Will You Get a Cost of Living Raise?

March 14, 2008: The UPS, freight and carhaul national contracts all have a Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) clause, to help protect against inflation eating away our wages. Teamsters are asking, with gas prices heading toward $4, will we get a COLA raise?

For UPS Teamsters the answer is No.

For freight Teamsters, the answer is apparently No.

For carhaulers, it is Maybe.

For DHL Teamsters, it is Yes, according to the proposed tentative agreement.

What’s up?

As prices for essentials like gas and milk go sky high, why no cost of living raise for UPS Teamsters? Because the UPS contract has language specifying no COLA for 2008. The next time any adjustment is possible is August 2009.

The freight contract language, as posted on the IBT website (Article 33), seems to indicate that Teamsters should get a COLA increase on April 1. However, other language received from the IBT states regarding COLA “No change except change dates to make effective in new agreement.” Apparently this language means No.

The proposed DHL tentative agreement states that COLA will be paid on April 1, 2008 (Article 21, Section 2 of proposed deal). We have calculated that it will be 16¢ per hour. Not enough to fill your tank, but certainly some help.

That same 16¢ is what freight Teamsters would have gotten this April 1, with language requiring it.

Carhaulers should get a COLA increase of 32¢ on June, assuming that the same clause in the existing contract is retained (the contract expires May 30) with a COLA pay out for this year. That remains to be bargained. Unfortunately Teamsters at Allied will get nothing, because of concessions signed last year.

Why twice as much for carhaul? Because the carhaul COLA formula pays exactly twice as much as the freight clause does. The mileage pay increase for carhaul (assuming the clause is in effect this year) will be 0.8¢ per running mile (1.6¢ per loaded mile).

The Devil in the Details

UPS and freight Teamsters get zero, DHL Teamsters get 16¢ (at least according to the language of the proposed deal), carhaulers will get 32¢ if the present clause is retained for this year.

This shows that when it comes to a cost of living clause, the details really count. Waiving the clause in this year of high inflation was costly to Teamsters.

Our national contracts have some protection against runaway inflation, but few local contracts do. It’s not an easy item to bargain with most employers. But with inflation heating up, it may be time to put it on the bargaining agenda wherever possible.

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