UPS management’s compliance with the law protecting workers serving in the military has had its ups and downs. The law is the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) of 1994. It offers a number of protections, such as the mandate that employers continue to provide medical coverage and that they contribute to pension plans for the period of leave.
USERRA also says that employers must make employees whole upon their return to work in terms of seniority rights they would have exercised during their period of leave.
Cases have come to light showing that UPS management sometimes violates the intent of the law. In a Florida case, management has refused to let an employee exercise his proper seniority rights (which would have put him in the feeder classification). They have also stonewalled on pension credits.
In a Virginia case, management has taken an opposite track on seniority rights – claiming that an employee currently on leave has the right to bid during semi-annual bids, even though he will continue to be on leave and not available to actually fill positions. Neither the USERRA law or the contract provide for this, with USERRA stating that employees can exercise their seniority rights upon return to work.
There have also been reports of UPS delaying payment of pension contributions to pension funds.
If you have information on how UPS is mis-applying the USERRA law, please contact TDU. If you need information on USERRA rights, go to the fact sheet on the TDU website or to www.esgr.com">http://www.esgr.com">www.esgr.com
Joint Council 10 officials dismissed charges against five New England locals for violating this clause and members’ right to vote. Local 25 members filed charges against locals 25, 42, 191, 340 and 677 after these locals allowed UPS management to establish a Sunday to Thursday work week without premium pay—in direct violation of the New England supplement.
The charges correctly state that these locals violated the IBT Constitution when they agreed to the midcontract changes without a vote of all the members covered by the supplement or the approval of the National Negotiating Committee.
In dismissing the charges, the Joint Council hearing panel argued that, “Since the Joint National Negotiating Committee is only convened at the time the UPS agreement is negotiated, it would not have been possible for [the locals] to have obtained a review by the Committee.” The Joint Council also ruled that the givebacks were “informal” agreements and not subject to committee approval—a loophole big enough to drive a set of doubles through.
In a separate ruling, the NLRB stated that, “It appears from the investigation that the members of the Committee did give tacit and indirect approval to this change.”
Which is it? Did James Hoffa and Ken Hall, the committee co-chairs, approve the givebacks or not? And do Hoffa and Hall agree that the IBT can’t use Article 2, Section 2 to prevent midcontract changes that undercut the contract? UPS Teamsters have a right to know.
Pressure tactics and intimidation are part of UPS management’s tool kit. The pressure may be turned on or off, or be directed at a select few, but it is rarely out of the picture altogether. And there are times when management embarks on serious campaigns of intimidation. Sometimes a center manager who has been transferred into an area for exactly this purpose launches these attacks. They target everyone, trying to stampede drivers into cutting corners to temporarily keep management off their back.
What can be done to defend yourself and your coworkers? Over the years Teamster members have developed their own tool kit for responding to pressure and intimidation.
Cut Corners Today, Pay the Price Tomorrow
Don’t fall into the trap of taking risky short cuts. One of the most effective defenses is something you can do well in advance. Work every day in such a way and at a reasonable pace that you will be able to maintain over the long run, especially while having an OJS ride.
Working through your lunch or off the clock before work or after you punch out on the DIAD will catch up with you. Cutting corners on safety or on methods is also a risky short-term gamble. Short-term survival tactics such as those mentioned will serve to create an unrealistic production standard that you will not be able to maintain through the ups and downs of your career at UPS.
Many UPS Teamsters use the Daily Log Book, available from TDU, to keep track of significant events during their workday that could effect “performance.” A pocket-sized notebook can serve a similar purpose, as could a PDA. If you are able to recall and point to problems beyond your control—traffic tie-ups, weather problems, delays—you will have the ammunition needed to counter management pressure over production.
Safety and Good Work Habits
Pay attention to how UPS says they want you to do your job. Handle over-70 packages strictly according to the rules. Deliver stops in the order set up by the computer, even if it is goofy. If a decision comes up during the day that may cause you delay, communicate it to the mother ship and let them make the decision. Doing it strictly the UPS way is often the best way to protect yourself and will often succeed in getting a manager off your back.
