Last week, I went to my boss’s office to ask him about an information request for a grievance I’m working on. He didn’t have the information, and I got angry and raised my voice with him. His door was open and some co-workers saw it. Right in front of them he told me that he would have me fired if I ever yell at him again. Can he get away with that?
-Stewing in Ohio
October 17, 2007: UPS entered into early negotiations with our union more than one year ago because shippers and stockholders were pressuring the corporation to reach an early settlement.
That pressure gave our union leverage. Did our negotiators use it to make UPS deliver?
Has the company put its best offer on the table?
Those questions are now in the hands of Teamsters at UPS, who have until Nov. 16 to cast their votes on the tentative national deal as well as supplements and riders.
The negotiations with UPS were the most secretive in Teamster history. Our union leaders kept a tight lid on what was being discussed in bargaining and never mobilized Teamster members.
The tentative agreement they are putting to a vote contains $9 an hour in combined wage and pension improvements for full-timers as well as historic concessions that give back the pension victory and new full-time jobs we won in the 1997 strike.
Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) launched Make UPS Deliver campaign to keep members informed and to unite concerned Teamsters to pressure UPS and our union negotiators to deliver the contract that members deserve.
Teamsters across the country are downloading and distributing contract bulletins and other information from www.MakeUPSDeliver.org, holding rank-and-file meetings, and taking action to make sure UPS Teamsters cast an informed vote on the proposed early deal.
October 17, 2007: The most secretive negotiations in Teamster history have produced controversial agreements with UPS and UPS Freight.
The agreements raise new questions about our union’s bargaining strategies just as negotiations are getting underway with freight employers and DHL.
UPS and our union have inked a tentative early deal that delivers $9 an hour in wage and benefit improvements for full-timers over five years—but also includes monumental concessions.
If approved, the contract would allow UPS to break 44,000 Teamsters out of the Central States pension plan. It would also put an end to the creation of the new full-time jobs we first won in the 1997 UPS strike along with numerous other givebacks.
President Hoffa and chief negotiator Ken Hall made these historic givebacks in exchange for a deal that will make it easier to organize UPS Freight—something our union can and must do.
Our union needs to organize the nonunion competition, win strong contracts and good pensions.
The 1997 UPS contract campaign showed we can do this from a position of strength, by mobilizing Teamster members and public support to win our demands without givebacks.
The Hoffa administration has chosen a different route: using secret talks to trade away historic union gains in exchange for what the company is willing to offer.
Teamsters who have doubts about this strategy need to get united. Contact TDU today about how we can work together to rebuild Teamster Power.
If you want to see a copy of the union's initial national proposals and for the supplements, click here. These proposals were prepared by the Freight Division and have been given to Trucking Management Inc (TMI), which represents Yellow Roadway and its subsidiary companies.
Freight Director Tyson Johnson told local union officers on September 13 he would submit a lean packet of union proposals, and said he expects TMI to also have few major proposals.
Freight Division: Different Strategy from UPS
The Freight Division is taking two very different strategies from others in the Hoffa administration. First, Johnson stated that the Union will not allow any carrier to split from any Teamster pension plan. This is the opposite of what Hoffa and Ken Hall are doing in the UPS negotiations.
Second, the Freight Division intends to bargain with TMI first, then hold ABF to mirror the same contract. This is the opposite of what Hoffa and Brad Slawson are doing at DHL. The 27 locals with DHL units under the NMFA have been pulled out of the Freight Division, and only an organized rank and file is holding back Slawson from giving the company what they want.
Preserving national master contracts, and preserving our pension plans: Both of these are key to maintaining Teamster power.
New Penn, a Yellow Roadway subsidiary that is not part of TMI, has already signed a "me too" agreement: they will sign whatever comes out of the NMFA negotiations.
Proposals on the Table: More Needed
The union's initial proposals are indeed lean. In some areas, the union intends to add more substance, especially in Article 29 and 32, covering subcontracting, substitute service and job protection.
The big-ticket items that involve monetary issues are not contained in the initial proposals. The UPS negotiations will likely set the table on the issue of pension and health and welfare money; the UPS tentative agreement calls for $1 per year for benefits (pension and health and welfare) with the possibility of further diversion of wage increases.
There is one proposal that should be changed: it is proposed that a new-hire with two years of NMFA-type work experience not be subject to the new-hire wage progression. This could lead to discrimination in hiring, as management would save tens of thousands of dollars by hiring someone from J B Hunt instead of a Teamster. The answer is to demand elimination of the new hire clause.
Teamsters should get informed, get involved and get ready to make your voice heard for a good contract.
Click here to read the initial freight proposals.
October 17, 2007: National negotiations between the International Union and DHL opened in October in Arizona.
Apparently management reacted badly when the union presented demands based on the National Master Freight Agreement (NMFA), which is what members across the country demanded.
At the same time, DHL management sent a letter to their Teamster employees repeating their intent to get a UPS-style contract. What they mean by that is increasing the use of part-timers, a company-dominated grievance procedure, and complete control of the working environment. They definitely do not mean giving drivers a $6 per hour raise, to match UPS driver wages.
