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.
January 10, 2008: Chicago Local 705 has won a major showdown with UPS over supervisors working. By threatening the company with a strike, Local 705 forced UPS to create more than 200 package car and part-time jobs and to curb future supervisors working violations.
The victory is the culmination of a multi-year campaign by Local 705 to take on supervisors working violations.
Over the last three years, business agents and shop stewards won a total of 4,000 to 5,000 grievances—including 700-plus grievance settlements where the company agreed to cease and desist from having supervisors work.
When supervisors continued to work despite the “cease and desist” agreements, Local 705 smacked UPS with a 72-hour notice that the union would strike UPS for its failure to abide by grievance decisions. The strike threat brought the company to the table to seriously negotiate the creation of additional jobs.
Local 705 has revoked a 72-hour strike notice for now and UPS has agreed to create 60 new package car positions and more than 60 part-time jobs.
The local has informed UPS management that the 72-hour can be reinstated if the company fails to continue to comply with grievance resolutions.
No Dime on the Dollar
“When you let a supervisor work, you might as well let them reach into your wallet and take money out because that’s what they’re doing,” said Bill O’Connor, a Local 705 package car steward.
“It doesn’t do anybody any good to settle supervisors working grievances for ten cents on the dollar. You’ve got to make the company pay,” O’Connor said.
After a supervisor refused to stop working and challenged O’Connor to “go file a grievance,” O’Connor and other shop stewards in the Palatine Center took action. They came to work early for six weeks and won $9,000 worth of supervisors working grievances.
“Our union backed us up. When we started to win, members took notice and so did the company. Slowly but surely we’re stopping supervisors from working,” O’Connor said.
Credible Strike Threat
UPSers in Local 705 are covered by a separate agreement from the national contract. The Local 705 contract gives the local the right to strike if UPS does not comply with grievance resolutions.
Other UPS locals do not have strike authority over company violations of local grievance settlements. However, the national contract gives local unions the right to strike if the company violates grievance settlements that are reached by the national grievance panel.
Local 705 has proven that this language can force the company to stop violations and create more jobs, including full-time positions—when our union is committed to a coordinated action plan for contract enforcement.
Local unions and the Parcel and Small Package Division can and should use the similar language in the master contract to bring the hammer down in areas where the company is serially violating supervisors working language.
January 10, 2008: “If you’re a steward always go up to a sup who is working and ask, ‘What’s going on? Why are you working?’ Or, ‘Do you need some help here?’” said Barb Ramirez from Local 206 in Eugene, Ore.
“At first this takes courage, but it gets easier and it must be done to demand respect for the contract. If you’re not a steward, you can still ask these questions. If the supervisor isn’t responsive, report the incident or go get the steward.”
A New York Local 804 steward says, “The most effective way to stop supervisors from working is to annoy the hell out of them and their bosses.
“If a part-time or pre-load sup is seen loading a truck, ask them why they are working. If they say they are covering for someone in the restroom or something similar, stand there waiting for their return and continually pester the supervisor asking if they need you to start up. (They usually walk away and everyone gets a laugh).
“If they don’t stop and no one returns, go to their supervisor (usually full time in charge of a boxline of trucks) and tell them you are going to start up and take over for the supervisor working. This will usually start up a discussion, possibly heated, about why he doesn’t need you to start or he will go to the supervisor working with you and tell them to stop.
“Progressively annoy the hell out of every supervisor/manager up the ladder so they know you are serious about the issue. This takes knowledge of where to find everyone involved and to be in early enough to do the legwork.
“Eventually you won’t have to go so high up the ladder to start working. Very importantly, you must be willing to start working before or after your normal working hours in order for this method to be effective because you will end up doing the work.”
December 27, 2007: The Internal Revenue Service is expected to fine FedEx Corp., of Memphis, Tenn., $319 million because the company's delivery drivers should have been classified as employees for federal employment tax purposes, the company said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Dec. 21.
In FedEx's Form 10-Q, filed quarterly with SEC, the company reported that an IRS audit team has "tentatively concluded, subject to further discussion," that FedEx delivery operators should be reclassified as employees for federal employment tax purposes, based on the agency's audit for calendar year 2002.
