Teamsters approve new commercials contract
Members of Teamsters Local 399 have approved a new contract, avoiding a strike that would have shut down commercial production in Los Angeles.
Location scouts, animal wranglers and drivers on Saturday ratified a revised contract negotiated Tuesday between the union and the Assn. of Independent Commercial Producers.
Click here to read more at the Los Angeles Times.
Back to bargaining for UPS in its thorny parcel, freight contracts
It is back to the drawing board—or, more accurately, the bargaining table—for UPS and Teamsters negotiators.
The company was dealt an historic rebuke when the largest union contract in North America covering 235,000 full- and part-time Teamsters at UPS’s parcel division rejected 18 side agreements known as supplemental agreements. The master parcel contract was passed by a narrow 53-47 margin.
The contract was due to expire on July 31. UPS officials had opened bargaining last year in hopes of an early agreement. What they have now is basically half a deal—five-year agreement on $3.90 per hour wage hikes on top of its current $31.34 hourly base rate—but no deal on many supplemental deals covering such thorny issues as health care costs and fringe benefits.
UPS officials went out of their way to downplay the importance of the rebuke of the supplemental agreements. John McDevitt, senior vice president of UPS, issued a statement saying it remains “business as usual while UPS and the IBT (Teamsters) resolve remaining issues and Teamster-represented employees ratify new agreements.”
That may take a while. The Teamsters members rejected 18 regional and local contract agreements, which all need to be renegotiated, re-voted, and approved by members before the national agreement can go into effect. That means that 63 percent of UPS Teamsters covered by supplements or riders were rejected.
Ken Paff, organizer for the dissident Teamsters for a Democratic Union, says the rejection is “a very embarrassing” blow to the union and Ken Hall, its chief negotiator for the parcel division.
Although UPS earned $4.5 billion last year, it is calling for increases in out-of-pocket health care costs for UPS workers, who previously enjoyed free dental coverage (now with proposed $1,500 annual limits), low co-pays and no deductibles (now $400 per person) in the rejected supplements.
Paff is predicting a “long slog” in the renegotiations. “They are moving at a glacial pace,” Paff told LM. “They’re going to try and wear down, scare down and beat down the members. Who knows when it will end?”
Separately, there is also more negotiating work to be done at UPS Freight, the former Overnite LTL company, where the national contract was rejected by a 2-to-1 margin covering 12,000 drivers and dock workers at UPS’s heavy freight division.
Those workers were offered wage increases totaling $2.50 an hour – 50 cents an hour rising each of the contract’s five years—but that was rejected soundly. As with the parcel contract, there are controversies over health care coverage, pension and retirement benefits, and other fringes.
This was just the second national agreement ever negotiated at UPS Freight, which rebranded Overnite after buying the company for $1.2 billion in 2005. Once mostly a non-union company, Overnite was founded in 1935. It has undergone many changes in the interim, enduring an at-times violent three-year strike from 1999-2001 before remaining mostly non-union under former CEO Leo Suggs.
After UPS bought Overnite, it expanded union coverage for nearly all its 12,500 workers. Its first national contract was approved in 2008. That first contract was largely viewed as a “sweetheart” deal between UPS/Overnite and the IBT for card check agreement in return for letting the UPS Teamsters pay $6.1 billion to get out of the underfunded Central States Pension Fund, where UPS faced potentially tens of billions of potential withdrawal liability.
But this latest rejection marks the first time a large national transport contract was turned down by a union since the Independent Pilots Association rejected a deal in 1967.
As with the parcel contract, the UPS Freight renegotiation is proceeding slowly and out of the public eye. TDU’s Paff called UPS’s negotiating strategy “the sounds of silence,” referring not just to the media blackout but the company’s behind-the-scenes strategy of apparently waiting out the rank-and-file.
Sources within the Teamsters union say they want several issues resolved at UPS Freight, including:
• Banning subcontracting of Teamster work.
• Pension improvements.
• No premiums for health insurance:
• Raises of $1 per hour each year—same as the UPS package workers’ raises.
The UPS parcel contract probably would have been rejected had it not been for large “Yes” majorities in three regions: the Southern, the Atlantic Seaboard, and New England.
The rest of the country, a large majority rejected the deal, including some of the larger and more important UPS facilities.
At UPS’s main air hub in Louisville, Ky., where 10,000 workers are employed, Paff said the contract was rejected by an 8-to-1 ratio—even though the company was offering a $1,000 signing bonus to all workers (including part-timers who start at $8.50 an hour).
