Big Issues Not on the Table Yet

UPS Bargaining Opens

November 4, 2006. Will the present International Union leadership fight for a good contract at UPS?

One bad sign is that they are already keeping contract information secret from the members. At the October contract proposal meeting they wouldn’t even let local officers leave with copies of the union’s proposals, which they promptly handed to management.

Fortunately, TDU has obtained copies of the both the union and employer non-monetary bargaining proposals.

You can click here to can access the union proposals and employer proposals.

There are not too many surprises in the union proposals. There are somewhat fewer proposals overall this time around, perhaps in line with Hoffa’s and management’s shared interest in settling quickly.

Proposals around perennial problems, like supervisors working and excessive overtime, are fairly predictable and attempt to patch up weak language. It is fine to beef up penalties for failure to release drivers who request “regular” work hours, but problems still exist if management just dumps the work on other drivers. Penalties need to be automatic (like double time after ten hours) and staffing levels and workloads need to be addressed.

Very disappointing is the lack of any card-check/neutrality proposal. In 2002 four pages were devoted to this issue. This time it is mentioned merely as an addendum to a proposal on subcontracting and does not address the need to obtain organizing rights at all other UPS divisions, not just for bargaining work being subcontracted. This critical demand needs to be added to our union bargaining program.

Employer proposals

TDU has also obtained a copy of management’s initial bargaining demands. These, as with the union proposals, do not include any of the most important items: benefits, wages or full-time job creation. Nothing is included about their move against our pensions. In fact, the proposals are so skimpy that it is clear that management is not showing its real hand.

The UPS demands cover some ongoing back and forth on issues like supervisors working and subcontracting (only locals where subcontracting originated get to file over it). These are put in to counter union proposals.

They include a fair share of management nitpicking; for example, they are often up in arms about bereavement leave. There’s also one on bidding to another job and being disqualified (longer wait to qualify again) and one on bidding into feeder (must stay two years).

A couple of management proposals are based on recent events: they want to be able to adjust meal and break periods (a response to the big California wage and hours lawsuit now underway) and a demand that Teamsters give up the right to honor picket lines setup on highways (in response to the Pennsylvania Turnpike toll booth strike of a couple years ago).

The company is always interested in trying to further weaken innocent until proven guilty (they want the right to discharge a worker already under pending discharge if they have a second offense). Sadly, our union under the current leadership is ready to go along with this (innocent until proven guilty was largely eliminated in the freight contract).

There are some interesting changes proposed under “competition” (Article 26) and “emergency reopening”. Competition language has to do with new services or products and sets out a procedure (60 days notice, and if the parties disagree it goes to arbitration). Emergency reopening of the contract could be over any national law which increases the employer’s health care costs, or “any other event.” They like early bargaining so much they want the right to do it virtually whenever they want.

They also want the right to use a much weaker, watered down arbitration procedure in disputes over work and operations.

But the big bombs have yet to drop. For years, UPS has waged a campaign to eliminate union pensions. And the restoration and improvement of pension benefits is high on the list of member concerns going into this contract.

Also missing are any employer or union demands over wage rates, full-time job creation, or time off. Part-time new hire rates have been frozen for over two decades and real progress must be made on that and other fronts for any contract to receive membership support.

Click here for the UPS Union Proposals (Adobe Reader Required)

Click here for the UPS Employer Proposals (Adobe Reader Required)

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