January 23, 2013: The employers are stepping up their attacks on union jobs.
Members say it's time to start fighting back.
Teamster dairy workers in New York City have fought for years against company cost-cutting, growing nonunion competition and weakening contract protections. The employers are stepping up their attacks on union jobs. Members say it’s time to start fighting back.
Nearly 200 members of New York City Local 584 who worked at Beyer Farms were laid off without warning on Dec. 11 when the company suddenly announced it was shutting its doors. These members join the 42 other Local 584 members who were illegally fired by Elmhurst Dairy in late September.
The union has filed a grievance and NLRB charges against the firings at Elmhurst Dairy, and a few of the "Elmhurst 42" have been called back.
Beyer Farms may have closed, but the work itself—including major accounts with public schools and CVS, Duane Reade and other large grocery store chains—hasn't disappeared. Teamsters remain off the job, while the delivery routes are worked by new hires at other companies or nonunion competition.
"We have layoff and recall language in our contract with the dairy employers," says Local 584 member and Beyer Farms utility worker Stephen Mohan. "The companies shouldn't be able to just shuffle work around and ignore our seniority rights. We're asking the union's help to make sure this work stays union and that we get our jobs back."
Local 584 members have some real leverage to fight with too—the high-profile stores and customers on their delivery routes. "Walgreens doesn't want to see a crowd of Teamsters out front leafleting customers," explains Louis DeStasio, an alternate steward and 23-year Beyer Farms Teamster. "We should also be talking to customers, the community, members of other unions and elected officials about this attack on good paying jobs."
In a letter to employees the company stated that their primary milk supplier, Dean Foods, stopped supplying milk for Beyer to process and deliver. Dean Foods put a lien on Beyer's accounts. Beyer Farms claims that since these "circumstances were not reasonably foreseeable," they are not required to give the workers the 60 days notice required by the WARN Act.
Members report that two hours after Beyer Farms announced the closing, a number of sales and management personnel simply walked across the yard and brought their accounts to Elmhurst Dairy. Some of the work is being handled by a nonunion company in New Jersey that happens to be owned by the son of Elmhurst owner Henry Schwartz.
"Walgreens doesn't want to see a crowd of Teamsters out front leafleting customers.
"We should also be talking to customers, the community, members of other unions and elected officials about this attack on good paying jobs."
Louis DeStasio, Alt. Steward, Beyer Farms
Local 584, New York
Last time UPS and the International Union negotiated early, we got concessions. We need to do better. You only have so many shots at a contract in your career.
If UPS wants an early agreement, they need to address the growing problems under the current agreement.
UPS Teamsters are being kept in the dark by our Union about what's happening at the bargaining table. We need to make our voices heard on the issues that effect us every day.
No new contract deal can go into effect until it is approved by UPS Teamsters. Our Right to Vote gives us the power to win a better contract.
We need to be ready to Vote No unless UPS delivers the contract improvements we need.
Click here to download the UPS Contract Scorecard.
|What We Got in 2008||What We Need in 2013|
|Pensions & Benefits||UPS achieved its number one pension goal: saving billions by pulling out of Central States and establishing a new plan that pays 48,000 full-time Teamsters in the Central, South and Carolinas the lowest benefits in the country. New part-time hires are forced to wait one year for healthcare, 18 months for family coverage.||Protect and improve our pensions with increases in substandard plans, including the IBT-UPS plan. Protect affordable retiree healthcare. Restore health benefits for part-timers after 90 days.|
|Wages||Longer wage progression: three years for new full-timers to reach top pay, including combo jobs. Part-time starting pay frozen at $8.50.||Protect good full-time wages. No lengthening progression to full scale. Substantially raise part-time pay so all UPS Teamsters are making a living wage, not starting near the minimum wage.|
|Excessive Overtime||Established Opt-in/Opt-out system which makes drivers jump through hoops before they have the right to file a 9.5 grievance. Penalties for 9.5 violations were increased when the contract is enforced.||Raise penalties for 9.5 violations, including for harassing members who exercise 9.5 rights. Make UPS create new driving jobs when there are repeated 9.5 violations in the same center. Too much OT means not enough drivers.|
|Production Harassment||No new protections against production harassment.||Specific penalties for over-supervision and harassment. Prohibit use of "methods violations" as catch-all for discipline.|
|Protection from Technology & Bogus 'Dishonesty' Charges||International agreed to contract loophole that allows management to terminate drivers based solely on information from technology in cases of broadly-defined "dishonesty."||No discipline based on GPS, DIAD, IVIS or any other technology. Close loopholes so UPS can't use "dishonesty" as a catch-all to terminate members for lesser offenses. Human error is not dishonesty.|
|More Full-Time Jobs||Article 22.3 language that requires UPS to create 10,000 new full-time 22.3 jobs every contract was deleted. Since then, UPS has eliminated thousands of 22.3 jobs across the country in violation of the contract with no effective or coordinated response by the IBT.||Create new full-time driving and 22.3 jobs. Make UPS restore all 22.3 jobs vacated during the last contract. Require UPS to maintain 22.3 jobs in the locals where they are created and pay monetary penalties when the company does not maintain jobs or fill vacancies.|
