(TUKWILA, Wash.)—Despite snowy roads and an early Sunday morning time slot, an overwhelming majority of the 33 truck drivers and dispatchers at Nelson Trucking came to the Local 174 union hall last weekend and voted unanimously in favor of authorizing a strike. The drivers, who haul heavy equipment and oversize specialty loads, used the unanimous vote to voice their displeasure with management’s attempts to gut the seniority and other provisions in their Teamster contract.
The major sticking point in these negotiations is management’s attempts to insert new language into the contract that would change the process of selecting which drivers work on jobs. The proposed new language is so open to interpretation that it would leave management free to pick and choose drivers based solely on favoritism.
“They have proposals on the table that will allow them to work anyone they want at any time, and completely undermine seniority,” Local 174 Director of Negotiations Patty Warren told the assembled group at the meeting. “This is some of the worst language I’ve ever seen in my decades of negotiating contracts, and they are completely serious about it.”
The drivers have become familiar with management’s favoritism on the job ever since a new management team took over. Drivers say the new management team has been problematic from the beginning, pitting employee groups against each other and attempting to undermine group solidarity.
“These management proposals contain nothing but takeaways, including a bold assault on the seniority provisions that form the cornerstone of any union contract. We won’t stand for it, and neither will our members, which they clearly demonstrated with their unanimous strike authorization vote,” said Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks. “We expect Nelson management to come back to the bargaining table with more realistic proposals, or they are going to see some real pushback from their employees. Our members bring an incredible amount of skill to this trade, which their employer does not seem to value at all. Despite management’s efforts to divide them, the workers are united.”
Nelson Trucking Teamsters mainly deliver heavy construction equipment to construction sites, and have extremely specialized skills when it comes to operating heavy flatbed trucks, tying down equipment and oversize loads, and navigating massive vehicles along city streets. Nelson Trucking and its Teamster work force famously assisted in the removal of a derailed Amtrak train from the travel lanes of I-5 last winter.
Founded in 1909, Teamsters Local 174 represents 7,600 working men and women in the Seattle area. “Like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TeamstersLocal174.