February 19, 2013: UPS and UPS Freight Teamsters turned out in big numbers at contract rallies this last weekend, demonstrating members are ready to stand up for our contract.
Teamsters jammed packed halls in Indianapolis, Toledo, St. Louis, Seattle, Oakland and Ontario, Calif. The largest of the rallies in Southern California drew nearly 2,000 Teamsters.
More rallies are scheduled for next weekend, including in New Jersey, Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Orlando and Tampa.
"It felt great to be with a couple thousand UPS Teamsters united in solidarity. Part-time, package car, feeders, everyone," said Local 396 member Alex Tenchavez who attended the rally in Southern California. "We need to keep the pressure on the company. Let them know we will not settle short like the last contract."
Ken Hall repeated his pledge that the Teamsters would make no givebacks to a company that's making billions and said that UPS Teamsters would not pay "$90, $9 or 9 cents" toward our healthcare premiums.
But while UPS's demands for healthcare givebacks drew a crowd, it's production harassment and related issues that drew the most comments from members.
"We've been waiting for five years to negotiate new contract language to deal with subcontracting, harassment, full-time jobs, 9.5, and dishonesty," said John Youngermann who went to the rally in St. Louis. "This is our chance and we need to come away with improvements we can sink our teeth into."
UPS was making record profits going into the last contract negotiations. But the union agreed to water down members 9.5 rights and give UPS the right to fire drivers based solely on information from technology in cases of "dishonesty."
This time, the Hoffa administration is talking tough.
"When dealing with a bully, you can run away, or you can walk up to him and punch him in the face. That's what we're going to do to UPS," International Vice President Sean O'Brien told a crowd of nearly 1,000 Teamsters in Seattle.
That sounds good. But while the International Union has talked in specifics about healthcare and retiree healthcare, the reports on harassment and language issues have been kept deliberately vague.
"The rally pulled members together to draw a line in the sand that we're not going to accept concessions on healthcare," said Jeff Mullins of Indianapolis Local 135. "We need to keep up the pressure and draw the same line in the sand on our other contract issues."
"Members need to know what we're fighting for on 9.5, technology, harassment, full-time jobs, part-time wage increases and other key issues," Mullins said.