August 8, 2007: The Association of Parcel Workers of America (APWA) lost an organizing election at the big Kansas City terminal of UPS Freight by a margin of 3-1. The vote was 66 for the APWA, 202 for No Union.
Despite considerable pro-union sentiment, UPS Freight drivers and dock workers are not ready to vote for an association that has no track record and is staffed by a management law firm.
In the Kansas City vote, which ended on August 7, the Teamsters Union was in the uncomfortable position of sitting on the sidelines during a union vote. The APWA has also filed for an election at the 400-worker UPS Freight breakbulk in Gaffney, South Carolina.
For UPS Freight workers who want power and justice on the job there’s a clear alternative: the Teamsters Union. Our union needs to get off the sidelines with a coordinated campaign to organize UPS Freight nationally.
UPS Freight Senior Vice President Jack Holmes in a June 28 letter to UPS Freight workers, made clear that management will oppose unionization by the Teamsters or any other union.
Our International needs to answer management’s attack and make it clear that the Teamsters will not settle for anything less than NMFA standards and Teamster pension benefits for all UPS Freight employees.
July 23, 2007: Daily Labor Report: The newly formed Association of Parcel Workers of America (APWA) July 20 filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board seeking a representation election at the UPS Freight terminal in Gaffney, S.C., an NLRB official told BNA.
Patricia Timmins, an NLRB regional attorney in Winston-Salem, N.C., said a hearing should be held in 7-10 days to decide when an election will be scheduled. UPS Freight will have an opportunity to object, and other unions that may wish to compete in a representation election will have an opportunity to be heard, she said.
APWA President Van Skillman told BNA that an election at the South Carolina terminal would be only the second such election since the group's formation in 2004. In early July, APWA, UPS Freight, and the NLRB agreed to the first representation election Aug. 5-7 at the company's Kansas City, Kan., terminal 131 DLR A-10, 7/10/07 ).
Ira Rosenfeld, a spokesman for Richmond, Va.-based UPS Freight, told BNA July 20 that the company had not decided on a course of action for the initial NLRB hearing on APWA's new election petition. The company has operated at maximum efficiency as a nonunion company in the past, he said.
UPS Freight, a trucking company formerly known as Overnite Transportation, has a long history of resisting organizing attempts by unions. Between 1994 and 2002, the company was the target of an unsuccessful organizing drive and strike by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (208 DLR AA-1, 10/28/02 ).
363 Workers in Prospective Unit
According to Rosenfeld, the Gaffney facility is the largest UPS Freight terminal in the southern United States. About 440 workers are employed at the site, he said, including long-distance truck drivers who spend very little time at the terminal itself.
APWA is seeking to represent 362 truck drivers, dock workers, clerks, building maintenance employees, mechanics, check bay attendants, and tire changers, according to the group's petition. Full- and part-time workers are included. Not included in the prospective bargaining unit are office workers, guards, and supervisors.
The August election in Kansas City and the proposed election in South Carolina come at the same time as closely watched negotiations continued between UPS Freight and IBT on a first contract covering about 125 workers at the company's Indianapolis terminal. When those talks commenced Sept. 6, 2006, IBT leaders said they would be a model for organizing all 15,000 UPS Freight employees at its 300 terminals nationwide (173 DLR A-1, 9/7/06 ).
In a June 25 statement, IBT repeated that the "union intends for the Indianapolis agreement to serve as a model contract, one that will answer the questions the remaining UPS Freight workers around the country have about joining the Teamsters." The talks, which have been proceeding regularly since they began last year, are scheduled to resume July 23, the union said.
'The Teamsters Are Coming.'
The Indianapolis negotiations also take place at the same time IBT is engaged in early contract talks with United Parcel Service, the parent company of UPS Freight. IBT represents more than 200,000 United Parcel Service employees nationwide, and the union has linked these talks to UPS Freight with a campaign under the title "One Company, One Union."
APWA's Skillman, himself a United Parcel Service driver, has been critical of IBT, and the 1.4 million member union returned the criticism in a statement to BNA July 20.
