How Do I Get a Copy of My Contract?
Last April, the majority of Teamster members at Allied approved concessions on the carhaul contract. I need the updated version of the contract we work under, especially because we have lots of pay rates. It’s been eight months; still nothing in writing. What can we do?
- Losing Daily at Allied
Carhaul Bargaining to Open
January 10, 2008: The IBT Carhaul Division will soon start bargaining with the employers for a new national contract. The current contract expires May 31. But the negotiations will be held under a cloud of concessions.
As of mid-January, the future of the 1,500 Teamsters employed at PTS is up in the air. In December the International Union conducted a vote of Allied Teamsters to cut the wages of PTS Teamsters in the event that Allied takes over PTS.
The Hoffa administration is closely aligned with the private investment firm Yucaipa and its principal owner, Ron Burkle. Yucaipa first took control of PTS, then later, with IBT help, took control of Allied and imposed 17.5 percent concessions last summer.
The future of PTS and its Teamster employees will soon be sorted out in bankruptcy court in Buffalo. Allied is expected to re-submit a bid to take over the assets of the company.
IBT Calls for Terminals to Close
PTS Teamsters are getting little help or even information from the International Union. The Hoffa administration is so loyal to Burkle that they have called—in advance of any merger of the two companies—for some PTS terminals to be closed: “PTS kept too many poorly operating terminals open,” stated the Carhaul Division’s letter to members in December.
Lansing Local 580 PTS steward George Warner and St. Louis Local 604 filed a motion in bankruptcy court in Georgia asking that no concessions be imposed on the PTS Teamsters without their being allowed a vote. Instead of Allied filing opposition papers, it was the IBT who carried the water for Yucaipa, calling for the motion to be dismissed. No hearing has been held as of mid-January. We need a plan to save good Teamster jobs, not just a plan to make friends with Ron Burkle.
Local unions received notice in late December that locals and members only have until Jan. 15 to submit bargaining proposals. Many locals didn’t have time to even hold a proposal meeting. Click here to download a form to submit proposals.
The contract will cover Allied, PTS (if it still exists separately), Jack Cooper, PMT, Cassens, Active, and some yard companies. With Allied and PTS making up over half of the industry, the other companies will be looking to match the 17.5 percent cut and three-year wage freeze at Allied.
Carhaulers are looking to hold the line, save good jobs and a future for ourselves and our union. We need a plan to bring Allied back up to scale, and not degrade the whole contract.
If you want to be part of making it happen, contact TDU today.Click here to contact TDU's rank-and-file network in carhaul, or call (313) 842-2600.
Downsizing Teamster Standards in a Growth Industry
January 10, 2008: The International Union is selling the concessionary freight contract by lecturing members about the threat of nonunion competition.
But at the same time, the Hoffa administration is giving our biggest nonunion competition, UPS Freight, a substandard deal in Indianapolis—and promoting that concessionary package as the “template” for all UPS Freight terminals that we organize going forward.
This isn’t a plan for rebuilding union power in freight. It’s a one-two punch for dragging Teamster standards down to the nonunion level.
On Jan. 8, Hoffa met with some 200 local union officials about the proposed tentative freight contract. A slide show was presented that was 100 percent corporate in content: Yellow-Roadway stock is down. The economy is bad. Nonunion competition is strong.
Not one slide was about building Teamster power—or organizing. And in the whole day, UPS Freight was never mentioned once.
Hoffa directed local officials to go home and sell the contract. He said he would keep track of how many “Yes” votes each official turned out for his concessionary deal.
Freight Teamsters are adults. We don’t need our union to spoon-feed us a sales job. We need leaders with a plan for protecting our industry standards—and strengthening them for the future.
Growth Not Surrender
No doubt we face nonunion competition. The largest competitor of YRC and ABF is UPS Freight, which employs 15,000 drivers and dock workers and is growing fast. If we want to level the playing field, the first and most important thing we can do is bring UPS Freight up to the NMFA level.
Our first step should not be to lower the NMFA down to match UPS Freight, which is what is proposed in this deal. Converting freight Teamsters to “utility employees,” low-paid part-time dock casuals, allowing subcontracting out line haul work, and a longer new-hire period: these are all taken from the UPS Freight playbook.