According to FedEx, company officials learned Dec. 20 that the IRS would assess the tax and penalties, and that similar issues are under investigation for calendar years 2004 through 2006.
In response to the fine, the company said, "we believe that we have strong defenses to the IRS's tentative assessment and will vigorously defend our position, as we continue to believe that FedEx Ground's owner-operators are independent contractors."
"Given the preliminary status of this matter, we cannot yet determine the amount or a reasonable range of potential loss. However, we do not believe that any loss is probable."
In another part of the filing, FedEx said it faces "increased regulatory and legal uncertainty with respect to its independent contractors" and the company "made changes to its relationships with contractors that, among other things, provide incentives for improved service and enhanced regulatory and other compliance by our contractors."
Additionally, the company said it expects further changes to its relationships with its contractors, which are expected to increase the cost of its operations.
Teamsters Applaud Fine
In reaction to the company's announcement, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which has been waging a long-running campaign to organize FedEx Ground workers, said it has long held that the workers were employees, and not independent contractors.
"What a great Christmas gift to FedEx Ground workers who have suffered under FedEx's illegal independent contractor scam," Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said in a statement Dec. 21. "It's a fundamental fact that FedEx has been skirting the law, and the Teamsters welcome the IRS decision."
He added: "It's game over for FedEx's independent contractor scam."
FedEx could face additional penalties totaling more than a billion dollars after the IRS completes its investigation into the company's illegal employment practices, which continue, the union said.
By Karen L. Werner
December 26, 2007: The UPS national contract has been officially ratified after Teamsters in New York and Pennsylvania voted to approve their supplements.
UPS Teamsters in metro New York voted to approve the Local 804 Supplement by a 1,367 to 854 margin after UPS took several pension concessions off of the table.
Click here to read the full story at MakeUPSDeliver.org.
December 18, 2007: The UPS national contract is moving toward being officially ratified as Teamsters in New York and Pennsylvania have voted to approve their supplements.
UPS Teamsters in metro New York voted to approve the Local 804 Supplement by a 1,367 to 854 margin after UPS took several pension concessions off of the table.
Click here to read the full story at MakeUPSDeliver.org.
Members are preparing to vote on a better offer from UPS that restores 30 & Out benefits to $3,600 a month-without key givebacks that were included in the first offer.
The Local 804 Executive Board unanimously endorsed the company's first offer which would have eliminated 25 & Out pensions for new hires and diverted 10 cents in members' wages to subsidize UPS's pension costs.
Money in Your Wallet
To sell the concessionary first offer, UPS and Local 804 officials threatened that if members did not ratify the deal then the Local 804 Pension Fund would maintain a 30 percent cut in pension accruals for years to come.
By voting No, members got UPS to put an offer on the table that raises the pension accrual to pre-cut levels, protects 25 & Out benefits, and puts the 10¢ back into members' wages.
Restoring the 10¢ wage diversion will put $1,500 in the pocket of every Local 804 full-timer over the life of the deal.
"I'm very proud that Local 804 members voted against the givebacks that the company and our own union tried to shove down our throats. We never should have been voting on that offer in the first place," said Jim Reynolds, an alternate steward and one of the leaders of the Local 804 Make UPS Deliver network.
"We didn't win the contract we deserve, but by standing united at least we got ourselves out of the hole our negotiators dug for us," Reynolds said.
The new contract offer also maintains a bonus for drivers-called "coffee pay" in New York. UPS automatically pays drivers an extra 15 minutes whenever they work more than 8½ hours. The company's first offer would have eliminated coffee pay for current part-timers who go driving -reducing their pay by nearly $2,000 a year.
Defending Our Legacy
Local 804 won 25 & Out long before most Teamster locals. It took a thirteen week strike to do it. Local 804 member Ed Dougherty was run over and killed on the picket line in the struggle to win that benefit. To this day, the Local 804 scholarship fund is named in Brother Dougherty's honor.
"We felt very strongly that our Executive Board did not have the right to negotiate away a benefit that a Teamster brother sacrificed his life to win," said Tim Sylvester, a shop steward and one of the leaders of the Vote No movement.
Local 804 is organizing a shop stewards' meeting and then preparing to send out ratification ballots with the goal of securing a new agreement before January 1.
