Waving the White Flag at UPS

April 2, 2010: The Hoffa administration says it’s “Not the right time” to enforce the UPS contract.

Hoffa administration officials offered plenty of excuses, but no action plans for contract enforcement, during a national conference call for UPS shop stewards.

Ken Hall, Hoffa’s point man at UPS, told stewards the IBT was doing a good job standing up to UPS at the national grievance panels. He blamed contract enforcement problems on members for failing to file good grievances—and on local officials for bringing cases with “no facts.”

On the critical issue of defending full-time 22.3 jobs, Hall said it’s “not the right time” to enforce the contract.

Hall addressed a series of issues where the International Union has come under fire for failing to stand up to UPS, including 22.3 full-time job elimination, 9.5 violations, and supervisors working.

Full-Time Job Elimination

The National Grievance Panel has not heard a single one of the hundreds of grievances filed on UPS’s elimination of 22.3 jobs. The contract requires UPS to maintain 20,000 full-time 22.3 jobs, but thousands of these positions are vacant or were never created in the first place.

Hall was unapologetic about the International Union’s inaction, saying “Quite frankly, 2009 was not the right time” to enforce Article 22.3. Apparently, 2010 is not the right time either. Our union didn’t take up any of the 22.3 grievances at the national panel in March.

Article 22.3 clearly requires UPS to maintain 20,000 full-time 22.3 jobs, and makes no exception for falling volume.

After the 1997 strike, the company refused to create 22.3 jobs. Our union took the issue to arbitration where the company relied on a sentence in the contract that declared the company’s obligations under Article 22.3 would be “null and void” if “there is a reduction in volume causing layoffs.”

UPS lost that arbitration. And the language about volume was eliminated from the contract in 2002. But Hall said the International Union won’t take action to protect 22.3 jobs until the economy turns around.

“Even though we think we’re right,” Hall said, “We don’t want to roll the dice” with an arbitrator. Meanwhile UPS continues to destroy full-time combo jobs.

9.5 & Sups Working

Addressing 9.5 violations, Hall blamed the lack of contract enforcement on Teamster members, saying “One of the problems that we’ve had with 9.5 is that while our members say the company is abusing it, we see very few grievances that make it to the national level.”

First, Hoffa and Hall watered down the 9.5 language to make it harder for members to file grievances. Now, they blame the lack of 9.5 grievances on the members.

Hall gave a similar response on supervisors working violations. He admitted the violations go “on all over the country,” but pinned responsibility on members for failing to file and properly document grievances. “In many cases sups work on a daily basis in a particular location and no one files a grievance about it,” Hall said.

No doubt this is a real problem. But what about the thousands of good grievances that are filed and are settled for dimes on the dollar?

Apparently it’s not Hall’s job to enforce the contract. It’s to pass the buck and blame the members!

Fewer Excuses, More Enforcement

Our contract can’t be enforced unless stewards and members document violations and file grievances. TDU publishes materials to help members do just that. From there, it’s up to our union leadership to take action.

It’s hard for members to enforce the contract when our officials are wringing their hands and passing the buck.

Management is walking all over our contract. UPS Teamsters need fewer excuses and more enforcement.

When Is the Right Time?

“Ken Hall says it’s not the right time to enforce Article 22.3 and save our full-time jobs. That’s easy for him to say.

“I took a $3 an hour pay cut when UPS eliminated my 22.3 job. Now I’m working a split shift at part-time wages.

“When my union asked me to strike in 1997, I didn’t ask if it was the right time. I picked up a picket sign and I hit the street.

“We need action, from the IBT, not excuses.”

Karen Berry, UPS, Local 767, Dallas

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