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This decision by the NLRB dooms approximately 15,000 steel haulers and other owners to remain as captive members of the Teamsters, who we believe, as a matter of their policy, has been working for years to eliminate all independent truckers.
Probably, the best example of their policy is their recently negotiated contract which reduced the pays of their owner-operator members and hammered another nail into their coffin.
I have included a copy of our appeal, which will give this subcommittee a better understanding of our problem with the Labor Board.
I have covered so far two aspects of the problems confronting usthe threat of antitrust action when our members undertake to better their working conditions collectively and the failure of the NLRB to afford relief to the workers we represent by making available to them NLRB certification for collective bargaining.
Both of these problems are related to the no-man's land in which the independent truckers find themselves, as regards their status as "employees."
Probably, most of our problems could be solved by the Congress through a clear and concise amendment of the Norris-LaGuardia Act adequately including owner-operators in the act's definition of "employees", and clearly defining disagreements between owner-operators and carriers as coming within the term "Labor dispute."
Such a simple amendment would immediately give these fine, independent American workers the kind of legal standing they need to obtain improved contracts with the trucking companies they must lease their rigs to.
Furthermore, haulers of nonregulated commodities, should also be given some kind of exemption from antitrust laws, allowing them to meet together to discuss their cost of operations and to recommend and publish compensatory rate schedules.
The Congress could also help the independent truckers by amending the National Labor Relations Act to include coverage of owner-operators who must lease their rigs to trucking companies, in order to haul goods for shippers.
Congress should also direct the NLRB to abide by the Labor Relations Act which reads in part in section 7, "Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist Labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing."
We urge you as a committee to strongly recommend to Congress that it take these recommended steps immediately, as a means of saving one of the most valuable elements of the trucking industry— the independent truckers.
The role of the small independent trucker in America's transportation system is more threatened today than at any time in the past.
The questions of antitrust and of NLRB recognition are by no means all of the problems confronting the independent truckers.
They sometimes are robbed of their rightful share of the freight bill by unscrupulous carriers who "skim" off part of the tariff before figuring the trucker's share under the contract.
Recent ICC regulations making the freight bill "available" to the trucker for inspection have proved inadequate. He should have a legal right in every instance to receive an honest, written accounting based on the total freight bill itself, with a copy of the freight bill attached.
Owner-operators frequently are "ripped off" by having to absorb unjust unloading charges. They often are confronted with the choice of paying off somebody for a load, or sitting idle.
They are confounded by a maze of highway use taxes, ton-miles taxes, State registration taxes, permits for this and that, an almost unbearable array of problems, costly both in money and in time.
They are in most cases operating below cost. Hauling rates have not increased proportionately with the ever-rising cost of fuel, tires, parts, repairs, and other operational cost, plus lower speed limits and variant weight laws that also have reduced their incomes.
This Nation is indulging in total folly when it allows its magnificent interstate highway system to be clogged and cluttered by an infinite variety of State and local regulations and restraints on interstate commerce, all in the false name of States rights.
The system is not saving Americans money; it is costing them untold millions. It is not preserving private initiative; it is destroying it, through a process of forced bankruptcy on some of the hardest working, most dedicated workers in the country, the independent truck drivers.
These drivers must be some of the greatest "romantics" in America, too. Otherwise they would not endure the nightmare of unconscionable rules, regulations and ripoffs which so many of them endure on a dayby-day basis.
Other witnesses will discuss these problems today, in ensuing testimony.
For background history of the independent trucker movement, I am submitting, as supporting information, a transcript copy of a speech I was invited to deliver, and did deliver, at Harvard University.
For a truly remarkable summary of the trials and tribulations of owner-operators, I refer you to a statement, made last December by a member of your own House Small Business Committee-Congressman Joseph M. McDade. Mr. McDade shows great insight, and a remarkable grasp of the problems of the independent truckers.
For supportive information on our relations with the Teamsters Union, I am submitting reprints of magazine articles recounting the neglect and abuse the Teamsters have accorded owner-operators in the past, and also setting out in detail how the Teamsters managed to claim a "raise" for owner-operators in their new contract, while actually reducing the owner-operators' pay.
