First UE Contract
With Penske Logistics
For New Local 112
Above, Local 112 members following contract ratification; at left, the
Local 112 committee: Vic Talotta, Bob Nolf and Pres. Lester Koch, who were
assisted by Intl. Rep. Bruce Klipple.
On Feb. 27, the members of newly established UE Local 112,
Bethlehem Drivers and Dockworkers, ratified their first contract with Penske
Logistics Inc. since affiliating their independent union with
Penske, a large nationwide trucking company, is a major part
of the rapidly growing, dedicated-freight logistics business that enables
contractors to meet corporations’ JIT (Just in Time) production standards.
The new UE members separate, pack and distribute auto parts used by General
Motors and Ford.
Prior to organizing their independent union, these Penske
workers had been stuck in a large business-type union which provided no
assistance in enforcing a vague contract they didn’t have the right to
ratify. Upon affiliation with UE the nearly 60 members began immediately
participating in contract meetings, preparing their contract demands and
electing their committee.
At the same time, they worked to establish their union,
electing officers and hand-collecting dues — with nearly 98 percent
The negotiating committee quickly realized that developing an
entirely new contract is a lot of work, but very rewarding.
With the three-year contract, Local 112 gains a full union
shop with monthly dues check-off and a solid "member-run" grievance
procedure; stewards will be paid for union time. The contract contains
considerably improved seniority language protections as well as increasing
recall rights for those on layoff from one to two years.
BRAKING FOR PICKET LINES
Contract language, providing new protections for union
members, literally doubled the size of the previous contract. New language
covers leaves of absence for union business, safe equipment, protection for
drivers facing dangerous conditions, accidents and suspension of licenses, and
paid time for Department of Transportation physicals and tests.
Also, the contract guards against subcontracting and restricts
the use of casual employees (an industry norm), benefiting both drivers and
dockworkers, and protects drivers from discipline for refusing to cross a
Penske workers gain an additional paid personal day, for three
per year, plus seven holidays. The contract increases holiday pay, if a
holiday is worked, from straight time plus holiday pay to time and one-half
plus holiday pay. Vacation eligibility is improved; three weeks become
available with six years’ service, instead of seven; eligibility for four
weeks is reduced from 20 to 15 years. Vacation pay for drivers is increased
from 40 hours’ pay per vacation week to 45 hours’ pay.
Grandparents are added to paid funeral leave. The union got
back an eight-hour work day with a half-hour paid lunch break.
Health and dental benefits remain the same. A new 401(k) plan
with immediate vesting is implemented; the employers’ pre-tax contributions
will be 2.5 percent the first year, 3 percent the second year and 3.26 percent
the third year. All employees who have been on the payroll since June 7, 1999
receive $10 for each week, including shutdown; the payout is equal to the
amount the company was required to contribute towards an inferior pension plan
imposed by the previous national union.
Wages for dockworkers rise from $14.05 to $14.40, $14.65 and
$14.90. Drivers are paid by the mile; the mileage rate advances from $.333 per
mile to .34, .35, and .36 each year. Driver hourly rates increase from $14.57
to $14.86, $15.11 and $15.36. In addition to paid mileage, route drivers are
paid for each stop; stop pay rises from $15.61 to $15.92, $16.22 and $16.52
Drop and hook pay for drivers (when dropping one trailer and
picking up another) increases from $7 to $7.43, $7.58 and $7.73. Delay time
due to breakdowns begins paying the hourly rate immediately; previously it was
after the first hour. In addition, drivers using sleeper cabs will receive an
additional $41, $42 and $43 per day from $40. If staying in a motel, drivers
will receive motel costs plus $20-$21 meal allowance per day.
Local Pres. Lester Koch spoke for the membership in
stating, "It’s not everything we would have liked to gain, but it is
certainly much greater than we had, with real improvements and protections for
the members. It’s a solid base to begin preparations for the next time, and
now we have a union that will help us and the members run."
The Local 112 negotiating committee consisted of Pres. Koch, Vic
Talotta, driver, and Bob Nolf, dockworker. They were assisted by
Intl. Rep. Bruce Klipple.
UE News - 03/00