Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Union Settles Car Hauling Dispute

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Union Settles Car Hauling Dispute

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Teamsters union on Wednesday settled a closely watched contract dispute with trucking companies that haul new cars to showrooms across the country, averting a strike.

Under the proposed agreement, which still must be ratified by a vote of union members, drivers would get better retirement benefits. Trucking companies would gain more leeway to schedule some workers for weekend shifts.

Teamsters President James P. Hoffa declared the settlement a union victory, saying it "beat back" major employer demands, including lower wages for newly hired drivers and the use of part-time workers. Ian Hunter, chief negotiator for the National Automobile Transporters labor division, which represented the trucking companies involved in the dispute, said the companies were "especially pleased that a strike has been averted." The Teamsters contract with 17 trucking companies that hauled more than 15 million cars from assembly plants, ports and rail yards to dealerships last year, covers about 12,800 drivers, mechanics and yard and office workers. It was originally scheduled to expire at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, but the union twice agreed to delay the strike deadline so that negotiations could continue. Auto industry analysts said a strike by truck haulers would have directly affected consumers as well as car companies, causing long waits for new-vehicle buyers. Hoffa predicted that union members will overwhelmingly ratify the new contract in a ballot by mail within a few weeks. And he expects to play a similar high-profile role in the union's future negotiations. "This is the first major step of the Teamsters union coming back," Hoffa said. Hoffa's participation at the bargaining table -- a first since he was sworn in as Teamsters president in March -- also attracted attention to the talks. The new union leader has pledged to restore unity in Teamsters' ranks in the wake of a divisive campaign finance scandal. Also, he is the son of one of the Teamsters most famous former leaders: Jimmy Hoffa, who was sent to prison for jury tampering and misusing union funds, then disappeared after his release and is presumed dead. …

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