The Teamsters are building power in the freight industry, with active organizing campaigns under way at FedEx Freight and Con-way.
A half-century after the landmark National Master Freight Agreement (NMFA) was achieved, the Teamsters are looking to reverse the declines within the freight industry caused by deregulation and other factors.
In mid-October, the Teamsters made history when a group of 47 drivers at FedEx Freight’s East Philadelphia terminal in Croydon, Penn. voted 26-18 to join Local 107 in Philadelphia.
It was the first group of FedEx Freight workers to vote to unionize. The victory was followed by a second win at FedEx Freight, when a unit of 113 drivers in South Brunswick, N.J. voted 66 to 42 to join Local 701 in North Brunswick.
“We are tired of getting treated with disrespect and dealing with constantly changing unfair and unwritten work rules,” said Gary Loftus, a driver at the East Philadelphia terminal. “We also want job security and to be valued for the work we do making FedEx Freight successful. I was a Teamster for 26 years at my previous jobs, so I know the power and security of Teamster contracts. We want that same power here at FedEx Freight.”
“This victory is for all of us,” said Mike Thiemer, a driver in South Brunswick. “We are tired of the unfair and inconsistent work rules and policies handed down by management. It comes down to wanting to be treated with respect and dignity.”
At Con-way, Local 657 in San Antonio won its election in mid-September. There are 113 workers in the bargaining unit. Petitions for elections at FedEx Freight and Con-way have also been filed for additional locations.
“I voted to become a Teamster to get better health care, a pension, respect and fairness,” said Juan Narron, a driver at Con-way for the past six years. “I’ve spoken to other freight Teamsters and they have a pension, they have their seniority respected and they speak really highly about the Teamsters. That’s why my co-workers and I reached out to the Teamsters, so that we can someday have the same benefits.”
Narron said the election has boosted spirits in Laredo.
“For me, it’s like Christmas every day,” he said. “It feels great now that I have a voice and I will be heard and respected and be part of something good.”
The Laredo victory was followed by a victory at Con-way in Vernon, Calif., when workers there voted in late October to join Local 63. There are 44 drivers and dockworkers in the unit.
“These campaigns show that the Teamsters Union is 100-percent committed to growing Teamster power in the freight industry,” said Tyson Johnson, Director of the Teamsters National Freight Division. “By building Teamster density in this industry, all our members benefit. We benefit by boosting our ability to represent our members and we increase our bargaining power. The Teamsters Union will continue to support all the local unions that are involved in these campaigns.”
Numerous campaigns at FedEx Freight and Con-way are under way, and the Teamsters Union is committed to helping the drivers win a more secure future.
“The drivers are fed up with FedEx Freight and Conway,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “These workers are tired of management talking down to them at every chance, and they want decent benefits, including more affordable health insurance. They also want consistent and fair working conditions and a more hopeful future. This is why thousands of freight workers at FedEx Freight and Con-way are turning to the Teamsters Union.”
The workers’ campaigns to join the Teamsters have already paid off. At FedEx Freight, the company announced an 80-cent-per-hour raise a few days after Local 107 in Philadelphia filed an election, and the company got rid of its overly punitive driver scorecard, which gives drivers infraction points for errors. Also, after organizing got under way at Con-way, the company announced it would increase truck driver pay by $60 million in 2015, and other improvements.
“It seems more than mere coincidence that these two companies have announced significant pay increases just as hundreds of workers across the U.S. are approaching our local unions seeking representation,” Johnson said. “The unfulfilled promises that have been made to drivers and dockworkers over the past decade are coming back to haunt management. Workers now realize the only way to achieve meaningful change in the workplace is to get it in writing in a binding contract.”