil war and the U.S-Colombia Free Trade Agreement: “The paramilitaries receive money from the multinationals for murder of labor leaders. If the agreement is passed the companies will have even more incentive to continue paying the paramilitaries because the trade agreement would let them cut workers’ wages and violently suppress organizing drives.”

Hoffa said the agreement would hurt American workers by encouraging further off-shoring of jobs and by putting downward pressure on U.S. wages and working conditions. He urged the Democratic-controlled Congress to defeat pending legislation implementing the pact. He also condemned Republican presidential candidate John McCain for using his recent trip to Colombia to push the agreement, calling McCain “out of touch with U.S. workers who oppose such trade pacts.”

The U.S., Hoffa said, “shouldn’t be dealing with regimes that torture and kill their own citizens. John McCain should know that better than anyone.” The Teamsters are urging everyone to call the senator at (202) 224-2235 and tell him, “No deals with murderers.”
In Latest Victories, About 100 Drivers, Dockworkers Will Join Teamsters

An overwhelming majority of about 100 workers at UPS Freight terminals in Illinois, Louisiana, Nevada and Virginia have signed authorization cards to become Teamsters, bringing the total number of drivers and dockworkers who have signed cards to nearly 11,200 since January 16, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa announced.

The workers will be joining Local 371 in Rock Island, Illinois; Local 270 in New Orleans which covers the Baton Rouge terminal; Local 533 in Reno, Nevada and; Local 22 in Collinsville, Virginia, which covers the Danville terminal.

"We are closer to our goal of organizing 12,600 UPS Freight workers," said Teamsters Package Division Director Ken Hall. "These workers deserve to be protected by a strong union that will make certain they have a secure future."

"We would not have gotten our victory without the help of Local 391 in North Carolina and Local 175 in West Virginia, who sent us valuable material to share with UPS Freight workers," said Local 22 Secretary-Treasurer Michael Hughes. "Organizers in both of those Locals were instrumental in our victory."

"We're proud to welcome these UPS Freight workers to the Teamsters," said Local 371 President Howard Spoon. "We look forward to representing this strong, dedicated group of UPS Freight workers."

"The card-check agreement made this victory possible and if the Employee Free Choice Act gets passed by Congress, the Teamsters could see victories like at UPS Freight at numerous companies," said Local 270 President David Negrotto.

"This victory has been a long time coming, and we are happy to be part of the largest organizing campaign in the freight industry in decades," said Local 533 Secretary-Treasurer Mark Tracy.

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

Revisiting Some Hoffa History

Residents of Chattanooga, Tennessee are being treated to the public premiere of a documentary about a very famous Federal Court trial held there in 1964.

For their recent 2008 judicial conference in May, the Chattanooga Chapter of the Federal Bar Association commissioned Balancing the Scales: the Chattanooga Trial of U.S. v. James R. Hoffa, a documentary about an early and somewhat forgotten “trial of the century.” Featuring interviews with numerous trial participants and observers, the film looks at the challenges of achieving fairness in circumstances where the world’s attention is focused on the courtroom.

The Chattanooga public will have its first chance to view the film on Thursday, July 11th at Loose Cannon Studios. The documentary is screening as part of the Chattanooga Arts and Education Council’s “Back Row Film Series.”

The featured Hoffa trial began in January of 1964, just days after the Teamsters union head had secured the first ever National Master Freight Agreement. He would go on to be convicted of jury tampering, sentenced to 15 years in prison and, most importantly, suffer through a trajectory that lessened his hold on the Teamsters (his sentence was commuted in 1971 by President Nixon).

Since Balancing the Scales was commissioned by lawyers, it’s not exactly your typical documentary. Director Barry Cammon comes from Advanced Video Solutions, a two-year-old video production company based in Lookout Mountain, TN.

YRC Worldwide freezes pension plan, prepares to introduce new one

YRC Worldwide Inc. has frozen a pension plan for about 6,000 nonunion employees as it prepares to introduce a plan to cover all 17,000 members of its nonunion work force.

The freeze on benefit accruals for those workers began July 1, and a new plan is expected to be launched in January.

Bill Zollars, YRC’s chairman and chief executive officer, said the size of the company’s nonunion work force had more than tripled the past several years through acquisitions of other trucking companies.

“That has resulted in us having nine different pension plans for our nonunion people,” Zollars said Wednesday. “We want to establish one plan that’s equitable for everybody.”

That will result in administrative cost savings for the company as well as eliminate benefit inequities resulting from the different pension plans, he said.

Zollars said the freeze affected only about 35 percent of YRC’s nonunion employees because a new pension plan was introduced in 2004 that covered new employees. Nearly 1,000 area YRC employees are affected by the freeze on their benefits accrual, he said.

Even with the freeze, the affected employees’ ages and lengths of service will be accounted for in the new plan, Zollars added.

“What we’re working on is a new plan that will supplement what’s been accrued,” Zollars said. “That’s … unique in that most new pension plans don’t regard age and length of service. But given the seniority of our people, we think it’s the right thing to do.”

Zollars said the benefits under the new pension plan would be comparable to what employees had been receiving under the old plan.

“It should be close — some may get a little more, some may get a little less,” he said. “It will depend on the individual.”

In other developments, three of YRC’s biggest trucking units established some new route networks designed to speed up delivery and increase efficiencies.