When they want to ride with you tell them to bring a video camera so they can make a training video. Practice, practice, practice, and don’t forget to get your customers into the act. Ask them to let you do your job exactly the way UPS wants it done when you have that special shadow along with you for the day. Ask your customers to communicate with your rider by complimenting on the good job you do or asking the supervisor all the service questions they have been just dying to know.
There is nothing like a good customer who just wants to know everything there is to know about international shipping from your supervisor.
Unity and Education
It is far easier for management to run amok when members are divided or isolated or uninformed about their rights. So it is a must to practice rank and file unity and carry out some basic education for newer members. Whether your local union is behind the effort or not you can:
• Make it a point to have older workers talk to and greet newer workers.
• Hold short parking lot meetings before or after work to talk about issues and strategies.
• Distribute copies of the contract, and the Rank and File Guide to Enforcing the Contract, to members.
• Insist on representation or a coworker witness when called into a meeting by management.
• Hand out information sheets on rights and issues (available from TDU).
• Start a website for sharing information and ideas (members in Denver, Albany, N.Y., and other areas have sites).
• Hold a member rights workshop, sponsored by your local, if they are willing, or with TDU’s help, if they are not.
• Get together often as a group for special occasions or social events. Getting to know each other and concentrating on the things that unite us are a great way to support each other.
These are just a few of the many strategies that can be used to protect against management intimidation.
In the past several years UPS has mounted an unprecedented attack on working conditions, job security and benefits.
Work hours, stop counts—and injuries—continue to rise. UPS ignores 9.5 contract language that was meant to protect package car drivers. Subcontracting chips away at feeder jobs and the epidemic of supervisors working must be dealt with forcefully.
At the same time, UPS is growing its nonunion divisions, creating a sphere of operations that threatens the security of good Teamster jobs.
Last but far from least, UPS has advanced its plans to attack good Teamster pension benefits. The 2008 contract will be a battleground over the future of retirement security.
We have to be ready for each and every one of these challenges. The fight for safe jobs and good benefits begins now.
When UPS bought Menlo Forwarding it gave our union the chance to bring hundreds of Teamsters under the protection of the UPS Master Agreement. Menlo was a stepchild of the freight contract. Though doing essentially the same work as freight Teamsters, Menlo workers made significantly less and were scattered under local agreements.Local Agreements Leave Many With Low Wages & Poor Benefits
The good news is that all Menlo (now called CSI) contracts will expire at the same time as the 2002-2008 UPS contract, enhancing bargaining power.
The less than good news is although Menlo/CSI Teamsters now work for highly-profitable United Parcel Service, their wages and conditions will continue to be set by the inferior local contracts.
For example, wages for Menlo workers under one of the best contracts, in Chicago, are just under $21.00 per hour. Wages under other contracts are well below that figure and in some cases ten dollars behind UPS wage rates.
Under the new UPS-CSI Supplement, wages will continue to be set by dozens of local agreements. One result: the number of wage rates at UPS will now balloon even further. Menlo CSI workers will get three-percent annual wage increases. Likewise, benefits will continue to be tied to whatever was in the old local contracts.
There is no catch-up provision to bring lower-paid CSI Teamsters closer to the national contract scale, and no provision to bring all employees into our Teamster plans.
The real battle for parity for Menlo/CSI Teamsters has been postponed and will now take place during the 2008 bargaining.
The $1,000 signing bonus is a bad omen for the 2008 UPS contract. UPS has tried this trick in years past to win approval for substandard agreements.
Danger of Subcontracting
CSI joins the growing constellation of UPS divisions. What exactly is its relationship to the UPS that employs Teamsters? What protections are in place to protect CSI Teamsters from loss of work to nonunion operations? CSI is actually a vendor for UPS Supply Chain Solutions (SCS). One manager referred to CSI as only a “preferred vendor,” which means that SCS is free to switch to others.
