November 26, 2012: UPS Freight Teamsters are under the same information Brownout as UPS parcel teamsters.
Several bargaining sessions were held in October and November, but our union has yet to issue any updates or post information that would help unify our workforce to stand together for a good contract.
Teamster Voice has learned that management has made a proposal to mingle the road operations of UPS Freight, Parcel and Cartage. We know well they want to subcontract out our road jobs, and need to get firm protections to bring back Teamster jobs.
When UPS Freight Teamsters were asked to join our union, the slogan was "One Company, One Union." We need that to be the reality of what's achieved in these negotiations. Any UPS operation involving the moving of freight needs to be Teamster. That stance and bargaining victory would go a long, long way to restoring union power for our members.
UPS Freight Teamsters are having their say. Click the links to read Teamster Viewpoints by two of our Teamster brothers at UPS Freight.
November 20, 2012: Last August, a group of stewards and officers were invited to the IBT headquarters in Washington to discuss the contract issues we face at UPS Freight. I attended and wish to thank my local officers and the General Executive Board for the hard work they have been doing thus far on the negotiations.
Many of us felt our contract was substandard, but it was the first so we expect a strong contract this time around. There are some issues that we have to make sure are dealt with before ratifying any second contract.
Here are a few I raised in Washington.
Our medical insurance has to be addressed. As a father of four children, I was not happy with the first contract. When we were employees of Motor Cargo, we enjoyed the option of a PPO or an HMO plan. For the last five years we have had substandard medical coverage.
Management and non-union employees have the choice of a PPO or HMO. We need the same option with more coverage and less out of pocket expense. Our current plan has an out of pocket expense max of $1,500 per family member.
UPS Freight can afford top-of-the-line benefits for Teamsters. The operating profits for UPS Freight and Logistics in the last quarter posted were over $200 million.
Many of our Teamster brothers have lost their jobs during the last four years because of subcontracting. We have seen the company take advantage of the loop hole in article 44 that covers one-way freight. We have also seen the company subcontract local cartage work, displacing more teamsters. When we met in Washington, everyone agreed we have to stop the subcontracting in this contract bargaining.
We have good union proposals but we have to stand firm and make sure that the strong language doesn't get watered down when the contract comes to us for a vote.
Jose Nuñez, Local 439, Stockton, Calif.
November 20, 2012: Concerned UPS Freight Teamsters have been working with TDU for some time to focus on what members need with our next contract. It's clear that the IBT listened when it came to putting the package of proposals together to bargain with UPS Freight management.
Here are some of the key issues we discussed and what the IBT presented to the company.
- 1. Eliminate contractors taking Teamsters' work. No contractors to be allowed if any full-timer or casual is on layoff status.
The IBT proposal is to eliminate paragraph 2 of Article 44.
- 2. Protect job bid start times. If the company needs to change a job bid start time, they must offer a re-bid of job if current holder wishes to bump off job bid.
The IBT proposal is to reduce the number of times the company can cancel/move a bid from 50% in 60 days, to 6 times in 30 days.
- 3. We need a trigger or hours formula for lay off recall rights. This is a must have, to protect full time job bids.
The IBT has proposals for both layoff and recall triggers.
- 4. Eliminate the 10% rule for job bids. All full timers shall be guaranteed an 8 hour day of pay.
The IBT has a proposal to make all job bids guaranteed.
- 5. Increase sick days to be used at employee's discretion. Allow Teamsters to bank unused sick days.
The IBT has a proposal to bank unused sick days.
- 6. Adopt language from the UPS "brown" contract that curtails excessive overtime.
The IBT has a proposal to limit forced OT.
- 7. Increase the number of full time jobs.
The IBT has a proposal to increase full time jobs based on the hours worked by a casual in 30 days in a 60 day period. Also if two casuals are book-ended on 2 continuous 4 hour shifts for 30 days in a 60 day period.
November 20, 2012: On October 4, a bunch of New Penn Teamsters near Boston showed up for work wearing skirts. Long skirts, short skirts, even plaid ones. The unusual attention-getting fashion choice of Teamsters was a protest against management harassment and pettiness.
Article 12 of the National Master Freight Agreement says that “The Employer has the right to establish and maintain reasonable standards for wearing apparel and personal grooming.” Teamsters who interact with the public understand the need for maintaining a professional appearance. What is an ongoing source of aggravation is the rigid requirement in the NMFA that shorts may only be worn “during the period May 1 through September 30.”
Every Spring and Fall there is a tug of war between members who feel they are capable of deciding when to wear shorts and management, which gets all uppity about their desire to exert their control.
A Boston Teamster might wonder if other trucking management applies this petty rule in, say, South Florida and Arizona.
