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Truck drivers, auto carriers head to contract talks as truckers’ strike looms

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Car carriers and the Teamsters union fell to the wires on Tuesday to hammer out a collective bargaining deal and avert a nationwide strike that could begin as soon as a minute after midnight Wednesday.

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In a Facebook post late on Monday night, lead negotiators from Carhol’s Teamsters, who met in Romulus, Michigan, sounded optimistic that the contract could be agreed by midnight Tuesday.

“It’s going to be a good contract,” said Avril Thompson, Carhaul division director and co-chair of the Teamsters Transportation Vehicle Industry Negotiating Committee (TNATINC).

Last weekend, about 6,000 drivers and maintenance workers in the United States and Canada covered by the National Major Carriers Agreement (NMATA) voted overwhelmingly to allow a strike if no agreement is reached before Wednesday.

The one-year extension to the original 2016 contract expires at midnight on Tuesday. Union officials have repeatedly said that the extension will not be extended. The history of NMATA dates back to the 1940s.

The extension came after Partition concluded in the spring of 2021 that the impact of the pandemic on the economy had made effective bargaining difficult.

Employers agreed to a provision in the new contract that would make it extremely difficult to subcontract union work, a move that Thompson described as “huge.” In the post, negotiators said the current proposal contains more than two dozen changes that would benefit workers.

Ken Puff, the national organizer for the Teamsters for a Democrat, said that if union officials agree to a new contract, both sides will likely extend the agreement by one year to allow time for information to be distributed and for the ranks to vote. (TDU), a Teamster splinter group. If the negotiating committee rejects the proposal, Buff said, there will be a strike.

The national contract covers workers at Kansas City-based Jack Cooper Transport, Edwardsville, Illinois-based Cassins Transport, and five smaller carriers. Jack Cooper filed for bankruptcy protection in August 2019, but appeared less than three months later.

Car carriers have always been considered among the most skilled off-road truck drivers. They transport high-value, perishable cargo, and face delivery challenges that go far beyond the traditional collision methods that drivers engage in. Spatial skills are required to organize cars and trucks on carriers, and training takes months, according to non-union auto transporter United Road in Plymouth, Michigan.

But in recent years, unionized carriers have been driven down by lower-cost, non-union competitors. Truck drivers also face stiff competition from the country’s railways. In the United States, the rail industry moves about three-quarters of all new cars and trucks, according to American Railroad Association (AAR).

A nationwide strike by auto transport workers is the last thing US automakers need after dealing with two years of supply chain shortages that have curbed production and thus sales.

About 15.2 million light vehicles will be produced in North America in 2022, according to Forecasts from S&P Global. This is 12.7% more than 12.9 million units in 2021. Production is expected to reach about 17.2 million units in 2023, according to forecasts. The data includes production in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

The Freight waves above 500 The list of charter carriers includes Cassins transport (No. 81).

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