The union is allowing DHL to have national “supplements,” including a pick up and delivery supplement, which will include most DHL Teamsters. It is here that we have to be most on guard for concessions.
DHL Teamsters have networked nationally and continue to press to protect the NMFA language in their contract. They already stopped an early sell-out contract that was being bargained by DHL and Hoffa assistant Brad Slawson, after TDU blew the whistle on that deal.
Slawson still heads the union bargaining committee, but DHL Teamsters are getting involved and taking matters into their own hands.
In a conference call with local unions on Oct. 2, Ken Hall and James Hoffa reported that there is a "card check" deal with UPS Freight, which will make it easier to organize the various terminals. If the majority of workers at a terminal sign Teamster cards that are independently verified, the company will recognize and bargain with the Teamsters Union at that barn.
The union agreed to management's demand to make that card check agreement conditional on ratification of the UPS national contract, including the break-out of 44,000 Teamsters from the Central States Fund. That was management's central demand in national bargaining. As reported on the call, signing of cards cannot start until after the whole UPS contract process is done.
The UPS Freight contract will not be under the National Master Freight Agreement, or a supplement to it, but a white paper contract. Wages go up 65¢ immediately, and then 70-75-80-85-90¢ over the next five years (the wage increases are split in half each year, in January and July). It has company pension, apparently with no improvement, and company health benefits. A Teamster must pay $150 per month to get family health coverage. No change in sick days, personal days or vacations.
The company previously provided matching money for a 401(k), and that was given up in the contract. That and the co-pay for health insurance are two of the issues that a number of UPS Freight drivers have forcefully objected to on the internet forum truckingboards.com.
But they now get union protection: a grievance procedure (not the freight panels, a company-based procedure) and seniority rights.
Some in the Freight Division have expressed concern that relief given to UPS, the most profitable transport corporation in the world, will weaken our bargaining power with freight carriers which compete with UPS Freight. On the conference call, Hall appealed to them to hold their fire and "trust us."
Organizing by locals at UPS Freight terminals could start by the end of the year, if the UPS national contract and the pension fund break-out are approved. The "card check" deal has a three-year duration, so our union has that period to sign up the majority at as many terminals as possible. Many locals are eager to take a crack at bringing some of the 15,000 UPS Freight workers into the Teamster fold.
Attempted Decertification in Reno
A potential sour note in the organizing effort was struck a week earlier at the Reno Nevada UPS Freight terminal. This is one of a few UPS Freight terminals under Teamster contract; it was formerly Motor Cargo, a company bought by Overnite, which later became UPS Freight.
On Sept. 25 a vote was held to decertify the Teamsters and go nonunion. Fortunately the union won 32-31, but there are three challenged ballots to be resolved. Hopefully Local 533 will hold onto that Teamster unit.
October 17, 2007: The Freight Division is taking two very different strategies from others in the Hoffa administration. First, Freight Director Tyson Johnson has said that the union will not allow any carrier to split from any Teamster pension plan. This is the opposite of what Hoffa and Ken Hall are trying to do at UPS, where they gave in to the company’s demand to pull out of the Central States Pension Fund in return for a card check agreement.
Second, the Freight Division intends to bargain with TMI first, then hold ABF to mirror the same contract. This is the opposite of what Hoffa and Brad Slawson are doing at DHL. The 27 locals with DHL units under the NMFA have been pulled out of the Freight Division, and only an organized rank and file is holding back Slawson from giving the company whatever it wants, including part-timers.
Preserving national master contracts, and preserving our pension plans: both of these are key to maintaining Teamster power.
We should resist any move to break up master contracts or pension plans. We need to turn that around and bring more companies into master contracts, and more into our pension plans.
October 17, 2007: When the proposed UPS tentative agreement was presented to Local Union officials, the big selling point was “$9 an hour,” which sounds like a big increase in wages and benefits.
Five dollars out of this goes to full-timers’ benefits. That should be enough to maintain health and welfare, and in some areas, pension accruals will go up. That’s the most positive part of the monetary deal.
Here are other facts to consider when evaluating the monetary package.
- The $9 is actually a lower percentage increase than the last agreement: 4.4 percent per year for full-timers, compared to 4.6 percent in the last agreement. And the last agreement didn’t have all the concessions to go with it.
- The wage increases are less than the last contract, and will be split so half the increase is held back six months. August 1 this year the increase was $1. Next August it will be 35¢, with another 35¢ in February 2009.
- UPS gets big monetary givebacks in the tentative deal. One is giving away the creation of 10,000 combo jobs, so no new full-time combos will be created.
- For part-timers—the majority of UPS Teamsters, the monetary package is nothing like $9/hour. Part-timers’ pensions are cheap and their healthcare benefits are actually cut. This is not balanced out on the wage end where the starting rate is frozen and the progression goes up by just 50¢ over the next six years.
In a contract riddled with givebacks, no one was hit harder then UPS part-timers.
The proposed tentative agreement offers a wage package that is substantially inferior to the “Best Contract Ever,” opens the door to healthcare cuts for current and future part-timers, and eliminates the 10,000 new combo jobs that offer part-timers a shot at a better future.
