An election that could determine the course of the Teamsters union and the tenor of its relations with employers begins Thursday as ballots are mailed to Teamsters.
General President James P. Hoffa is battling to retain his office against Sandy Pope, a New York local president, and Wisconsin Teamsters official Freg Gegare.
Ballots were mailed to 1.4 million members of the union Oct. 6. Teamsters who don’t receive a ballot by Oct. 12 may request a replacement by calling 1-877-317-2011. The ballots must be returned by 9 a.m. Nov. 14. The ballot count is scheduled to start that day in Alexandria, Va., and the count could take several days to complete.
At stake in the election is the future of a union that once dominated the trucking industry but now represents workers at only a few large motor carriers. In a debate last month, Pope and Gegare both accused Hoffa, who was absent, of being to close to employers and offering them too many concessions.
However, Teamster wage and pension concessions are credited with saving the largest unionized trucking company, YRC Worldwide, from bankruptcy. In return, the Teamsters received two seats on YRC’s board of directors, giving the union a greater role in management oversight at the $4.3 billion company.
Pope and Gegare both took a combative stance toward companies such as UPS, the largest Teamster employer, during the debate. “We need to start enforcing our contracts, which hasn’t been happening,” Pope said, mentioning UPS.
The Teamsters will negotiate a new contract with UPS in 2013. That’s also the year when the union’s contract with LTL trucker ABF Freight System expires.