Local 174’s Organizing Success
Local 174, based in Tukwila, Wash., has had incredible success in the tankhaul industry lately. Tankhaulers are skilled drivers who transport liquids and gases. The work is dangerous, but what they do keeps homes warm, fuel tanks full and oxygen flowing.
Recently, 23 drivers at Airgas, who deliver liquid air to everyone from hospitals to soda fountains, voted to join Local 174. The victory came after a brief but vicious anti-union campaign by the company. Airgas brought in union-busting attorneys to hold regular anti-union meetings with the drivers, and to ride along with them throughout the day spewing antiunion rhetoric.
“Despite the company’s best efforts to brainwash the employees against forming a union, these Airgas drivers voted in favor of themselves and their families,” said Local 174 Director of Organizing Meaza Ogbe.
“With this organizing victory, Local 174 is taking the lead on building strength at Airgas in the West,” said David Jacobsen, Local 174 business agent and Western Region Tankhaul Director.
Don Graham, from Auburn, Wash., has been working for Airgas for almost seven years. He joins more than 700 other Airgas Teamsters around the country.
“In the last few years, there has been a lot of discrepancy in wages and there has been no reason or explanation given for it,” Graham said. “The local has been outstanding. I’ve been a Teamster before so I know a lot of these people and they’re all great to work with.”
Other Tankhaul Victories
APP/World Fuel Services Teamsters with Local 174, who recently negotiated a groundbreaking tankhaul contract, also helped out with the organizing effort at Airgas.
“Several APP brothers had a huge impact in organizing Airgas. I hope to shake their hands again,” Graham said.
Some of those APP drivers also appeared at this year’s Unity Conference, which included a segment on their contract.
In March, another group of tankhaulers joined Local 174. Nearly 150 aircraft fuelers, dispatchers and mechanics employed by Swissport were successful in their effort to join Local 174. The mostly-immigrant workgroup is based at SeaTac airport, and is responsible for fueling all commercial aircraft departing from that airport.