"The Local 804 membership made ourselves heard. Whatever we got, we won by sticking together and voting No," said Bill Reynolds, a package car driver in the Suffolk building. "Make UPS Deliver was a big part of it. Ultimately it was up to the rank-and-file."
December 5, 2007: UPS Teamsters were not able to defeat givebacks this time. An analysis of voting results shows what it will take for us to succeed in the future.
UPS entered contract talks making record profits of more than $4 billion and under pressure from stockholders to settle the contract early.
Our chief negotiators James Hoffa and Ken Hall had the leverage to make UPS deliver. Instead, they gave the company the early deal it wanted—plus the biggest concessions in 25 years.
Concerned UPS Teamsters mobilized to Vote No. Although we were not able to defeat the contract, an analysis of the voting results shows what it will take for us to succeed in the future.
Informed Voters Challenged the Givebacks
The balloting results show that Teamsters can make a difference when we take coordinated action. In the locals where members mounted an organized campaign to distribute Make UPS Deliver information, the contract was challenged and sometimes defeated.
Members voted down the contract in many large UPS locals, including Kansas City, St. Louis, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Omaha, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Allentown, Harrisburg, Worcester, Syracuse, and Knoxville, among others.
In New York Local 804, the largest UPS local in the East, 7,000 Teamsters overwhelmingly rejected the contract by a three to one margin.
In locals where Make UPS Deliver materials weren’t distributed and members only heard the company and union sales job, the vote was a lopsided—with ten to one margins and worse.
The lopsided yes votes in locals where members heard only the IBT-UPS sales job helped to account for the overall 65 percent ratification margin.
Why the Contract Passed Nationally
The biggest obstacle to defeating the concessionary contract nationally was the sheer size of the Teamster-UPS sales job.
The company and the union reached every UPS Teamster with their Vote Yes campaign. Most UPS Teamsters received multiple mailings—including six separate mailings in the Central and Southern regions.
In contrast, our Vote No campaign relied on member-to-member communication. The fast track contract vote gave us limited time to expand our network.
The lesson is clear: working Teamsters at UPS can’t wait until there’s a crisis to get organized. If we want to stop future givebacks and enforce our contract, we need a bigger, stronger network of UPS stewards and members. And that means building a stronger TDU.
Hoffa-Hall Surrender on Central States Pension
The Hoffa administration’s miserable failure to defend Teamster pensions was another major factor in the contract vote.
First, Teamster pensions were cut in the Central States and elsewhere after Hoffa and Hall promised they would be protected by the 2002 contract.
Then our union failed to advance any positive plan for improving pensions without giving in to the UPS pension grab in the Central States.
With Hoffa and Hall offering no plan, no hope and no leadership, it is not surprising that the contract passed by a wide margin in the Central States areas.
Many Teamsters in other areas saw the givebacks in the contract as the price members had to pay to “solve” the Central States pension problem.
It’s hard for members to stand up against UPS’s concessions when our own leaders are lying down for the company.
The contract results showed the influence of local officials—and the need to organize for local union reform.
In a few key locals where local officers actively spoke out against the contract, they made a big difference, fueling the defeat of the supplements in Central and Western Pennsylvania—and nearly overturning the supplement in Northern California.
Unfortunately, the majority of local union officials and business agents showed that they would rather go along with Hoffa than make a stand for the members they are supposed to represent.
Many sent letters to their local union membership pushing a Yes vote—adding to the flood of mail and recorded calls from the International and the company. Many UPS Teamsters are already looking down the road to their next local union election.
With the contract approved in most parts of the country, UPS Teamsters are left with two choices: give up or get organized.
The company will continue to attack our pensions and benefits—and undermine the contract every chance they get.
It is up to concerned UPS stewards and members to inform our co-workers, enforce our contract, and hold our union leaders accountable.
That’s why Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) launched the Make UPS Deliver website.
We plan on keeping it going. But we want to do more than just share information in cyberspace.
TDU’s goal is to build a network that can link UPS stewards and members in every hub and building.
Be a part of making that happen. Join TDU today. Click here to join.
