Faced With Strong Contract Enforcement, UPS to Deliver Thousands of New Union Package Jobs This Year
UPS will add thousands of new package jobs across the country this year in the face of strong Teamster enforcement of the new National Master UPS Agreement, which recently took effect.
General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall, Package Division Director, said the new jobs follow months of discussion between the union and the company. UPS is now moving forward with plans to add thousands of new package jobs in all areas of the country. Hiring has already started, and the new jobs will be in addition to the regular filling of jobs through attrition.
“This is great news for Teamsters who want relief from excessive overtime, for part-time workers who want full-time opportunities and for our entire union,” Hall said.
The contract contains new language that allows the union to take inadequate staffing levels to an arbitrator in centers with excessive overtime issues. In addition, new protections and procedures for UPS’s SurePost shipping program will ensure that more packages are delivered by Teamster members. These changes are already resulting in new jobs across the country.
“Faced with new language in the contract and the embarrassing staffing shortages during the last holiday season, UPS has no choice but to hire more workers,” Hall said.
Contract Takes Effect
The national contract and all supplements, riders and addenda went into effect April 25 following action by the National Negotiating Committee, pursuant to Article XII of the IBT Constitution. It is the largest collective bargaining agreement in North America and covers about 240,000 UPS Teamsters.
“This is an excellent national contract that we can all be proud of,” said General President Jim Hoffa. “We want to thank UPS Teamsters for their patience and commitment during this process.”
Containing significant wage increases and other improvements, a majority of Teamsters voted to approve the five-year national agreement in June 2013. But the road to implementation took longer.
UPS entered negotiations with an unwavering demand that it planned to drastically cut health care benefits to employees in the company plan and raise the cost to workers. UPS had already made the same draconian cuts to management’s health care plan.
In order to maintain the excellent benefits that members receive, the National Negotiating Committee negotiated a provision in the contract to move those UPS Teamsters into new plans jointly administered by the Teamsters Union and UPS. That move also allowed UPS Teamsters to continue paying no monthly premiums for health insurance.
The change in plans for some Teamsters initially caused confusion and created misinformation, and a number of local supplements and riders to the national agreement were rejected over those concerns.
The National Negotiating Committee was able to obtain some further improvements to health care benefits because of the influx of UPS Teamsters into the health plan and the added bargaining power. Also, negotiators listened to members' concerns and changes were made to the supplements that had been voted down. After those changes, and once members learned more about the new health care plans, a majority of local supplements and riders passed.
Substantial Wage Hikes, Back Pay
UPS Teamsters will receive significant wage increases totaling $3.90 per hour over the five-year term of the contract. That means a full-time driver, based on a 46-hour work week, will earn over $25,000 more during the life of the contract.
“The entire national negotiating committee worked extremely hard to achieve the contract priorities set by UPS Teamsters, which I’m proud to say we have done in this agreement,” said Southern Region International Vice President Ken Wood, President of Local 79 in Tampa, Fla. “Members said they wanted strong wage increases, to maintain health care benefits and to address harassment. We won all of those.”
The first wage increase in the contract, which is 70 cents per hour, is retroactive to Aug. 1, 2013. Members began receiving retro checks last month. In addition, UPS began making retroactive contributions to the health and welfare and pension funds immediately. UPS owed over $300 million to Teamster members and funds. Now Teamsters will be made whole.
“I’m happy to finally get my raise and retro check,” said Dennis Fisk, a package car driver from Local 25 in Boston. “It was a long wait, but worth it.”
Taking On Harassment
The new contract has strong new language to protect workers from harassment in many forms.
“Everyone knows harassment is a huge problem, and that was a big priority for the membership,” said Chip Parrish, a package car driver from Local 79 in Tampa. “We needed to address these issues and it’s great the contract is going to have some teeth when it comes to harassment issues.”
The contract tackles excessive overtime by making it easier for workers to get on the “9.5 list” that limits hours. It also provides access to 9.5 penalty pay in the first week of a violation, provides protections against retaliation for filing 9.5 grievances, prohibits the company from piling on work at the end of a week and allows the union to address inadequate staffing.
“This is the first time in the history of the national contract that UPS has agreed to language allowing the union to challenge the adequacy of staffing in its centers,” said Eastern Region International Vice President Sean O’Brien, President of Local 25 in Boston. “This is a great contract that Teamsters can be proud of.”
The contract also addresses the underlying issues of harassment by strengthening worker protections regarding the use of GPS and the use of electronic devices.
“We all need to work together and stay committed to strongly enforcing the new contract, including harassment by supervisors and excessive overtime,” said Mike McGaha, President of Local 391 in Greensboro, N.C.
For UPS employees who have been serving in the military, the new contract will allow them to continue to accrue vacation to be used upon their return. This means that when they come back from duty, they will have vacation time available to use immediately upon their return.
Protecting Teamster Work
The contract also puts more packages back on UPS trucks and protects Teamster work and jobs.
New language establishes rules for the size and weight of packages shipped via SurePost. SurePost is UPS’s answer to similar programs that FedEx and other delivery companies have, in which last-mile packages are delivered by the U.S. Post Office – usually the time in transit is longer and the cost to the consumer is less than regular ground delivery. The SurePost program is limited to businesses shipping residential.
SurePost packages are now limited to 10 pounds in weight and less than 3 cubic feet in size. In 2013, UPS redirected 54.7 million packages. Already this year, more than 23 million packages have been redirected back to UPS drivers. UPS is contractually obligated not to diminish the bargaining unit because of SurePost.
“We now have a great contract that provides tough new protections for UPS Teamsters,” said Trevor Lawrence, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 638 in Minneapolis.
But the contract is only as good as the members who enforce it. Hall encouraged all UPS Teamsters, stewards and principal officers to be vigilant, to document violations and to use the grievance procedure.
“We must do whatever it takes to enforce this contract,” Hall said. “Our diligence has already paid off with the addition of thousands of new union package jobs being added. But we need help from our members, stewards and local unions to hold the company accountable.”