Teamsters claim a win in fight to organize Con-way Freight drivers

Dec. 12, 2014
LTL giant responds; states that this latest vote is "not yet certified"

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) has declared another victory in its terminal-by-terminal drive to organize Con-way Freight drivers. The union has announced that 74 drivers and dockworkers at the Con-way Freight facility in Miami Lakes, FL, voted yesterday to join Teamsters Local 769.

"The Con-way workers [in Miami Lakes] have taken a bold step today to improve their lives and have a more secure future as Teamsters," said Mike Scott, president of Teamsters Local 769, in a news release.

But Con-way Freight is ceding nothing. “We are disappointed with the results of this election,” Gary Frantz, director of corporate communications for the carrier's parent firm, Con-way Inc., told FleetOwner. “The results, however, are not yet certified. We will ensure that our employees had the opportunity to vote free of any unlawful conduct.

“It is unfortunate that the Teamsters Union continues to misrepresent facts to Con-way Freight employees in Miami and across the country,” Frantz continued. “It is clear that the union is targeting Con-way Freight employees for the purpose of increasing its numbers of dues-paying members.  We will continue to provide our employees with the facts, and protect their right to choose whether or not they want to be represented by a third party– free of misrepresentations, threats, or coercion.”

To be sure, the union’s effort remains an uphill battle. Back in September, as reported by William B. Cassidy in The Journal of Commerce, IBT won its first Con-way Freight election to represent drivers at the LTL carrier’s Laredo, TX, terminal. In addition, according to the union, that month saw drivers at Con-way Freight in Vernon, CA, vote to join an IBT local.

On the other hand, Con-way 's Frantz told FleetOwner that “in four other representation elections this year at Con-way Freight facilities in Santa Fe Springs and San Fernando Valley, CA, Harlingen, TX and Manchester, NH, Con-way Freight employees voted to reject the Teamsters.  Last month, the union also withdrew a petition for election at Con-way Freight’s facility in Irvine, CA.”

What’s more, he advised that  “Con-way Freight has filed objections with the National Labor Relations Board contesting election results at two other Con-way Freight locations-- downtown Los Angeles, CA and Laredo, TX -- where narrow majorities of employees voted for union representation.  The objections allege election interference by the union and other improprieties.”

Frantz also stated flatly that “Con-way Freight does not currently have a contract with the union at any location.”

Still, the union remains committed to its fight. "The Con-way workers [in Miami Lakes] have taken a bold step today to improve their lives and have a more secure future as Teamsters," said Mike Scott, president of Teamsters Local 769, in a news release.

The current IBT campaign to organize truck drivers is also aimed at FedEx Freight. "The drivers and dockworkers at Con-way, like the workers at FedEx Freight, are fed up," declared Jim Hoffa, Teamsters general president.

According to IBT, its ongoing LTL drive has “already paid off,” given that “after organizing got under way at Con-way, the company announced it would increase truck driver pay by $60 million in 2015, among other improvements. At FedEx Freight, the company announced an 80-cent-per-hour raise a few days after Teamsters Local 107 in Philadelphia filed for an election, and the company got rid of its overly punitive driver scorecard, which gives drivers infraction points for errors.”

"The unfulfilled promises that have been made to drivers and dockworkers over the past decade are coming back to haunt management,” remarked Tyson Johnson, director of the Teamsters’ National Freight Div. “Workers now realize the only way to achieve meaningful change in the workplace is to get it in writing in a binding contract."

Not surprisingly, Con-way Freight sees the landscape differently. “For over 30 years,” said Frantz, "Con-way’s success has been founded on treating our employees with dignity and respect, and recognizing their fundamental role in providing the consistent, high-quality service our customers have come to expect.

"We continue to believe that our company can best meet the needs of our employees by maintaining an open and direct relationship with them, without the interference of a third party," he added.

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