Pension Movement Wins on UPS Reciprocity

The pension justice movement has won an important victory for UPS Teamsters in the Central States Pension Fund. After refusing for 2 years to respect language in the 2002 UPS contract, Central States has now agreed to fully credit members for years they worked as part-timers.

This will mean earlier retirement and larger monthly checks for many Teamsters who have worked as both part-timers and full-timers at UPS.

Agreement Broken

Central States and the UPS Pension Plan have long had a reciprocity agreement that let members combine years worked in both plans when calculating their retirement benefit.

For example, if a member had 10 credited years as a part-timer in the UPS Plan and 20 credited years as a full-timer in Central States, they could retire with a pro-rated 30-and-out benefit.

The 2002 UPS contract provided that members would be given a full year of pension credit in the UPS Pension Plan for any year in which they had worked over 750 hours as a part-time employee, nine-months credit if they worked between 501 and 749 hours, and three-months credit if they worked between 375 and 500 hours in the year. An age-25 requirement for earning pension credit was also eliminated.

The UPS Pension Plan lived up to this part of the agreement, but the employer and union trustees at Central States refused. Central States said they would not credit members for their part-time years unless the UPS Plan went back to calculating benefits the old way. In other words, they wanted UPS to violate the 2002 contract.

UPS Teamsters who wanted to retire got caught in the crossfire between Central States and UPS. When they would write to ask for an estimate of benefits, instead they would get letters from both sides pointing the finger at one another.

Member Pressure Wins

Some of these Teamsters contacted the Central States Pension Improvement Committee (CSPIC) and TDU.

TDU and CSPIC included these members’ concerns in our movement for pension justice. The publicity generated by TDU and CSPIC - and the threat of legal action - increased the pressure on Central States to settle the matter.

Kevin Bowman, who retired from Cincinnati Local 100 in February, took a leading role in the campaign to get Central States to respect the reciprocity agreement.

Bowman started as a part-timer at UPS when he was 17 years old. He kept at Central States to give him straight answers and pursued his appeals as high as he could with the Central States trustees. He also called on the IBT to intervene and help enforce the contract.

Because of his good work and that of other Teamsters in the pension movement, Bowman will be receiving a big hike in his monthly pension check.

Before the change, his monthly pension check was $2,000. With it, he will now get just under $2,500 a month. Central States also gave him a one-time $2,875 check to cover what they owed him for the months since he retired.

“If it had not been for TDU helping a guy like me make a lot of noise this would not have happened,” says Bowman. “It shows that people going to meetings, throwing money in a bucket, and working together can make a difference.”

Many other UPS Teamsters and their families will also benefit from this win.

“My husband and I fought Central States for almost a year to get the benefits they owe him” says Brenda Kelley, wife of Lexington Local 651 member Jim Kelley. “We filed all our appeals with Central States and even consulted an attorney. But it took getting involved with TDU to win this change. Jim is now looking forward to retirement.”

Central States Teamsters need to bring the same kind of unity and pressure to bear on Central States and the IBT to win back the benefits that were taken from us last November.

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