Local 174 Surrenders $1 Million in Back Pay to Save 22.3 Jobs

January 29, 2009: Our union’s failure to enforce the Article 22.3 full-time jobs provision of the contract has forced Seattle Local 174 members to make a devil’s choice: your money or your jobs.

When UPS laid off dozens of Article 22.3 Teamsters, Local 174 filed a grievance and promised to win back the jobs.

Now local officials have cut a deal that would give back a separate grievance victory worth $1 million or more. In exchange, UPS would put laid off 22.3 Teamsters back to work and guarantee a minimum number of 22.3 positions in Local 174's jurisdiction.

The proposed deal has divided members. The jobs at stake belong to 22.3 full-time employees. Most of the $1 million or more in back wages is owed to part-timers.

“We’re more or less being blackmailed into this,” said Merritt Miller, a Local 174 steward on the night sort in the Redmond Building. “The company is playing a shell game with the 20,000 22.3 jobs and the union doesn’t seem to want to do anything about it.”

Million Dollar Grievance Giveback

The Joint Council 28 Rider to the national contract has specific language that requires the company to double-shift part-timers when Article 22.3 or 40 combo workers are on an excused absence (vacation, holiday, personal day, etc.).

UPS agreed to this language in the 2002 negotiations, but never complied with it. Local 174 grieved the violation and ultimately won the case in arbitration, including back pay for some 150 part-timers. UPS refused to pay. Interest on the back pay piled up while management stalled.

UPS now owes Local 174 members $1 million or more in back pay. Local 174 officials have cut a deal to give up this grievance victory and to allow management to rewrite the contract to eliminate the language that requires the company to pay part-timers overtime to fill in for absent Article 22.3 workers.

In exchange, the company would guarantee a minimum of 160 full-time Article 22.3 jobs in Local 174. Before UPS started eliminating combo jobs, Local 174 had some 200 Article 22.3 positions.

The company would also create enough Article 22.3 jobs on a temporary basis to make sure that all Article 22.3 Teamsters who have currently been reduced to part-time will be returned to full-time status. But when those Teamsters move on, their Article 22.3 jobs can disappear too.

Of the millions in unpaid wages, the company will pay only $100,000. Local 174 officials made sure the deal includes up to $40,000 in legal fees for the local. Local 174 officials have justified the deal by saying it is the best they can do and told members that they are on their own if they vote it down.

"Local 174 officials have allowed the company to keep them on their heels through the entire process and have resorted to Old Guard fear tactics to sell a flawed deal," said Local 174 steward Dan Scott.

“If that wasn't enough, they see fit to wrench almost 30 percent of the final monetary agreement from the affected members' pockets and keep it for themselves," Scott said.

Where is the International Union?

Click here to download a bulletin on the UPS Full-Time Jobs Massacre.

The attack on full-time jobs reveals a glaring weakness in the contract. Article 22.3 has no language that prohibits the company from reducing the number of full-time jobs in any one location. The clause only requires 20,000 jobs nationally. This gives the company a weapon to punish locals that enforce the contract or win arbitration decisions the company doesn't like.

But the biggest weakness that is being revealed is in our International Union. Our contract requires UPS to maintain 20,000 full-time Article 22.3 jobs. They're not doing it. The Hoffa administration knows it but has taken no coordinated action to stop the company and save these full-time jobs.

Not every local has a multi-million dollar grievance to trade away to get UPS to stop eliminating Article 22.3 jobs in their jurisdiction. Local 174 members wouldn't have to be voting on this devil's bargain at all if our International Union would use its leverage to make UPS maintain the 20,000 full-time jobs they owe members under the contract.

Instead, members are being forced to choose between unpaid wages and full-time jobs when the contract says we have the right to both. Their ballots must be returned by the end of January.

Download the proposed change to the Joint Council 28 Rider.

What do you think? Click here to send your comments to the TDU UPS Committee.

What’s going on in your area? Click here to report problems with 22.3 job elimination where you work.

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