Aso submitted as evidence are other documents discussing various aspects of the independent truckers' problems: a synopsis of those problems prepared by Myron C. Grauer in connection with his doctoral study of the subject, with an introduction to and summary of the legal aspects of those problems; copies of a letter bearing on the question of antitrust prosecution of independent truckers, addressed by our attorney, Paul D. Boas, to Senator Philip Hart, but equally applicable to this hearing; also, a compelling letter to Senator Hart on the same subject, prepared by Arthur L. Fox II, able attorney and executive director of the Professional Drivers Council for Safety and Health, Washington, D.C.; and a synopsis of the legal issues involved in the antitrust problem taken from a book about independent truckers entitled, "Owner-Operator: The Independent Trucker."
In conclusion, I want to talk about the current great debate on the matter of deregulation. As professionals who work on a day-to-day
basis in the transportation industry as drivers and owners of equipment, the independents feel they have a balanced viewpoint on this
They believe that in the intricate transportation system that spans this Nation, some degree of regulation in the public interest is inevitable, and desirable. They are against the type of deregulation that would allow chaos and dog-eat-dog competition in the transportation industry.
However, it is my opinion and many others that if the independent trucker cannot get the right to bargain like other workers regarding their working conditions and rates of pay, then we believe total deregulation might be our only means of survival in this Nation's transportation industry.
To the Honorable Members of this subcommittee, I extend my thanks for your attention to this grave crisis confronting the independent truckers.
Mr. HUNGATE. Mr. Hill, the subcommittee appreciates your forthright testimony. You pointed out some problem areas that I think merit serious consideration by the Congress.
I recognize Mr. Hightower for 5 minutes.
Mr. HIGHTOWER. I have no questions.
Mr. HUNGATE. Mr. McCollister.
Mr. MCCOLLISTER. I want to thank Mr. Hill also. I will have questions in a moment if I could just yield back my time.
Mr. HUNGATE. Mr. Baldus?
Mr. BALDUS. The testimony was strong and compelling but I have no questions right now.
Mr. HUNGATE. Mrs. Fenwick?
Mrs. FENWICK. If I understand you correctly owner-operators are members of the Teamsters Union?
Mr. HILL. That is correct, ma'am.
Mrs. FENWICK. How does that happen?
Mr. HILL. Well, the trucking firms have contracts with the Teamsters Union and in order to work for these firms you must belong to the Teamsters Union and the Teamsters negotiate a contract at these companies.
The owner-operators have virtually nothing to say about the conditions of that contract.
Mrs. FENWICK. I would just like to understand this. The carriers have employees who are members of the Teamsters Union, right?
Mr. HILL. Right.
Mrs. FENWICK. And some shipper has given an order and all the carriers' trucks are busy, so they turn to the independent owneroperator?
Mr. HILL. No, not really. They set up special divisions and in lowpaying freight they hire owner-operators to haul on the separate divisions. And the divisions don't work together. The freight division, where they have the company employee-the truck drivers and the city delivery drivers and the dock workers-they are on one side of the city and the steel division or the special commodities' division is on the other side of the city; and the low-rate freight goes on the owner-operators and the high-rate freight goes on
Mrs. FENWICK. On the straight carrier?
Mr. HILL. Yes.
Mrs. FENWICK. How did you ever get into the union? Was it by some agreement between the Teamsters and the carriers that they would only allow you to be employed if you joined the union? Was that the arrangement?
Mr. HILL. I think what happened some years ago is the Teamsters Union went to these carriers, who had large freight divisions, and said "You have these other people working over here and you have these operators, and either we get them into our membership or you are not going to be hauling any freight on your freight division.” And it was a forced thing.
I know of very, very few carriers who have been certified by the National Labor Relations Board to have the Teamsters be the bargaining agent for these owner-operators. In fact that was one of the arguments that we made to the National Labor Relations Board; that is, that these people did not elect to have the Teamsters represent them, and in fact they would like the right to have a democratic election to decide on whether they want to have the Teamsters represent them as their bargaining agent; or whether they want, let us say the Fraternal Association of Special Haulers to bargain for them; or whether they want no union at all.
