On Pension, UPS’s Actions Speak Louder Than Words

June 8, 2007: UPS management has been trying to win control over our pensions for years. After Teamsters defeated UPS’s pension grab in 1997 and won major improvements in our benefits, it looked like management’s dreams were finished.

Then the 2002 “Best Contract Ever” and the pension cuts of 2003 breathed new life into management’s old ambitions to get control over our pensions.

UPS Teamsters are angry over the cuts and they’re looking for answers. Management is trying to play off our anger to revive their efforts to take over our pensions. The company wants to convince Central States Teamsters that they will look out for our pensions.

When it comes to big promises, actions speak louder than words. The fact is management hasn’t been looking out for our retirement; they’ve been leading the attack on our benefits. Just look at the UPS record:

  • UPS management’s representative to the Central States Pension Fund voted to cut our pensions and opposed a motion by our union trustees to increase employer contributions.
  • UPS management’s representative to the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Fund voted for benefit cuts, even though that fund is 100 percent funded.
  • There are two UPS-Teamster plans like the one being proposed for the Central States and management has pushed for pension cuts at both. UPS’s trustees forced through a 30 percent pension cut in New York Local 804, and they are trying to cut benefits in New Jersey Local 177, where the issue is deadlocked to an arbitrator.
  • UPS management refused to pay millions of dollars owed to two pension funds, in Virginia and New York. In Virginia, management stopped making required pension contributions when members were on vacation.
  • UPS has been the number one supporter of legislation that would make it easier to cut our benefits.

UPS’s record shows that the company can’t be trusted with our benefits. But many UPS Teamsters will say Hoffa can’t be trusted either. After all, Hoffa promised that the “Best Contract Ever” would protect our benefits.

True enough. But we’re not going to get even with Hoffa by jumping for a bad proposal from management. Remember, management’s plan to break up the Central States Fund will only go to a vote if Hoffa is backing it.

Hoffa and UPS sold us a bill of goods in 2002. The answer isn’t to fall for a bigger bill of goods now. UPS is under pressure from stockholders and shippers to reach an early agreement. This gives us leverage. Let’s use it.

UPS Teamsters should not ratify any early agreement unless we have it in writing that the contract will restore affordable retiree health coverage and gives us a written timetable for restoring our pensions.

We can win these improvements without letting UPS break apart the Central States fund and weaken our retirement security over the long run.

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