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(WASHINGTON) - UPS negotiations kicked off today for new contracts covering 250,000 Teamsters.

(WASHINGTON) - UPS negotiations kicked off today for new contracts covering 250,000 Teamsters.

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa and General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall put the company on notice that no tentative agreement will be reached with UPS until supervisor harassment is addressed and there is consensus on restrictions on the use of the U.S. Postal Service. And at UPS Freight, there will be no agreement without addressing subcontracting, they said.

"I will tell you upfront how serious these problems are," said Hall, who also serves as Package Division Director and Co-Chairman with Hoffa on the UPS and UPS Freight Negotiating Committees. "We will not get a tentative agreement unless you address these important issues."

The UPS contract is the largest collective bargaining agreement in the country. The UPS and UPS Freight contracts are five-year agreements and expire on July 31, 2013. Both sides stressed the importance of reaching a tentative agreement by March 31.

"UPS and UPS Freight Teamsters are the best in the world-they are productive and dedicated. They deserve the best pay and benefits in the industry," Hoffa told the company. "We know the company is doing quite well, and so we intend to address protecting and improving their health care, pensions and wages."

Negotiations opened with a focus on working conditions, work rules, harassment, subcontracting and safety. Negotiations will then turn to economic issues including pensions, health care and wages. The National Negotiating Committees submitted proposals to the company today that included:

  • Addressing UPS harassment regarding the use of telematics; poor staffing levels; and retaliation due to accident and injury reports, filing grievances, invoking  rights on 9.5 language and other tactics.

  • Dealing with the expansion of the company's SurePost service and packages handled by the U.S. Postal Service.

  • Prohibiting subcontracting of bargaining unit work by UPS Freight.

Company officials acknowledged that its employees are the best in the industry and deserve the best pay and benefits. But they complained about rising health care costs, increased competition and the global recession.
Preparations for negotiations by the IBT have been occurring for months, and included surveys to UPS and UPS Freight members and member focus groups.

The very first meeting held to prepare for negotiations involved both UPS and UPS Freight Teamsters from all over the country who perform various jobs at both companies, including package delivery drivers, feeder drivers, loaders, unloaders and sorters at UPS, as well as road drivers, city drivers, dockworkers and clerks at UPS Freight. They came to the IBT to participate in focus groups to identify and discuss contract priorities.

Both Hall and Hoffa attended the meetings, as did other General Executive Board members and IBT staff to make sure that members' priorities were understood and recognized.

After listening to members and reviewing membership surveys, priorities were identified. Screening committees also were convened to discuss and review proposals submitted by UPS and UPS Freight locals.

Finally, contract priorities were discussed at a "two-person meeting" in Chicago, which included two representatives from every UPS and UPS Freight local. All locals had a chance to review opening proposals and ask questions. Ultimately, the local unions unanimously approved both the UPS and UPS Freight proposals.

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