Yellow Transportation, Roadway and USF Holland this week made operational changes agreed upon in the new Teamsters contract negotiated earlier this year.

Zollars said the changes should result in about 15 percent of shipments made by those carriers improving delivery service by one day through more direct routes and by freight changing hands less frequently.

The Teamsters agreed to create utility employees at various terminals to allow YRC’s trucking units to become more flexible. The utility worker can load and unload freight as well as make deliveries.

Zollars said the changes would result in $40 million in annual cost savings combined for the three companies and also reduce driving within the networks annually by 20 million miles.

“We’ll be able to speed up the network and reduce costs at the same time,” he said. “It’s a good thing for customers.”

Meanwhile, overall business activity continues to be a concern for YRC.

“The economy has stabilized a little, but the wild card is fuel prices,” Zollars said. “If it stays at current levels or goes even higher, we could be in for a few more months of rough sledding.”

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Teamsters Oppose Heavier Trucks

Hoffa: Bush Administration Wants To Turn Big Rigs Into Time Bombs

The Teamsters oppose the Bush administration plan to relax restrictions on truck size and weight, union General President Jim Hoffa said Wednesday.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is proposing a pilot program along the border states to allow larger trucks to operate on U.S. interstates.

"Bigger trucks are more dangerous trucks," Hoffa said. "Lifting truck weight and size limits would turn big rigs into time bombs."

The Bush administration has consistently worked to undermine highway safety, Hoffa said. "Bush has opened the border to dangerous trucks from Mexico and allowed truck drivers to spend more time behind the wheel," he said. "Further weakening safety rules is the last thing our drivers need right now."

The Teamsters represent 140,000 drivers who operate tractor-trailers, with some driving doubles or triples.

Teamster truck driver Vince Brezinsky has been driving long-haul trucks for 31 years. Brezinsky, of Dallas, testified Wednesday before the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit about the dangers of allowing bigger, heavier trucks on the road.

Bigger trucks take longer to stop, are harder to get up to highway speed in merge lanes and are too long to make tight turns.
Further, Brezinsky said, "our current highway system is not built for longer and heavier trucks."

It takes 9,,600 cars to cause the same road damage caused by a fully loaded 80,000-pound truck, he said, citing a road test conducted by the American Association of State Highway Officials.

Finally, he said, heavier trucks aren't fuel efficient. "As a truck gets heavier, more fuel is used," Brezinksy said.

ABF Freight, Harper Brush Works helps Iowa flood victims

Friday found the squeegee line at Harper Brush Works humming with activity, as 200 squeegees were built for same day shipment.

"I received a telephone call from Janice Brown with the Gifts in Kind division of the American Red Cross in Cedar Rapids," said Patty Adam, marketing director for Harper Brush.

Brown was making a plea for squeegees to be sent to Cedar Rapids to assist in the flood cleanup.

"I didn't even hesitate," said Adam. "I felt it was the least we could do."

A telephone call to ABF Freight produced the same sort of response, Adam said. "Barb Hood was quick to answer my call with, 'If you get the squeegees ready, we will make sure they get to the people who need them in Cedar Rapids.'"

By 3 p.m., 200 squeegees were loaded and on their way to the Proctor & Gamble warehouse in Coralville, where they would then be distributed to local residents as part of a cleaning kit.

According to Adam, this wasn't the first time Harper and ABF freight joined forces for those in need. Earlier in June, a group of local residents contacted Fairfield businesses to collect supplies for those in need. Harper responded with 241 assembled push-brooms for the Cedar Rapids shipment. ABF donated the trucking and a number of other Fairfield businesses also donated supplies, filling the truck.

As the water continued to rise in communities south of Fairfield, Harper responded again. Squeegees were assembled and sent to Douds, Selma, Eldon, Keosauqua, Bonapart and Farmington.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Pilots Union, Ohio Legislators, Try to Throw Wrench in DHL-UPS Deal

Groups Asking Justice Department to Look at Potential Anti-Trust Issues or Union Contract Violations; Several Recent Mergers have Reduced Overall Express Competition, Congressman Says

While troubling news to many parcel shippers, the announcement in June by DHL that it would substantially revamp its money-losing US network and outsource air freight movement and sortation to UPS is even bigger news in Ohio, where the plans include shutting down DHL’s hub in Wilmington, costing as many as 8,000 jobs.

Is the story over? Perhaps not yet.

First, ASTAR Air Cargo flight crew members, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), have filed a union grievance requesting a full investigation of alleged contract violations that might result from a proposed agreement between DHL and United Parcel Service (UPS).

“We are outraged over the proposed transfer of our work to UPS,” Capt. Patrick Walsh, chairman of the ASTAR pilots’ union, said in a press release. “The proposed DHL/UPS agreement is a fraud against our pilots, thousands of other hard-working employees, and all the American consumers who use express delivery. It seems the company will stop at nothing to circumvent antitrust laws and scam the consumers.”

Meanwhile, several Ohio legislators are also looking at issues that might perhaps scuttle or change the deal.

Mike Turner, a congressman from the Dayton area that includes the Wilmington DHL hub, noted that this latest move is one of a string of transactions over the past few years that in total have dramatically reduced total competition in the express transportation market.

Full Story.......