I’m not the steward on my shift, but I’m definitely the most out-spoken member! I speak my mind and I file grievances when the boss breaks the contract. The day after I filed my last grievance, he took me in his office and gave me a warning letter. I know it’s payback—what can I do about it?
— Telling It Like It Is
February 2, 2012: A bad economy. A presidential election. All eyes are on good jobs and how to create them.
The Teamsters Union can stand up for good jobs—starting right in our own contracts.
It’s a presidential year and all eyes are on the economy, good jobs and how to create them.
President Hoffa has done a good job in the media speaking out for jobs—including a federal Jobs Bill that would put construction Teamsters to work rebuilding our infrastructure.
But with 1.3 million members, the Teamsters Union can do more than call for good jobs: we can fight for them—by enforcing our contracts, taking on subcontracting and job elimination and bargaining contracts that create new full-time jobs.
Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) brings Teamsters together—from every industry and the public sector—to win and protect good jobs.
The new issue of Teamster Voice highlights a series of attacks on Teamster jobs—and opportunities for our union to defend our work and fight for good union jobs.
The 1997 strike at UPS forced the company to combine 40,000 part-time jobs into 20,000 full-time jobs. Today, the company is cutting driver jobs and full-time combo jobs—and packages are being subcontracted to the Post Office.
It’s our job as a union to make sure that more packages means more good, full-time jobs—not more excessive workloads, production harassment, and subcontracting.
In the freight industry, a proposed change of operations at YRC Freight threatens to eliminate Teamster jobs. ABF management is gearing up to demand concessions in contract negotiations next year. It’s time to draw the line against concessions and job elimination in the freight industry.
That includes UPS Freight, where subcontracting has gone unabated for years. Through TDU, UPS Freight Teamsters are networking nationally to take on subcontracting and gear up for next year’s contract negotiations, where the fight against substandard union jobs will come to a head.
TDU works to inform and unite Teamsters in every local to protect good jobs—whether you work under a national agreement or a local contract, for a private company or in the public sector. We’re all in this together in the fight for good jobs and a better future.
February 20, 2012: Employers are trying to push rising healthcare costs onto workers and their families.
Teamsters speak out on company tactics to look out for in contract negotiations—and what you can do to protect your benefits.
Is your employer asking you to pay for healthcare?
You’re not alone. With the economy in recession and healthcare costs on the rise, employers are increasingly trying to shift the cost of healthcare onto workers.
TDU talked to experienced Teamster bargainers about common employer tactics to watch out for—and what you can do to defend your benefits.
A Foot in the Door
Management may just be trying to get their foot in the door by getting members to agree to pay for a small part of their monthly premium—maybe starting in the last year of the contract.
They may even sweeten the pot by reimbursing members for the premium the first year.
Proceed with caution. Management’s goal is to get a foot in the door. You can bet they’ll demand that you pay even more in the next contract—and every contract after that.
“We refused outright when management asked us to pay five percent of the medical plan,” said Local 805 steward Jose Arrocho.
“If we let that happen it would open the door to bigger and bigger increases. Next time we’d be discussing how much more employees would contribute. We put our foot down.”
Stick With a Union Plan
Many Teamster members are already in a union health and welfare fund. But your company may try to tempt you into a company plan they promise is more affordable.
Look out for the bait-and-switch, says Local 805 President Sandy Pope.
“Private insurance companies will offer you a cheaper plan the first year, then whack you with higher costs in the second or third year,” Pope warns.
“Stick with a union plan,” Pope says. “For the same benefit coverage, union plans are about 20 percent cheaper than company plans, because they pay cash, control costs better, and are nonprofit.”
High Deductible Plans
Many companies are pushing “cheap” company plans with high deductibles. Read the fine print.
Management tried to switch Teamsters at Sodexo in New York to a cheap company plan.
The local did its homework and warned members they would pay hundreds of dollars out-of-pocket for family coverage, and a deductible of more than a thousand dollars.
Members said No Way and kept their Teamster benefits.