Instead, our union needs a national campaign to bring UPS Freight into our national contract. That would be a union-building effort that all Teamster members could get behind.
On a national conference call about UPS Freight this month, Hoffa and Parcel Division Director Ken Hall poured water on the idea of improving on the UPS Freight contract that was negotiated in Indianapolis.
Hall called that deal—which includes low-wage part-time dock workers, utility employees, the same old company pension plan, and costs $150 per month for family health coverage—the “template” for a national contract with UPS Freight.
It is common sense that the more terminals we organize the more bargaining power our union will have to win a stronger contract. Why would the Hoffa administration be telling local officers that the contract we got by organizing 125 UPS Freight employees in Indianapolis is the best we can do?
Many officers and members want to aim higher. On that same conference call a number of officers said they wanted to bargain to get Teamster pensions and benefits into the contract. Leaders in the Freight Division are concerned about any contract that could undercut the NMFA.
The proposed freight agreement also contains a new section that allows employers to use nonunion line haul trucking to reduce railing to cut transit times. This nonunion line haul must be with a “Preferred Company” that the union hopes to organize.
Will our union hold these “Preferred Companies” to NMFA standards? Or will the Hoffa administration water down our union standards in freight with even more substandard contracts?
Building Teamster Power
Trucking is a growth industry. But the Hoffa administration is downsizing our standards—and putting its energy into lowering members expectations instead of mobilizing to defeat concessions and bring the nonunion competition up to Teamster standards.
Teamsters for a Democratic Union is committed to building a national rank-and-file movement to rebuild Teamster Power.
We love our union and are committed to fighting for its future—by resisting concessions, helping to organize the unorganized, and holding our Teamster officials accountable to our union’s mission: fighting for a better life for working people and our families.
That’s a cause worth trucking for.
Join TDU today—or contact us for more information.
Get involved. Visit Freight2008.org to download the contract, get bulletins you can distribute, and read more about the tentative deal.
Central States Retiree Healthcare
January 10, 2008: The changes in the cost of retiree health care associated with the tentative contract for freight Teamsters in the Central States Health & Welfare Fund are different from those at UPS, even though the benefit money is identical for both groups.
UPS retirees will pay $200 per month ($400 for a couple) if they retire at 55 or older. The freight schedule proposed is as follows:
Under age 60: Continue with present high (and increasing) rates
Retire age 60: $200 per mo/$400 couple; will increase $25 per year
Retire age 61: $150/$300; will increase $25 per year
Retire age 62: $100/$200
Retire age 63: $100/$200; you get 2 years of free medi-gap coverage when reach 65
Retire age 64: $100/$200; you get 4 years of free medi-gap coverage when reach 65
Retire age 65: You get 6 years of free medi-gap coverage
The later you retire, the sweeter the deal. Central States Fund policies have already pushed the average retirement age from 59.5 to 61.5 in just five years. Their goal is to keep pushing it higher.
Freight Contract: Too Many Givebacks
January 10, 2008: The proposed tentative National Master Freight Agreement is headed for a vote.
This is a dangerous proposal that Teamsters should study carefully. The power is in the hands of the Teamsters who move the freight.
Unlimited “utility employees” in every terminal who will combine road, city, dock, and yard work, without regard to local union jurisdiction. Four-hour dock casuals paid $14, a rate frozen until 2013. The new-hire tiered wage is stretched out, from two years to three. The wage increase will not keep up with inflation.
There are positives in the contract, too. For example, when there are layoffs at a terminal and the average overtime per Teamster exceeds 10 hours per week, a fraction of the laid off Teamsters must be recalled to bring the average OT down to 10 hours.
But the negatives are serious, and threaten to drive our contract down to nonunion standards. That’s why the American Trucking Associations’ publication bragged about YRC winning the “flexibility” they wanted in this contract offer.
Here is an overview of the changes:
Utility Employees (Article 3): This is premium service on steroids, to cover the whole operation. There is no limit on the number of utility employees, who will work the city, dock, road and yard “in most, if not all locations” and will even do dock, yard or fueling at foreign terminals. Utility employees will be a separate list and paid $1 more per hour. The employer can schedule the work week starting Sunday, Monday or Tuesday, 5-8s or 4-10s; may have multiple start times during the week.
