Make UPS Deliver: Lessons from the Campaign

December 5, 2007: UPS Teamsters were not able to defeat givebacks this time. An analysis of voting results shows what it will take for us to succeed in the future.

UPS entered contract talks making record profits of more than $4 billion and under pressure from stockholders to settle the contract early.

Our chief negotiators James Hoffa and Ken Hall had the leverage to make UPS deliver. Instead, they gave the company the early deal it wanted—plus the biggest concessions in 25 years.

Concerned UPS Teamsters mobilized to Vote No. Although we were not able to defeat the contract, an analysis of the voting results shows what it will take for us to succeed in the future.

Informed Voters Challenged the Givebacks

The balloting results show that Teamsters can make a difference when we take coordinated action. In the locals where members mounted an organized campaign to distribute Make UPS Deliver information, the contract was challenged and sometimes defeated.

Members voted down the contract in many large UPS locals, including Kansas City, St. Louis, Cincinnati, New Orleans, 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 rejected the contract by a three to one margin.

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 ten to one margins and worse.

The lopsided yes votes in locals where members heard only the IBT-UPS sales job helped to account for the overall 65 percent ratification margin.

Why the Contract Passed Nationally

The biggest obstacle to defeating the concessionary contract nationally was the sheer size 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 lesson is clear: working Teamsters at UPS can’t wait until there’s a crisis to get organized. 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.

Hoffa-Hall Surrender on Central States Pension

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 and Hall promised they would be protected by the 2002 contract.

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 contract passed by a wide margin in the Central States areas.

Many Teamsters in other areas saw the givebacks in the contract as the price members had to pay to “solve” the Central States pension problem.

It’s hard for members to stand up against UPS’s concessions when our own leaders are lying down for the company.

Local Officers

The contract results showed the influence of local officials—and the need to organize for local union reform.

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.

Unfortunately, the majority of local union officials and business agents showed that they would rather go along with Hoffa than make a stand for the members they are supposed to represent.

Many sent letters to their local union membership pushing a Yes vote—adding to the flood of mail and recorded calls from the International and the company. Many UPS Teamsters are already looking down the road to their next local union election.

Build TDU

With the contract approved in most parts of the country, UPS Teamsters are left with two choices: give up or get organized.

The company will continue to attack our pensions and benefits—and undermine the 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.

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.

TDU’s goal is to build a network that can link UPS stewards and members in every hub and building.

Be a part of making that happen. Join TDU today. Click here to join.

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