Employers are demanding caps on how much they will pay toward healthcare premiums in a company plan.
Caps are dangerous, because members get stuck with the bill when premiums skyrocket.
Defending Your Benefits
“Bargaining over healthcare can be hard, but it’s also one of the best issues to unite members,” says Stefan Ostrach, a long-time negotiator with Oregon Local 206.
That’s what happened last year at United Airlines. Hoffa and the airline wanted mechanics to ratify a contract that would have terminated their medical plan at the end of 2012, to be replaced with a new plan, perhaps with large co-premiums to pay.
The mechanics voted the proposal down and sent their negotiators back to the table—and won an agreement that protects their healthcare for the life of the agreement.
February 20, 2012: Every UPS Teamster is covered by at least two contracts: the national UPS agreement and their regional supplement. Some Teamsters are even covered by a third agreement: a local rider.
Members have the right to a separate vote on their supplement, as well as a vote on the national contract. TDU fought to win this right; it was put into the IBT Constitution in 1991.
Members’ rights vary widely from supplement to supplement.
Language on Cover Drivers (Utility Drivers) is all over the map and so are pay rates. Part-time temporary cover drivers in the South make 85 percent of package car driver rate; in the Atlantic Area they’re paid just 75 percent of the package driver rate.
In some supplements, UPS can use low-paid seasonal drivers for six months a year, during peak and during the summer—which helps UPS get out of creating full-time driver jobs.
Language on helpers is even more varied and problematic depending on the supplements.
Strong national standards in these areas would mean better jobs and more full-time positions.
Teamsters under some supplements enjoy superior rights that should be spread across the country. For example:
- The Central Region supplement doesn’t require members to sign an Opt-In list to file a 9.5 grievance for excessive overtime.
- In Upstate New York, New England and throughout the Western Region, UPS has to pay Teamster pension contributions for part-timers—a big plus.
- Under the New Jersey Local 177 Supplement, UPS has to pay escalating penalties when the union repeatedly catches the same supervisor working—a minimum of two hours at double-time pay on the second violation and a minimum of four hours at double-time pay on the third violation.
- The Chicago Local 705 agreement provides for expedited arbitration of deadlocked disciplinary grievances. An arbitrator sits in on the grievance committee hearings and casts the deciding vote in deadlocked grievances.
The arbitrator’s decision is issued right from the bench—without written briefs and delays. Instead of waiting up to a year to get an arbitration decision, a fired Teamster gets in front of an arbitrator in two months or less. (Note: The Local 705 agreement is independent of the national contract and not a supplement.)
These are just a few examples. Stewards and members are connecting through TDU’s Make UPS Deliver to share ideas about how they can work together to eliminate weak supplemental language and win the best contract language from other supplement.
Have an idea for language that needs to be fixed in your supplement? Want to learn more about contract language in other supplements? Contact TDU today.
Close Loopholes on Discipline
“The Central Supplement has a big loophole that guts Innocent Until Proven Guilty.
“Under Article 17(i), the company can terminate employees for ‘other serious offenses.’ Management uses this as a catch-all phrase to fire people who haven’t committed a cardinal infraction. Article 17(d) allows the company to fire a driver for any accident that cause more than $4,400 in damage.
“As far as I know, we’re the only supplement that has these loopholes. It’s time to close them.”
John Youngermann, Local 688, St. Louis, Feeder Driver
February 2, 2012: UPS wants early contract negotiations. But what will the company give up in return?
UPS is reportedly interested in early contract negotiations—and why wouldn’t they be?
It’s a good time for any corporation to be at the bargaining table. The economy is down and unions are on the defensive.
“Ken Hall told the Teamster Convention there would be no early negotiations unless the economy turns around,” said Steve Kelly, a UPS driver steward and one of Washington Local 252’s delegates to the Teamster Convention.
“That makes sense to me.”
Use Our Leverage
UPS has the added incentive of wanting to settle the contract early so they can ensure shippers there will be no disruption of service because of a strike or contract dispute.
The threat of losing business to FedEx is real, but it also gives our union leverage.
