October 17, 2007: By late November, we will know if UPS has succeeded in breaking out of the Teamster Central States Pension Plan.
Big Brown’s pension grab affects hundreds of thousands of Teamsters at UPS and in at other Teamster employers, in the Central States and beyond.
If UPS succeeds, 44,000 UPSers will be pulled out of the Central States and the historic union plan will be down to just 100,000 remaining active Teamsters, and over 200,000 retirees.
UPS’s actions are part of a broad corporate attack on union pension plans. In the Teamsters, UPS is leading this charge, but they are not alone.
The big freight carrier ABF has announced it wants to break out of all Teamster plans. PepsiCo (Pepsi and FritoLay) has been doing it for years.
Increasingly, local unions face corporations that want to get out of Teamster benefit funds
Companies want to set up their own, cheaper plans. Or even worse, they want to just have a 401(k), and no real pension plan at all. The goal is to reduce costs, save money on benefit contributions, and undermine our union’s power.
UPS is willing to pay the $6.1 billion withdrawal liability to Central States that is required by law because they know they will save that many times over if they can bust our pension plan and lower their pension costs.
Vote in November
The split-off of 44,000 UPS Teamsters from Central States will be put to a contract vote in early November—but affected UPS Teamsters are not the only ones getting a ballot.
The Hoffa administration is allowing all 230,000 UPS Teamsters to vote on this deal, including those in other pension plans and part timers, most of whom are in a company plan.
Many more Teamsters directly affected by this vote will not get ballot—namely the 100,000 Teamsters in the Central States fund who work for other employers and will see their pension fund lose over $600 million a year in pension contributions if UPS succeeds in pulling out.
Why Hoffa Gave In
For years, Teamster leaders and members have said No to UPS’s attempts to get control over our pensions. This time Hoffa and chief negotiator Ken Hall gave in—and agreed to many more historic concessions as well. Why?
The answer is that UPS has made a deal. If the tentative UPS contract with this pension split is approved, they will give “card check” organizing rights to our union at UPS Freight. This means that our local unions can sign up a majority of UPS Freight workers at one terminal, and get the right to bargain.
We definitely need to organize UPS Freight. But many Teamsters believe we can achieve this goal without these monumental givebacks.
UPS’s stockholders want an early agreement. This gives our union leverage. Why not use it by telling UPS they get no early settlement unless they give us the right to organize at UPS Freight—while keeping the corporation’s hands off members’ pensions?