WISCONSINREPORT.COM (10/19/2009) - The Teamsters Union is launching a national campaign to fight against the destruction of the carhaul industry by bailed-out auto giants General Motors and Chrysler. The automakers received bailouts from taxpayers earlier this year, but are now demanding dramatic cost cuts from Teamster-represented carhaul companies, threatening hundreds of jobs.
Teamsters across the country will be at GM and Chrysler dealerships this weekend, distributing leaflets protesting the union-busting moves and alerting consumers that the cars they purchase could be delivered by inexperienced drivers with substandard equipment that greatly risk damaging the new vehicles. Car buyers will still be charged mandatory "destination fees" of more than $900 that have no relation to the actual cost of transporting a vehicle.
"Taxpayers have already financed GM and Chrysler to the tune of more than $60 billion in bailout money and billions more in the Cash for Clunkers program," said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa.
"The Teamsters want to remind these automakers that their taxpayer bailouts were intended to help save American jobs. Instead, they are out to destroy an industry that pays good wages and benefits at a time when we should be protecting and creating more of these kinds of jobs in this country," Hoffa continued.
As part of the campaign, the Teamsters Union also has launched a web site, www.carbuyersbeware.com, to educate consumers how the bailed-out auto giants are ripping off American car buyers.
"Even if the automakers succeed in making these outrageous cuts, the cost savings will be very small," said Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Tom Keegel.
"Auto transport represents just $120 per vehicle. And any cost savings will not be passed on to dealers or consumers," Keegel added.
The restructuring of the auto industry required shared sacrifice not just of the companies, but also the workers and suppliers. Experienced Teamster carhaul drivers have already taken steep wage cuts to ensure the long-term viability of the auto industry and the union carrier companies.
The Teamsters say the dramatic and unsustainable cuts the automakers are demanding now will bankrupt the union carriers and eliminate good middle-class jobs.
"These are the toughest and most dangerous jobs in the trucking industry," said Fred Zuckerman, Teamster Carhaul Division Director. "The jobs require great skill and expertise to safely load and unload vehicles with care and efficiency that car buyers expect."
"It's shameful that Chrysler and GM want to throw these professional drivers onto the unemployment rolls and replace them with what I believe are inexperienced, less-reliable drivers at substandard pay," Zuckerman said.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women, including more than 5,000 carhaulers, in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.