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.