First Big Test of New Contract: UPS Takes Aim at Package Car Jobs

February 21, 2008: UPS wants part-time Air Drivers to pick up ground packages—a clear violation of our contract.
This is the first big test of our contract. Will our union answer the call?

As Convoy Dispatch goes to press, UPS has launched a new program to use Air Drivers to routinely handle ground packages—a clear violation of the collective bargaining agreement.

This is the first big test of the new contract. Our International Union must answer the call and stop the company from undermining high-paid, full-time jobs at UPS.

The UPS contract prohibits Air Drivers from handling ground packages except under a narrowly defined “exception basis.” This language exists to stop UPS from exploiting lower-paid Air Drivers instead of creating high-paying package car positions.

The top pay rate for package car drivers is more than $28 an hour compared to as little as $11.50 for Air Drivers.

On Feb. 15 UPS announced that it accepts ground packages in its drop boxes and that Air Drivers can pick up these ground packages at their regular pay rate.

In a management memo obtained by Teamsters for a Democratic Union, UPS claims it has the green light from the International Union. But members who contacted the Parcel and Small Package Division were advised that our union has made no agreement with UPS and that grievances should be filed.

By standing up for our contract, we can defend package car jobs—and win monetary awards for Air Drivers.

Clear Language, Narrow Exceptions

Article 40 expressly prohibits Air Drivers from handling ground packages. The only exception outlined under Article 40 is when an Air Driver is making a pickup “after the regular driver has been to the customer’s premises, and the customer has an exception ground package(s) for shipment.”

Any violation of this language requires UPS to pay Air Drivers who pick up ground packages “the top regular package car driver wage rate.”

This language draws a clear line in the sand. UPS’s new drop box program doesn’t just cross the line; it eliminates it altogether.

A management memo makes it clear that its new service will be expansive and that Air Drivers will be picking up ground packages on far more than an “exception basis.” The memo even outlines instructions for how to respond to increased volume at drop box locations.

UPS Claims Green Light from IBT

In the memo, UPS claims that the International Union agreed to this scheme as part of the new contract. The memo states that, “The new labor agreement provides UPS with the flexibility for all drivers to pick up all packages in UPS Drop Boxes. Part- and full-time air drivers and package car drivers can pick up ground packages with no change in pay rate.”

The memo goes on to state that “The new Joint UPS/IBT Competition Committee will review this initiative in six months”—suggesting that the International Union discussed the new program under the committee which was created under Article 26 of the new contract.

With or without union approval, UPS is moving full speed ahead. Drivers are being instructed to post new decals on drop boxes that say, “UPS Ground, Air and International Packages accepted here.”

Enforce the Contract

If UPS management wanted to renegotiate Article 40, they should have brought their proposals to the bargaining table and put them to a membership vote.

Management is free to expand its drop box program to include ground packages. But until our contract expires in 2013, these ground packages are to be handled by package car drivers. If UPS needs to create more package car positions, so be it.

Our International Union needs to communicate clearly to the company and to Teamster members where it stands on this new program—and management’s contention that it is allowed to use Air Drivers to handle ground packages “with no change in pay rate.”

In the meantime, stewards and working Teamsters at UPS need to have our eyes open and file grievances on drop box violations.

Our grievances should demand that UPS pay Air Drivers who handle ground packages out of drop boxes the highest package car driver wage rate and that the company cease and desist from this practice.

To read management’s memo and for the latest updates, go online to www.makeUPSdeliver.org.


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