These concessions don’t just hurt part-timers—the lowest-paid and most exploited Teamsters at UPS. They undermine the strength of our union as a whole, by ensuring that the majority of Teamsters at UPS are low-wage workers.
By 2013, tens of thousands of UPS Teamsters very likely will be making the legal minimum wage, which by then will pass $8.50 with no benefits for a year—and they will be asked to pay union dues and an initiation fee. This is bad for part-timers and bad for our union.
Full-timers and part-timers alike have a stake in beating these givebacks.
Thee language changes affecting part-timers include:
Part-timers will have to wait until Aug. 1, 2008 to get a raise of just 35¢. By comparison, under the current contract, part-timers got a raise this August of $1.20. A second 35¢ raise won’t be paid until Feb. 1, 2009.
The 2002 contract paid an extra $1 in wage increases for part-timers over the life of the contract to slightly close the gap between part-timers and full-time pay.
This contract widens the gap, by eliminating the booster raises for part-timers and freezing starting pay at $8.50.
Part-time pay will go up to $9.50 after 90 days ($10.50 for sorters on the preload only). This is a 50¢ increase from the 2002 contract. This amount will also be frozen until 2013.
Under the tentative agreement, new part-timers will not get healthcare benefits in their first year on the job and will have to wait 18 months for family coverage.
The tentative agreement also eliminates all contract protections that guarantee that part-timers benefits will be equal to full-timers’ benefits. (See Article 34, Section 2). All part-timers will be moved into a company health plan.
This may not affect benefits immediately, but it will open the door for the company to make cuts in the future. If healthcare costs continue to rise, we no longer would have contract language to stop UPS from cutting benefits—something that corporations have been doing across the country.
The tentative national agreement would eliminate all sick days, holidays, vacation days and personal days for part-timers in their first year of service.
Part-timers in the company’s pension plan would accrue $60 in monthly pension benefits for every year of part-time service. (Part-timers in the West, New England and Upstate New York are in Teamster plans with superior benefits).
No New Full-Time Jobs
The tentative agreement gives away the language in Article 22.3 that requires the company to create 10,000 new combo jobs by combining existing part-time jobs.
This language creates more full-time job opportunities for part-timers and increases the percentage of full-time jobs at the company, which gives us more power as a union. Why give it away?
October 17, 2007: In addition to wage and benefit improvements, UPS Teamsters are looking to the new contract to provide new language to protect Teamster members and their job security and to improve our quality-of-life on the job.
Here is a summary of some key changes in the proposed agreement
The complete text of the national language as well as many supplements is available online at www.makeupsdeliver.org.
TDU urges all UPS Teamsters to review the language carefully and get answers to your questions before you vote.
Excessive Overtime & 9.5 Grievances
The tentative agreement contains new language in Article 37 that increases the penalty UPS must pay for continually working a driver more than 9.5 hours from double time to triple time pay. That’s an improvement where the language is enforced.
But Article 37 also contains new restrictions that will disqualify some drivers from even filing 9.5 grievances and will make these grievances harder to win.
The proposed contract would establish two five-month periods “beginning on January 1 and June 1 of each year.”
To be eligible to even file a grievance during a five-month period, a driver has to sign an “opt-in” form.
Drivers who opt-out of the 9.5 language “will have no right to file a grievance alleging excessive overtime” for five months.
Another untested loophole has been added that gives the 9.5 Committee “the authority to adopt guidelines…to balance the Employer’s needs to protect the integrity of its operations with an employee’s legitimate need to avoid excessive overtime.”
So new rules limiting 9.5 grievances could be coming down the pike.
Relief of Overtime /8-Hour Requests
Article 37 of the proposed contract establishes two-hour penalty pay at straight time when the company violates members’ contractual right to Relief of Overtime on a particular day.
In exchange, members must now submit their Relief of Overtime request five days in advance, instead of the day before, a big step backward.
The proposed language also includes loopholes that will make enforcement nearly impossible in some cases.
For example, the contracts states that UPS owes no penalty pay if the driver could “reasonably” have completed the dispatch within 8 hours.
UPS also doesn’t have to pay any penalty unless the driver works “in excess of 8.5 hours”—and even then the company doesn’t owe a dime if the excessive overtime is the “result of events beyond the Employer’s control.”
Subcontracting / Diverting Work to UPS Freight
Many UPS Teamsters are counting on the new contract to deliver tough new restrictions on all subcontracting—including diverting our work to UPS Freight.
The proposed deal contains no new language on subcontracting, except a Memorandum of Understanding at the end of the contract that says UPS will not subcontract feeder movements to outside trucking contractors “solely because it is less expensive.”
UPS is introducing new technology that will enable management to monitor drivers location and functions like never before.
To deal with this threat, our union proposed new language under Article 6 that would prohibit the company from using information obtained solely from the DIAD, GPS or any monitoring technology as evidence that an employee violated the contract or any Company policy.
This strong language appears nowhere in the tentative deal. Instead, Article 6 states only that employees cannot be discharged “on a first offense” based on GPS technology “unless he/she engages in dishonesty.”