January 10, 2009: Under a contract loophole, UPS and the International Union have agreed to new restrictions that will make it harder for drivers to file grievances against excessive overtime.
Our contract is supposed to protect package car drivers from unwanted excessive overtime. But in a memo dated Dec. 18, the International Union announced that it had negotiated new guidelines that will make it tougher for members to file excessive overtime grievances.
Click here to download a copy of the memo.
The new guidelines make it more difficult for members to get on an Opt-In list which gives them the right to file a 9.5 grievance—and some drivers on extended routes will not be allowed to get any relief from excessive overtime.
Article 37 of the contract gives eligible drivers the right to file grievances if the company forces them to work more than 9.5 hours a day on any three days in a work week.
In the last contract, UPS agreed to raise the penalty for 9.5 violations to triple time pay. In exchange, the company insisted that the contract require drivers to sign an Opt-In or Opt-Out list. Only drivers who sign the Opt-In list would be able to file 9.5 grievances.
The company’s goal was to limit the number of drivers who could enforce their protections against excessive overtime. But it didn’t work. Most drivers who were given the choice signed the Opt-In list and protected their right to file grievances.
In many areas, UPS never bothered to post the Opt-In lists. That made all drivers eligible to file 9.5 grievances.
Under the new guidelines agreed to by our union, no driver will be eligible to file a 9.5 grievance until they have signed an Opt-In list. A driver can only add their name to the Opt-In list after they have worked three days over 9.5 hours in a workweek. Then they can go to the Center Manager’s office and request to be added to the Opt-In list. The list will not be posted. It will be kept in the Center Manager’s office.
Once a driver signs the Opt-In list, they must stay on the list for five months. After that the driver will be removed from the list. The driver will have to work more than 9.5 hours on three days in a work week again before they can sign an Opt-In list gain.
Until now, drivers in the Central Region have used Article 12 of the Central Region Supplement, which makes no mention of Opt-In / Opt-Out lists. As we go to press, there is no definitive word on whether members will continue to be able to file under the supplement without qualifying under the new 9.5 guidelines.
The new guidelines also contain a loophole that allows the company to keep drivers on extended routes from grieving excessive overtime. Under the rule, drivers on extended routes are entitled to relief from excessive overtime “provided the company can reasonably dispatch work to other drivers.”
UPS has been insisting that drivers on high mileage routes cannot file 9.5 grievances. You can bet they will use this vague language to their advantage.
Many members are asking how the 9.5 rules could be changed in the middle of the contract.
A loophole inserted in the new contract created a 9.5 Committee and gave it the power to “adopt guidelines” over the implementation of the 9.5 language. (See Article 37, Section 1(c).) The new guidelines were agreed to by our Union Representatives on the 9.5 Committee.
“When the rank and file voted to approve this contract, the membership gave union leaders (who do not have to work under this language) and the company the right to ‘adopt guidelines’ concerning 9.5, without insisting on the right to vote on any new changes,” said Nichele Fulmore, a shop steward in North Carolina Local 391.
“The devil’s in the details in these contracts and as the rank and file we have got to pay more attention to these details,” Fulmore said.
Enforcing Our Rights
In practice, many drivers do not file 9.5 grievances. Some want all the overtime they can get. But others fear they will lose all their overtime or face production harassment if they file a grievance.
Interviews with drivers and stewards across the country show that results vary widely. In some areas, members consistently win 9.5 grievances and have gotten overtime relief as a result. In others, very few grievances are ever filed.
Local 278 Vice President Jerry Gibson says the key is talking the issue up among drivers and relentlessly grieving violations so management cannot single out members who enforce the contract.
“Virtually all the package car drivers in Local 278 signed the Opt-In lists. We file hundreds of 9.5 grievances. Now they’re changing the rules to try to make it harder for people to fight excessive overtime, but it’s not going to stop us from enforcing our rights,” said Gibson.
“The real solution is for UPS to create more driving jobs. Until that happens, we’re going to keep filing grievances and make the company pay the triple time penalty for 9.5 violations.”
Click here to download a copy of the memo on the new excessive overtime rules.
What's the situation with excessive overtime in your building? Click here to send a confidential report to Teamsters for a Democratic Union.
A Wake-Up Call
Brothers and sisters it is time to wake up. When the rank and file voted to approve this contract, the membership gave union leaders (who do not have to work under this language) and the company the right to “adopt guidelines” concerning 9.5, without insisting on the right to vote on any new changes.
The devil’s in the details in these contracts and as the rank and file we have got to pay more attention to these details.
Nichele Fulmore, Shop Steward
Local 391, North Carolina