After marathon talks, the Teamsters Union and 17 car hauling companies announced this morning they had reached tentative agreement on a new four-year contract.
The previous contract ran out at midnight Monday, and Teamsters had threatened to strike if an agreement could not be reached. The deadline was extended twice for 24 hour periods after significant progress was made on issues regarding Mexican truckers, flexibility in scheduling for the car haulers, and equalizing pay rates in different parts of the country.
In a press conference this morning, Teamsters President James Hoffa, who took at active role in the negotiations over the holiday weekend, announced the tentative agreement. This is the only Teamsters contract scheduled to expire during Hoffa's term and was his first major bargaining challenge since taking office earlier this year.
The new contract will give union drivers a 5% increase in wages the first year, followed by 4% raises in the second, third and fourth years. The drivers will also get a $1,500 bonus the first year, with more bonuses in following years. Union haulers currently make about $55,000 a year salary.
Drivers who choose to retire after 25 years would get better pension benefits, including health insurance for those age 55 or older. Retires over age 65 would get new prescription drug benefits, as well.
Hoffa declared victory, saying the union had not yielded to the trucking companies' major demands to pay newly hired drivers less and hire some part-time drivers.
One concession the union did make was on scheduling flexibility sought by the car haulers. Full-time mechanics will be allowed to work flexible shifts to help cover weekend hours, such as four 10-hour rather than five 8-hour days.
Teamsters officials expect the agreement to be ratified by union members within a few weeks.