Teamster Power At The Table
Protecting health care and pensions, preventing subcontracting and ending supervisor harassment are priorities that the UPS and UPS Freight National Negotiating Committees are fighting for as negotiations resume.
“UPS and UPS Freight are successful companies which, thanks to the hard work of Teamsters, have weathered the recession in good shape,” said General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall, Package Division Director, Co-Chair of the negotiating committees and lead negotiator. “Teamsters should share in that success.”
The UPS contract is the largest collective bargaining agreement in the country, and all eyes are watching developments, including Wall Street analysts, CEOs, politicians and others. The contracts cover about 250,000 Teamsters. The current five-year agreements expire July 31. Preparations for negotiations took place for much of last year and included surveys to UPS and UPS Freight members and member focus groups.
The 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.
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.
“We’ve assembled a great team and you can expect that all of the strength, power and resources of the Teamsters Union are focused on winning strong new contracts for our members at UPS and UPS Freight,” said Hoffa, Co-Chair of the negotiating committees.
“We know from listening closely to our members that that protecting pensions and health care are top concerns, along with strong wages and more full-time jobs,” said International Vice President Ken Wood, who sits on the negotiating committee.
Supplemental negotiations also are occurring and progress is being made at the table, said International Vice President Sean O’Brien, who is on the negotiating committee and heading up supplemental negotiations. “We are fighting hard at the table so our members get their fair share,” O’Brien said.
But Teamster negotiators cautioned that while negotiations are progressing, they will become more difficult as they continue to talk about the serious priority issues for UPS and UPS Freight Teamsters.
“There is a lot at stake with these contracts,” said International Trustee Ron Herrera, also on the negotiating committee. “Everything hinges on member solidarity.”
UPS has continually complained about health care costs at the bargaining table and the company has notified retirees participating in company plans that their share will rise by as much as 10 times beginning in August.
“This is unacceptable,” Hall said. “We will not let the company put the entire burden on the backs of retirees.”
Unfortunately, negotiators also expect UPS to propose that Teamsters pay a substantial portion of their monthly premiums for health insurance. Hall said negotiators will also fight any attempt by the company to raise the cost of health care for actives.
Hall and Hoffa also put the company on notice that no tentative agreement would 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.
“We will not tolerate UPS Freight subcontracting our work,” Hall said. “Until this issue is resolved, this contract will not be resolved either.”
An arbitrator recently denied a grievance filed by Local 745 when UPS Freight used subcontractors between Dallas-area terminals and other cities when there was return freight to the Dallas area. The grievance had deadlocked at the National Panel, and the union filed for arbitration. The arbitrator held three full days of hearings. The union put on a strong case and is extremely disappointed in the arbitrator’s decision.
“We disagree with much of the reasoning in the decision and feel strongly that the company violated the collective bargaining agreement,” Hall said. “Fortunately, we received the decision during negotiations and we will address the issue at the bargaining table.”
International Vice President Brian Buhle said UPS Freight negotiations have focused so far on non-economic issues, where progress is being made.
“We look forward to concluding these issues and moving onto the economic-related proposals that are most important to our members, including the issue of subcontracting,” said Buhle, who sits on the negotiating committee.
“UPS and UPS Freight are successful…Teamsters should share in that success.” –Ken Hall