Nov 11, 2014
As a result of a very successful four-day strike, Local 89 members who were unlawfully displaced at Ford’s Louisville Assembly Plant by Voith Industrial Services in 2012 are returning to work. These workers (166 employees on the original LAP seniority board, plus an additional 84 hired by Voith at LAP since 2012) will receive full restoration of seniority, wages and benefits. Further, RCS Transportation will now employ these Teamsters, as Ford Motor Company has severed its relationship with Voith in the wake of the victory by Local 89.
RCS inked a deal with Ford Sunday night for the LAP yard work. The conversion from Voith to RCS is expected to take a week. Ford and RCS had requested a delay in the return of displaced Teamsters during the conversion period. However, President Zuckerman found any further delay unacceptable and refused to allow the RCS to do so without paying its workers. Therefore, RCS has agreed to pay its employees for this “off” time. Local 89 members on the LAP seniority board began receiving bid calls on Monday, November 10, 2014.
The strike began in the early morning of Oct. 29th as the direct result of multiple unfair labor practices committed by Voith. In 2012, Voith Industrial Service was awarded the “carhaul contract” for LAP replacing former contractor Auto Handling . Voith, in collusion with the UAW, immediately moved to displace members of Teamsters Local 89. This began a lengthy battle both in and out of the courtroom. During that time, Voith began a campaign of reprisal against Teamster affiliated employees, including the wrongful termination of workers for their “pro-Teamster” activities. All of these actions ultimately resulted in Voith and the UAW being found in violation of multiple unfair labor practices by two separate Administrative Law Judges (ALJ).
The ALJ decisions ordered Voith to make whole the original 161 displaced Teamsters, as well as anyone employed by Voith during the time of the violations, for lost wages and benefits as defined by the National Master Automobile Transporters Agreement (NMATA). Rough estimates show that the entire back pay and benefits award could surpass 50 million dollars. The NLRB (Region 9) Compliance Division will be responsible for determining the actual amount Voith is required to pay for its violations. Presently, the unfair labor practice matters are pending before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, D.C. Local 89 expects a favorable determination by the NLRB in the near future.
Many individuals and organizations are to be thanked for their support and assistance during this 2-½ year ordeal. Sadly, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Leadership and the IBT Carhaul Division are not among them. In fact, it was the IBT and the IBT Carhaul Co-Director’s (Kevin Moore and Roy Gross) that impeded Local 89’s ability to take up picket signs early in the campaign and resolve the matter.
From the beginning, Local 89 made three requests for the IBT to authorize strike benefits to our displaced members at LAP. However, it took over two years before General President Hoffa to authorize our numerous requests. Despite authorizing the benefits, General President Hoffa refused to approve Local 89’s request to exercise his authority to authorize strike benefits for the first week of the strike leaving our courageous members without financial support during the four days they manned the picket lines.
The IBT Carhaul Division leaders impeded Local 89’s ability to negotiate a prompt resolution between Local 89 and UAW when those leaders prohibited the then UAW President, Bob King, from speaking to Local 89 representatives. Had the IBT Carhaul Division leaders not engaged in such reprehensible interference, Local 89 members would likely have been returned to the jobs months, if not two years ago, because former Carhaul Director and Local 89 President Fred Zuckerman had established a strong working relationship with Mr. King
It was Local 89 President Fred Zuckerman who assisted the UAW with protesting at Toyota dealerships and traveled to Japan to assist Bob King with intensive negotiations between the UAW and Toyota with respect to American manufacturing facilities and the Fremont, California NUMMI plant. Surely, Zuckerman and King could have reached a quick accord between the two labor organizations had they been allowed to discuss the issues.
Carhaul Co-Director Roy Gross personally interfered with meetings between Local 89 and Voith Industrial Services and their negotiations. On a sad note, Voith also displaced Teamster Carhaul members at the Michigan Auto Plant and Local 299 did nothing to protect their members.
President Zuckerman, Vice-President Avral Thompson, and the rest of the Local 89 Executive Board, cannot express enough admiration for our carhaul members in their bravery and determination throughout this battle. Through their solidarity and commitment, Local 89 achieved a very difficult victory. Their strength in the face of adversity embodies what it means to be a Teamster.