"We are confident the UPS Freight employees will not be misled by a group supported by the right-to-work committee, represented by a union-busting lawyer, with no experienced leadership, no staff support, no pension plan, no health plan, no collective bargaining experience, but unlimited, empty promises," Ken Hall, IBT international vice president, said in a statement.
"UPS Freight employees may be frustrated by their long effort to join a union, but that should not cause them to prematurely select a group that will not produce on its promises. Our message to UPS Freight workers is that the Teamsters are coming and are bringing a proven record of collective bargaining experience," Hall stated.
July 23, 2007: Our Teamsters Union needs to respond to the anti-union attack by UPS Freight management.
After UPS Freight issued a letter attacking our union and denouncing a “campaign of deception” by some Teamster locals, IBT chief negotiator Ken Hall angrily told the media that, “Evidently when they purchased Overnite, UPS also purchased Overnite’s union-busting legacy.”
Hall warned on July 10 that “Unless UPS retracts the letter,” the union would “respond in kind.”
But now Hall is back at the bargaining table without a retraction or an apology—and without “responding in kind.”
Instead, Hall marked the resumption of bargaining by issuing another cookie-cutter press release. “We look forward to bringing the next phase of bargaining to Indianapolis,” Hall said. “We know that UPS Freight workers across the country are following these talks with great interest.”
That’s true. Given that, doesn’t it make sense for our union to show some backbone?
Hall says that UPS Freight broke “our agreement not to negotiate in the press” and that the Teamsters would do the same.
Hoffa and Hall should start by making it clear to the media and to UPS Freight employees that our union will insist on NMFA standards and Teamster pensions and benefits as part of any contract in Indianapolis.
Our union never should have agreed to a press embargo in the first place. But now that it’s over, it’s time for Hoffa and Hall to send a strong message that the Teamsters will not settle short at UPS Freight.
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July 9, 2007: In a June 28 letter to all UPS Freight employees, Senior Vice President Jack Holmes lashes out at a “campaign of deception” by some Teamster locals.
Management's anti-union diatribe requires a strong response by our union.
Stating that the company needs to “deal with the untruths spread by Teamster locals,” Holmes states “there is no current card check agreement with the Teamsters” and that no master agreement will be signed.
Holmes further says no significant gains will be won by joining the Teamsters and denounces as “rhetoric, pure and simple” Teamster statements that UPS Freight employees will win “positive changes in wages, pension, health benefits and working conditions.”
He goes on to denounce the Teamsters for “making their usual promises” including “positive changes in wages, pensions, health benefits and working conditions.”
Holmes says that all unions rely on “rhetoric and empty promises to find members and build [their] bank accounts with dues and initiation fees” and that the road to a strong future at UPS Freight is for employees to continue to work with management.
Contrast with Hoffa Line
Holmes is UPS Freight’s Senior Vice President for Operations. His hard-core antiunion rhetoric doesn’t jibe with the happy talk from our International Union which has issued a steady stream of press releases bragging about how we’re “making steady strides” at UPS Freight.
The most recent update on the Teamster website brags that “based on the work we’ve accomplished so far” Teamsters can expect to celebrate a “historic moment” and “achieve a strong contract” at UPS Freight.
So, the IBT says it’s all smooth sailing in bargaining. Meanwhile, UPS Freight management viciously attacks the Teamsters Union. Do you see a problem with this picture?
Maybe our International Union is so optimistic about reaching a deal because Hoffa and Hall have already conceded that 1) UPS Freight Teamsters will not get NMFA or UPS National Contract standards, 2) Management will keep UPS Freight employees out of our existing Teamster pension plans and 3) Management will continue to dominate the workplace with few improvements in working conditions.
Concerned Teamsters need to make our voices heard.
Our officers need to know that victory at UPS Freight means winning a contract that includes Teamster benefits and wages and standards that match the National Master Freight and UPS agreements.
Teamster members are prepared to back our International Union in winning a model contract at UPS Freight. That’s how we’ll protect our master contracts at UPS and in freight. That’s how we’ll strengthen our benefits and our union for the future.
And that’s how we’ll win the support of a clear majority of employees at UPS Freight.