|Supervisors Working||Penalties for supervisors working were increased from time-and-a-half to double time when the language is enforced.||Increase penalties for supervisors working, including a minimum penalty of two hours at double-time pay. Establish higher penalties for repeat offenders. Make UPS create a full-time inside job when there are 40 hours of sups working violations in a week.|
|Subcontracing/Surepost||No new subcontracting protections. The Surepost program is not permitted under the current contract but the International Union has cooperated with the program without negotiating anything for members in return.||Make UPS create and maintain more package jobs as a condition of continued union cooperation with Surepost. Tighten restrictions on subcontracting, including subcontracting by UPS Logistics or to UPS Freight.|
|Improve 22.3 Jobs||No new national language for 22.3 workers.||Stronger language that strengthens the rights of 22.3 workers to bid on overtime and job assignments. Close loopholes in Article 40 to improve combo jobs.|
|Fix the Grievance Procedure||No improvements in the grievance procedure.||Grievance procedure reform, including mandatory time limits that force UPS to answer grievances or pay stiff penalties. Right to strike over deadlocked grievances.|
January 23, 2013: UPS Teamsters might give a higher approval rating to Congress than to their broken grievance procedure.
At contract time, many are pointing to problems with the grievance panels and how to use contract bargaining to make the grievance process work better for members.
Panels are notoriously slow. They often operate like secret chambers. And the union seems to be able to win only a tiny percentage of the cases that are actually decided.
Contract negotiations are a key time to negotiate improvements in the grievance procedure to make the panels work for Teamster members.
Negotiate a Grievant's Bill of Rights
The Teamsters National Master Freight Agreement has a Grievant's Bill of Rights—why not the national UPS contract? The Bill of Rights in the NMFA gives members and stewards the right to attend hearings, requires that cases involving discharge and suspension are recorded, that all Union and employer panel members are identified prior to the hearing, and gives members the right to transcripts of Panel proceedings.
Speed Up the Process
It can take months before a decision on a grievance is made, especially if the case deadlocks and goes to arbitration. In the meantime, a discharged member can be in the street. In Chicago Local 705, a standing arbitrator sits in on all disciplinary panel hearings. If the company and union deadlock, the arbitrator issues a bench decision. This system would deliver swifter justice and discourages the union from accepting weak settlements on good cases just in order to avoid delays.
Right to Strike
The Central Region Supplement contains the right to strike over some deadlocked grievances, but the threat is never used. For rampant and serious violations of the contract, such as the mass elimination of 22.3 full-time jobs, the right to strike would be a powerful threat, short-circuiting the red-tape and delays in the grievance procedure.
Other steps that would strengthen the grievance procedure don't have to be negotiated. They can be implemented right now.
Get the Panels out of Resorts
What kind of message are top Teamster officials sending to members when grievance meetings are held in vacation destinations. Our union needs to put a stop to the cozy relationship many officials have with UPS management—hanging out in the bar and hitting the golf course together.
Training and Consistency
All BAs and union representatives should get ongoing training on how to successfully prepare and present grievance panel cases. So should the Teamster officers who sit on the panels. One reason management gets the upper hand is they take a coordinated approach to presenting and ruling on cases.
Make Grievance Decisions Available
All decisions and interpretations should be available on the web. Management shares this information. Why doesn't our union? Stewards, business agents and even members could use a database of grievance decisions to understand how the contract is being interpreted and find precedents to strengthen their case.
TDU and the Make UPS Deliver network publish all dockets and panel decisions on their websites. Click here to see recent panel decidions.
"All decisions and contract interpretations should be made easily available to UPS members.
"Another reform that could be implemented right away is to make the Chairmen write dispositions on why the case had merit or not. Often times you’ll get a ruling like 'based on the facts presented, the claim of the union is denied or upheld.' What facts were relevant? What would have changed the outcome? We also need a tally of who voted which way on our side. We can hold our peoples' feet to the fire if we knew there was one person always selling us out."
Nick Perry, Part-time Steward
Local 413, Columbus, Ohio
"The current grievance process is a 'good ole boy' system and UPS loves it exactly as it is because it always works in their favor. They abuse it and use it to bully members.
"When I was terminated for refusing to pull a trailer without working tail lights, side marker lights and a license plate light, OSHA and an administrative law judge both ruled in my favor, stating 'Respondent [UPS] attempted to convince Complainant through misinformation that it was in fact not a violation to drive the truck in its condition. At the very least, Respondent showed a complete disregard for the safety of Complainant and the public by continously instructing Complainant to drive the truck after he repeatedly stated he did not feel it was legal or safe.' But the union and company still agreed I should be disciplined and I still got stuck with a one-day suspension.
