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Con-way Freight workers in Buffalo reject Teamsters (Read More…)

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor | Apr 23, 2015

Freight drivers and dockworkers in Buffalo, New York, voted not to join the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the sixth outright defeat for the union in its attempt to organize workers at the second-largest stand-alone U.S. less-than-truckload carrier.

The Teamsters have won National Labor Relations Board elections at three Con-way Freight terminals. The first victory came in Laredo, Texas last September, and was followed by victories in Vernon, California, last September, and Miami Lakes, Florida in December.

In addition to Buffalo, the union has lost representation votes in Santa Fe Springs, San Fernando Valley and Bakersfield, California; Manchester, New Hampshire; and Harlingen, Texas. Election petitions were withdrawn in Irvine, California and Orlando, Florida.

“We are gratified by the vote of our Buffalo employees and the statement of confidence it represents in our company and our union-free philosophy,” Greg Lehmkuhl, Con-way Freight president, said. “We continue to believe that our path to success lies in maintaining an open, respectful and direct relationship with our employees without the interference of a third party.”

The Teamsters launched campaigns to organize FedEx Freight, the largest U.S. LTL carrier, and Con-way Freight last year. These two carriers epitomize the rapid growth of non-union trucking since the 1980s, when many unionized LTL truckers failed after deregulation.

Today, only four of the 10 largest LTL carriers are unionized: YRC Freight, UPS Freight, ABF Freight System and Holland, a regional LTL carrier subsidiary of YRC Worldwide. The last time the Teamsters staged a multi-employer labor action in trucking was in 1994.

“Drivers and dockworkers at Con-way, like the workers at FedEx Freight, are fed up,” James P. Hoffa, Teamsters general president, said last year. “These elections are proof that workers are willing to take a stand to improve their work lives and win the security they deserve.”

To date, however, union organizers have been fighting an uphill battle. The Teamsters have won four NLRB elections at FedEx Freight, the latest in January in Stockton, California. But the union has lost five votes, and withdrawn six election petitions, according to FedEx.

Because of labor laws, the organizing drives are a terminal-by-terminal contest. FedEx Freight, a $5.8 billion company, operates a network of 360 terminals. Con-way Freight, the second-largest stand-alone LTL player, has 300 terminals and 19,000 employees.

The last major Teamster attempt to organize an LTL carrier terminal by terminal failed, despite a three-year unfair labor practices strike. By 2002, workers at several of the 26 Overnite Transportation terminals the Teamsters had organized voted to decertify the union.

The union did eventually succeed in organizing Overnite, but only after UPS, the largest Teamster employer, acquired the trucking company and agreed to a company-wide vote. The odds are the Teamsters, FedEx and Con-way are preparing for a long contest.

Contact William B. Cassidy at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and follow him on Twitter: @wbcassidy_joc

Posted by Admin on 04/23 at 04:18 PM