IBT Local 89 in Louisville (whose motto is “A tough union for tough times”), issued strong opposition to the contract extension, calling the action “deplorable” and accused chief negotiatior Hall of a “sell-out” to UPS.
“The International Union has essentially given away the members’ right to strike,” the local said in a statement. “This seriously degrades the leverage needed to force UPS to finally agree to a fair contract that addresses the concerns of its workers.
“We strongly condemn this move by the IBT/UPS. Ken Hall and the IBT’s sell-out actions are beyond deplorable. Through these actions, Ken Hall and UPS are working to destroy the livelihoods of Teamster workers and their families.
“This seriously degrades the leverage needed to force UPS to finally agree to a fair contract that addresses the concerns of its workers,” the local said.
At UPS’s main West Coast air hub in Ontario, Calif., the package contract was rejected by a 2-to-1 ratio, according to Paff. In Western Pennsylvania, it went down by a 5-to-1 ratio, he said.
“The members are fed up with UPS,” Paff said. TDU is circulating petitions among Teamsters that say: “We’ll Keep Voting No Until UPS Gets it Right.”
The big issue for UPS is its health care benefits. Faced with skyrocketing health care costs, UPS is trying to ameliorate those costs by making UPS Teamsters pay more in the form of higher deductibles, higher co-pays and annual limits on coverage. It has not gone down well among the rank and file, who still pay no upfront costs to join UPS’s plan.
“Anywhere the health care was changed, the contract was voted down by a large margin,” Paff said.
From a company earning more than $4.5 billion in a so-so economy, Paff concluded, “The contract is very mediocre.”
IBT's Contract Ballot Screw-ups Undermine our Union
June 18, 2013: The vote counts on the UPS, UPS Freight and ABF contracts have been screwed up in too many ways to count.
When our contracts are being voted on, Teamster members deserve a ballot process they can have confidence in. If you work for 25 or 30 years, you may only get to vote on about five contracts, determining your benefits, wages and working conditions.
Consider just a few examples:
- Many thousands of UPS Teamsters received the wrong ballot return envelopes, directing their ballot to the UPS Freight vote count post office box. These ballots now have to be sorted and re-directed at the count.
- The International Union sent so many wrong ballots to the 10,000 UPS Teamsters of Louisville Local 89 that the IBT had to mail out a second ballot. Members who voted with the first ballots had to revote. Local 89 ballots are due by Saturday, June 22 as a result.
- The members of Indianapolis Local 135 also received the wrong ballot materials, with incorrect information about their benefit plan. A second ballot was mailed, and is now due on June 26.
- Every ABF Teamster was sent incorrect ballot instructions which say that a No vote is a vote to accept the agreement!
- Numerous ABF, UPS and UPS Freight Teamsters have received postcards and mailers urging them to vote yes… for the wrong contract.
Worst of all, many Teamsters were denied their right to vote altogether because they never got a ballot—even after they promptly notified their local.
In Orange County Local 952, the situation is so bad that even the stewards did not get a ballot! The local union claims that they are all coded as "inactive" by the International. Early requests for replacement ballots has yielded no results.
The IBT could have addressed this widespread problem by simply extending all voting by a week, as was done for Local 135 already. The vote count could have gone forward as planned with a supplementary vote count next week. Instead, thousands of Teamsters will be disenfranchised.
The International Union's keystone cop routine undermines members' confidence—not just in the IBT leadership but in the Teamster democratic process. That's bad for our union no matter how you're voting on the contract.
Teamsters for a Democratic Union will be there to observe the vote count. TDU members have won critical contract voting rights. The voting process on the contracts this year shows more remains to be done.
Your Eyes and Ears at the Contract Vote Counts
June 20, 2013: The vote count began today on the UPS and UPS Freight contracts and will begin on June 27 at ABF. Rank and file observers will be present at the vote counts thanks to Teamsters for a Democratic Union.
The UPS count is expected to take up to a week to complete. No counting took place on Thursday, and will not begin until possibly late Friday, as it will take considerable time to sort the ballots by local union and verify eligible voters.
The counts will be overseen by the Independent Supervisor, Ed Hartfield.
Meet the UPS Observers
In addition to observers sent by several local unions and IBT officials, there will be truly independent observers, thanks to previous legal action by Teamsters for a Democratic Union.
