Pressure tactics and intimidation are part of UPS management’s tool kit. The pressure may be turned on or off, or be directed at a select few, but it is rarely out of the picture altogether. And there are times when management embarks on serious campaigns of intimidation. Sometimes a center manager who has been transferred into an area for exactly this purpose launches these attacks. They target everyone, trying to stampede drivers into cutting corners to temporarily keep management off their back.
What can be done to defend yourself and your coworkers? Over the years Teamster members have developed their own tool kit for responding to pressure and intimidation.
Cut Corners Today, Pay the Price Tomorrow
Don’t fall into the trap of taking risky short cuts. One of the most effective defenses is something you can do well in advance. Work every day in such a way and at a reasonable pace that you will be able to maintain over the long run, especially while having an OJS ride.
Working through your lunch or off the clock before work or after you punch out on the DIAD will catch up with you. Cutting corners on safety or on methods is also a risky short-term gamble. Short-term survival tactics such as those mentioned will serve to create an unrealistic production standard that you will not be able to maintain through the ups and downs of your career at UPS.
Many UPS Teamsters use the Daily Log Book, available from TDU, to keep track of significant events during their workday that could effect “performance.” A pocket-sized notebook can serve a similar purpose, as could a PDA. If you are able to recall and point to problems beyond your control—traffic tie-ups, weather problems, delays—you will have the ammunition needed to counter management pressure over production.
Safety and Good Work Habits
Pay attention to how UPS says they want you to do your job. Handle over-70 packages strictly according to the rules. Deliver stops in the order set up by the computer, even if it is goofy. If a decision comes up during the day that may cause you delay, communicate it to the mother ship and let them make the decision. Doing it strictly the UPS way is often the best way to protect yourself and will often succeed in getting a manager off your back.
When they want to ride with you tell them to bring a video camera so they can make a training video. Practice, practice, practice, and don’t forget to get your customers into the act. Ask them to let you do your job exactly the way UPS wants it done when you have that special shadow along with you for the day. Ask your customers to communicate with your rider by complimenting on the good job you do or asking the supervisor all the service questions they have been just dying to know.
There is nothing like a good customer who just wants to know everything there is to know about international shipping from your supervisor.
Unity and Education
It is far easier for management to run amok when members are divided or isolated or uninformed about their rights. So it is a must to practice rank and file unity and carry out some basic education for newer members. Whether your local union is behind the effort or not you can:
• Make it a point to have older workers talk to and greet newer workers.
• Hold short parking lot meetings before or after work to talk about issues and strategies.
• Distribute copies of the contract, and the Rank and File Guide to Enforcing the Contract, to members.
• Insist on representation or a coworker witness when called into a meeting by management.
• Hand out information sheets on rights and issues (available from TDU).
• Start a website for sharing information and ideas (members in Denver, Albany, N.Y., and other areas have sites).
• Hold a member rights workshop, sponsored by your local, if they are willing, or with TDU’s help, if they are not.
• Get together often as a group for special occasions or social events. Getting to know each other and concentrating on the things that unite us are a great way to support each other.
These are just a few of the many strategies that can be used to protect against management intimidation.
In the past several years UPS has mounted an unprecedented attack on working conditions, job security and benefits.
Work hours, stop counts—and injuries—continue to rise. UPS ignores 9.5 contract language that was meant to protect package car drivers. Subcontracting chips away at feeder jobs and the epidemic of supervisors working must be dealt with forcefully.
At the same time, UPS is growing its nonunion divisions, creating a sphere of operations that threatens the security of good Teamster jobs.
Last but far from least, UPS has advanced its plans to attack good Teamster pension benefits. The 2008 contract will be a battleground over the future of retirement security.
We have to be ready for each and every one of these challenges. The fight for safe jobs and good benefits begins now.
When UPS bought Menlo Forwarding it gave our union the chance to bring hundreds of Teamsters under the protection of the UPS Master Agreement. Menlo was a stepchild of the freight contract. Though doing essentially the same work as freight Teamsters, Menlo workers made significantly less and were scattered under local agreements.Local Agreements Leave Many With Low Wages & Poor Benefits
The good news is that all Menlo (now called CSI) contracts will expire at the same time as the 2002-2008 UPS contract, enhancing bargaining power.