$14 Casuals (Article 3): Four-hour dock casuals paid $14 per hour for the life of the contract. Four-hour supplemental casuals shall not be counted when a local tallies excess casuals to require hiring.
Substitute Service (Article 29): A new section will allow employers to use nonunion line-haul trucking, up to four percent of total miles in 2008, then increasing yearly to nine percent of the total line-haul miles in 2012, to allow carriers to reduce railing to cut transit times. But Yellow, Roadway and ABF are already reducing railing. This will allow them to use nonunion road drivers, instead of increasing our road boards with Teamster jobs. This nonunion line haul must be with a “Preferred Company” that the union hopes to organize.
Wage Progression Lengthened: Teamster members across the country asked that the wage progression for new hires, many of them experienced Teamsters, be eliminated. Instead they made it worse: from two years to three years in length. For CDL holders, it is 85-90-95 percent over three years; for non-CDL holders it would be 70-75-80 percent of union scale. The only improvement is when a driver moves from one YRC company to another (one year progression).
Wages Would Fall Behind: Proposed wage increases of 50¢-40¢-45¢-40¢-45¢ (mileage of 1.25¢-1¢-1.125¢-1¢-1.125¢). This is an average of 1.9 percent a year. If inflation holds at three percent a year, we will lose $1.34 per hour in buying power over the life of this contract. That’s about $4,000 a year you’ll need to cut from your budget. With nonunion drivers’ wages increasing, will they pass ours?
Benefits: The contract provides $1 per hour each year to be divided between pension and health and welfare. We hope it will be enough, but we learned in the last contract that hope is not enough, especially in a five-year contract. If any official promises you “no benefit cuts” in this contract deal, ask them to put that in the form of a binding agreement.
Teamsters must work more days in order to qualify for benefits: three days (instead of two) a week in the Central States Fund, 100 hours a month (instead of 60) in the West.
Study the contract. Talk to your fellow workers. Make a choice. Cast your vote.
Freight Contract: Use Your Power to Vote
January 10, 2008: The power is in the hands of freight Teamsters, who will vote on the tentative agreement and all supplements. Voting will include all freight Teamsters, including ABF, except DHL. ABF and other freight Teamsters will vote because the Freight Division intends to hold ABF to the same standard contract.
Freight Teamsters will get two ballots: one for the master, and one for the regional supplement. If you are opposed to the agreement, it makes sense to vote No on both. (On the recent UPS agreement, three supplements were rejected in Pennsylvania and New York. In all three cases, members quickly won gains there).
Ballots are mailed on Jan. 14 and must be received in Washington by Feb. 8. Majority rule will prevail. Your vote is secret.
Teamsters for a Democratic Union members have gone to court several times to win the right to fair contract votes. We won the right to obtain all supplements and the NMFA on the date they are given to officials at the “two-person” meeting. Because we post them on the web, now even the IBT posts them!
TDU fought for and won the right to majority rule in contracts (previously it took two-thirds to reject) in 1988, and won the right to a separate vote on the supplements in 1991. Leaders in the Hoffa administration fought against both of these reforms.
We urge all freight Teamsters to use their right to vote.
The Teamster Pension Divide
January 10, 2008: A study of major Teamster pension plans reveals a growing “Benefit Divide,” with the new UPS Pension Plan paying the worst benefits in the country.
By the end of the contract in 2013, the Benefit Divide will grow much worse, with tens of thousands of UPS Teamsters receiving 25- or 30-and-out benefits of $5,000 per month while the UPS Plan pays just $3,000.
Some Teamster funds are also falling behind as the Benefit Divide grows—but none as far as the new UPS plan, which covers 44,000 Teamsters in the Carolinas and the Central and Southern Regions—nearly half of the company’s full-time workforce.
The Pension Comparison Chart compiled by TDU shows the range and variation of benefits of the great majority of pension plans covering UPS Teamsters. Click here to view the chart.
While this information pertains to UPS Teamsters, almost all of these funds cover other Teamsters as well. In most of these plans, freight and carhaul Teamsters and members covered by other Teamster contracts get the same or similar benefits.
