Lessons of the UPS Contract

November 20, 2007: Working Teamsters at UPS can’t depend on top union officials to have our backs, and we can’t wait until there’s a crisis to get organized.

That’s the lesson of the UPS contract.

In spite of its massive concessions, the contract is headed toward passage with 65 percent of the vote nationally. It is not ratified yet, because Teamsters have voted down three supplemental agreements in Pennsylvania and New York.

If we want to stop future givebacks and enforce our contract, we need a bigger, stronger network of UPS stewards and members. And that means building a stronger TDU.

Members, Make UPS Deliver Mount Strong Challenge

Through Make UPS Deliver, stewards and members got contract information in the hands of tens of thousands of Teamsters.

Where UPS Teamsters mounted an organized Vote No effort, the contract was contested and sometimes defeated.

Members voted down the contract in several UPS locals, including Kansas City, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Omaha, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Allentown, Harrisburg, Worcester, Syracuse, and Knoxville, among others.

In New York Local 804, the largest UPS local in the East, 7,000 Teamsters overwhelmingly the contract down by nearly 3 to 1.

In a few key locals where local officers actively spoke out against the contract, they made a big difference, fueling the defeat of the supplements in Central and Western Pennsylvania—and nearly overturning the supplement in Northern California.

In locals where Make UPS Deliver materials weren’t distributed and members only heard the company and union sales job, the vote was a lopsided—with 10 to 1 margins and worse.

Why The Contract Passed Nationally

The biggest obstacle to defeating the concessionary contract nationally was the sheer size and scope of the Teamster-UPS sales job.

The company and the union reached every UPS Teamster with their Vote Yes campaign. Most UPS Teamsters received multiple mailings—including six separate mailings in the Central and Southern regions.

In contrast, our Vote No campaign relied on member-to-member communication. The fast track contract vote gave us limited time to expand our network.

The Hoffa administration’s miserable failure to defend Teamster pensions was another major factor in the contract vote. First, Teamster pensions were cut in the Central States and elsewhere after Hoffa promised they would be protected. Then our union failed to advance any positive plan for improving pensions without giving in to the UPS pension grab in the Central States.

With Hoffa and Hall offering no plan, no hope and no leadership, it is not surprising that the majority of UPS Teamsters voted for the contract in the Central States areas: the Central Region and the South.

Lessons for Working Teamsters

This contract shows that Hoffa and Hall cannot be trusted to fight for Teamsters at UPS—and that the majority of local union officials would rather go along with Hoffa than make a stand for the members they are supposed to represent.

That leaves UPS Teamsters with two choices: give up or get organized.

The company will continue to attack our pensions and benefits—and management will undermine the new contract every chance they get.

It is up to concerned UPS stewards and members to inform our co-workers, enforce our contract, and hold our union leaders accountable. Thousands of dedicated UPS Teamsters do this every day. The movement to beat this concessionary contract shows that we’re more effective when we work together.

That’s why Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) launched the Make UPS Deliver website. We plan on keeping it going. But we want to do more than just share information in cyberspace.

Join TDU and Link UPS Stewards and Members Nationwide

TDU’s goal is to build a network that can link UPS stewards and members in every hub and building. You can be a part of making that happen.

Join TDU today. Help build a stronger voice and more power for working Teamsters at UPS.

Click here to Join TDU. $40/year for UPS full-timers. $25/year for UPS part-timers. Membership includes a subscription to our newspaper Convoy Dispatch and a free copy of Rank and File Power at UPS—a 70 page history of the fight for a strong union and respect on the job at UPS.

Click here to find out more about TDU’s UPS network. Send us a message and a TDU organizer will contact you.

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