May 23, 2007: The Hoffa administration may make drastic concessions to UPS Freight management in exchange for a contract in Indianapolis and the right to organize the company nationally.
In a recent report, International Rep and Hoffa Assistant Brad Slawson stated that the UPS Freight contract will not meet National Master Freight Agreement standards and will not be in the Central States pension or health and welfare funds. A deal could be cut as soon as June or July.
The contract will be ratified by 130 Indy Teamsters, but will affect our whole union, posing clear dangers to freight Teamsters and the future of Teamster benefit plans. It is time for concerned Teamsters and officers to be heard. Many in the freight division are upset. Rather than just grumble, they should speak with a strong voice.
UPS Freight (formerly Overnite) is our chief nonunion rival in the freight industry. We need to win a model contract there that will boost Teamster organizing efforts and stand as a solid precedent for the upcoming National Master Freight Agreement negotiations next year.
That means winning strong wages, NMFA workplace protections and organizing UPS Freight workers into our Teamster funds.
Strong Wages: A major goal in next year’s freight negotiations is to win higher wages (freight Teamsters make $5 an hour less than UPS) and to eliminate the tiered wage structure that forces drivers to start at 75 percent of scale. We need to start by winning high wages at UPS Freight and a clause that guarantees that any wages or benefits won in the upcoming NMFA will be extended to UPS Freight.
NMFA Standards: UPS management has a history of ruling the workplace with an iron hand. We need to win NMFA protections, nothing less—to protect UPS Freight Teamsters and to block Yellow-Roadway and ABF from demanding concessions in the NMFA.
Teamster Pensions: The UPS Freight contract is an opportunity to win strong benefits for UPS Freight workers and to build up our Teamster pension funds by including a growing company. We need to build toward the future, not let UPS and UPS Freight opt out of Central States—especially with other employers like ABF looking to do the same.
Our union represents 225,000 Teamsters at UPS. We’ve got the numbers, the bargaining power and the leverage. It’s time to use it.
Anything less than full NMFA is less than can be won and could undercut our union’s standards in the industry. It could also undercut our ability to organize UPS Freight nationally.
February 27, 2007: Bargaining is underway at UPS Freight, formerly Overnite. Nothing less than the future of Teamster Power in trucking is on the line.
Rank-and-file Teamsters are launching a campaign to build support for our union’s efforts to win a strong national contract at UPS Freight—and to make sure that the Hoffa administration does not mortgage our future by settling short.
Under the slogan Get It Straight at UPS Freight, Teamsters are unifying behind the three absolute must-haves in any Teamster contract with UPS Freight:
- A national contract, covering all UPS Freight workers.
- A contract that matches or exceeds the National Master Freight Agreement, with no concessions.
- The inclusion of all UPS Freight workers in our Teamster Pension Plans, not a UPS corporate plan or 401(k).
Settling short on any of these three points will put Teamster jobs, benefits and union standards at risk—both at UPS and in the freight industry.
Eight months ago, Hoffa announced that a “historic card-check agreement will soon bring 12,000 UPS Freight employees under IBT contract.” The IBT now says there are more than 15,000 potential Teamsters at UPS Freight. But for now, our union leadership is bargaining at just one terminal in Indianapolis, which employs 125 UPS Freight workers.
Hoffa has promised that the contract will be extended to all UPS Freight terminals across North America. That’s a promise he needs to keep.
Early bargaining at UPS gives our union the leverage to achieve this goal. Shippers and stockholders are pressuring the company to settle the 2008 contract this year.
We need to put the bargaining power of 200,000 plus Teamsters at UPS behind the 125 Teamsters at UPS Freight and win a master contract covering all UPS Freight Teamsters nationwide.
There should be no early settlement at UPS that doesn’t include a national contract at UPS Freight.
Master Freight Standards in All Respects
UPS is the largest and most profitable transportation corporation in the world and it does not need concessions. If the Teamsters make givebacks to the top dog, we know they will spread.
Yellow Roadway’s CEO has made clear any concessions given to UPS Freight will “set precedent” for the NMFA negotiations. UPS could also take advantage of givebacks at UPS Freight to shift tractor trailer work currently done by UPS feeder drivers into lower-cost freight operations.
