Friday, January 11, 2013

'Amazing' Teamster contract 'sending a wave through the port'

(UPDATES to fix typos in 8th graf)

Drivers at the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach are taking steps to form a union now that 65 Toll Group drivers ratified an impressive first contract that gives them a $6-an-hour raise and, for the first time, a pension, affordable health care, job security and clean restrooms.

It's believed to be the first union contract signed by port drivers since trucking was deregulated in 1980.

Teamsters International Vice President Fred Potter said his phone is ringing off the hook since the news broke about the Toll Group contract. Potter, who also heads the union's Port division, was interviewed yesterday by former Teamster Rick Smith on the Rick Smith Show. (Leave it to a 20-year Teamster truck driver to get the real story about working people.) Said Potter:
This victory at Toll, our ability to negotiate that first contract, that was ratified by the membership at Toll ... is sending a wave through the port... 'They did it at Toll, we can do it also.' Our phone is ringing off the hook because port drivers finally feel they have the power.
Potter saluted the drivers who fought a bitter 2-year battle against the Australian multinational Toll Group.
These were courageous workers. We see the enthusiasm the Toll workers have now for going out and spreading the word to other workers to say 'You can do this, too.' The Teamsters will stand behind you, but you need to fight for your rights as well. That's really what this is about. It's a struggle.
Global corporations -- which are the most profitable in America -- ignore workers' need for a decent standard of living, affordable health care and a safe work environment, Potter said.
If business doesn't look at how they're treeating the workers, they're going to see more interruptions, they're going to see more crises at the ports ... This is a time in our history when the workers have said enough is enough. 
Smith reports that port drivers in Savannah will soon be marching for their right to organize in the annual Martin Luther King Day parade.

Stay tuned in to Rick Smith! You can listen to the entire podcast here.