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2 contracts in 2 weeks: XPO, Teamsters come to agreement in Trenton

XPO has long fought Teamsters’ efforts and downplays impact of second contract with union

XPO posts strong results in last reporting quarter as a combined company Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

The Teamsters union now has a second contract in place with XPO.

And the back-and-forth sniping on whether this is a “big deal” continues, with XPO (NYSE: XPO) putting out a succinct statement almost identical to what it said last week when the news broke that it had signed its first-ever contract with the Teamsters at its Miami facility.

“Once again the Teamsters offered us a contract with terms that were so advantageous to XPO that we couldn’t turn it down,” the company said Monday in a prepared statement regarding the contract it has signed with a small bargaining unit at its Trenton, New Jersey, facility.

The question of whether the two Teamsters-XPO contracts are a win for the union or a win for the company comes down to a question that hovers over all collective bargaining: What’s important?

About the only thing that the Teamsters and sources close to XPO can agree upon in discussing the Trenton contract is that it was signed. The number of people covered isn’t even in agreement. The union said in its statement that 34 workers are covered by the pact. XPO sees that number as 27.

But one thing that can’t be disputed is the fact that just a few weeks ago, there were no XPO workers covered by contracts with the Teamsters, and the aggressiveness that the company showed in resisting unionization was well known. Now there are two contracts. 

The two sides can’t even agree on the monetary value of the new two-year contract. Sources close to XPO said the new contract provides a relatively small raise of 69 cents over the two-year life of the deal, a number that sources said might put the Teamsters workers behind nonunion workers at Trenton depending on the size of increases they receive.

When asked about the XPO view of the raise only being 69 cents, the union disputed that in an email to FreightWaves. Its view is that Trenton workers are receiving a 93 cents-per-hour raise retroactive to June 1, 40 cents per hour on Jan. 1 and 29 cents per hour on June 1, 2022. 

The Teamsters did not tout higher pay in either of their releases celebrating the signing of the contract. In the statement regarding the Trenton contract signing, the union cited that workers in Miami and Trenton “now have their rights and protections in a legally binding contract for the first time.” 

In a follow-up email to FreightWaves, the union stressed the procedural parts of the contact as being key. “Protections are the biggest things to obtain in a first contract as they provide job security and build the foundation for future negotiations,” the spokesman said. 

Securing disciplinary and dismissal procedures was also touted by the union when it announced the deal in Miami. 

XPO has long battled the Teamsters’ efforts to organize workers at various facilities. Up until the Miami and Trenton contracts, it had not signed an agreement on unionization in North America with the Teamsters at any of its facilities. (There is a small level of non-Teamsters unionization at other XPO facilities.) There have been XPO locations that had voted to be represented by the Teamsters that later voted to decertify. Teamsters officials would blame those votes on XPO refusal or resistance to negotiations that ultimately wore down the union. 

In turn, the Teamsters have sought to demonize XPO as one of its leading targets for organization, one of the reasons why the fact that XPO signed contracts at Miami and Trenton is being celebrated by the Teamsters while not focusing on too many specifics in its statements.  

Suggesting that the Teamsters see the two contracts as an important step toward further unionization of XPO facilities, the union’s formal statement quoted Ernie Soehl, director of

the union’s national freight division, as saying, “These two contract victories are critical in our fight to build worker power at XPO.”

The statement also quoted Bruce Ryan, a linehaul driver in Trenton, who expressed a similar sentiment. “I also look forward to bringing more XPO members into the Teamsters union so that

they can also have their rights and protections in writing,” he said.

The rank and file in Trenton voted to be represented by the Teamsters in 2017, the union said. By contrast, the vote in Miami went back to when that facility was owned by Con-way, the LTL carrier XPO acquired in 2015. The Trenton facility also had been Con-way, but with the union vote coming after the sale. 

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  1. Freight Zippy

    Interesting how the Teamsters are talking job security.
    Take a look at the LTL carriers that are no longer with us and how many were union carriers??

    69 cent raise over 2 years is pitiful. The company may have done this to discourage further unionization.

    I know it would NOT make me join a union…

  2. Michael Hitchner

    As a newer Xpo Employee(4 years) I find it funny that the union is talking “job security” in a company that (at least in the region I work in) already has plenty of job security. The only people I have heard of being terminated either broke the rules (which the rules here are not unreasonable), broke the law or did things that no decent driver with a lick of common sense would do behind the wheel of a CMV. The “rights and protections” they speak of are already spelled out in our employee handbook,which, last I checked, is already in writing. The wage increase that they got for trenton will probably just barely cover their union dues and XPO has consistently and significantly raised the pay over the course of the past 1 year to 18 months. If the union shops did not see that raise it was because a contract was being negotiated. I, for one, am glad my terminal is NON UNION and hope it stays that way. I do not need a 3rd party to bring my grievances or concerns to management. I am perfectly capable of doing that myself and have done so in the past with no retaliation. I feel XPO is already a fair employer in wages and policies. Some issues do need to be addressed, like any LTL company as big as XPO. No freight company is perfect and they all have their issues and having a union is not going to change that.

  3. Bubba Johnson

    It is really sad that the Drivers have to pay Union dues with little added value. They are forming Unions, just to form Unions, not to benefit the workers. It was a long time ago when Unions helped standardize pay and improve safety conditions, but in today’s world, they are just a lobbying group funding through Union Member wages.

    1. Jeff

      Maybe you need to read the article again! A worker can get a lot more from a contract than just wages, if you’ve never worked at a union company you might not know that. To me it’s sad hearing your logic, and ignorance on what being represented by a union actually does. You should check it out sometime you might have a different view.

      1. Tcs53

        As a retired CCX,Conway,XPO driver I can tell you this means nothing. The only people that it can benefit are new hires. The union can’t match the benefits XPO is already giving employees,and that’s a fact! All you get is a third party to represent you if you have a grievance. Big deal. In the 34 years I worked there (26 as a line haul driver) I never saw anyone get fired that didn’t deserve it!

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.