The less than good news is although Menlo/CSI Teamsters now work for highly-profitable United Parcel Service, their wages and conditions will continue to be set by the inferior local contracts.
For example, wages for Menlo workers under one of the best contracts, in Chicago, are just under $21.00 per hour. Wages under other contracts are well below that figure and in some cases ten dollars behind UPS wage rates.
Under the new UPS-CSI Supplement, wages will continue to be set by dozens of local agreements. One result: the number of wage rates at UPS will now balloon even further. Menlo CSI workers will get three-percent annual wage increases. Likewise, benefits will continue to be tied to whatever was in the old local contracts.
There is no catch-up provision to bring lower-paid CSI Teamsters closer to the national contract scale, and no provision to bring all employees into our Teamster plans.
The real battle for parity for Menlo/CSI Teamsters has been postponed and will now take place during the 2008 bargaining.
The $1,000 signing bonus is a bad omen for the 2008 UPS contract. UPS has tried this trick in years past to win approval for substandard agreements.
Danger of Subcontracting
CSI joins the growing constellation of UPS divisions. What exactly is its relationship to the UPS that employs Teamsters? What protections are in place to protect CSI Teamsters from loss of work to nonunion operations? CSI is actually a vendor for UPS Supply Chain Solutions (SCS). One manager referred to CSI as only a “preferred vendor,” which means that SCS is free to switch to others.
This fear is real: the agreement exempts CSI units from protection under subcontracting protections in Articles 1and 32 of the master UPS agreement.
It appears that James Hoffa and Ken Hall have failed to use the power of our union to win strong contract protections for Teamster members and to extend the UPS national contract to new UPS divisions. That challenge lies ahead.
Turning up the heat could be welcome, but is that really the case or is this just because of the International Union election this year? The contract has been in effect for three and a half years, so why has it taken so long?
Members, stewards and officers on the ground know the real story.
“FedEx is kicking UPS’ butt in some corridors,” Kansas City feeder driver Michael Savwoir explained. “This is about improved time in transit, that is where feeder jobs are coming from.”
For some time now UPS has been shifting volume off rail and onto trucks. Rail congestion and delays are one reason for the move. Another reason is the trend within the trucking industry to offer shippers ever-tighter transit time guarantees. A royal battle has resulted, with freight and small package trucking companies competing over this profitable sector of the market.
In Atlanta, UPS is adding 60 feeder positions, most as a result of a shift from rail to truck. UPS is also shifting its feeder network in the Northeast. Work is moving from the Alexandria, Va., rail facility to Parsippany, N.J., where numerous feeder jobs will be created. Providence, R.I., is also picking up feeder positions.
In the Midwest, UPS has added sleeper and mileage runs in the Kansas City area, including a 682-mile turn to Dallas. The Earth City building in St. Louis is getting new mileage runs.
“While hard to track fully, subcontracting is basically the same,” Savwoir said. “Members and stewards in many areas have kept the heat on UPS and the IBT about the problem for years. By getting better at documenting subcontracting, stewards in some areas are winning monetary settlements on grievances. But UPS still subcontracts.”
Some subcontracting grievances have been won, and every victory is welcome. But it will take a lot more of that to end the subcontracting. In some areas UPS is routinely using Mail Contractors of America to move trailers from rail yards to UPS buildings. Grievances are still pending over this contract violation.
Sometimes what is missing tells an important part of the story. A related issue, not mentioned in the Teamster magazine, is how and when UPS plans to integrate nonunion Overnite Transportation into its operation. Trucking analysts note that in the long run, it makes no sense to keep the operations separate. FedEx has been very successful in integrating its freight, package and air operations.
The Teamster leadership needs a plan to bring all UPS divisions into our union.
The growing number of mileage and sleeper runs, and their effect on the whole feeder operation is another issue for the future. UPS has a long-term plan for transforming the way feeder work is done.
Global Warming 2006: UPS Teamsters need to brace themselves for a major warming trend in 2006. Hoffa’s PR machine has started pumping hot air. The forecast for 2006, at least until the IBT election, is for the hot, sticky conditions to continue. The only relief will be an organized and informed Teamster membership.
So began the historic California Gold Rush of the late 1840s and 1850s. Most came away with nothing more than fool’s gold.
History repeats itself.