This fear is real: the agreement exempts CSI units from protection under subcontracting protections in Articles 1and 32 of the master UPS agreement.
It appears that James Hoffa and Ken Hall have failed to use the power of our union to win strong contract protections for Teamster members and to extend the UPS national contract to new UPS divisions. That challenge lies ahead.
Turning up the heat could be welcome, but is that really the case or is this just because of the International Union election this year? The contract has been in effect for three and a half years, so why has it taken so long?
Members, stewards and officers on the ground know the real story.
“FedEx is kicking UPS’ butt in some corridors,” Kansas City feeder driver Michael Savwoir explained. “This is about improved time in transit, that is where feeder jobs are coming from.”
For some time now UPS has been shifting volume off rail and onto trucks. Rail congestion and delays are one reason for the move. Another reason is the trend within the trucking industry to offer shippers ever-tighter transit time guarantees. A royal battle has resulted, with freight and small package trucking companies competing over this profitable sector of the market.
In Atlanta, UPS is adding 60 feeder positions, most as a result of a shift from rail to truck. UPS is also shifting its feeder network in the Northeast. Work is moving from the Alexandria, Va., rail facility to Parsippany, N.J., where numerous feeder jobs will be created. Providence, R.I., is also picking up feeder positions.
In the Midwest, UPS has added sleeper and mileage runs in the Kansas City area, including a 682-mile turn to Dallas. The Earth City building in St. Louis is getting new mileage runs.
“While hard to track fully, subcontracting is basically the same,” Savwoir said. “Members and stewards in many areas have kept the heat on UPS and the IBT about the problem for years. By getting better at documenting subcontracting, stewards in some areas are winning monetary settlements on grievances. But UPS still subcontracts.”
Some subcontracting grievances have been won, and every victory is welcome. But it will take a lot more of that to end the subcontracting. In some areas UPS is routinely using Mail Contractors of America to move trailers from rail yards to UPS buildings. Grievances are still pending over this contract violation.
Sometimes what is missing tells an important part of the story. A related issue, not mentioned in the Teamster magazine, is how and when UPS plans to integrate nonunion Overnite Transportation into its operation. Trucking analysts note that in the long run, it makes no sense to keep the operations separate. FedEx has been very successful in integrating its freight, package and air operations.
The Teamster leadership needs a plan to bring all UPS divisions into our union.
The growing number of mileage and sleeper runs, and their effect on the whole feeder operation is another issue for the future. UPS has a long-term plan for transforming the way feeder work is done.
Global Warming 2006: UPS Teamsters need to brace themselves for a major warming trend in 2006. Hoffa’s PR machine has started pumping hot air. The forecast for 2006, at least until the IBT election, is for the hot, sticky conditions to continue. The only relief will be an organized and informed Teamster membership.
So began the historic California Gold Rush of the late 1840s and 1850s. Most came away with nothing more than fool’s gold.
History repeats itself.
This time the promise of gold has hit UPS facilities in the form of a rogue group called APWA (The Association of Parcel Workers of America). This group intends to be a “UPS Only” union that promises equal or better pensions and better health coverage than what we currently have.
If this doesn’t sound like gold, I don’t know what does!
I caution you not to be fooled by their glam and glitz. The APWA has retained attorney Tom Coleman, the former Chairman of the CUE Labor Lawyers Advisory Committee. CUE stands for “Council on Union-Free Environment.”
The group is comprised primarily of business and industry executives. It is quite clear that a growing number of Teamsters are not content with the current direction of our union. The answer, however, is not to take your ball and go home.
The answer is as simple as this: get involved in the union you currently have. Would you consider exchanging our Teamsters Union for an upstart antiunion association? If you even consider this exchange, realize that you will end up with nothing but empty promises and a much bigger set of problems.
The APWA is “prospecting for gold” and I encourage you to see this for what it is: a slick and alluring effort at union-busting.