This is a reminder that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) drug testing program will soon require testing for four semi-synthetic opioids (i.e., hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone). The change is effective January 1, 2018.
From Thursday, August 24 to Saturday, August 26, Teamsters alerted participants at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, Texas, about diesel engine maker Cummins Inc.’s (NYSE: CMI) attacks against family health care and the threat this poses to American families.
Once a socially responsible corporate leader, Cummins has adopted an extremely high deductible medical insurance plan for employees, which forces families to pay up to $6,000 out-of-pocket before insurance starts paying any portion of the medical bill.
Having recently brought its distribution and service segment in house, the company is moving to impose its unaffordable health plan on its mechanic shops across the United States.
Cummins mechanics in West Virginia, represented by Teamsters Local 175, are pushing back, and a growing movement of Cummins workers is aiming to reestablish affordable family health care at Cummins across its many sites.
In 2016, Cummins made nearly $2 billion in profit, and paid out $676 million of it to shareholders. The company employs more than 20,000 workers across the U.S.
“No one should be forced to gamble with their health,” said Ken Hall, Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer and President of Local 175. “Cummins’ high deductible plans are a danger to all of our kids and all of our families. We will continue to push back.”
High deductible plans are spreading havoc. The American Academy of Pediatrics calls the plans “particularly inappropriate” for children because the high upfront out-of-pocket costs cause parents to hesitate on whether or not to see the doctor.
Research shows people under these plans put off visiting the doctor for preventive and necessary care. As a result, people are getting sicker and ultimately putting their lives in danger.
The huge out-of-pocket costs associated with high deductible medical plans force working families to cut back on other essentials such as food, clothing and education. It also causes families to run down their savings or go deeper into debt.
Teamsters Local 745 members distributed thousands of hand bills at the Great American Trucking Show and held banners that said “What’s Gone Wrong with Cummins?” They also handed out air fresheners which said “Every American Deserves Health Care.” All materials directed interested patrons to the Facebook page, Cummins Awful Truth, where an increasing number of Cummins employees across the country are connecting with the campaign for affordable health care.
“As Teamsters, many of us drive trucks with Cummins engines, on the job, and in our personal lives. We’re very troubled by how this once great American company is now cutting access to affordable family health care for its employees. Everyone deserves health care, and what Cummins is doing to its employees is a threat to all of us,” said Rod Cuevas, business agent with Local 745 in Dallas.
NAFTA talks start in Washington, D.C. today on an ambitious schedule to come up with a “modernized” agreement by the end of the year. The Teamsters Union will be tracking them closely. As North America’s transportation union, our members on the roads and rails, in warehouses and ports from coast to coast, depend on trade for their livelihoods. The livelihoods of Teamster members in bakeries, breweries and the dairy industry also depend on a stable trade relationship. Teamsters are pro-trade – but we want fair trade.
First, we remind negotiators from both countries of the importance of Canada-U.S. trade. Contrary to what some may believe, there is no significant trade imbalance between our two nations. In fact, we are each other’s biggest customers – 64 percent of all Canadian trade is with the U.S., and 48 U.S. states count Canada as one of their largest export markets. Last year, the United States exported more to Canada than any other country. It’s why we believe NAFTA renegotiations must not inadvertently disrupt our trade relationship – a belief shared by our governments and most business stakeholders.
That said, we also remind the new NAFTA negotiators why Teamsters opposed the original agreement a generation ago and why we have opposed its expansion in numerous trade deals since – most recently in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Simply put, the NAFTA model does not work for workers. Instead, it subordinates their interests to the bottom-line profit motives of multinational corporations, suppresses wages and labor standards, and contributes to rising inequality. We welcome NAFTA renegotiation and, on behalf of our 1.4 million members, we will engage with our governments to upgrade this flawed and failed “free trade” model.
This starts with the inclusion of a new Labor Chapter to replace the original ineffective side agreement. New and enforceable provisions that protect workers’ right to organize will be central to the success of and a precondition to our support for NAFTA modernization. The elements of an effective Labor Chapter are straightforward:
As the new NAFTA talks progress over the next several months, state and provincial Teamster leaders will speak out on other, thornier issues that are important to our members.
We will oppose including dairy market access in the new NAFTA, noting that it was kept off the table in the original agreement. We will also make the case that cross-border long-haul trucking commitments should not undermine highway safety or damage the border environment. But for now, at the start of the first round of formal negotiations, we respectfully demand a new approach and new attention to the larger expectations of workers throughout North America.
Finally, real reform towards a pro-worker NAFTA replacement model that we can support is achievable only if the negotiation process is open and inclusive. We urge our governments to share the negotiating texts after each round of talks with Parliament, Congress, the labor movement in all three countries, with civil society stakeholders and the public at large. Standing ready to support the best instincts of the Trump and Trudeau trade teams to make NAFTA work for workers, the Teamsters Union urges that negotiations be democratic and transparent.
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