"This was a heinous and deliberate act of demoralization so ever present at UPS that remains unchallenged by our union and is a glaring example of why we need a change in the grievance process.
"A grievance 'Bill of Rights' would help members hold our officials more accountable and protect the rights we have under the contract and the law."
John Youngermann, Feeder Steward
Local 688, St. Louis
January 23, 2013: Strengthening our 9.5 rights and protections from excessive overtime is one of the issues on the table in contract negotiations with UPS.
In the meantime, peak is over and our 9.5 rights are back in effect.
If you want UPS to understand that excessive overtime is a key issue, or if you just want a chance to see your family and eat dinner at a decent hour, now’s the time to get on the 9.5 list.
To help, TDU has issued a 9.5 Rights Enforcement Package. Click here to download a copy.
Step 1: Document Your Excessive Overtime. Use TDU's 9.5 Rights Documentation Form to document a work week in which you work over 9.5 hours on three days.
Step 2: Tell your Center Manager you want to be on the 9.5 List. Fill out and turn in a 9.5 Opt-In List Request Form. Make sure to bring your steward with you.
If the Center Manager denies you your right to get on the Opt-In list, document that fact and their reasons why on the 9.5 Rights Enforcement Form. Then file a grievance citing Article 37.
If the Center Manager makes any threats that you will be over-supervised, given extra
performance rides, or be targeted with technology, document that too.
The more documentation you have—and the more drivers in your center that are getting on the 9.5 Opt-In list—the more protection you will have.
Step 3: Report a 9.5 Violation. Once you are on the 9.5 list, keep track of any work week in which you work more than 9.5 hours three times. Take your steward and report the 9.5 violation to the manager.
Step 4 (if necessary): If your center manager doesn't resolve the problem by adjusting your load and/or paying triple time for your hours in excess of 9.5, talk to your steward and file a grievance. The company may stall. But if you document your case and stay on top of your grievance, you can get triple time pay for your overtime worked over 9.5 instead of time-and-a-half.
January 23, 2013: UPS management is flexing its muscles in bargaining. In late December they sent a notice threatening thousands of Teamster retirees in the company healthcare plan with drastic payment hikes.
It was a mean-spirited Christmas letter to our UPS retirees.
"I retired with an understanding of affordable health coverage, now I get a letter saying it's going up to $495," a recent retiree in San Diego, California, told us. He's distributing TDU's bulletin on the issue to area UPSers to arm them with knowledge.
Teamster retirees in the company health plan currently pay $50 a month for individual or family coverage. The company's notice threatens to raise their premiums to $247.50/month for individuals and $495 for spouse or dependent coverage, or $742.50 for family coverage.
These rates apply only to Teamster retirees in the Company health plan. Most full-time UPS Teamsters are in regional Teamster H&W plans, and not under this same threat. Chicago Local 705 members are not under this threat, either.
The letter says the hikes will go into effect on August 1, 2013. By that time, the new contract will be negotiated, including a new agreement on retiree healthcare costs.
So why is the company sending out the notice now? It's a bargaining scare tactic, plain and simple.
As part of contract negotiations, the International Union and UPS will agree on how much Teamster retirees in the company Health Plan will pay toward their healthcare.
By sending out a notice with inflated rates, the company is trying to soften up retirees
and our negotiators to agree to higher monthly premiums.
UPS members and locals should say loud and clear: don't steal a decent and secure retirement from those who built the company.
The $50 per month premium is a good deal. But consider this: UPS has pushed to get Teamsters out of Teamster plans and into their own health plan, and they save millions because on average UPS has a younger work force than other Teamster companies. Now they want to enjoy that savings, and also stick it to the retirees.
UPS made more than $4 billion in profits. They don't need to nickel and dime the Teamsters, including retirees, who built this company.
January 23, 2013: UPS has told the Negotiating Committee it wants to expand into same-day deliveries. The Postal Service is experimenting with same-day delivery of online orders in San Francisco, with a new service called Metro Post. Amazon, eBay and Wal-Mart are also testing same-day delivery.
In order to deliver a package on the same day it's shipped, the Post Office will have to get the pick-up request from the company between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. Home delivery is promised between 4:00 and 8:00 p.m.
The model is based on the driver doing pick-up and delivery without returning to a building for sorting.
It makes sense for UPS to get into this market. But what will the contract terms be? No doubt, UPS will want to use air-drivers or part-time drivers at a reduced rate of pay.
But same-day deliveries are parcels, not envelopes.
This is a growing market and UPS will charge a premium for the service. The work should be done by Teamsters getting paid top-rate with union benefits.
