Approximately 40 truck drivers employed by Towne Air Freight LLC in Indianapolis have voted to be represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
It was the first time in Towne's 42-year history that drivers have opted to join a union. The South Bend company had rebuffed four previous attempts over the decades.
Drivers operating out of Indianapolis International Airport voted 23-16 to be represented by Teamsters Local 135, according to Jerry Scott, Towne vice president of human relations. The drivers mostly deliver air freight to locations in central Indiana.
Teamsters representatives were not available for comment.
Scott said the only issue he is aware of was the company's plan to turn 200 of its drivers into independent contractors.
Towne, which specializes in ground transportation legs of air shipments, is moving to contractor status to free capital now tied up in trucks and other equipment.
"That is a very contentious issue with drivers," Scott said. But, "It will not change our strategy."
The conversion for the Indianapolis drivers is expected to begin early next month, Scott said.
Towne has 45 locations in 20 states, as well as 250 trucks, 400 company drivers and 300 independent contractors. Roughly 270 of its 1,100 employees work at its headquarters and terminal in South Bend.