December 5, 2007: With the new 2008 contract, Hoffa and Hall gave back to UPS the key gains of our historic 1997 strike: strong Teamster pensions, 10,000 full-time jobs, and more. This happened in no small part because Hoffa and Hall gave up on the contract campaign strategy that made those gains possible.
In 1997, our International Union launched a year-long campaign that gave information and power to our members. Every UPS Teamster had a stake in our contract because we were fighting for members in every job classification: higher pensions, 10,000 full-time jobs, restrictions on subcontracting, and higher wages, including record increases for part-timers. United, we won on every one of these issues.
Hoffa and Hall abandoned this proven contract campaign model and replaced it with an information Brownout. Unifying demands were replaced with a givebacks that pit members against each other: part-time versus full-time, Central States versus others, current employees versus the next generation of UPS Teamsters.
When Hoffa and Hall finally unleashed our union’s power it wasn’t to take on the company, but to mount a historic sales job on the members. Fast-track balloting. PR mailings. Pre-recorded phone calls.
Instead of pressuring the company, Hoffa and Hall put the squeeze on the members: telling us that the contract had to be passed by January 1.
The International Union pulled out every stop to push through record concessions ten months before our contract even expired.
Hoffa and Hall got a majority to pass their concessionary deal. But unlike 1997, a new contract won’t mean a stronger union.
December 5, 2007: The removal of 44,000 UPS full-time Teamsters from Central States opens the door to lower pensions for all Teamsters down the road—not just in the Central States.
UPS is set to save billions of dollars with the deal.
Whatever your pension plan, members need to understand why UPS wanted this deal and what it means for you.
Lowest Pension in the U.S.
The new UPS plan that replaces Central States will pay members a lower pension than every other Teamster plan for UPSers—with current benefits of $3,000 a month for 30 and out.
That means nearly half of UPS’s full-time workforce will be getting a substandard pension.
Teamsters in the West, in Chicago Local 705, in Local 710 (Illinois and Indiana), in New England, Washington, D.C., New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, Virginia and every other plan all get a better pension.
That alone tells you why management is so happy with the new contract.
But UPS got more than low pension benefits out of this deal. They also got a tool for capping pensions in other plans in the future.
No Set Contributions
The new UPS pension fund will save UPS billions on future pension contributions because the contract no longer requires the company to make specific hourly payments to this pension fund.
This is unlike every other pension plan for UPS Teamsters.
In every other pension fund, UPS will pay pension contributions of more than $10 per hour by the end of the contract. That’s $21,000 each year per employee into every other Teamster pension plan.
In the new UPS pension plan, UPS has no such obligation. Instead of making UPS pay an hourly contribution, the new contract only says that UPS must fund its plan as required by law, no more.
The law only requires that the company keep enough money in the fund to pay for the current benefit level. This means, over time, the company will pay far less for pensions in the new plan covering the Central and South—the lower the benefit, the greater the savings to the corporation.
Dragging Down Pensions
By the next contract in 2013, the benefit level in the new UPS plan will be the lowest in the country and have been frozen for 16 years—and the pressure will be on to raise pensions in the Central and South.
UPS may offer Central and Southern members a higher pension while putting the squeeze on every other fund. The new contract gives them a tool to do just that. Article 34 of the master agreements defines exactly what the benefit level is in the new UPS pension plan. Because that benefit level is not tied to any hourly contribution, UPS would be able to offer to raise the pension in the Central and South without increasing its hourly contributions in other areas by a dime.
In the new contract, UPS increased its pension contributions by $3.25 an hour. Expect them to offer less next time.
Without higher hourly pension contributions, Teamsters in every other pension fund cannot protect and increase their benefits.
Defending Our Pensions
UPS is already thinking about the next bargaining round and how they can control benefit costs by keeping a lid on hourly pension contributions.
We cannot allow that to happen.
Lower pension contributions would not just affect UPS Teamsters.
UPS sets the pattern for the benefits of hundreds of thousands of other Teamsters. It is highly likely that the freight contract covering 80,000 Teamsters will mirror the pension contribution just negotiated at UPS.
Our entire union suffered a loss when the International caved in to UPS’s pension grab in the Central States.
We now need to adjust to the new situation, and make sure the problem does not spread to other funds, or undermine our good Teamster pension benefits.