June 20, 2008: All UPS Teamsters will be missing something this summer: a cost of living raise of 15¢ per hour.
Gasoline and food prices are skyrocketing. Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W), went up 4.5 percent from May 2007 to May 2008. This is the period used in Article 33 of our contract.
When that index goes over three percent, we are supposed to get a cost of living adjustment (COLA).
Calculations by Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) show that the Article 33 formula should give us a 15¢ additional raise, due to the high cost of living.
Instead, our negotiators left this year’s COLA out of the early contract deal. It will be in effect for 2009, if inflation continues to run high.
Curiously, DHL Teamsters did get a COLA raise this year.
While 15¢ is not a lot, look at this way. For a full-timer who averages 46.6 hours per week, that would be $390 this year, and $1,950 over the life of the contract. That would fill your tank a few times.
Look at it another way: a full-time UPSer who gets a 70¢ raise (with half of it delayed until February 2009) will be getting a 2.5 percent raise, but prices have gone up 4.5 percent. Thus we lost two percent, or 57¢ per hour, in buying power. A 15¢ COLA raise would have at least softened that loss to our standard of living.
Most of us don’t think about how important a cost of living clause is until inflation bites us in the wallet. We need to plan ahead and get a much better cost of living clause in our next contract.
Who has such a clause? Our International Union officials do! They get a full 4.5 percent COLA raise this July. James Hoffa’s salary of $277,777 will go up $12,500 due to that COLA adjustment. And he gets a “housing allowance” and other bonuses and perks which add $135,457 to that amount, putting him well over $400,000 a year.
Maybe that’s why he forgot to take care of that 15¢ COLA for us.