This time the promise of gold has hit UPS facilities in the form of a rogue group called APWA (The Association of Parcel Workers of America). This group intends to be a “UPS Only” union that promises equal or better pensions and better health coverage than what we currently have.
If this doesn’t sound like gold, I don’t know what does!
I caution you not to be fooled by their glam and glitz. The APWA has retained attorney Tom Coleman, the former Chairman of the CUE Labor Lawyers Advisory Committee. CUE stands for “Council on Union-Free Environment.”
The group is comprised primarily of business and industry executives. It is quite clear that a growing number of Teamsters are not content with the current direction of our union. The answer, however, is not to take your ball and go home.
The answer is as simple as this: get involved in the union you currently have. Would you consider exchanging our Teamsters Union for an upstart antiunion association? If you even consider this exchange, realize that you will end up with nothing but empty promises and a much bigger set of problems.
The APWA is “prospecting for gold” and I encourage you to see this for what it is: a slick and alluring effort at union-busting.
March 16, 2006: This is a pivotal time for all of us. Perhaps the most crucial decision we will make as Teamsters is the choice we make in the upcoming election for General President of the IBT. That person will be responsible for, among other things, negotiating the next UPS contract and National Master Freight Agreement.
Both have trickle-down effects on every other Teamster contract that is negotiated. It is imperative that James Hoffa not be that person. A look at what happened to nearly 2000 Red Star Teamsters tells you why. Bear in mind that Yellow Roadway Corp. (YRC) and Bill Zollars will be negotiating for four of the five freight companies left in the National Master Freight Agreement.
Consider how USF transformed USF Red Star into USF Holland, and how that will impact your contracts and working conditions in the future. USF Red Star closed and reemerged shortly after as USF Holland. Unfortunately, what didn’t reemerge was close to 2,000 Teamster jobs. Despite promises to the contrary, when the dust settled the IBT recouped only around 20 percent of those Red Star jobs. In addition to that, our contract was replaced by Holland’s oppressive work rules. What do those work rules mean to you?
Well, if you work on the road for Yellow, Roadway or New Penn you just might have to get accustomed to sleeping out five to seven consecutive days. If you are a straight dock man, then you may be out of a job. If you are a city driver, get used to working the dock for three to four hours before you hit the street.
YRC owns USF Holland; to think that they wouldn’t want those same advantages is foolish. And, although Hoffa and Tyson Johnson vowed to “fight” for us, it seemed like they were more interested in accommodating the company. If they “fight” for you the same way, get used to working conditions that are substandard to even nonunion companies.
Red Star Teamsters were left to fight for ourselves. We filed a WARN Act lawsuit and unfair labor practice charges against USF when it was clear to us that Hoffa had abandoned us. We recently won a $7 million settlement for the members from USF and YRC from that lawsuit. Then, Hoffa shamefully took credit for the efforts of the rank and file.
To read more about what could be your future, go to: www.redstarteamsters.com We need strong leadership that will stand up to YRC, UPS and other companies, not a president who will placate these corporate giants, and in doing so sell out the membership. We need a president with integrity and compassion for the members, as well as passion for the job. What we need is a president who will lead, instead of being led.
These characteristics and attributes describe Tom Leedham. He will inspire and rejuvenate the membership and replace the apathy that has gripped every local with a renewed sense of pride. Leedham will also reestablish and demand respect for Teamsters at the workplace, where—under Hoffa—management abuse of members has apparently become commonplace. Also, the stagnation of the growth of our union is rivaled only by the almost nonexistent increase in our rates of pay. Things must change now, before it is to late!
March 16, 2006: The winds of change are blowing in the Windy City, says Mark Day, a UPS driver in Chicago Local 705. “The members of my local are getting behind Tom Leedham.
We’re going to win big-time come November,” Day said. “When members hear Tom, they know he’s for real. They’re tired of the empty Hoffa talk. Tom’s the guy they want leading our union when we take on UPS, Overnite or fighting for our benefits.” Day organized a Chicago campaign meeting with Leedham in early March as part of the Strong Contracts, Good Pensions tour.
As Leedham Slate candidates hit the road, it’s clear the campaign is gaining ground. At a full house in Boston, Leedham asked the crowd, “How many of you voted for Hoffa last time?” More than 100 hands in the room went up. Not this time around. “I went to Hoffa rallies and I cheered with everybody else when he promised 25 & Out and No Dues Increase,” Local 82 member Billy MacDonald said. “I believed Hoffa’s tough talk about unity and power. But that’s all it was, talk.” Now MacDonald is running for convention delegate and building the Leedham Campaign.