Teamster members at the New Penn terminal in Billerica, Massachusetts decided they were fed up with the harassment and micro management on wearing of shorts. Article 12 has no prohibition against wearing of skirts, so Teamsters organized to buy and be fitted for skirts. Needless to say when Teamsters turned up for work in skirts there was some consternation in the ranks of management!
Despite there being no formal surrender on the issue of management rights, at this time shorts look preferable to skirts. Teamsters look forward to the day when grown men can decide, as adults, on when to put away the shorts.
The Teamster rank and file won’t be “short changed” when it comes to creative tactics.
November 26, 2012: On November 29 officers from freight locals will meet in Kansas City to review the contract proposals that the International union will present to ABF.
ABF Teamsters have every reason to be concerned.
Earlier this fall, the IBT mailed contract surveys to ABF employees. The survey results have not been revealed to members or local unions, but the survey itself was worrisome. Some of the questions were fine, but others looked like they were prepared by management, asking which concession we would like to give to the company.
It's true that ABF is operating in hard times: the economic recovery in trucking is painfully slow.
TDU has done outreach to active members, and found that Teamsters are reasonable but have a bottom line of holding firm on no givebacks on the contract.
"Every ABF Teamster I talk to says the company doesn't need any help from us when it comes to money," commented Larry Capesius, a utility driver for ABF in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
"We do our jobs and ABF is making a profit," he continued. "We voted down givebacks once and we'll do it again if there's any attack on our wages, benefits or pension contributions."
Also, Teamsters have seen that ABF has the money to pay bonuses and salary hikes to top execs, and to buy Panther in 2012.
The IBT negotiating team needs to stand firm and keep ABF Teamsters and their brothers and sisters at YRC, Holland and New Penn informed and involved at every step of the negotiating process.
Members will act to defend the freight contract but they need a leadership that has the confidence to lead if we are to win a fair contract.
November 20, 2012: Two of the biggest Teamster Pension Plans have adopted a new pension model. What does it mean for members' pensions?
Both the Central States Fund and the New England Pension Plan have a new pension model that may affect tens of thousands of Teamsters.
Why are employers pushing for the new "Hybrid Plan" model? What will it mean for Teamsters' pensions?
Companies are getting increasingly aggressive about getting out of defined-benefit union pensions. One big reason is employers don't want to have withdrawal liability, that is, debt owed to pay for pensions that Teamsters and retirees have earned.
In 2007, the Hoffa administration let UPS pay off its withdrawal liability, pull out of Central States and set up a new plan for UPS Teamsters only. That move put the Central States Plan on the brink.
Now the Central States and New England Pension funds are offering employers a different model.
Under the Hybrid Plan, companies pay down their liability and stay within the Teamster pension plan at the same time.
As of October 2012, some 17 employers in the Central States Fund have switched over to this arrangement and another 25 in the New England Fund.
The Hybrid Plan model has not been adopted by the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust. That fund already operates at close to full funding so employers have already eliminated withdrawal liability as an issue.
So far only small units have switched in the Central States, but they include some large companies such as Republic Waste. In New England, UPS, DHL, and some other corporations have done so.
In the future, other companies may make this switch. Will ABF push for this change? Stay tuned.
Click here to read more about Hybrid Pension Plans.
November 20, 2012: Under the "Hybrid" model, the Pension Fund sets up two departments: the traditional pension model and the new one with no employer liability.
To switch to the department with no future withdrawal liability, a company has to pay off all its current withdrawal liability, either in a lump sum or on a payment plan.
For example, over 10,000 UPS Teamsters in New England were switched into the new plan in September. UPS had to pay off its withdrawal liability. But the Fund allowed them to stretch their payments out over 50 years!
The move saved UPS millions, because as part of the deal the company's contribution rate was reduced from $8.50 an hour to $6.20 per hour and will be frozen at that rate for 10 years.
The switch could affect future accruals and benefits, because under this new "hybrid" plan, each year the fund will evaluate the withdrawal liability and adjust pension accruals to keep the employer's withdrawal liability at zero.
What does the new model mean for members' pensions?
Under the Hybrid plan, members' pension accruals and benefits can go up or down each year.
That's because every year, the new "hybrid" plan evaluates withdrawal liability and adjusts members' pension accrual to keep the withdrawal liability at zero. If stock market returns are high and pension fund assets are growing, members' accrual will go up.
But if pension fund assets are dropping, because of a stock slowdown, then members' accrual will go down.
As part of the New England deal, UPS Teamsters were guaranteed that there would be no cuts (or increases) in their pension accrual rate for ten years.
Pay Attention to Your Pension
The Hybrid plan model is gaining momentum. Members need to understand it and keep their eyes open.
Central States Fund representatives say this new model is win-win-win, for the employers, the members, and the fund itself.