It’s common sense that we can’t undermine the UPS or freight agreements by allowing these concessions.
On the positive side, if we win a strong contract at UPS Freight, that will protect Teamster standards, expand our holding in trucking by 15,000 Teamsters and position us to organize other nonunion trucking competitors.
Strengthen Teamster Benefits
This is perhaps the most critical of all issues: the UPS Freight contract must put all employees into our Teamster pension plans.
This will extend quality union pensions to our brothers and sisters at UPS Freight. And, it will strengthen our plans by adding 15,000-plus new participants from a growing carrier into the Western Conference Plan, Central States, New England, the Chicago plans, and all the Eastern Region plans.
Top Teamster officials have already hinted they may not bargain UPS Freight into the Central States Pension Plan. This would totally undermine the fight to restore our benefits.
Teamster Action Needed
If Hoffa is serious about reversing pension cuts and strengthening our benefits for the future, he has to draw a line in the sand at UPS Freight. If not here, where?
UPS Freight is our union’s opportunity to win our biggest victory since the 1997 UPS strike—and we can’t afford to fail. Achieving these three priority goals will protect the UPS and freight contracts, strengthen our pensions, and position us to organize the nonunion competition.
Failure would put our jobs and benefits at risk and undermine future organizing.
President Hoffa needs to make it clear he will settle for nothing short of a national contract that meets or exceeds UPS and NMFA standards and brings UPS Freight employees into Teamster pension plans across the country.
If and when he does, Teamster members need to get behind him to win at UPS Freight.
For now, the campaign to Get It Straight at UPS Freight is the best way to inform and unite Teamsters to achieve this critical victory.
February 27, 2007: When President Hoffa announced a card-check and neutrality agreement for UPS Freight at the Teamster Convention last June, I stood to applaud with all my brothers and sisters. I was running on the reform ticket with Tom Leedham, but when it comes to organizing, we’re all united.
That was eight months ago. We’ve received reports that bargaining continues for one terminal in Indianapolis, and that the union will not settle without an agreement that we can take national, to cover all UPS Freight.
I represent freight Teamsters at Yellow, Roadway, and ABF. Our members know it is critical to expand our bargaining power, especially at UPS Freight. UPS has the deep pockets to chart the course for other employers.
Freight bargaining will start by the end of this year. UPS Freight Teamsters need a contract that lives up to NMFA standards so we can go into bargaining strong and united.
That will put wind in our sails and give our members confidence that we can win a good contract and build our union in the trucking industry.
Scott Webber is the Recording Secretary of Local 728 in Atlanta.
January 26, 2007: In a recent statement on UPS national contract talks, IBT Parcel Division Director Ken Hall announced he would also continue bargaining with UPS Freight on a contract covering 125 employees at the Indianapolis terminal—the only UPS Freight barn represented by our union.
The outcome of the simultaneous contract talks will determine the future of benefits and contract standards for UPS and freight Teamsters alike for years to come.
- Will our union use our bargaining leverage at UPS to win the right to organize UPS Freight company-wide without interference from management?
u Will the UPS Freight contract protect Teamster standards—or will it undercut the UPS and National Master Freight agreements?
- Will we strengthen our benefits by including UPS Freight in our Teamster funds—or will Hoffa give in to UPS management’s designs to undermine our benefits and break out of the funds?
Our union leaders have sent mixed signals about where they stand. With the future on the line, Teamster members need to demand that our negotiators hold the line and protect our future.
Standing with Hall and Freight Director Tyson Johnson on the podium at the Teamster Convention, Hoffa announced, “A historic card-check agreement will soon bring 12,000 UPS Freight employees under IBT contract.”
Later it was revealed that the card-check agreement only covered 125 employees at one terminal, just one percent of the company’s workforce.
Now top Teamster officials are openly saying that UPS Freight Teamsters may be kept out of our union pension plans. Brad Slawson, General Secretary-Treasurer Tom Keegel’s right-hand man and an International rep in the Freight Division, announced at a union meeting that any contract with UPS Freight will probably not include the Central States Pension Plan.
