Saturday, February 28, 2009

Unions try to heal wounds of bitter split

Nearly four years after a nasty breakup split organized labor, union leaders are again talking about reuniting under a single, more powerful federation, possibly this year.

Leaders from 12 of the nation's largest unions, along with rival federations AFL-CIO and Change to Win, have held three meetings since January aimed at setting aside differences and taking advantage of the most favorable political climate for unions in 15 years.

"We've had very positive discussions and we've reached some significant agreements," said David Bonior, the former Michigan congressman who is brokering the discussions.

But Bonior stressed that significant hurdles remain as leaders work out how a unified labor federation would be structured and what its goals would be.

Seven unions, led by the Service Employees International Union, bolted from the AFL-CIO in 2005. They complained the federation focused too much on political campaigns and not enough on recruiting new members. The break reflected frustration with steadily declining union membership, from a peak of 35 percent of the work force in the 1950s to about 12 percent today. Full Story.....

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Teamsters Furious Over Support of Scab Supporting KeyBank

The Teamsters released a scathing press release today about Cleveland based KeyBank highlighting the fact they are giving loans to Oak Harbor Freight Lines who are in the midst of long strike with their membership.

The union stated that Key has violated federal labor laws and international labor standards and are taking out advertisements on RTA buses to get the situation in the public eye. The message on the buses will read "KeyBank: Takes Our Money; Wastes Our Taxes; Hurts our Kids".

"KeyBank is receiving $2.5 billion in TARP funds from taxpayers," said Al Hobart, Teamsters International Vice President and President of Joint Council 28. "KeyBank was given this money under the condition that it act in the public interest. But its practices of predatory lending to students, lobbying and tax evasion, along with the financing of Oak Harbor Freight Lines, have had severely negative effects on American workers and their families."

The Teamsters have also which showcases their dissatisfaction with the bank.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Senate confirms Solis as labor secretary

California Rep. Hilda Solis won confirmation Tuesday as President Barack Obama's labor secretary, giving the agency a decidedly pro-worker tilt after years of business-friendly leadership under the Bush administration.

The 80-17 vote ended more than a month of delays prompted by GOP concerns over Democrat Solis' work for a pro-union organization, and later, revelations about her husband's unpaid taxes.

But Democrats said Solis had put to rest any questions and called her a powerful advocate for working families.

"For the last eight years working families have felt like an afterthought of the previous administration," Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said on the Senate floor. "Workers today need an advocate in the new administration who's going to stand up for them."

A final vote came only after Democrats won assurances earlier in the day that Republicans would not filibuster the nomination.

Solis, 51, was to be sworn in at a private ceremony later Tuesday night and was set to begin work Wednesday. She will manage an agency with an annual budget of about $53 billion and nearly 17,000 employees.

Her background as a fierce advocate for organized labor makes her a favorite of union leaders eager to wield more clout after years on the sidelines. She is the daughter of immigrants — her father was a Teamsters shop steward in Mexico while her mother, a native of Nicaragua, worked on an assembly line and was a union member.

Solis has pledged to increase oversight of wage-and-hour laws, worker health and safety regulations and rules covering overtime pay and pay discrimination.

"For Secretary Solis, this is not just another job, but the culmination of a lifetime of action serving as a voice for people who work," said Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union.

AFL-CIO president John Sweeney called her confirmation "a huge victory" and said Solis would represent "working people, not wealthy CEOs."

Republicans had slowed the confirmation process as they probed Solis' role as treasurer for American Rights at Work, a nonprofit organization pushing for legislation to ease the formation of unions. She did not initially disclose the position to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, an action she called an oversight.

Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi, the committee's top Republican, initially suggested Solis' work for the group should bar her from taking part in debate over the Employee Free Choice Act, which would give workers the option of forming a union by simply signing a card or petition instead of holding secret ballot elections.

The bill is organized labor's No. 1 priority, but it faces intense opposition from business interests and most Republicans.

After Solis insisted she would not stay out of the debate, Enzi allowed her to submit a sworn affidavit that she exerted no control over the group's finances or spending on campaign advertising.

"It took longer than I would have liked to complete the necessary vetting," Enzi said.

Union officials accused Republicans of stalling the nomination for political reasons because they disagree with Solis' support for the card check bill.

The process was further delayed after news reports that Solis' husband had recently settled unpaid tax liens on his California auto repair business for about $6,400. White House officials said Solis and her husband were not aware of the liens.

Still Trucking: Profile of Arkansas Best Corp.

A recent federal filing by Arkansas Best Corp. provides new and interesting detail into one of the three publicly held companies based in Fort Smith.

The less-than-truckload carrier recently reported that its 2008 net income was $29.16 million, a drop from its 2007 net income of $56.82 million. Its revenue in 2008 was $1.833 billion, slightly below the $1.836 billion in 2007. The company recorded a fourth-quarter net income loss of $10.97 million, compared to a net income of $13.48 million in the same quarter of 2007.

