BNA Daily Labor Report: Election Sought at Second UPS Freight Site

July 23, 2007: Daily Labor Report: The newly formed Association of Parcel Workers of America (APWA) July 20 filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board seeking a representation election at the UPS Freight terminal in Gaffney, S.C., an NLRB official told BNA.

Patricia Timmins, an NLRB regional attorney in Winston-Salem, N.C., said a hearing should be held in 7-10 days to decide when an election will be scheduled. UPS Freight will have an opportunity to object, and other unions that may wish to compete in a representation election will have an opportunity to be heard, she said.

APWA President Van Skillman told BNA that an election at the South Carolina terminal would be only the second such election since the group's formation in 2004. In early July, APWA, UPS Freight, and the NLRB agreed to the first representation election Aug. 5-7 at the company's Kansas City, Kan., terminal 131 DLR A-10, 7/10/07 ).

Ira Rosenfeld, a spokesman for Richmond, Va.-based UPS Freight, told BNA July 20 that the company had not decided on a course of action for the initial NLRB hearing on APWA's new election petition. The company has operated at maximum efficiency as a nonunion company in the past, he said.

UPS Freight, a trucking company formerly known as Overnite Transportation, has a long history of resisting organizing attempts by unions. Between 1994 and 2002, the company was the target of an unsuccessful organizing drive and strike by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (208 DLR AA-1, 10/28/02 ).

363 Workers in Prospective Unit

According to Rosenfeld, the Gaffney facility is the largest UPS Freight terminal in the southern United States. About 440 workers are employed at the site, he said, including long-distance truck drivers who spend very little time at the terminal itself.

APWA is seeking to represent 362 truck drivers, dock workers, clerks, building maintenance employees, mechanics, check bay attendants, and tire changers, according to the group's petition. Full- and part-time workers are included. Not included in the prospective bargaining unit are office workers, guards, and supervisors.

The August election in Kansas City and the proposed election in South Carolina come at the same time as closely watched negotiations continued between UPS Freight and IBT on a first contract covering about 125 workers at the company's Indianapolis terminal. When those talks commenced Sept. 6, 2006, IBT leaders said they would be a model for organizing all 15,000 UPS Freight employees at its 300 terminals nationwide (173 DLR A-1, 9/7/06 ).

In a June 25 statement, IBT repeated that the "union intends for the Indianapolis agreement to serve as a model contract, one that will answer the questions the remaining UPS Freight workers around the country have about joining the Teamsters." The talks, which have been proceeding regularly since they began last year, are scheduled to resume July 23, the union said.

'The Teamsters Are Coming.'

The Indianapolis negotiations also take place at the same time IBT is engaged in early contract talks with United Parcel Service, the parent company of UPS Freight. IBT represents more than 200,000 United Parcel Service employees nationwide, and the union has linked these talks to UPS Freight with a campaign under the title "One Company, One Union."

APWA's Skillman, himself a United Parcel Service driver, has been critical of IBT, and the 1.4 million member union returned the criticism in a statement to BNA July 20.

"We are confident the UPS Freight employees will not be misled by a group supported by the right-to-work committee, represented by a union-busting lawyer, with no experienced leadership, no staff support, no pension plan, no health plan, no collective bargaining experience, but unlimited, empty promises," Ken Hall, IBT international vice president, said in a statement.

"UPS Freight employees may be frustrated by their long effort to join a union, but that should not cause them to prematurely select a group that will not produce on its promises. Our message to UPS Freight workers is that the Teamsters are coming and are bringing a proven record of collective bargaining experience," Hall stated.

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