If UPS wants early negotiations, the company should have to deliver something in return.
“UPS was making record profits during the last negotiations and Hoffa and Hall gave them concessions. We shouldn’t make the same mistake,” Kelly said.
Other UPSers point out that early negotiations benefit the company. They say our union shouldn’t agree to early talks without getting something big in return.
Respect Our Contract
I want to see the contract we have respected before we talk about a new one,” said David Thornsberry, a shop steward from Louisville Local 89.
“UPS promised to fill 22.3 jobs, create more driving jobs, and stop production harassment and 9.5 violations. The IBT needs to make UPS live up to these agreements before we start negotiating any new deal,” Thornsberry said.
TDU’s Make UPS Deliver network unites stewards and other UPS Teamsters who want to mobilize for a good contract—whenever negotiations begin.
“Last time, our voices weren’t heard,” said Kelly, “We can’t let that happen again.”
“Ken Hall told the Teamster Convention there would be no early negotiations unless the economy turns around. That makes sense to me.
“UPS was making record profits during the last negotiations and Hoffa and Hall gave them concessions. Last time, our voices weren’t heard. We can’t let that happen again.”
Steve Kelly, Package Car
Local 252 Steward, Tumwater, Wash.
“I want to see the contract we have respected before we talk about a new one. UPS promised to fill 22.3 jobs, create more driving jobs, and stop production harassment and 9.5 violations.
“The IBT needs to make UPS live up to these agreements—before we start negotiating any new deal.”
David Thornsberry, Package Car
Local 89 Steward, Louisville, Ky.
February 8, 2012: Top Teamster officials want to end your Right to Vote for Teamster President and other International officers.
What does that have to do with your job and your benefits? More than you may think.
Find out why—and what you can do to stop the attack on your rights.
How Teamster Elections Work
Members get to vote for Teamster General President, General Secretary-Treasurer, and the General Executive Board every five years. And there is an impartial election supervisor, with a staff, who oversees the whole election, under a set of fair rules.
Teamster members organized for years to win the Right to Vote—standing up to organized crime and top Teamster officials who didn’t want to face a membership vote.
To get on the ballot, candidates need to get the votes of five percent of the delegates to the Teamster Convention.
Raising that limit to ten percent or more would be the easiest way to stop most Teamster elections. That change would have prevented every election against Hoffa since 2001.
Holding Officials Accountable
It’s hard enough holding Hoffa and other top officials accountable as it is.
Imagine how much harder it would be if they didn’t have to face an election every five years.
That’s exactly what they want—to go back to the days when the Teamster officers were chosen by each other, instead of by the members.
Before the Right to Vote
Before 1989, Teamsters didn’t have the Right to Vote.
During the 1980s, Teamster officials failed to organize while the nonunion competition exploded in freight, gave UPS the green light to introduce substandard pay for part-timers, and wasted dues on outrageous salaries and a union jet fleet.
Our union is still paying for those mistakes today.
How They Used to Choose Officers
Before the Right to Vote, the Teamster General President, Secretary-Treasurer, and General Executive Board were chosen in the backrooms of the Teamster Convention.
Organized crime hand-picked Jackie Presser as head of the Teamsters in 1983. His predecessor, Roy Williams, testified that he never made important decisions as Teamster president without taking into account what organized crime families wanted. Both of them were indicted for racketeering; Williams was convicted, Presser passed away before facing trial.
Under the old system, officers who went along with mob rule and givebacks moved up the ladder. Officers who objected were sidelined.
The Hoffa administration still rewards yes-men and punishes dissenters—but without elections, the situation would be a lot worse.
Winning the Right to Vote
TDU brought together members who wanted the union to fight for their jobs and their benefits.
We collected a hundred thousand signatures from members demanding the Right to Vote.
We won, and in 1991, Ron Carey, one of the first officers to stand up against concessions and corruption, became the first democratically elected president of our union.