Mark Timlin, a package car driver in New Jersey Local 177, will be an observer. Brother Timlin initiated the highly-successful Facebook page "Vote No on the UPS Contract," which has 3,600 members.
Another observer will be Nathan 'Jumbo' Daniels, a 22.3 worker at the Philadelphia air hub and Local 623 steward.
A third observer, from the Southern Region, is Ron Beard, a feeder steward and member of Dallas/Ft. Worth Local 767.
UPS and UPS Freight — FAQs: How the Contract Vote Works
In your working life at UPS or UPS Freight, you may get five or six chances to vote on a contract, and improve your working conditions and benefits. This is one of them – take advantage of it!
Who Votes? All union members on the UPS or UPS Freight seniority list will be mailed a ballot at the end of May on the contract. At UPS Freight, there is just one national vote. At UPS Package, all Teamsters get at least two, and in many cases three separate votes: on the national contract, on your regional or local supplement, and on a rider (for some areas).
- In "right to work" states, nonmembers do not get to vote.
- The vote is by majority rule, among those voting. If you don't vote, you don't count.
- If you don't get a ballot, you can request a duplicate.
- It is a secret ballot; your ballot goes into a secret ballot envelope, then into a pre-paid return envelope.
Who counts the votes? The count will have an independent agent in charge, hired by the IBT. Due to past legal action, observers (members) not beholden to the Hoffa administration will be present. The unopened ballots will first be sorted by Local Union (there is a local union notation on the envelope), and the count will be then done separately for each local. The count will begin on or about June 20 for UPS Package.
What if the contract is voted down? The IBT and UPS will return to bargaining, to negotiate a contact acceptable to members. This is not a strike vote; it is a vote on accepting or rejecting the contract, by majority rule.
What if supplements or riders are voted down? Then the supplemental negotiating committee and UPS will return to bargaining to negotiate a more acceptable supplement or rider. The national contract cannot be implemented during this period.
Do you have more questions? Click here to send TDU a message or call us at 313-842-2600.
How does TDU win rights and protect our Right to Vote?
- TDU fought for and won majority rule on contracts: previously it took 2/3 to reject a contract.
- TDU fought for and won the right to a separate vote on all supplements and riders, prepared the language and worked with locals to get it adopted in the IBT Constitution. Previously there was no such right.
- TDU fought for and won the right to a "fair and informed vote" and observer rights.
- When former Teamster President Jackie Presser tried to violate these rights, TDU went to federal court for an injunction which resulted in the UPS contract votes being tossed out, and the vote redone fairly.
TDU will keep working to win and protect your rights!
We are stronger together. Support our movement to build a stronger Teamsters union by joining TDU.
Teamsters strike at AFC Cable
DARTMOUTH — Local 59 Teamsters went on strike Wednesday at AFC Cable Systems, picketing in front of a company site inside the New Bedford Business Park.
About 30 workers wearing "strike" placards around their necks were at the park. However, union representatives on site would not comment on the nature of the strike.
One of the strikers attempted to speak to a Standard-Times reporter before being yelled at by a union organizer not to comment.
Tom Davis, executive director for Greater New Bedford Industrial Foundation, which manages the park, said in his 14 years with the nonprofit he has yet to see a serious strike.
At least two Dartmouth police officers were on scene but would not provide comment.
Phone calls to AFC Cable and Teamsters Local 59 were not immediately returned.
AFC Cable Systems Inc. was founded in New Bedford in 1926 as American Flexible Conduit Co., its website notes.
According to a Jan. 20, 2013, story in the SouthCoast Business Bulletin, part of the SouthCoast Media Group, the company — which manufactures electrical cables for commercial buildings — has seen a revival under private equity ownership.
Company president Robert Pereira said AFC Cable, which makes cables at two of its New Bedford Business Park manufacturing facilities, as well as in Florida, Ohio and California, has seen "significant growth" in both revenue and market share over the past two years.
He credited the resurgence to the company's acquisition in December of 2010 by private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice which purchased AFC along with another group of companies in the electrical marketplace. That company, including AFC Cable, is now collectively known as Atkore International and is based in Illinois.
WSJ: Lockout Tests Union's Clout
January 30, 2012: LONDON, Ontario—Outside a rail locomotive factory owned by Caterpillar Inc. here, locked-out workers have set up a trailer and a wooden shack to keep warm between bouts of waving union flags and shouting slogans. In a high-profile test of union clout in Canada, they are digging in for what looks like a long struggle.
