Teamsters Union representatives came to the offices of the Korean International Trade Association (KITA) in Washington this afternoon to hand them a letter and ask the group to follow South Korean law and participate in talks meant to improve the wages and safety procedures for Korean truckers.
The letter, authored by Teamster General President Jim Hoffa, calls on KITA to follow “Safe Rates” policies approved in South Korea that outline fair pay, working conditions and safety provisions for truckers. Hoffa writes that he is concerned about reports that the Korean group is boycotting the Safe Rates Committee, a body formed to set fair and minimum rates for truck drivers annually.
“This action is clearly an attempt to derail the negotiations to set rates for next year,” Hoffa stated. “Furthermore, we cannot help but understand it as an effort to undermine the whole Safe Rates system ahead of expected consideration in the National Assembly of legislation to extend the system passed its current termination date at the end of 2022.”
The Teamsters are a member of the International Transport Workers Federation. Despite KITA’s lack of participation, the union notes the Korean Safe Rates system has increased safety on the road by reducing excessive work hours, speeding and overloading of trucks.
South Korea passed its Safe Rates law in 2018 after more than 15 years of struggle by the KPTU Cargo Truckers Solidarity Division (KPTU TruckSol) to get it enacted. Minimum rates were approved in 2019, and since then KPTU TruckSol has engaged in protest and strike actions to force employers and trucking companies into bargaining on the enforcement of rates.