Carey put dozens of mob-run locals in trusteeship, eliminated over 100 multiple salaries, and worked to mobilize members to overturn a decade of concessions—
culminating in the 1997 UPS strike victory.
What You Can Do
TDU won the Right to Vote—and we’ll fight to keep it. We have plans in place to do just that.
And we’ll also keep working to hold our officials accountable over our contracts and our benefits.
We’re only as strong as our members. If you’re not a member of TDU, join today.
February 10, 2012: UPS predicts package volume in the U.S. will grow two to three percent in 2012. Will growing volume mean more jobs—or just more production harassment?
Profits aren’t the only thing on the rise at UPS. Volume is also up—and the company expects volume to increase even faster in 2012.
UPS says Teamsters will handle two to three percent more packages in 2012.
Excessive overtime and production harassment are already at all-time highs.
The International Union needs to make a stand and mobilize to make UPS create more full-time jobs—including driving jobs.
President Hoffa and Ken Hall, our union’s Secretary-Treasurer and Package Division Director, told a conference call of UPS stewards in October that the company has agreed to review its dispatches and hire more drivers to match the number of drivers employed when volume was previously at this level.
Hall pledged to launch a public campaign if UPS doesn’t fulfill its promises to curb production harassment, respect 9.5 rights and hire more drivers.
It’s time for Hoffa and Hall to put up or shut up.
Volume during peak was up by 3.3 percent. UPS has announced that volume will grow by two to three percent in 2012.
Teamsters in TDU’s Make UPS Deliver network are working together to hold Hoffa and Hall to their promises and to demand that UPS hire more drivers to handle growing volume.
Get involved. Contact TDU today.
February 2, 2012: Three years after the company’s elimination of 22.3 jobs was exposed, the International Union still doesn’t know how many 22.3 jobs UPS owes Teamster members.
Before Hoffa and Hall negotiate a new contract, shouldn’t they enforce the old one?
In 1997, UPS Teamsters united under the slogan Part-Time America Won’t Work.
Our successful strike made UPS combine 40,000 part-time jobs into 20,000 full-time 22.3 jobs over the next 10 years.
In the last contract, Hoffa and Hall gave away the language that makes UPS create more full-time jobs. But the company is still required to maintain 20,000 full-time 22.3 jobs nationally.
Where are these jobs? And how many full-time 22.3 positions has the company eliminated? The International Union has no idea.
Article 22.3 of the contract requires UPS to provide the company with a list of all of the full-time 22.3 jobs the company is maintaining. But the International Union admits that the list is hopelessly out of date and that the Package Division doesn’t track how many 22.3 jobs there are or where they are.
The IBT’s blind eye lets UPS play a shell game—and claim they’ve moved 22.3 jobs when in reality they’ve eliminated them.
Member Action Can Win Jobs
Teamster members and TDU have blown the whistle on the Full-Time Jobs Takeaway and we will keep up the heat. We’ve run articles and website stories, collected thousands of petition signatures, and held organizing meetings of concerned Teamsters and filed hundreds of grievances.
Membership action has started to pay off. After stonewalling, the IBT and UPS finally started settling grievances and creating 22.3 jobs in some locals.
But the IBT still can’t say how many Article 22.3 jobs are filled nationally—and how many UPS still has to create to be in compliance with the contract.
In this technology age, this is an easy problem to fix. The International Union can easily have UPS provide a list of every 22.3 position, who fills it, and the jobs performed.
This information should be posted on a website that can be accessed by Local Unions and stewards so that the information can be monitored and vacant positions can be filled.
The next contract needs to include stronger language to protect 22.3 jobs from being eliminated and to guarantee penalty pay when UPS violates the contract and stalls on creating 22.3 positions.
But there shouldn’t be any negotiations on a new contract until UPS is respecting the current one—including filling every 22.3 job that Teamster members are owed.
TDU’s Make UPS Deliver network continues to work with UPS Teamsters to audit 22.3 jobs in their local and file and win grievances to create more full-time jobs. Want to join the fight for more 22.3 jobs? Contact TDU to find out more.
