Truckers protest pension plan
About 15 employees of Rood Trucking Company (RTC), based in Mineral Ridge, Ohio, which has a contract to haul U.S. mail, protested outside the general mail facility on Pittsburgh's North Side Thursday, accusing RTC of failing to place employees' pension contributions into individual retirement accounts.
The American Postal Workers Union, which represents about 125 of the RTC's employees, accuses the company of using the money, an estimated $250,000, as an interest-free, revolving loan and violating federal law by not making quarterly deposits to the accounts.
"I have checked mine, and I haven't had a deposit since February of 2001," said Dave Dunlap, one of more than a dozen workers who carried protest signs in front of the postal facility. "They've just ignored the law, and we don't know what they spent the money on," said Dunlap, who has been a truck driver with RTC for 2 1 / 2 years.
George Rood, owner of RTC, which employs 160 people and has a fleet of 90 trucks, refused to comment on the union's allegations. "All we're saying is we are not going to air our union problems in public," he said.
The union claims RTC is not in compliance with the federal Service Contract Act, which governs large contractors with the federal government. RTC's contract with the U.S. Postal Service places it under that law, the union says. But other federal guidelines, namely the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, stipulate companies only have to make annual pension plan deposits.
The union was certified as the collective bargaining agent for RTC employees in February 2001. "Right about the time we started having these problems," said Joe Radovich, an organizer for the union. The two sides have yet to iron out a contract.
The union is asking the postal service to step in and force RTC to make the deposits into the individual retirement funds, and wants the RTC to immediately bring the fund up to date, with retroactive interest. They plan to continue pressuring the trucking company on the pension issue and for a collective bargaining agreement.
"This is not going to be determined by what happens inside the negotiating room," Mark Dimondstein, organizer for the union, told the protesters. "It is going to be determined by what happens outside the negotiating room."