Teamsters union ratifies new pact with Peter Pan

The Teamsters union has ratified a four-year collective bargaining agreement with a powerful union for the Massachusetts trucking industry, a deal that Sean O’Brien believes is a victory for the lower-cost carriers that labor disputes have threatened to hobble.

Teamsters Local 565’s 2,119 workers ratified the contract Monday night, ending the era of lengthy work stoppages at the nation’s eighth-largest national trucking company.

Former Teamsters President William Flynn brought the union into the Galloway, Mass.-based company seven years ago to settle an escalating series of dues disputes. One union organizer tells MassLive this new deal with the Independent Regional Logistics Association and its parent company is a win for Peter Pan and its driver brethren.

Union membership dropped dramatically among the drivers when companies became increasingly fleet-based in recent years. Container trucks were increasingly replaced by box trucks that tote packages up and down the East Coast.

“This is a win for our members, and a win for an industry that many don’t believe should have unions anymore. We have many carriers that are more efficient than us,” O’Brien said.

“But the companies in this deal are more efficient with fewer drivers. They know their drivers will get a better deal.”

The new contract has different pricing terms, which O’Brien called a “tweak” to the contract that was in place at Peter Pan before Teamsters leaders locked out drivers in April 2011 over an unpaid tab of $47 million.

Rather than starting a dispute anew and working to hammer out a new deal to restore collections, O’Brien said the new contract benefits lower-cost carriers, allowing them to pay more out of pocket and to forgo the freight-deductible model that the previous arrangement benefitted bigger carriers.

“I commend the President, the director and all members of the negotiating committee on their success in reaching a four-year deal that will be an excellent benefit to everyone involved. It’s the right choice for the trucking industry, this region and our employees,” Peter Pan President & CEO Barry J. Wolfe said in a statement.

O’Brien insisted the change was a good deal for the employees.

“The change is more fair for the union’s constituents. Before, we were paying freight-deductible insurance that made us less profitable. Under this new system, we get to pay deductible insurance for all trips but are given fewer conditions to satisfy before deductibles kick in,” he said.

The new deal goes into effect Nov. 1, 2018. The previous contract expired in April.

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