The Teamsters Union's top leaders are mulling a plan to impose a UPS Inc. small-package contract on recalcitrant union locals by stripping its members of the right to vote on supplements and riders to the UPS master contract, a Teamster dissident group said yesterday.
Teamsters For A Democratic Union (TDU) said in a communiqué that General President James P. Hoffa and Executive Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall, the union's number two official, are "considering a secret plan" to effectively force the master contract on several locals that have already rejected supplements to the main compact. Although a five-year contract was ratified last June, it cannot take effect until all locals ratify their respective riders and supplements.
A Teamster spokeswoman declined comment. Atlanta-based UPS officials were unavailable to comment.
The union won the right in its 1991 contract with UPS to vote on all supplements and riders. Prior to that, the master contract and all supplements and riders were voted on at one time nationwide.
During the most recent negotiations, the rank-and-file rejected 18 supplements and riders, the largest number rejected in any contract negotiated by the Teamsters in its 111-year existence. Since mid-2013, most of the supplements and riders have been ratified, the latest being in Ohio.
The leadership's purported effort is aimed primarily at locals in Louisville, Ky.; Philadelphia; and western Pennsylvania. In all three regions, locals have rejected their respective supplements. Louisville and Philadelphia are home to UPS air hubs.
Tensions are running especially high in Louisville, where Local 89 represents 9,300 air and ground workers, the largest UPS local in its system. The rank and file there rejected the master contract and its supplement by overwhelming margins. Throughout the process, officials of the local have been at odds with the international leadership in Washington, D.C., and they have been vocal in expressing their displeasure.
Earlier this month, UPS made what union officials called its "last, best, and final offer" to the local. The local responded by filing a charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against UPS for unfair labor practices and "regressive" bargaining. The local said UPS, in its latest offer, reneged on provisions both sides had already agreed upon.
Besides the locals in Kentucky and Pennsylvania, contracts covering 15,000 UPS Teamsters at two locals in Chicago and northern Indiana remain open. These contracts are separate from the national agreement, TDU said.