February 21, 2008: UPS Freight workers are joining our union by the thousands.
Our union can win big for them.
By mid-February UPS Freight workers have signed cards to become Teamsters at terminals that employ 5,600 drivers and dock workers. This means nearly half of UPS Freight terminals have joined the drive, and they are from all areas of the country.
Reports come in by the week from locals that get a majority of workers to sign Teamster cards. Since UPS management withdrew its opposition, it’s become a much easier effort.
Also in February, the International Union invoked Article 12, Section 2 of the IBT Constitution, asking each affected local to sign bargaining rights over to the International. Once a majority of locals sign the form, the International will control bargaining nationally.
Bargaining Power Growing
As the organizing drive spreads, so does our Teamster bargaining power. It’s likely that 10,000 or more UPS Freight Teamsters will be on board, joining some 240,000 Teamsters on the package side of the company.
This puts our union in a powerful position, and there is no reason we cannot win at least the National Master Freight Agreement.
That would mean bringing company-paid health care, through our union health funds. It would mean top-rung Teamster pensions. It would mean parity with 70,000 other Teamsters in our Freight Division.
It would mean that we are not signing a substandard deal that actually undercuts Teamsters in the Freight Division.
Why Settle Short?
The International Union has said they will instead settle short and use the Indianapolis agreement signed last year for 125 workers as the template for a national agreement. While that agreement has some gains (like overtime after eight hours), it does not have union pensions, it has company health care with an employee payment of $150 per month for family coverage, and low-wage part-timers.
We have the numbers. We have the power. The Teamsters Union should stand strong for the UPS Freight workers and for parity in the freight industry.
Defenders of the International Union’s plan have argued that a substandard contract at UPS Freight would at least give our union a foot in the door. They say we can bargain better terms in the second contract.
If the International Union is wedded to this strategy, then the first contract should be kept short so that UPS Freight Teamsters don’t have to wait five years to get up to Teamster standards.
A first contract of no more than two years would get our union’s “foot in the door” and we could start preparing now to win full parity in the next contract.