Buoyed perhaps by its contract success with United Parcel Service last year, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters has begun the latest round of National Master Freight Agreement (NMFA) talks with a 95% authorization by its membership to strike if need be.
The Teamsters resumed NMFA negotiations this week after walking out Jan. 20 over wage and health care cost issues. The Teamsters said the latest offer by LTL carriers covered by the NMFA – ABF Freight System, Roadway Express, Yellow Freight and USF Holland – would have forced some Teamsters to pay a share of their health costs, which they said has never occurred under the NMFA. Wage increases were also lower than what the union expected.
The NMFA, which expires March 31, covers more than 65,000 Teamsters and another 20,000 employed by smaller unionized carriers that traditionally adopt similar contracts based on the NMFA agreement.
The Teamsters strike-vote confidence derives no doubt from its success in renegotiating a more profitable preliminary contract with UPS last July. That six-year deal tentatively added $8.75 in hourly wages and benefits per worker, boosting the top wage of a UPS ground driver to $28 per hour, compared to $19 an hour at FedEx.
The UPS deal also converted 20,000 contracted and part-time jobs into full-time positions.