Teamster leaders have voted unanimously to kick off negotiations Sept. 27 for the national UPS and UPS Freight contracts covering about 250,000 union members nationwide, announced Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer and Package Division Director Ken Hall.
The UPS contract is the largest collective bargaining agreement in the country. Negotiations will open Sept. 27 in Washington following yesterday’s unanimous vote by the national negotiating committee and local leaders gathered for the UPS and UPS Freight national grievance panels this week in Providence, R.I.
The current five-year agreements expire July 31, 2013. The UPS contract covers package delivery drivers, loaders, unloaders and sorters at UPS, as well as employees at Cartage Services Inc. The agreement with UPS Freight covers drivers, dockworkers and clerks.
Hall said starting negotiations this year means that three weeks will be dedicated this fall to address important operations issues, clearing the way to start focusing in January solely on the critical economic concerns of job security, wages, health care and pensions for both UPS and UPS Freight Teamsters.
The decision to push UPS to the bargaining table was triggered by the company’s recent strong financial performance and record profits.
“The struggling economy and the company’s recent announcements about record quarterly profits make this good timing to open negotiations,” Hall said. “We want to address operations issues now so we can concentrate next year on other important issues such as wages, health care and pensions.”
Operations issues that will be addressed this fall at the bargaining table include work preservation related to subcontracting, workload and safety and health.
“The UPS contract is the largest Teamster contract and the largest collective bargaining agreement in the nation,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “We’ve assembled a great team as we head into negotiations, and you can expect that all of the strength, power and resources of the Teamsters Union will be focused on winning strong new contracts for our members at UPS and UPS Freight.”
Hall said he expects health care to be a dominant issue in negotiations, especially with continuing rising costs, the pending U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Health Care for America Act and November’s presidential election.
Hall cautioned Teamsters about the impact that a victory for Republican Mitt Romney would have on health care and pension benefits for union members.
“There will be an attack on Teamster health care plans like we’ve never seen before, mark my words,” Hall said. “Romney has made it incredibly clear how he feels about labor unions.”
Hall said he recognizes the concerns of UPS Teamsters about protecting and maintaining their strong health care benefits, and he will fight at the bargaining table to preserve them.
“UPS Teamsters who are in Teamster plans now will remain in Teamster plans after negotiations,” he said.