LABOR: Trucking strike ends for Fontana depot08/19/2013 4:11 PM
BY JACK KATZANEK
Drivers and dock workers at a Fontana trucking depot returned to work on Monday, Aug. 20 following a three-day strike, and the disputes between the Teamsters and company officials will be decided by an arbitrator later this week.
Some 250 workers at USF Reddaway’s terminal on Etiwanda Avenue went on strike Friday morning, claiming the company had failed to negotiate a first contract with Teamsters leaders. Workers at a second facility, in Compton, went on strike to protest the Fontana situation.
Randy Korgan, business agent for Rialto-based Teamsters Local 63, said a majority of the workers signed cards in February stating that they wanted to join the union. Workers at other sites for the trucking company already are working under union contracts.
“They refused to recognize us,” Korgan said. “It was obvious the company was just dragging its feet.”
The two sides agreed to allow an arbitrator to settle the issue, which will happen on Wednesday, Korgan said.
USF Reddaway is a regional trucking company based in Tualatin, Ore., and ships goods mostly in California and the Pacific Northwest.
In an emailed statement released through a spokesperson, T.J. O’Connor, U.S. Reddaway’s president, said the work stoppages in Fontana and Compton were not sanctioned by the Teamsters’ national body. He said Monday afternoon that the two facilities “are fully operational now,” and that the company rerouted and reassigned freight to other facilities until the strike ended.
O’Connor added that the arbitration had already been scheduled before the walkout last week.
USF Reddaway was one of several regional trucking companies acquired by YRC Worldwide several years ago. The surge of buyouts loaded YRC Worldwide with debt and affected its bottom line to the point that the company almost ran out of cash in late 2009 and needed to have its debt restructured.
During those years the Teamsters agreed to help Overland Park, Kan.-based YRC Worldwide get on a firmer footing by deferring raises they had contracted for and also allowing the company to defer making pension payments.
Then, in May of this year YRC Worldwide shocked and angered Teamsters leaders by attempting to buy out rival trucking company ABF Freight Systems. ABF eventually pulled out of talks for a merger.
Korgan said the history between the union and parent company did not directly affect the Fontana situation, but he said that the YRC Worldwide’s past actions did weigh on the minds of some of the members.
“How many times can you go to the well and help them,” Korgan asked. “Sooner or later the company has to help itself.”
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