The Teamsters are ready to put the muscle they used against Wall Street to help YRC Worldwide into action against fresh opponents, says General President James P. Hoffa.
"We took on the big banks to save YRCW and we're going to keep taking on big companies like Coca-Cola," Hoffa told representatives from more than 200 Teamsters locals in the brewery and beverage industries today in Washington.
Hoffa underscored the need to save existing Teamster jobs while organizing new companies, including FedEx. "There is one (labor) law for FedEx and another law for UPS," he said, referring to the Railway Labor Act and National Labor Relations Act.
"We need to level the playing field and when we do that we're going to organize 100,000 workers at FedEx," Hoffa said. He also targeted automobile manufacturers accused of shifting work from union carhaulers to nonunion competitors.
"They want to save a few bucks by getting rid of good Teamster jobs and we've said no way," said Hoffa. The Teamsters enlisted the United Auto Workers in its campaign against the automakers, protesting at auto shows and in Washington.
While hailing recent organizing successes at Continental Airlines and other companies, Hoffa stressed the importance of the union's efforts to help YRC Worldwide survive and save 35,000 Teamster jobs at its national and regional trucking companies.
"I was recently on a dock talking to Holland drivers and they told me that it's been hard but they're glad to have these good jobs," Hoffa said. "But it hasn't been easy. Our members made tremendous sacrifices. And we took on the big banks -- Goldman Sachs, UBS and others -- and we saved 35,000 good Teamster jobs."
The Teamsters last year agreed to a 15 percent wage cut and an 18-month suspension of pension contributions in return for a stake in YRC Worldwide and an unprecedented voice in the company's management as the company struggled to avoid bankruptcy.
The Teamsters union then stepped into YRC Worldwide's battle to complete a debt-for-equity exchange in December, accusing investment banks of creating a market for derivatives that would profit from the collapse of the multi-billion dollar trucking outfit.
Some of those banks reportedly responded by buying up notes from YRC bondholders and tendering them in the exchange, helping the company meet its Dec. 30 deadline.
Contact William B. Cassidy at email@example.com.