February 2, 2012: The National Master Freight Agreement expires a little more than a year from now.
It’s time to get ready—or we will regret it later.
Bargaining for the NMFA will start well before the contract expires on March 31, 2013. Members are saying now is the time to start getting ready.
“We need to take the lead at ABF,” commented Geneva Huneycutt, a road driver out of Indianapolis. “The company is profitable. There’s no need for concessions.”
Maintaining standards has been an uphill fight over the past four years as freight Teamsters have seen the steady deterioration of past contract gains. They’ve seen little push back from Teamster leaders when it comes to defending the contract.
But members know they can make the difference because in the end it comes down to their vote on any contract.
“ABF claimed they needed concessions to stay in business,” said Everette Cole, a road Teamster at ABF in Atlanta. “We did the right thing voting down concessions. ABF is still making money—and we didn’t take a pay cut.”
ABF recently reported a profitable year for 2011, a solid improvement over 2010.
“Hoffa and Tyson need to understand they were wrong when they pushed the ABF concessions,” said Huneycutt. “Members want a leadership that’s got a backbone. Our starting point and bottom line has to be a ‘no concessions’ stance. Members will rally around that. We’ve taken the short end for too long and we’ve had enough.”
Members Need a Plan
It will be up to Teamsters at ABF to take the lead on the next contract. It will also be crucial to be prepared for the 2013 negotiations. Members need a contract campaign plan and it’s high time the IBT get going on making it happen.
“At the end of the day, we need to make sure we have a national freight contract,” concluded Huneycutt. “That’s always been our union’s strength.”
Our Vote Is Our Power
“ABF claimed they needed concessions to stay in business. We did the right thing by voting down the concessions. ABF is still making money—and we didn’t take a pay cut.”
Everette Cole, Local 728, Atlanta
No Need for Concessions
“We need to take the lead at ABF. The company is profitable. There’s no need for concessions. Our starting point and our bottom line has to be ‘no concessions.’ Members will rally around that.”
Geneva Huneycutt, Local 135 Indianapolis
February 8, 2012: UPS Freight Teamsters know they deserve a better contract.
Now they’re coming together to address subcontracting, work guarantees, and wages and organize to win a stronger contract in 2013.
UPS Freight Teamsters got more bad news in January. The arbitration to resolve an important subcontracting grievance won’t convene again until April 25.
That’s three years since the grievance was first filed in Dallas Local 745—three years of Teamster road jobs subcontracted away to nonunion carriers!
Make UPS Freight Deliver
Now concerned members are not just frustrated, they’re getting organized. They know there’s much work to be done to achieve a range of improvements before they’re ready to ratify an agreement in 2013.
UPS Freight can afford to deliver a better contract for working Teamsters.
The company made good profits for the first half of 2011 and told analysts they expected even better numbers going forward.
Contract bargaining will occur simultaneously with those for UPS Package which has also reported big profits in 2011. The Teamster bargaining teams are in a great position to deliver improvements in wages, benefits, job security and working conditions.
TDU is working with stewards and committed members to launch a grassroots campaign to win a solid contract at UPS Freight. Members have been meeting by conference calls and get-togethers to discuss contract issues and prepare proposals.
At a recent call, members discussed: company and board seniority rights; vacation language; addressing the excess of black out weeks; and rising co-pay costs on medical coverage.
Earlier discussions have addressed subcontracting, job classification work guarantees, recall language, 10 percent language, sick days, wages and other issues.
“These TDU conference calls have been a great place to talk with other UPS Freight Teamsters from around the country. We’re all facing the same issues and it puts us in a stronger position as a union to have concerned members talking about what needs doing,” commented Wilt Warren a city driver out of Portland Local 81.
“We need to reach out to other UPS Freight Teamsters and get them to help us organize a contract campaign.”
What do you think?
The UPS Freight contract expires in March 2013. UPS Freight Teamsters are building a network of members to have a voice in bargaining—and we want to hear from you.
What are the improvements you’d like to see in the next UPS Freight agreement? Let us know what you think.