The workers, who are resisting a new labor contract that would slash their wages by about 50%, hope Caterpillar will soften its demands soon rather than face the risk of delaying deliveries of locomotives to customers.
Caterpillar Chief Financial Officer Edward Rapp said in an interview that the company can make the locomotives it needs to deliver this year by using other plants, including new ones in Muncie, Ind., and Brazil.
"We can meet the demand," Mr. Rapp said. The company wouldn't say how many locomotives it is due to deliver this year.
Caterpillar also has an agreement with Bombardier Inc. under which that Canadian company builds locomotives for it at a plant in Sahagún, Mexico. That agreement predates the lockout.
Caterpillar, based in Peoria, Ill., locked out the 450 locomotive workers on Jan. 1. Before the lockout, Caterpillar and the Canadian Auto Workers union were in talks for more than six months over the company's push for cuts in wages and benefits. Each side has blamed the other for the failure to reach a pact. Caterpillar extended the terms of the old contract for six months until the end of 2011 but refused a union request for more time, saying it didn't "see the value of any further extension."
Employers across Canada are "watching what Cat is doing," said Rolf Gerstenberger, president of a United Steelworkers of America local union that represents workers at a plant in Hamilton, Ontario, owned by U.S. Steel Corp. Mr. Gerstenberger and workers from the Hamilton plant drove 75 miles to London last week to wave flags in front of the locked plant.
"This Caterpillar lockout is an absolute test case of the union's resolve," said Mike Moffatt, an economist at the University of Western Ontario in London.
The showdown with Caterpillar, known for its willingness to fight organized labor in the U.S., comes when Canadian unions are on the defensive. The CAW, which represents the Caterpillar workers in London, is discussing a possible merger with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union in an attempt to bulk up. In a recent discussion paper, officials of those unions wrote that, unless unions become more effective and attract more workers, "we will steadily follow U.S. unions into continuing decline."
About 32% of Canadian employees are represented by unions, compared with 12% in the U.S. Excluding government employees, the percentage of Canadian workers represented by unions has dropped to about 18% from 21% in 1997, according to Statistics Canada.
One factor in the decline has been a trend since the mid-1990s for Canadian provinces, including Ontario, to provide for secret ballots by workers on whether to certify unions rather than having workers merely check a box on a card, said Benjamin Dachis, an analyst at the C.D. Howe Institute, a Toronto-based conservative think tank. Unions are less likely to win support in secret ballots.
"We face an incredibly hostile environment both economically and politically," said Jim Stanford, an economist at the CAW, adding that accepting the wage cut Caterpillar wants "would be a horrible, horrible precedent." Workers note that Caterpillar is demanding concessions even as it trumpets record profit.
Caterpillar has said wage cuts and other contractual changes are needed because the plant isn't "sufficiently flexible and cost-competitive."
The dispute may boil down to whether Caterpillar believes it can do without the Ontario plant, its main assembly center for locomotives. The CAW notes that the Muncie plant is still gearing up to produce on a larger scale. "Brazil is not even up and running yet," said Bob Scott, the CAW's plant chairman in London.
Workers at the Ontario plant say Caterpillar last year hired some of their retired colleagues to help train employees at the new Muncie plant, where workers aren't represented by a union. Caterpillar has advertised jobs there at wages ranging from $12 to $18.50 an hour. Wages for most workers at the Ontario plant are 35 Canadian dollars (US$34.94) an hour, the CAW says.
Caterpillar declined to discuss the prior wage at the Canadian plant.
The Canadian workers say it will be hard for Caterpillar to find enough workers in Indiana, Brazil or Mexico with the skills needed for the intricacies of such tasks as welding train parts together. "It takes time" to learn those skills, said Shaun Oliver, who has worked as a welder at the plant for six years and was standing near a scrap-wood fire in a steel drum outside the plant one recent evening. His union flag snapped in a prairie gale as sparks swirled around half a dozen workers. "You have to know what you're doing," Mr. Oliver said. "It's not a Lego piece."
By James Hagerty for The Wall St. Journal
CCTA postpones contract comments
November 18, 2010: The Chittenden County Transportation Authority board postponed until Dec. 1 a public airing of issues in its contract negotiations with bus drivers and mechanics.
About 20 people crowded a meeting room at CCTA on Wednesday evening, ready to tell the board they want those negotiations to continue and do not want the contract disagreements referred to a fact-finder.
Click here to read more at Burlington Free Press.