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Roadway employees bid for jobs

February 20, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN

karenh@herald-mail.com

For truck driver Tommy Reel, a job transfer from Hagerstown to Carlisle, Pa., will mean more time on the road between home and work

With 30 years' seniority as a Roadway Express worker, he was not sweating it Sunday.

"I'll make good money, and I'll still have a job," the Sharpsburg resident said.

Reel was among dozens of people at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center to bid on jobs being added to Roadway Express facilities around the country. The company's Hagerstown terminal will lose 196 jobs when a corporate realignment approved earlier this month goes into effect March 12.

Reel said while the company was adding many positions across the country, not all workers would want to chase jobs elsewhere.

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"There's going to be a lot of guys that can't go anywhere and are going to lose their job," the 53-year-old said.

Based on their seniority and job classifications, workers displaced by the company's realignment had the opportunity to sign up for work at locations gaining jobs. Chicago, Buffalo, Dallas and Akron, Ohio - where the company has its headquarters - are some of the Roadway Express facilities that will pick up the most workers. Hagerstown, which is losing about two-thirds of its work force, was one of the biggest losers.

Tom W. Krause, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 992, which represents the workers, could not be reached for comment Sunday. Company officials in Akron and Hagerstown have not returned messages left for them by phone over a period of about two weeks.

In an interview last week, Krause said the company planned to add 955 jobs to some locations, while eliminating 955 jobs at others, as part of an effort to cut delivery times. The company will add 47 road drivers, he said.

Outside the conference room where Roadway Express workers bid for new jobs, 50-year-old Danny Smith waited his turn.

Smith, who moved twice before with Roadway Express, said he has accumulated just 5 1/2 years seniority as a driver at the Hagerstown facility.

"This makes the third time I've been through this, so I'm kind of used to it, when other drivers have never been (through it), so they're probably antsier than what I am," Smith said.

Smith said he hoped to be able to sign up for work in the South.

"There's several terminals in the Southeast. I'm from Tennessee, so I'm trying to get closer to where my family lives," Smith said.

Drivers with more experience will be able to stay closer to home, said Bryon Smith, a Greencastle, Pa., man, who is not related to Danny Smith.

Bryon Smith, of Greencastle, Pa., said by phone Sunday he is headed to Laurel, Md. - his first choice.

"Everybody got something. That's one thing about a union organization: We do things democratically," he said.

A 12-year driver, he has won awards for safety with Roadway Express. With new regulations and faster trucks, Smith said the company's old hub-and-spoke system, which relied on stop-over terminals such as Hagerstown, "became extinct."

The realignment is a "necessary evil," Smith said.

Smith faces a longer commute, but said he is not bothered by the change. He said he believes he will work less hours at his new facility.

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