February 1, 2013: Using your union's legal right to acquire information from the employer can help you defend your rights and win grievances and arbitrations.
This right is established by the National Labor Relations Act.
Unfortunately, many members don't know about this right, and many union representatives don't use it unless members specifically ask them to.
This article outlines some of the basics of the right to information and how to use it. You will need more detailed information to effectively put this into practice. You can order two books from TDU that outline your rights under the grievance procedure in more detail.
When can you request information?
- The union may request information to:
- monitor the employer's compliance with the contract.
- investigate whether a grievance exists.
- prepare for a grievance meeting.
- decide whether to drop or prioritize a grievance.
- prepare for an arbitration hearing.
What can you request?
The obligation of an employer to provide information is extremely broad. It includes relevant documents, data, and facts. Information is considered relevant if it might be useful to the union or could lead to the identification of useful information.
How specific does the request have to be?
Information requests can be quite general. For example, employers must respond to broad inquiries such as:
- "Please supply all documents or records which refer to or reflect the factors causing you to reject this grievance."
- "Please supply all factual bases for the company's decision."
- "Please provide all documents, reports, and other evidence utilized in making the decision to discipline the employee."
Management may complain that such information requests are "fishing expeditions," but this language has been upheld by the NLRB, which has ordered employers to comply.
These kinds of requests can be extremely useful in nailing down management's position so that they cannot shift their argument later in the grievance procedure or at arbitration.
Other information requests can be very specific. The union is entitled to a wide variety of specific documents. See examples in the box accompanying this article.
What if management refuses to provide the information?
Refusals to provide information or unreasonable delays violate Section 8(a)(5) of the National Labor Relations Act. The union can file an unfair labor practices charge with the NLRB if the company refuses to cooperate with an information request.
Who can request information from the employer?
Only shop stewards and union officers can request information from the company. Although shop stewards can request information, if the employer is intent on blocking the request or stalling, the backing of the business agent can be crucial to winning an NLRB charge. So whenever possible, it is best to get your business agent on board with an information request.
What can you do with a timid business agent?
Many business agents aggressively use information requests as a tactic to win grievances. If you are worried that your business agent might not be eager to request the information, ask them to request information from the company and explain specifically in writing what information you would like them to request.
What Information You Can Request and When to Request It
The union is entitled to examine a wide variety of records to investigate a grievance or to prepare for bargaining.
Documents. The union is entitled to examine a wide variety of records to investigate a grievance or to prepare for bargaining. Examples include: accident reports, air quality studies, attendance records, bargaining agreements for other units or facilities, bargaining notes, bonus records, contracts with customers, suppliers and contractors, correspondence, customer lists, disciplinary records, employer manuals, guidelines and policies, evaluations, interview notes, investigative reports, job descriptions, memos, schedules, time cards, videotapes, wage and salary records.
Data. Employers must provide the union with lists, statistics, and other relevant data even if management must spend hours or longer putting it together. You can request data on prior disciplinary actions, promotional patterns, and overtime assignments. Employers are not excused from producing relevant data because of the size of the union's request, although the employer can bargain on reimbursement for its costs. Requests for data going back five years have been enforced by the NLRB.
Facts. Employers must answer pertinent factual inquiries. For a misconduct case, ask for the names and addresses of witnesses and descriptions of their testimony. For an arbitration hearing, ask for the names of persons the employer intends to call to the stand.
Disciplinary grievance. When grieving disciplinary action, always request a copy of the grievant's personnel file. If unequal punishment is an argument in the case, ask for the names of other employees who have committed the same offense and the penalties imposed.
Contract interpretation grievance. When a grievance concerns disputed contract language, request the employers bargaining notes from the session during which the clause was negotiated, the dates and contents of any union statements upon which the employer is relying, and descriptions of any incident which the employer says supports its position.
TDU can advise you on what information you should request to help you strengthen your grievance. Contact us for more information.
January 23, 2013: Know your rights and stay informed with resources from TDU.
$20. This comprehensive guide covers building your team, campaign do's and don'ts, phone and email lists, flyers, mailers, websites, Facebook, fundraising, negative attacks, observing the vote count, and much more. Click here.
$27.95. The indispensable survival manual for labor's frontline troops.
$8. The mechanics of the grievance procedure and organizing tips to involve members. Click here.
$10. This handy, clearly written guidebook is a roadmap to understanding and using one of the most effective tools available to transportation industry workers to enforce truck safety. Click here.
$22. Just Cause. Covers how to prepare and win discipline and discharge grievances, focusing on seven principles of Just Cause: fair notice, prior enforcement, due process, substantial evidence, equal treatment, progressive discipline and mitigating and extenuating circumstances. Click here.
Click here to order at TDU's online store.
Prices do not include shipping. Contact TDU for discounts on orders of five or more copies.
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