Following each fiscal quarter, a publicly held company issues a 10-Q statement — relatively detailed report of financial status, management analysis and other key factors — to the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission. The quarterly statement following the end of a fiscal year is known as the 10-K.

What follows is a short list of information Arkansas Best included in its most recent 10-K.

• ABF is the largest subsidiary of the Company. ABF accounted for 96% of the company’s consolidated revenues for 2008. ABF is one of North America’s largest LTL motor carriers.

• ABF provides direct service to more than 98% of U.S. cities having a population of 30,000 or more. ABF provides interstate and intrastate direct service to more than 41,000 communities through 286 service centers in all 50 states, Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

• General commodities transported by ABF include food, textiles, apparel, furniture, appliances, chemicals, nonbulk petroleum products, rubber, plastics, metal and metal products, wood, glass, automotive parts, machinery and miscellaneous manufactured products.

• During the year ended Dec. 31, 2008, no single customer accounted for more than 3.0% of ABF’s revenues, and the ten largest customers accounted for 7.2% of ABF’s revenues.

• As of Dec. 31, 2008, ABF had a total of 10,512 active employees. Employee compensation and related costs are the largest components of ABF’s operating expenses. In 2008, such costs amounted to approximately 60% of ABF’s revenues

• In 2008, rail utilization was 11.1% of the company’s total miles.

• ABF operates out of 276 terminal facilities and 10 distribution centers. ABF owns 123 of these facilities and leases the remainder from nonaffiliates.

• As of Feb. 20, 2009, the Company has a senior unsecured debt rating of BBB+ with a stable outlook by Standard & Poor’s Rating Service and a senior unsecured debt rating of Baa2 with a stable outlook by Moody’s Investors Service, Inc.

• ABF has experienced significant fluctuations in year-over-year tonnage levels in recent years. During 2007, tonnage per day declined 5.3% below the same period in 2006. Year-over-year tonnage levels stabilized somewhat from the fourth quarter of 2007 through the first half of 2008. However, ABF’s year-over-year monthly tonnage levels declined at an increasing rate during the second half of 2008, with a decrease of 5.1% and 11.5% in total third quarter and fourth quarter tonnage per day, respectfully.

Net Income
2008: $29.16 million
2007: $56.82 million
2006: $84.09 million

Billed revenue per hundredweight (including surcharges)
2008: $26.70
2007: $25.81
2006: $25.32

Pounds shipped
2008: 6.586 billion pounds
2007: 6.860 billion pounds
2006: 7.226 billion pounds

Hoffa Praises Proposal to Ban Unsafe Mexican Trucks

Omnibus Budget Would Stop Cross-Border Trucking Pilot Program

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa applauded the House Democratic leadership for including a ban on unsafe Mexican trucks in the omnibus appropriations bill unveiled today.

Though Congress shut down the Bush administration's pilot program to open the border in the 2008 appropriations, the Bush administration ignored the ban, which expired at the end of the fiscal year.

"Shutting down the border is the right thing to do," Hoffa said. "There's no guarantee that trucks or drivers from Mexico are safe. Until there is, dangerous Mexican trucks should not be allowed to drive freely on our highways."

Despite the bipartisan opposition to opening the border to the cross-border trucking pilot program, the U.S. Department of Transportation said last year it will extend the program for another two years.

Section 136 of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill's Transportation Title states, "None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available under this Act 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."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Trucking jobs roll into Carlisle

The Carlisle area is expected to receive a small influx of workers in the transportation industry.

An estimated 100 union positions from YRC Worldwide Inc., are being transferred to YRC facilities in the Carlisle area. The workers are members of Teamsters Local 771.

YRC Worldwide Inc., a Fortune 500 company and one of the largest transportation service providers in the world, is the holding company for a portfolio that includes YRC, Reimer Express, YRC Logistics, New Penn, Holland, Reddaway and Glen Moore.

The brands represent a comprehensive array of services for the shipment of industrial, commercial and retail goods domestically and internationally. YRC is headquartered in Overland Park, Kan., and employs approximately 55,000 people.

In addition to the 100 union jobs, approximately 30 positions from the Lancaster facility will be transferred to other facilities in Central Pa., according to Tracy Memoli, YRC spokesperson. The changes are part of a consolidation of Yellow and Roadway divisions, the two national transportation networks of YRC Worldwide. Approximately 300 jobs will be eliminated at The Roadway Express and Yellow Transportation terminals in East Petersburg.

Approximately 60 positions of those will be transferred to other key locations throughout the Eastern U.S. — primarily N.Y./N.J. metro areas. All of the jobs are transfers and are effective March 1, 2009. The new integrated network will launch in March, under the brand name YRC, and will offer 21,000 more direct service points for customers.