Monday, June 16, 2008

Used Like Pawns: Teamster Bosses Order Strike Ending in Members Going to the Unemployment Line

Last week was a bad week for the 1,250 Teamsters employed by Performance Transportation Service. First, their bankrupt employer had asked them to take a wage cut in order to stay in business, but their union bosses ordered them to strike instead.

So, like obedient little pawns, they followed their union bosses' orders and hit the picket lines on Monday, June 9th.

By Friday, the company was out of business, its doors closed.

Now, all 1,250 Teamsters (and the company's support staff) are unemployed.

The question remains: Why did the Teamsters force this already bankrupt company to close and purposely send its members to the unemployment lines?

Actually, there may be more than one answer. The AP story on Saturday shed some light by explaining:

In a letter to PTS employees, company president and CEO Jeff Cornish said the bankruptcy court on June 4 authorized a 15 percent wage cut for Teamsters-represented employees for two months.

The company anticipated negotiating a new, long-term contract during that time, but the Teamsters instead went on strike Monday. Both sides met Thursday to discuss PTS' proposal, which Cornish said included salary cuts for both hourly and salaried

"Unfortunately, for reasons we do not fully understand, the Teamsters concluded that it was not in their interest to accept our offer," Cornish wrote.

"Management and many of our Teamster members were willing to make the requested sacrifices to save the company, but the leadership of the union had a different agenda," Cornish added.

What agenda? Well, the Teamsters for a Democratic Union had this on their website:

As the Teamster strike against PTS nears the end, Teamsters report seeing nonunion rigs pulling cars and trucks out of a few production plants and ports....

The strike to drive PTS out of business [emphasis added] makes sense only if the work goes to legitimate union carriers, and our union enforces Article 5 of the carhaul national contract to ensure that PTS Teamster follow their work to the new carriers....
Wait a minute! It would appear that the strike against PTS was a deliberate move on the part of Teamster bosses to close this company.

Interestingly, according to the Detroit News, PTS was the nation's #2 car hauler, hauling 2.7 vehicles a year, or 10,400 a day had been battered by rising diesel prices and slower business coming from its customers, GM, Ford and Toyota. In 2006 and again in 2007, the Company had filed bankrupcty. Indeed, the 15% wage cut approved by the bankruptcy judge was temporary--lasting only until July 31st while the union and the company could negotiate a new agreement.

It appears to us, that the Teamster bosses did not want a new agreement, and preferred that the Company close its doors in the hopes that the work would go to the remaining unionized carriers.

Unfortunately for the Teamster members who have been forcibly left unemployed by their union bosses, diesel prices show no signs of lowering anytime soon, and the automakers are still slowing more. This indicates to us, that the union bosses' strategy of putting PTS out of business may ultimately backfire on the drivers who were used as pawns by an irresponsible leadership.


Chainsdraging said...

How about 17 million dollars says your wrong.
PTS was in such bad shape that it was not going to survive. Their backers, Black Diamond, decided to throw 17 million in the trash and walk out. Yes it was Black Diamond who asked the court for liquidation.
PTS had no chance and neither did the PTS Drivers.
Now hopefully they will pick up work in a union shop at full rate.

Anonymous said...

Chainsdraging... you are so cute. Drinking the Teamster's kool-aid and swallowing whatever they feed you.

It is absolutely clear that the ONLY reason why Black Diamond "walked out" was because they were forced to due to the strike. They made that abundantly clear in the request for liquidation. Their hands were tied... a strike was an automatic default under the recently negotiated financing. That financing was just approved days before the strike; obviously Black Diamond thought it had a chance. That was until the teamsters destroyed the company.

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