Leaders of largest UPS union urge members to reject dual contracts

Mark B. Solomon
DC Velocity
May 17, 2013

Leaders of the largest Teamsters union local representing UPS Inc. workers urged the local's 9,300-member rank and file to reject a tentative five-year contract covering the company's small-package operations, calling the agreement "not worthy of ratification by the membership." The pact would cover 240,000 UPS small-package workers.

The executive board of Teamster Local 89 also advised members working for UPS Freight, UPS's less-than-truckload unit, to reject its tentative five-year contract, saying it "doesn't meet the needs of the membership." The local represents 110 UPS Freight workers in Louisville, Ky.

All 77 union stewards representing UPS's ground parcel, road feeder, and air divisions unanimously approved the decision to reject the small-package contract, the local said in a statement yesterday.

The moves by the local are surprising because it strongly approved the 2008 collective-bargaining agreement with the Atlanta-based giant. They are also a slap in the face to the international union, which just 10 days ago reported on its website that leaders of union locals had unanimously approved the tentative contract, paving the way for voting to commence.

Ballots are expected to be mailed at the end of May, with vote counting set for the third week of June, according to the union. UPS and the international union reached agreements at the end of April on the tentative contracts.

Besides the small-package unit, the Teamsters represent another 10,000 to 12,000 UPS Freight employees. Combined, it is the largest collective-bargaining agreement in North America.

UPS did not return a request for comment on the local's decisions.

The Local 89 executive board represents workers at UPS's primary global air hub known as "Worldport." In another twist, the local said it is still bargaining with UPS over a special addendum to the master contract known as the "Louisville Air Rider." If the rider is rejected, the national agreement cannot be implemented until a compromise is reached and approved by the local's rank and file, according to Ken Paff, national organizer of dissident group Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) and a multidecade veteran of labor negotiations.

AT ODDS OVER WAGES

Under the proposed agreement, full- and part-time workers in the parcel unit would get $3.90 per hour in wage increases over the contract's life. Hourly pay for UPS's starting part-time pre-loaders and sorters would rise to $11 from $8.50; all others would receive an increase to $10 an hour.

UPS Freight workers would receive $2.50 per hour in wage hikes over the five-year period.

However, leaders of the local said the raises in the proposed master contract for package workers fall below the level of increases called for in the current pact, which expires July 31. They also voiced concern that the tentative pact contained no pension increases for the first four years, and that a proposal to shift from a UPS health plan to a Teamster health plan jointly trusteed by UPS and the union "contains no solid information" on how the transition would occur.

The executive board criticized proposed starting wage increases as "substandard" and charged that they "continued to subject our newest members to poverty."

The executive board also took a dim view of the tentative UPS Freight contract, saying it fails to eliminate or reduce the practice of driver subcontracting that was one of the union's main grievances. UPS Freight subcontracts about half its driving work, according to union officials.

The leaders slammed the creation of a separate "line-haul driver" division designed to reduce subcontracting, saying newly hired employees of the division would earn 20 cents less per mile than other members. They also criticized the $1.40-an-hour wage gap between full-timers working at the two operations.


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