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Pony Express Drivers Ratify Pact

Drivers for the Pony Express Courier Corp. in Spokane and the Inland Northwest have ratified a union contract that guarantees wages and lets drivers bid on routes, officials said Thursday.

Nearly 120 drivers last month voted to approve a collective bargaining contract between the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Charlotte, N.C.-based courier service.

The ratification marks the first labor agreement for the drivers who deliver business documents and other items in several cities, including Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, Pasco, Yakima, Walla Walla, Lewiston and Missoula.

A 300-person bargaining unit in Seattle and 84-person unit in Boise also have ratified the three-year contract.

The votes were part of a five-year effort by the Teamsters to unionize 3,300 Pony Express drivers nation-wide. However, the Pacific Northwest boasts the largest concentration of Pony Express drivers in the country.

“Pony Express drivers stuck together and refused to be treated like throw-away workers,” Teamsters president Ron Carey said in a statement from Washington, D.C., headquarters.

Company officials in Spokane were unavailable to comment about any effects a labor agreement would have on operations or costs.

Teamsters officials said that thus far 23 of 24 bargaining units in 18 states, representing 2,200 drivers, have ratified the labor agreement. Another 12 bargaining units will complete their vote this weekend.

Teamsters documents indicated that Spokane drivers will receive a 3 percent raise in the first year and be guaranteed wages of $5.15 to $9.50 per hour, depending on their job description. In addition, they will receive 12 cents to 15 cents per mile, depending on the vehicle they drive.

Wages during the next three years will climb to $5.30 to $9.75 per hour, with a bonus of at least $125. The contract also gives drivers the right to bid on routes based on seniority and provides job security if the company is sold, merged or closed.

, DataTimes