May 9, 2007: Teamsters in the Central States were told that the 2002 “Best Contract Ever” would protect our benefits for the life of the contract. Instead that agreement gutted early retirement in the Central States by slashing the pension accrual rate in half and raising the cost of retiree healthcare to as high as $1,200 a month.
If we’re going to give UPS an early deal, we need to restore benefits that we’ve lost.
A new rule set by the fund requires that all new contracts must contain at least an eight percent increase in pension contributions every year. This means at least $2.40 an hour will go into the pension fund over the next contract, probably a good bit more. Contributions to the Central States Pension Fund will reach $8 per hour during the next contract.
The question is what benefits will be restored?
In Central States, the easiest benefit to restore is affordable retiree healthcare. These benefits were slashed because of one fact: money designated for our health benefits was diverted for three years in a row to the pension fund.
As a result, Teamster members are being prevented from retiring at 25 and 30 and out.
The next contract has to undo the damage that was done by the Best Contract Ever.
We need to substantially increase contributions to our Health and Welfare Fund so that our health benefits are protected and affordable retiree healthcare is restored.
If our negotiators do their job, UPS Teamsters in the Central States can have retiree health benefits for $50 a month, just like we had prior to the cuts.
Pension Accrual and Early Retirement
Our pension accrual has been cut in half, and our early retirement plans cut out. Teamsters need a written agreement—not a worthless promise—that our pension benefits will be phased back in as increased contributions build up in our fund.
In 1997, UPS Teamsters got a statement from Central States—before we voted on the contract—telling us in writing what our benefits would be if we ratified the contract.
After the broken promises of 2002, we need to demand it in writing this time.
We need to restore retiree healthcare in full, and a specific timeline for restoring our pension benefits.
Without these gains, why would we vote to approve an early deal? We can hold out and bargain for more.