With a down economy and the rising cost of trucking, many carriers have been forced to cut back on their expenses. Michigan carrier Fasdecks Inc. downsized in 2011 and subsequently laid off most of its staff, including a part-time union truck driver.
A short time later, Teamsters sent Fastdecks a bill for nearly half a million dollars.
“We got the bill and it was for $465,774,” George Kerver, president of Fastdecks Inc., told Michigan Capitol Confidential. “We have made three payments so far. The first one was due five days after our receipt of their demand. Three sets of lawyers have all warned us that this law is pay now and ask questions later.”
According to the Michigan Capitol Confidential, Fastdecks has employed hundreds of union workers since the company was opened in 1964. The $465,744 bill was the result of laying off a single driver.
Kever told the publication that Fastdecks was forced to lay off nearly every employee the company had by the end of 2011.
“Fastdecks has had one Teamster truck driver for most of the years we have been in business. When we had so little work, he had to look for another job. He was laid off in December of 2011. We ceased paying into the pension fund at that time because legally, even if you want to, you can’t contribute to the fund if you do not have an employee working,” Kever said.
“Over the years we’ve been generous with our employees. But now the money we could have used to continue that policy is being sent to the pension fund,” Kerver continued. “I’m one of three owners of the company and we’re experiencing a lot of angst. All these years we’ve been working hard and making sure our employees were covered. But we don’t have any pensions ourselves. All we have is our savings.”
What frustrates many is the money that Fastdecks is being forced to pay isn’t based on what is owed to the driver, it’s based on the fact that the union fund that is currently about $25 billion in the hole.
“A little more than five years ago, the increasing costs associated with withdrawing from pension plans caused one large company, UPS Inc. (United Parcel Service), to buy its way out. In December 2007, UPS paid $6.1 billion to withdraw from the Teamsters Central States fund. At the time, UPS was large enough to cut a deal. Under the arrangement, UPS was still liable for its own employees’ retirement, but was excused from having to pay for the retirement of other Teamsters who never worked for it,” the Michigan Capitol Confidential reported.