For 650 drivers at Hallcon Corporation, the vote for a new union at the end of August 2018 was a great relief. Drivers in eight states had been put into a fake company-dominated union called NPWU Local 707. Drivers stood up to their do-nothing union as well as their boss and won UE as their new union in an NLRB election. NPWU wasted drivers’ time through the end of the year, and held up certification of UE, by filing fake charges that the National Labor Relations Board would end up dismissing entirely.
The labor board finally certified UE on December 12, 2018 — the very same day that Hallcon drivers in UE Locals 155, 716, 1177, and 1077 ratified their new contract. The national contract between UE and Hallcon contains language that adds newly-organized drivers to the master contract by a card check process, or in this case through an NLRB election.
The newly-organized drivers still had to secure wages and other benefits to complete the contract. At the beginning of the year, they had elected a bargaining team and were ready to fight hard for the relief their members wanted and deserved. “We came to our first bargaining session knowing that we were joining a much better contract,” said Cheri Shaw, a La Junta Colorado driver.
Negotiating sessions took place in Chicago in January, February, March and over the phone in April. “In the end, we fought for raises, we organized our members in Houston, and we are fighting to build our union day by day,” said Nandell Baines, a driver out of Houston TX. “We knew we wanted to join the UE national contract because it had many things the drivers were talking about,” she added.
Locals 155, 716, 1177, and 1077, along with newly-chartered Locals 977 (Texas and Louisiana) and 1477 (Colorado and New Mexico), have formed a conference board to coordinate negotiation and enforcement of the national contract with Hallcon. UE conference boards bring together locals representing the same employer.
“We are 1,800 strong now and will need to build the new locals as well as build our conference board,” said Larry Hopkins, President of Local 1177. “The conference board will be the place where we set rules for enforcing our contract nation-wide and building power in this industry. Someday, we need to be talking directly to the railroads,” he added.