Can Hoffa Deliver on His Campaign Year Hype?

 Critical UPS Freight Battle Looms


“This agreement between the Teamsters and UPS Freight is a letter for card check and neutrality at Overnite.”

James P. Hoffa, June 27, 2006

IBT Convention, Las Vegas

With those words, Hoffa promised Teamsters that he won an agreement to let our union organize Overnite (now UPS Freight) without the union-busting tactics we’ve seen from management in the past.

Will Hoffa’s agreement really deliver this promise? We hope so. Organizing UPS Freight is an issue that rises above politics. It’s critical to our union’s future at freight and UPS—and to the future of our pensions and benefits too.

We hope Hoffa’s deal gives us the ability to organize. But we have questions, too.

Agreement Still Secret

When it comes to agreements, the devil is in the details. And we’ve learned the hard way that what Hoffa promises and what he delivers aren’t necessarily the same thing. In 2002 and 2003, Hoffa guaranteed that his agreements at UPS, freight and carhaul would protect our pensions and benefits for six years. We know how that turned out.

So far, Hoffa has not shared the agreement, even with Teamster leaders. But serious questions are being raised since the BNA Daily Labor Report revealed that the agreement is limited to just one UPS Freight terminal out of hundreds.

Hoffa failed to mention this detail at the Teamster Convention. So did the IBT’s press release and Hoffa’s letter to local leaders after the convention.

Under a normal “card check” agreement, an employer agrees to voluntarily recognize the union if a majority of its employees sign a union card. This eliminates the need for an NLRB-run union election. In the past Overnite has used illegal tactics to bust Teamster organizing drives during the NLRB process.

“Neutrality” means that management agrees not to oppose unionization efforts and to let workers decide for themselves.

Hoffa’s card check and neutrality agreement applies to just one UPS Freight facility of the IBT’s choosing. After that, the IBT will have to go terminal by terminal. At this point, there is no agreement from the company to extend card check and neutrality to any other location.

From Card Check to Union Contract

What does this mean for our goal of organizing all 15,000 UPS Freight employees under the National Master Freight or UPS contract and into our pension plans? That’s not clear.

The IBT’s plan is to choose one facility and organize it. The next step, according to Ken Hall, will be to win a contract at that one facility.

What is the IBT’s plan for winning a strong contract at one UPS Freight terminal when the vast majority of the company remains unorganized? So far the IBT is not saying.

On July 1, 2005, Hoffa first announced he would unveil a “comprehensive plan to organize UPS Freight.” More than one year later, local leaders and members are still in the dark about what the plan is to win.

Organizing this long-time union-buster is critical. So is bringing it under a strong master contract and into our Teamster pension and benefit plans.

It will take the unity and involvement of the Teamster membership. All Teamsters should be ready to help.

It’s time for Hoffa to level with the members about the plan for organizing UPS Freight. Concerned Teamsters jumped at the opportunity to take on Overnite before—and we’ll do it again given the chance.

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