Key findings of our preliminary Pension Comparison study include:
- The UPS Pension Plan pays the lowest level of benefits and will save the company billions in reduced benefit costs. There is not a single plan, large or small, covering UPS Teamsters that is worse. Almost all provide a better pension, and some provide a far superior pension. Many provide a larger pension at 25 years than the UPS Plan pays for 30 years service.
- The Benefit Divide will grow wider over the life of the new master contracts. By the end of the new UPS agreement contract in 2013, tens of thousands of Teamsters in the Western Region will retire with a $5,000 pension, with less than 30 years service. So will UPS Teamsters in Washington, D.C. In some other areas UPS Teamsters will retire with $4,000 for 30-and-out.
- While the new UPS Plan is at the bottom of the Benefit Divide, other major Teamster plans are also falling behind.
What Caused the Divide?
A critical factor behind the growing Benefit Divide is the wide range in pension accruals, the amount you earn (or “accrue”) each year to your monthly pension benefit upon retirement.
Many Teamsters are used to benefit structures like “$3,500 for 30-and-out.” As you look over the Pension Comparison chart, many of the benchmark benefits look like that.
But many Teamster pension funds have shifted their benefit structure to one based on an annual accrual, or multiplier. Under this system, you earn (or “accrue”) money toward your monthly pension benefit each year you work.
Within five years, most Teamsters will be getting a pension based on the accrual method, because those benefits are quickly surpassing the existing 25-and-out and 30-and-out benefits.
For example, the Western Pennsylvania plan currently has a $3,500 30-and-out benefit. But it also has an accrual system that will rapidly overtake that benefit. That’s why by the end of the current UPS contract, members will be able to retire with about $4,300 there. Some pension plans will be paying more, some less, but most will be in that range.
But the accrual in the UPS Plan is set artificially low and set to rise slowly. And it cannot be improved for five and a half years, because it is locked down by the contract.
While the accrual rate will be $400 in some funds and $300 in a number of funds, the accrual in the UPS Pension Plan will be only get to $158 by the end of the contract. This is even lower than the Central States Pension Fund, where the accrual will reach $200 by 2013.
The comparison chart reveals the wide range and variation of benefits for UPS Teamsters—and many other Teamsters earning top pension benefits as well. Our union needs a comprehensive plan to bring all benefits up to the highest levels and to upgrade all Teamster contracts so that Teamsters getting inferior benefits can achieve quality pensions.
Click here to view the TDU Pension Comparison Chart.
Central States Fund Director Reports Average Retirement Age Goes Up
January 10, 2008: The Director of the Central States Pension Fund, Thomas Nyhan, told over 100 local union officers in December that he did not want UPS to split off from the Fund, but could not stop it because the International Union and management cut the deal. “We didn’t want to lose our biggest contributor,” Nyhan stated.
Nyhan also stated that
- Because of the UPS pullout, the ratio of retirees to active workers will eventually reach 3 to 1. (It was 1.4 to 1 in 2007)
- The fund is 63 percent funded, but will now rise to 75 percent with the $6.1 billion withdrawal payment from UPS. The funded ratio is growing due to pension cuts and increased employer contributions.
- The fund has made its cuts and implemented its recovery plan. No further cuts will be made.
- The rule that requires employers to increase contributions by eight percent a year should stay in place five years; then it can come down to six percent and then four percent.
- The Central States Health & Welfare Fund has been making in more money than it spends on benefits, and has 12.7 months of reserve funds.
- The average retirement age has increased in just five years from 59.5 to 61.5.
The last point shows the negative impact of jacking up the cost of retiree healthcare on our members and families. Many Teamsters just cannot afford to retire, and on average, Teamsters have to work two extra years, compared to just five years ago.
Pensions: Why Is Your Accrual Rate Important?
January 10, 2008: Many Teamster pension funds have shifted their benefit structure to one based on an annual accrual, or multiplier. Under this system, you earn (or “accrue”) a monthly pension amount each year you work. And if you earn a full pension, you will get the sum of all those annual accruals as your pension amount. The higher the accrual, the higher your pension.
