New Contract Increases Wages, Protects Jobs, Strengthens Pensions
UPS Freight Teamsters have voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new national five-year master agreement that increases wages, strengthens pension benefits and protects jobs during a time when other freight companies are struggling.
Votes were held at local union halls, which generated increased turnout among UPS Freight Teamsters, who voted 5,222 to 2,107 in favor of the new agreement. Participation was 69 percent, which far exceeded the previous ratification vote in June 2013, where 58 percent of UPS Freight members mailed in their ballots.
“The vote and the turnout at local union halls reflect the strength of the new agreement,” said Ken Hall, Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer and Package Division Director. “It’s an industry-leading contract. UPS Freight members told us their top concerns were pensions and protecting their work. The new contract addresses those issues head on.”
‘Things Have Changed’
The new contract is the second national agreement for 13,000 UPS Freight Teamsters. They joined the union in 2008 and won major improvements in wages, benefits and working conditions, such as a grievance process, mileage, overtime pay, seniority and job protections.
Formerly Overnite Transportation, UPS acquired the less-than-truckload carrier in August 2005. After a years-long struggle to unionize and become Teamsters, the new UPS Freight workers achieved their goal when UPS agreed to a card-check neutrality agreement.
“Things have changed quite a bit since we were Overnite,” said Joe Smith, a UPS Freight road driver and member of Local 355 in Baltimore. “A lot of things we didn’t get paid for before, we get paid for now, like delay time, breakdown time, things like that. Our seniority is 100 percent better now. Overnite would play favorites. That doesn’t happen anymore. Now, we have a contract and we have rules. It’s a lot better for everyone.”
The goal from the beginning was to use the union’s collective power and leverage to benefit UPS Freight workers. To do this, Hall made sure the expiration of the first contract coincided with that of the UPS National Master Agreement, the largest collective bargaining agreement in North America, which covers 250,000 Teamsters.
Teamster leaders knew that strength would benefit UPS Freight workers in their second contract.
“When you have 250,000 people behind you, that’s a lot of leverage and bargaining power,” said Ken Wood, International Vice President, President of Local 79 in Tampa and member of the UPS Freight National Negotiating Committee. “Other freight companies are making cuts and the economy is tough, but we went into negotiations from a position of strength to build on what we achieved in the first contract.”
Preparations for negotiations occurred months in advance, and included surveys to members and member focus groups. UPS Freight road drivers, city drivers, dockworkers and clerks came to Teamster headquarters to participate in focus groups to identify and discuss contract priorities.
Both Hall and General President Jim Hoffa attended the meetings, as did other General Executive Board members and union staff to make sure that members’ priorities were understood and recognized.
“It’s a great contract with better benefits than what we had,” said Sal Cardenas, a UPS Freight driver from Local 63 in Covina, Calif. “It’s got everything we wanted. The local had good communication with us, so the workers were unified during the negotiations and the vote. We were always in contact with our business agent from day one. The union really made us part of the team.”
The new contract provides $2.50 in hourly wage increases over five years, making UPS Freight Teamsters the highest paid in the industry.
“General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall and the IBT bargained successfully for our UPS Freight Teamsters,” said Kris Taylor, a member of the negotiating committee and business agent at Local 745 in Dallas. “The contract has strengthened our members’ pensions, elevated wages and lowered insurance premiums while maintaining our members’ current level of insurance benefits. It has validated the job security that our Teamster members need for the next five years.
The contract also puts laid-off road drivers back to work, provides the ability for more part-time workers to become full-time, improves and protects vacation benefits for those UPS Freight workers serving in the military and significantly lowers the monthly cost for retiree health insurance.
The UPS National Master Agreement was approved by a majority of UPS Teamsters who voted. However, four supplements and riders remain unresolved. Until they are resolved, the wage increases, benefit increases and language improvements dealing with issues such as 9.5, harassment, SurePost, military leave, additional full time jobs, and an increase in the starting wage for part-timers cannot be implemented.
Highlights of the New Five-Year Agreement
Delivers $2.50 in hourly wage increases over five years;
Improves and protects pension benefits;
Lowers health insurance co-pays;
Maintains strong health care benefits;
Provides strong protections for road driver work and jobs;
Returns laid-off road drivers back to work at all terminals where subcontractors are being used;
Provides a solution that will reduce the number of subcontractors;
Guarantees the number of road driver positions at terminals where linehaul drivers (LHD) are used;
Makes it easier to convert LHD runs to regular road driver runs by considering terminals within 30 miles of each other as one terminal when determining if there is two-way freight;
Gives the union the right to reject the creation of any LHD run;
Creates new full-time jobs on the dock;
Provides stronger bumping and seniority rights;
Gives the 10 percent of employees who had no guarantee under the last contract a four-hour guarantee;
Improves and protects vacation benefits of workers serving in the military; and
Significantly lowers the monthly cost for retiree health insurance.