GMT AGREES TO COME BACK TO THE TABLE
After playing hardball with the Urban Drivers for weeks and refusing offers of further negotiations, GMT and the Teamsters will head back to the table for another round of negotiations.
The team of GMT drivers negotiating on behalf of the union and the company management met on Wednesday the 28th of July to negotiate ground rules for this future negotiation, which is scheduled to take place towards the end of August. With more ground rules in place the two negotiating teams will meet with a mediator to continue negotiations.
“The increasing frequency of assaults against fellow drivers, the need to keep the current time off policy intact, and growing concern over inflation in an economy where CDL drivers are becoming increasingly scarce were all major items of concern for the drivers” Said Teamster Business Agent Curtis Clough, “the company can’t afford to put themselves in a position where they can’t recruit because they are not competitive with other area CDL employers.”
GMT has agreed that there will be a board member present at these negotiating sessions. It was widely reported that board members would be present in the future after the strike in 2014, but none had yet attended any of the negotiating sessions in 2021. The board has been pushing for major changes in the agreement which would reduce benefit levels, but no single member of the board has yet been present at even a single negotiating session. “GMT didn’t have a problem putting my brothers and sisters and their families in harm’s way during the COVID pandemic to take the general public to appointments and shopping trips, but when it comes to doing things for them like paying for insurance or time away from work it is ‘no way! we can’t afford it’ according to Teamster Steward Derek Lorrain who continued “we have great employees and need to take care of them and our riders.”
The Teamsters from GMT Urban can be forced to work up to 13.5 hour shifts each day, and they are looking to keep the flexibility of the current time off program, but the Teamster Negotiating team has offered several proposals that would resolve the company concern, such as allowing more time to be used by drivers during summer slow periods when there are no extra school routes in, and drivers have difficulty filling their work schedules and allowing more opportunity to cash in time off.
To many of the drivers, including everyone on the bargaining committee, it seems like the company has no interest in arriving at any kind of a deal. One of the drivers spoke of the anecdotal GMT tale of a former driver that the company had used for PR purposes. This drivers face was on recruitment banners, and booths used at job fairs and expos promoting the company’s diversity and job opportunities to the public. Shortly after the driver’s picture was used, he had a minor accident, with no injuries and very minor damage, and he was terminated without a second thought or any compassion at all from the company. The image continued to be used for recruiting long after. Many drivers see this as a lack of loyalty by the company to its many employees that keep the system operating.
GMT Rural driver Val Sevene spoke about the hours “Drivers are FORCED to work long hours and split shifts with the splits being as much as 4 to 5 hours off the clock” referring to the shifts built by the computerized shift building program used by GMT which tends to build shifts with long break periods and start times that can very several hours day to day. “Insurance and CTO time " combined time off "..it's their terms or no terms.” She said referring to the strong-arm tactics of GMT, who seems to have little regard for the health of the drivers, who tend to suffer poor health outcomes due to the shift work.
The Teamsters at GMT continue to look for a fair deal from the company, and Local 597 looks forward to continuing to helping them get that. Unfortunately, GMT has turned down our offer of negotiating sessions prior to this mediation on August 24th, so there will be a lot of work to be done at that time. The workers at GMT deserve a deal that respects what they do for the company.