Virginia Local 29: Feeder Drivers Defend Seniority

February 21, 2008: For two years, UPS management has been violating drivers’ seniority rights in Virginia—and getting away with it.
Now drivers have turned the tables on the company to stop the violations.

For the last two years in the Staunton, Va. center, UPS management has been getting away with rearranging feeder runs in violation of the normal bidding process—and feeder drivers’ seniority rights.

Now Local 29 drivers have taken action to put a stop to the violation, and they’ve won a commitment from management that the changes won’t happen again.

Right after peak season last year, UPS management announced that they were changing the schedule for over half the feeder runs in the Staunton center.

According to the Atlantic Supplement, feeder drivers are supposed to bid on their runs in March and September.

This was the second December in a row that management had made big changes in feeder runs outside of the semi-annual bid in the contract. Both times the company ignored the bumping procedure outlined in the contract.

Phone Off the Hook

“Members started calling the hall to complain about the change in the runs, but the BA took the phone off the hook,” explained Doug Carpenter, a 30-year feeder driver in Local 29.

“We decided to hold a rank-and-file meeting to discuss how we could make the local enforce our agreement,” Carpenter said. “We brought in a TDU organizer, and we put together a plan to make UPS honor our contract.”

Members wrote a letter to their business agent, asking him to sit down with stewards and resolve the situation. Out of the 74 feeder drivers in Staunton, 63 signed the letter.

When feeder drivers showed up as a group at the union meeting on Feb. 10, the business agent announced that UPS management has promised to stop making major changes to runs in between bids.

“Our BA has done more in the last three weeks than he’s done in the last three years,” said Mark Painter, a feeder steward in Local 29.

But members are not letting their guard down, Painter said: “Right now we’ve just got a promise that management will enforce the contract. We’re going to keep working to nail them down and get their word in writing.”

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