They should have this right to an election. They have been denied this for years and we have been fighting this.
Mrs. FENWICK. Is this common throughout the industry? I mean, I have spoken to a lot of independent owner-operators. I never heard one of them tell me they joined the Teamsters Union. Is this just in the steel hauling or in carriers of that type?
Mr. HILL. No, it is not just in that. I would say there are a lot of independent truckers running around the country that don't even work steady for a company. In fact they probably change from company to company frequently.
But they have probably teamsters' cards to about five different locals because they go to one city. The people there say "Hey, if you want to unload here, you have to be a member of the union."
And so they give $200. Maybe this is in New York for instance. And then they end up in Chicago and have to belong there.
I ran into a fellow once that actually was a member of five different teamsters' locals. They just joined to get their trucks unloaded and then they never paid any further dues on that. But it is a problem we have had for years.
I would say there is approximately 15,000 owner-operators-and that includes steel haulers and special commodity haulers and rewith the Teamsters Union and that are in the Teamsters Union.
Mrs. FENWICK. Have you brought these facts to the attention of the National Labor Relations Board and the Interstate Commerce Commission?
Mr. HILL. In 1970 we filed petitions against virtually every steel hauling company that had contracts with the Teamsters Union with the National Labor Relations Board asking for elections.
We had 75 percent of all the steel haulers throughout the country sion these petitions. We only needed 30 percent.
The National Labor Relations Board, the regional director in Pittsburgh around the first part of April indicated to me--and this is in
1970-that he did not think that we really even needed a hearing for the Board to hear our problems.
I said, "Well, I think we will get a hearing." So two days later we went on strike. There was a call made from Washington, D.C. that "We are going to give you a hearing now; now go back to work." And we said we wouldn't go back to work until we had these hearings.
They were finally concluded. We ended up on strike for 9 weeks. The hearings probably lasted 13 weeks.
They had testimony regarding the problems the owner-operators had regarding the Teamsters Union. They had probably about five boxes full of it. They know exactly what has been going on over there. And I think that the Congress should direct the Labor Board to give workers, not only steel haulers or truckers but any rank-and-file workers, should give them the right to a free election.
In fact what they are telling us in their decisions is that if all the United States steelworkers in the country, if they all decided they did not want the steelworkers to represent them anymore and they all filed petitions through the procedures of the NLRB, that that would not be enough.
They're saying they would have to get all the workers covered under the steel agreement to sign these contracts and that means J. & L., Bethlehem Steel, and all the other steel companies to sign a petition. That is the way they are deciding it.
Mr. HUNGATE. The time of the gentlelady has expired.
Mr. FITHIAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Hill, I appreciate your testimony.
I represent a district in Indiana which borders on the steel country. There we have had a number of problems. The independent steel haulers there have had a number of problems.
Mr. HILL. They sure have.
Mr. FITHIAN. And I sat down with them on numerous occasions and tried to assist them in some small way. It seems that we kept running into the difficulty of the State versus independent contracts and it was kind of a big shuffle from pillar to post so to speak without any real individual place that you could locate an authority to really make a change and solve the problem.
Now I would be curious to know whether you have any suggestion that might reconcile-and I don't know any other States so I don't know what the problems may be-but might reconcile the actions of what you speak here of with this National Labor Relations Board and the individual rate commissions of the various States?
It seems to me there is a fairly large, gray area here where jurisdictional rights of the State as compared to the National Labor Relations Board poses some really very serious problems.
Mr. HILL. Yes, there are all kinds of complications that we run into when we try to better our position in this system. And we have problems with the Interstate Commerce Commission and we have problems with the Department of Transportation and we have problems with the State agencies and we have problems with the National Labor Relations Board. We find ourselves in a no-man's-land.
For instance, the carriers charge a shipper a certain amount of money to haul their goods from East Gary to Pittsburgh.