Laval, September 14, 2018 — Teamsters will meet this month with managers at cement company Demix to demand that the “Optimizer” tablet computers that were installed on board its trucks be deactivated. The tabs are being used to send and receive messages while the vehicle is moving.
The tabs, which were installed in fall 2017, initially couldn’t be used if a truck was moving faster than 50 km/h. But workers, who are members of Teamsters Local Union 931 in Montreal, later noticed that they could send and receive messages regardless of the vehicle’s speed.
The company is using the tabs to send messages about routes, assignment changes and
dinner breaks. Workers felt obligated to open the messages and to look at the screen for several long seconds before directing their attention back to driving.
Once the Teamsters were made aware of the situation, the union reminded its members that it is illegal to use these devices while driving, and that doing so puts lives at risk.
After inquiring about the issue with workers at other cement companies, the Teamsters found that the use of tablet computers is not a widespread problem in the industry.
Many semi-trailer truck fleets are equipped with devices similar to the “Optimizer” tablet which can be used in a very limited way while the vehicle is moving. In some cases, when the driver receives a message, an envelope appears on the screen. When the driver taps the envelope, the message is read out loud by the device. The driver therefore doesn’t have to look away from the road, unlike the tablets which were installed on board the Demix trucks.
Teamsters represent 125,000 members in Canada in all industries, including more than 15,000 in the trucking industry. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, represents 1.4 million workers in North America.
Director of Public Affairs, Teamsters Canada