For information on where candidates will be next, or to set up a visit by a candidate, contact the Leedham Campaign at (718) 287-6156 or on the web at www.leedham2006.org
Last October, when Local 25 Teamster Dave Vallone returned from 18 months of active duty with the Army Reserves, he looked forward to returning to work as a shop steward—and to running for delegate to the Teamster Convention.
Then Vallone, a 26-year Teamster, learned that he was ineligible to run for delegate because his military leave caused a break in his dues payments. “I couldn’t believe that I lost my right to serve my union because I’d been serving my country,” Vallone said. The Teamster Constitution and the Election Rules both require members to pay their dues for 24 consecutive months before nominations in order to be eligible to run for convention delegate or union office.
This rule is strictly interpreted and bars members from running based on technicalities that have nothing to do with loyalty to our union or members’ commitment to paying their dues. For example, Vallone’s breaks in his dues occurred because he was on military leave training national guard and army reserve units that were being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan—not once, but twice during the 24-month period. Vallone is not alone in being disqualified because of military service. Local 97 Secretary-Treasurer Patricia Ward-Jenkins was barred from running for convention delegate because she paid her dues late when she was activated to serve in Iraq.
In upholding Ward-Jenkins’ ineligibility, Election Appeals Master Kenneth Conboy said, “I share the dismay of the Election Supervisor that an IBT member, on active military service of the United States in time of war, whose continuous dues payment was inadvertently interrupted, is thereby precluded from seeking election to Union office.” But the 24-month rule provides no exceptions for military leave or other involuntary leaves of absence.
Does that really make sense? “The last thing on your mind when you’re called up for military service is paying your union dues on time,” Vallone said. “We call on employers to do the right thing for members on military leave. Our union should lead by example.”
Time to End the 24-Month Rule
The controversy brings to light an extreme example of the many Teamsters who are unfairly disqualified by the 24-month rule—including Teamsters who make late dues payments or go on temporary withdrawal because of pregnancy, on-the-job injury or other factors. UPS Teamster Nichele Fulmore was barred from running for delegate in North Carolina Local 391 last fall because she went on pregnancy leave in July, 2003. Countless Teamsters have been prevented from running for union office because they missed dues payments after on-the-job injuries.
The 24-month rule hurts Teamsters of all political views. Ward-Jenkins is a Hoffa supporter. Vallone and Fulmore back Leedham. All deserve a voice in our union. It obviously makes sense that members must pay their dues to be eligible to run for union office. But with all of these problems—and with the Election Supervisor and Appeals Master both stating their dismay at the inflexibility of the 24-month rule—it’s clear that it’s time to draw up a new eligibility rule that doesn’t disqualify dedicated Teamster members based on technicalities. That rule can and should beapproved at the upcoming Teamster Convention.
“In my opinion, [Hahs’] views and decisions are adversely impacting the survival of our craft and organization,” Brennan wrote in his resignation letter. Since then, he has exercised his seniority on the Norfolk Southern. In his declaration of candidacy, he claims that the “business as usual” attitude of Hahs and past presidents has made the BLET weaker with respect to the carriers and to rival union UTU, even as the rail industry is reaping “record profits.”
He also implies that Hahs has not only failed to appreciate the work of the rank and file, but also failed to develop an effective working relationship with the Teamster administration. He declined to comment for this article, but says position statements will be forthcoming about his vision for the BLET.
One Member, One Vote?
The BLET officer election is scheduled to take place at its national convention in Las Vegas this June—one week ahead of the IBT Convention. But officers may be forced to abandon election by delegate and submit to direct election by the membership instead.
A number of BLET divisions have endorsed an initiative to adopt direct elections of the national officers. The initiative, which is gaining momentum, is close to the threshold of support that would require Hahs to hold a membership referendum on the issue.
Time is running short, but it is still possible that the initiative could be passed before the convention—in which case delegates could only nominate candidates for national office. The mail ballot election would take place within 60 days of the convention.
So far, neither Hahs nor Brennan has issued a statement regarding their views on direct elections in the BLET.