Teamster Don May ‘Sacrifice’ 22,000 Jobs

The share of all LTL shipping jobs held by unionized workers plummeted from 60% in 1993 to just 22% last year. Now Teamster boss Sean O’Brien seems eager to kill off another 22,000 trucking jobs!
The share of all LTL shipping jobs held by unionized workers plummeted from 60% in 1993 to just 22% last year. Now Teamster boss Sean O’Brien seems eager to kill off another 22,000 trucking jobs! (Credit: HBranco 2023)

Boss O’Brien Seems to Want to Kill Jobs to Prove How Tough He Is

As of mid-summer this year, the Yellow Corp. employed more Teamster “represented” truckers than any other company with the sole exception of UPS.

Moreover, as a November 2022 analysis by TruckingTrend noted, Yellow jobs furnish truckers with “competitive salaries and benefits.”

Drivers earn an average of over $70,000 a year, or $0.58 a mile, and also get 100% paid-for health benefits for themselves and their families, as well as paid vacations, holidays, and sick time.

Yet Sean O’Brien, the czar of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, evidently doesn’t care if the 22,000 Yellow jobs held by the Teamster rank-and-file, most of whom are forced to fork over union dues or fees as a job condition, live or die.

The fact is, as a less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier whose frontline employees are all subject to Teamster bosses’ monopoly-bargaining control, Yellow has for decades been at a competitive disadvantage relative to union-free LTL carriers.

‘It Seems Like the Union Is Turning Its Back on Us Right Now’

According to an analysis of the industry by SJ Consulting, a research group, the share of all LTL shipping jobs held by unionized workers plummeted from 60% in 1993 to 42% in 2002 to just 22% last year.

Yellow itself would surely have gone bankrupt in 2020 had it not procured, with the ample lobbying assistance of top Teamster bosses, a $700 million loan from the federal government.

But three years later, Yellow managers believe they can repay that loan in full while increasing trucker pay, if only the Teamster hierarchy will agree to, and the rank and file will ratify as soon as possible, a few key changes in the union contract.

Specifically, the company says that, in order to survive and prosper, it needs to consolidate duplicative operations stemming from the firm’s acquisition of several other LTL carriers over the years, which would require changing the job duties of nearly 1,000 drivers.

Unless it is able to modify significantly the way it does business very soon, Yellow credibly asserts, the company faces bankruptcy in the near future.

How is Mr. O’Brien responding?

FreightWaves reporter Rachel Premack aptly sums up his June 12 video answer to Yellow’s pleas in six words: “Go ahead and shut it down.”

A Teamster “fact sheet” posted on the union website the same day as the O’Brien video flatly refused to consider the work-rule changes sought by Yellow.

And on June 24, Mr. O’Brien even gleefully tweeted a picture of a gravestone with the inscription: “Yellow, 1924 to 2023”!

There is no doubt many, if not most, rank-and-file Teamsters who work for Yellow are appalled by union bigwigs’ eagerness to, as the headline of a July 6 FreightWaves story by Ms. Premack put it, “sacrifice 22,000 union trucking jobs.”

In a July 14 follow-up, Ms. Premack quoted several such workers, as well as union militants who say they are willing to lose their jobs in order to advance Big Labor class-warfare objectives.

One worker who wishes O’Brien et al. would work with Yellow to save trucker jobs, and was cited by Ms. Premack, is Brent Skeens of Roanoke, Va. He said: “I’ve always supported the union, but it seems like the union is turning its back on us now.”

National Right to Work Committee Vice President Matthew Leen noted:

“With the exception of a handful of Big Labor-impaired companies that enjoy enormous structural advantages unrelated to their union status, of which UPS is the prime example, Teamster-controlled trucking companies are struggling to survive in the 21st Century.”

If You Can’t Afford Union Featherbedding, ‘Get the F***’ Out of the Business

Mr. Leen continued:

“Even heretofore bullet-proof UPS could have lost up to 30% of its market share if the Teamster hierarchy had made good on its threat to go on strike this year, and the strike had dragged on.

“According to O’Brien fan and union lawyer Benjamin Dictor, the Teamster czar is ready to kill 22,000 Yellow workers’ jobs because he wants to send the message, if you can’t afford union

featherbedding, you better ‘get the f*** out of the trucking business.’

“Truckers who disagree with such ugly blackmail shouldn’t be forced to bankroll it.

“That’s one key reason why Committee members will keep fighting, harder and harder, for a nationwide ban on forced union dues as a job condition.”

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