Teamster executives endorse sell-out deal for 3,000 auto transporters and plan absentee ballot

Teamsters’ auto transport division heads voted unanimously Thursday to recommend an interim agreement for 3,000 auto transport drivers, mechanics and shipyard workers. Ballots will be mailed out on June 26, with voting on the National Master Automobile Transporters Agreement (NMATA) scheduled for July 12.

Car transporter with GM pickups in Wentzville, Missouri (Credit: Jack Cooper)

Union officials called the agreement “the most lucrative car transport agreement”. But the terms of the settlement do nothing to offset years of real wage cuts and leave workers vulnerable to the ravages of inflation. The contract also preserves a number of concessions made by the Teamsters in previous agreements.

Auto transporters are determined to end decades of concessions and reap significant profits in conditions where their wages are being eroded by rising costs of food, fuel, utilities and other essentials. The drivers’ willingness to fight was demonstrated by the nearly unanimous strike vote they cast before the contract expired on May 31. However, the Teamsters canceled the planned strike hours before the deadline and announced a settlement, but declined to give details.

According to a video statement announcing the confirmation posted online, the three-year interim NMATA includes wage increases of 9 percent retroactive to June 1, 2022, a 5 percent increase in 2023 and a 4 percent increase in 2024, officials claimed there were unspecified improvements to the current and absurdly inadequate inflation adjustments, which are currently capped at 10 cents an hour.

Teamster officials claimed the full agreement would be posted online, but full details were still unavailable as of late Thursday night.

With the current inflation rate of 8.6 percent expected to persist through at least 2023, or likely to increase further, the deal guarantees a significant further pay cut over the contract term. The prices of groceries, fuel and other necessities are up well over 9 percent, with gasoline costs up 48 percent year-on-year.

The first-year increase doesn’t make up for losses the auto haulers suffered from the one-year extension of the Teamsters’ signed contract from 2015 to 2021, which included a miserable 1.8 percent wage increase.

There is widespread opposition to the sell-out agreement among workers. This was expressed on Teamsters’ own Facebook page. A car transporter responded to the reported pay settlement: ‘Please explain how good 9% is when the inflation rate is above that. Basically, the way I see it, with the raise, we’re still going to make less than last year because we don’t even agree [the] Inflation rate.”

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