That remains to be seen. In the short term, the new model may help stabilize underfunded Teamster plans. Over the long term, zeroing out withdrawal liability every year will tend to keep pension benefit levels from increasing.
The Hybrid Plan may help convince some employers who want to eliminate withdrawal liability from trying to break out of Teamster plans, but it won't change the fact that corporations will always prefer cheap 401(k)s to defined benefit union pensions.
The devil is in the details. Members need to take a close look before approving major changes in something as important as their retirement.
TDU will continue to help Teamsters understand and watchdog their pensions. Support the movement for strong and secure benefits by joining TDU today.
December 14, 2012: Bylaws are the constitution of your local union. They define your rights and responsibilities as a local member, they say how elections will be run, and they set the powers for your officers.
Your local union bylaws can be amended, to make improvements. But you have to know how to go about it.
In many locals, members can only introduce new bylaws amendments in January.
The process of amending local bylaws can vary from local to local. The exact procedure is laid out in your bylaws.
Members must present the proposed changes at a union meeting. After members present a proposed change, it must be read at three consecutive meetings, and then there will be a vote. That’s the time to turn out supporters.
What it Takes to Win
A bylaws campaign can be effective tool for winning positive reforms and education of members. But, like any organizing campaign, a bylaws reform campaign requires good planning. Successful campaigns have usually:
- Picked an issue that matters most to members and focused on it
- Spread the word with leaflets and conversations and support petitions
- Involved supporters in the whole process
Getting the Language Right
Since bylaws are legally binding documents, it's important to get the language in your proposal right. In some cases, General President Hoffa has vetoed reforms approved by local union members because of language technicalities.
TDU can help on this front. We have copies of bylaws language that has been approved by the IBT, and lawyers who can review your bylaws proposals before you run into a legal challenge.
Contact TDU at 313-842-2600 or click here to send us a message.
Click here to read about Teamsters Local 251 and their bylaws campaign to win stronger representation and better contracts.
November 20, 2012: Local 251 Teamsters in Rhode Island are organizing to win stronger
representation and better contracts.
Members from different companies have launched a campaign to change their local bylaws, with three proposed changes:
- The Right to Elect Shop Stewards
- The Right to Elect Contract Negotiating Committees
- The Right to Vote on Officer Salaries and Pay Increases
Half of Local 251's membership works at Rhode Island Hospital where contract negotiations have been a closed-door affair.
"Last time, we didn't even know our contract was being negotiated until Human Resources sent out an email announcing announced there was a new deal," said TDU member Paul Santos. "We found out we had a new contract from management, not the Union!"
"From now on, we want to elect stewards and members to serve on our Contract Negotiating Committee. Members are the ones who have to live under the contract. We should have a say in what’s in there," Santos said.
"Freight Teamsters have elected their shop stewards for years. But other Local 251 members have been denied this right," said YRC retiree Jim Jacob who served as steward at Red Star for years. "Every Teamster should have the right to elect the shop steward that represents them when their job is on the line."
UPS Teamsters are getting involved. When members found out Local union officials make $86 an hour, heads turned.
TDU member and UPSer Matt Taibi says, "Local 251 officers make as much as $179,449 a year. We think officer salaries should be brought more in line with what Teamsters make and the dues savings should be put to work for the membership. However you feel about this issue, we can all agree that members should have the Right to Vote on what we pay our Local Union leaders."
"Local officials work out of the union hall, not the barn. They really have no idea what is going on day to day on the shop floor, and therefore should not be appointing our representatives.
"The rank and file members know who they trust, who they can relate to and who they can count on. This is why members should have the right to elect the stewards that represent them."
Nick Williams, Local 251, Rhode Island Hospital, TDU Steering Committee
Defending Our Rights
“I was amazed at the support and solidarity from my fellow Teamsters at my first TDU Convention.
“Back in New York, we’re working with our brothers at Elmhurst Dairy to fight illegal layoffs and defend their union rights. We’re building a network to educate more members, distribute Teamster Voice, and spread the TDU message in the local.”
Stephen Mohan, Tuscan Beyer Farms, Local 584, New York
Building Teamster Unity
“What I saw at the TDU Convention was a great demonstration of unity and strength, two ingredients of real unionism.
“The only way we’re going to survive is if we’re more united to take on the employers. I’m sharing the info I learned with members on my dock and bringing more members with me to next year’s Convention.”
Tyrone Turner, YRC, Local 667, Memphis
Get the Facts
“TDU doesn’t hide the facts. You get the straight story, and expert help from Teamster leaders, labor educators and the best labor attorneys around.
“In Spokane, we’re running to take back our local and use TDU resources to empower and educate more members.”
Derick Apatang, UPS, Local 690, Spokane