Convoy 227 June 2005

Mercury Spill on Ohio Sort Belt Raises Serious Questions

On May 2, when a mercury spill turned up on the main sort belt in the UPS Sharonville Building near Cincinnati, management failed to respond properly. UPS did not secure the area, isolate the spill, inform employees, nor evacuate workers from the spill area. “I always thought the idea was ‘safety first’,” says Local 100 full time steward Sam Bucalo.

Management appeared more concerned about keeping stewards from investigating the situation than about resolving the serious health risk. Both the full time and part time stewards were “taken out of service” the day following the discovery. Management claimed they had everything under control and there was no reason for the stewards to play a role in the situation.

New Threats and Opportunities

UPS purchase of nonunion Overnite Transportation for $1.25 billion marks a new era of industry consolidation and poses a grave threat to UPS and freight Teamsters, and to the security of our pensions. But the purchase also presents the best opportunity in a long time for the Teamsters to reassert ourselves as a major force in the transportation industry. We need to seize that opportunity.

The New Trucking Industry

The UPS-Overnite combination is the face of the new trucking industry. The boundaries are blurring between the small parcel, freight, and logistics sectors. The future belongs to integrated transportation companies that are players in all aspects of the market and can offer shippers a variety of options on a one-stop-shopping basis. That’s why FedEx already has successfully integrated a less-than-truckload carrier, American Freight, and built it into a $3 billion a year company—twice as large as Overnite.

Now’s the Time to Organize Overnite

“We are hopeful that UPS long history as a company with Teamster representation will create new opportunities for Overnite workers to achieve their goals in the workplace.”
—James Hoffa, May 16 IBT statement on UPS-Overnite

“The Teamsters will never rest until workplace justice is a reality for our brave brothers and sisters at Overnite.”
—James Hoffa, August 2001 Teamster Magazine

Which is it, Mr. Hoffa: Hoping management will do the right thing, or promising a fight for workplace justice?

How about instead carrying out a plan to make it happen?

Experts agree that UPS needs to integrate a freight company into its operations. At stake is UPS position as the world’s leading transportation company.

Overnite is a $1.65 billion-a-year company. UPS plans to double Overnite’s size to compete with FedEx Freight. UPS has to make this acquisition succeed. This gives our union tremendous leverage, and we’ve got to use it to organize Overnite.

Shippers and stock analysts are closely scrutinizing the UPS-Overnite acquisition. Everyone knows that union representation at Overnite is a major issue. To be successful, we need to turn organizing rights at Overnite from an “issue” into a deal-breaker.

UPS + Overnite = Danger Ahead

UPS today is not the same company many higher seniority Teamsters went to work for: First air freight, then global reach, technology, logistics. The biggest single change is about to happen: UPS’ conversion to a full-service freight carrier.

In the links below, we examine the consequences of this change, and what we can do to turn it to our advantage. If our union fails to take that step, we could pay a big price.

Consider just some of the challenges. Our feeder jobs are endangered, if not right away, in the long run. We need to monitor the cross-over freight, as parcels are bundled onto pallets and moved by Overnite. Will we have a strong, viable strike threat by 2008, without taking positive action now? Not if UPS has a large and growing nonunion trucking operation.

Retaliation Overturned

On October 1, 1998, “UPS told me to get out of here and don’t come back,” relates preloader Paul Stimpson.

The wheels of justice grind slowly, but after seven years the courts have ordered UPS to put Stimpson back to work. The exact details remain to be worked out, but Stimpson will get very considerable back pay.

On May 18, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, “We find substantial evidence that Stimpson was terminated in retaliation for his grievance activity.” Stimpson won at every step with the NLRB, but UPS delayed his final victory with appeals.

Overnite & UPS

The May 16 acquisition of Overnite by UPS means that our biggest nonunion competition now has the deepest pockets in the freight industry.

USF Teamsters Still Fighting for Jobs

The national freight grievance panel ruled on April 28 that former Red Star employees are entitled to be hired at the new USF Holland terminals in the East.

DHL: The Next Move?

Mergers and acquisitions are the name of the game in the new trucking industry as companies scramble to compete against one another in all sectors of the market: LTL freight, parcel delivery and gl

Will the IBT Rise to the Challenge?

The $1.25 billion acquisition of Overnite Transportation by UPS marks a turning point in the transportation industry and for our Teamsters union.

The largest employer of Teamsters will soon operate an enormous nonunion freight division. And the Teamsters’ worst nemesis in the freight industry, Overnite, will be financially backed by the most profitable transportation company in the world.

UPS-Overnite is the face of the new trucking industry in which all the big players—Yellow-Roadway, FedEx, DHL—are consolidating and positioning themselves to compete as integrated transportation companies.


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