If Slawson is right, that would be a disaster to Teamster efforts to reverse our benefit cuts. UPS Freight would add $180 million in contributions to Teamster pension plans every year—strengthening our benefits and protecting our funds for the future.
A UPS Freight contract that fails to include the Central States Pension, and other Teamster pension plans, should be rejected by the Freight Division and the IBT.
Organizing UPS Freight Wall to Wall
The simultaneous negotiations with UPS and UPS Freight increase our bargaining power and give us the leverage we need to win a company-wide contract at UPS Freight that meets or beats NMFA standards.
Yellow Roadway CEO Bill Zollars has already announced that any deal between the Teamsters and UPS Freight will “set precedent” for the National Master Freight Agreement. Zollars has also expressed interest in early bargaining. Translation: if our union settles short at UPS Freight, Yellow Roadway wants early talks to bargain the same concessions.
The UPS Freight contract will also set the standard for other nonunion freight competitors we need to organize. A weak UPS Freight agreement would also give UPS the incentive to siphon away work done by UPS feeder drivers.
The IBT needs to put the power of 215,000 UPS Teamsters behind the 125 Teamsters at UPS Freight.
UPS management is hungry to settle early. If our union is going to give UPS an early deal, we need to win a company-wide UPS Freight agreement that meets the standards set by the NMFA and UPS contracts, including strong Teamster benefits.
President Hoffa and our union negotiators need to make it clear to the company and to Teamster members that we will settle for nothing less. If and when he does, Teamster members need to get behind him in this fight.
March 16, 2006: Have you seen the photo of Overnite’s new tractor trailers? The ones that say UPS Freight on them? Right there, in a snapshot, is the biggest threat facing our union. UPS is officially rebranding Overnite as UPS Freight.
The best-known name in trucking, and the deepest pockets in the business, are now behind our main nonunion rival in the freight industry. UPS Freight also gives management and UPS Logistics a home-grown nonunion operation where they can direct Teamster feeder work. And you can bet that management will use UPS Freight to undercut our leverage in any future strike—unless we organize UPS Freight and bring those drivers and dock workers into our Teamsters Union.
We really have no other choice. The road to rebuilding our union’s power, strengthening our pensions, organizing in our core industries—all these roads lead through UPS Freight/Overnite. Organizing UPS Freight will not only strengthen our bargaining power at UPS and in the freight industry. It will add at least 10,000 new participants to our union’s benefit plans—helping to reverse the trend that employers and Hoffa’s trustees have used to justify benefit cuts. When you realize the stakes, it becomes clear that Hoffa’s disaster at Overnite marks a turning point for our union.
In the 1990s, our union organized thousands of Overnite workers. Hoffa inherited that organizing drive and drove it right over a cliff. He called a reckless strike with no strategy to win, let it drag on for years, and then pulled the plug as soon as the 2001 Teamster election cycle was over.
UPS Freight is the legacy of that failure. We can overcome Hoffa’s failure. But we need a serious organizing plan to do it. We have to start by cutting dues waste and freeing up money for organizing. We have to train a minimum of 1,000 new member organizers.
If you look at our union’s history, our most successful organizing has been done by Teamsters who are proud of their union. We also must organize strategically to boost the bargaining power of our existing membership. Organizing isn’t just about adding members, it’s about supporting our existing contracts. We need to focus on organizing nonunion competitors like UPS Freight, FedEx, DHL, and other companies who are undermining our industry standards.
The Teamster Convention is three months away. Anyone who attended the last one knows what’s coming. In 2001, Hoffa made organizing Overnite a central theme of the Convention. There were speeches, videos, and resolutions—everything but a plan to win.
We can’t have a repeat in 2006. We can’t play politics when it comes to organizing UPS Freight. When Hoffa ran for General President in 2001, his campaign ads featured a picture of him on an Overnite picket line, promising to “never rest” until the Overnite strike was won.
They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. Look again at that photo of Hoffa’s broken Overnite promise. And look again at the UPS Freight photo. Those pictures sum up the Hoffa record. It’s time for a new direction.