Teamsters’ Persistence Helps Save More Than 1,000 Carhaul Jobs
The Teamsters Union is known for fighting politically and on the streets, but recently the union took to the federal courts for an 18-month-long battle to save more than 1,000 carhaul jobs.
As a result, workers who once transported vehicles for Allied Systems Holdings are hauling for Teamster-represented Jack Cooper Transport Co, Inc. instead of working for a company controlled by an anti-worker, anti-union hedge funds.
“This has been a long fight but we managed to save more than 1,000 Teamster carhaul jobs while maintaining their national Teamster benefits and their seniority rights,” said Kevin Moore, Director of the Carhaul Division. “We will continue to fight for our members and their jobs.”
“This fight is an example of how when the Teamsters get together—the International, local unions, Joint Councils and the members—we can fight and win on behalf of Teamsters everywhere,” said Roy Gross, Co-Director of the Teamsters Carhaul Division.
“I am proud of Roy and the team he assembled for the countless hours of of court documents they read to stay on top of this case, and most importantly, playing an active role in the auction to make sure we protected these jobs,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President.
“Thanks to the Teamsters, I am driving for Jack Cooper and I retained my job, benefits and vacation,” said Mark Przekwas, a member of Local 710 in Mokena, Ill., who has been a Teamster carhauler for nearly 37 years. “I’m ecstatic. I was glad to see the Teamsters step in and do the right thing.”
While the most recent battle to save jobs took 18 months in the courts, the Teamsters have been fighting to protect carhaulers’ jobs at Allied since 2007, when members approved a plan to help Allied survive bankruptcy.
This most recent step into bankruptcy was forced upon Allied in May 2012 when a group of lenders filed involuntary bankruptcy papers largely due to a dispute among the lending group. The case languished for most of the first year until a hearing that took place in May 2013 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court which set in motion a plan by two of Allied’s lenders that forced the initial filing —Black Diamond and Spectrum—to purchase Allied. This was bad news because the bid submitted by Black Diamond and Spectrum did not offer to assume the collective bargaining agreement that was in place or commit to participate in the pension funds.
The Teamsters Union’s team of legal, financial and bankruptcy experts actively monitored the bankruptcy to best protect its Allied carhaul members. At the time, Gross said, “We will do whatever it takes to make sure the current collective bargaining agreement is honored and we will fight to make sure our members’ livelihoods are protected.”
In mid-August, Allied completed two days of an auction for its assets. Allied declared the winning bid to an acquisition company formed by Black Diamond/Spectrum, over a bid by Jack Cooper Transport, whose employees are represented by the Teamsters.
The Teamsters continued the fight, presenting vigorous objections at subsequent hearings. Teamster local unions that represent Allied workers unanimously supported informing members on the need to take aggressive action—up to and including a strike—if the Black Diamond/Spectrum bid was approved. Thanks to the Teamsters’ persistence in fighting the bid award to Black Diamond/ Spectrum, the union and other groups were able to get the bankruptcy judge to reopen the bidding.
Then, in mid-September, in a second auction, Allied selected Jack Cooper in a $135-million deal. The Teamsters’ coordinated fight against the earlier bid award had paid off.
The sale of Allied to Jack Cooper was approved by the court in September, gained anti-trust approval in November and was finalized in late December.
“I appreciate what the Teamsters Union did for us,” said Chris Krugger, a carhauler for nearly 10 years and member of Local 710. “I didn’t want to have to look for another job where I wouldn’t be a Teamster. As a Teamster working at Jack Cooper, we are more secure.”