Many Teamsters are used to a different benefit structure, such as “$3,500 for 30-and-out.” But within five years, most Teamsters will be getting a pension based on the accrual method, because as plans phase those benefits in, they will quickly surpass the existing 25-and-out and 30-and-out benefits.
Some plans state the accrual as a dollar amount, while others use a percentage of what is contributed during the year by the employer on your behalf. For example, if the employer contributes $14,000 and the accrual rate is two percent, that would add $280 to your monthly pension this year. Since the employer contribution goes up each year, the accrual will also.
For example, the Western Pennsylvania plan currently has a $3,500 30-and-out benefit. But it also has an accrual system that will rapidly overtake that benefit. By the end of the current contract, members will be able to retire with about $4,300 there.
Some pension plans will be paying more, some less, but most will be in that range. So understanding the accrual for your pension plan is very important.
UPS management knows this well. That’s why they have tied the new UPS Pension benefit to a small accrual, one that will be far below the other plans by 2012.
UPSers Eye New Language
January 10, 2008: Language changes in the new UPS contract are now in effect—even though we won’t get our wage or benefit increases until August.
UPS Teamsters need to stay on top of new language—and make it work in our favor.
Excessive Overtime: Opt-In, Opt-Out Up in the Air
UPS is being even more inconsistent than usual in its implementation of the new contract language on excessive overtime grievances.
The new contract requires the company to post a “9.5 opt-in/opt-out” list before Jan. 1 to govern 9.5 grievances through May 31. Drivers who “opt-out” of the 9.5 language will have no right to file a grievance alleging excessive overtime until June 1.
While management circulated the opt-in/opt-out list in some cities as early as Dec. 15, drivers in most areas report that UPS has still taken no action at all.
In other locals, members report that UPS has agreed to go by the old 9.5 language under which all members are eligible to grieve excessive overtime.
That suits many UPS Teamsters just fine who don’t understand why our International Union bargained away the right of some members to file excessive overtime grievances.
“As steward, I will be encouraging everyone to sign the ‘opt in’ list to limit the excessive overtime. I hope I can get all to sign it, but there may be some folks who resist it,” said John Price, a Local 773 steward from Stroudsburg, Penn.
“If nearly everyone ‘opts-in’ we can make this really become ‘non-language’ and protect the right of all employees to grieve excessive overtime. It works well now on the honor system. If your boss knows you don’t want the overtime and are willing to file the grievance he dispatches you much more carefully. If he knows you would like the overtime they obviously desire to have you work such hours,” said Price.
“However by not signing the list you give them complete control of your day for 12 hours a day. Where will that get you when you all of a sudden have an unexpected change in your life? For instance your wife all of a sudden gets her work schedule changed and you need to be home earlier, or you have a loved one who becomes ill and you would like to see them after work, but after work is now 10pm! It’s just bad. It gives back all we fought for,” Price said.
On a positive note, the new contract increases the penalty for excessive overtime grievances to triple time pay for hours worked in excess of 9.5 hours.
To make this improvement mean something, our union needs to insist on the full penalty for 9.5 violations.
Time to File Grievances Cut in Central Region
UPS Teamsters in the Central Region will have half as much time to file a grievance under the new contract. Article 5 of the Central Region supplement states that employees must “reduce the grievance to writing on the regular grievance form provided by the union and have it submitted to the company within five (5) working days.”
That’s a big change from the 10 working days we had in the past and members will need to be on the ball to get grievances filed in a timely manner.
Also, the time the steward has to grieve discipline has been reduced from 10 working days to 10 calendar days.
Watch Out for New Subcontracting Loopholes
Article 26 contains new contract language that will make it harder for local unions to police subcontracting through the grievance procedure.
Under new language in Section 3, “only the Local Union with jurisdiction in the geographic area in which a subcontracted feeder movement originates” can file a grievance for subcontracting.
This will prohibit local unions who are being “run over” from aggressively taking on the subcontracting.
Affected locals will be forced to appeal to the Parcel and Small Package Division which will also have the right to file a subcontracting grievance in these cases.
UPS Teamsters need to keep the pressure on the Parcel Division to stop subcontracting when some locals aren’t.