UPS Teamsters Say Conditions Are Worse Today Than at Start of Contract

January 28, 2005:Only 10% of UPS members responding to a survey said they felt as good or better about their jobs today as they did before the current contract. Over 56% said that conditions are worse today at UPS than they were in 2002—not exactly a clean bill of health for UPS or the IBT in the wake of what was called the “best contract ever.”

Two years into the current UPS contract, TDU conducted a survey of UPS Teamsters to determine what they think about their jobs, the union and issues they face in the workplace. Nearly 1,000 UPSers from across the U.S. filled in the survey. When it came down to issues, two in particular far outdistanced the others.

Pension and Health Benefits

Sixty-two percent said that pension benefits were the single most important issue facing UPS workers. Far fewer than half of respondents said they were planning to retire during the life of the current contract, indicating that pensions are front and center even for many members who are not on the verge of retirement. Seventy-two percent rated health care coverage as either first or second most important.

When asked to rate the Hoffa administration on living up to their promises on benefits, an overwhelming 95% said that Hoffa had failed to follow through. Sixty nine percent said that their plans for retirement had changed as a result.

Members also have strong and clear feelings about management non-compliance with the contract.

Sixty-one percent said that management rarely lives up to the agreement. Only 1% said that management always complies.

Most Common Violations

The area of the contract least often obeyed is the prohibition against supervisors doing our work; 59% said this provision was violated most often. Members said relief from overtime was the second most common contract violation. Subcontracting came in a close third with 13% citing it as the most common violation. Forty-seven percent said that subcontracting was happening constantly or frequently.

When it comes to the grievance procedure 50% said that it has deteriorated. Forty-five percent said that grievance panels rarely reach decisions on the merits of the cases and 87% said that horse-trading of grievances was common.

Working Safe (and Surviving Until Retirement)

Are UPS jobs becoming less safe? Eighty-one percent said that they had been injured in some way on the job. Sixty-three percent said they had to handle over-70-pound packages without help on at least a daily basis. Sixty-nine percent said that accident and injury rates have risen under the new Smart Label/Preload Assist programs.

Though UPS management does a poor job living up to the contract, there is one thing at which they are quite good: 85% said that management had in place so-called safety bingo programs, under which workers are rewarded for underreporting accidents and injuries.

Back to the Future: Preload Assist

One element of the future for UPS workers is the Preload Assist/Smart Label system. Half of the respondents say they now have these programs at their workplace, and they are quite clear about the effects. Ninety-one percent said that stop counts increased under it. Seventy-five percent said that preload positions have been reduced. Still, only 17% of respondents said preload assist was meeting UPS management expectations.

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