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Started by Joe Balkis Jan 1, 2012.
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Around the country, people who are urging others to vote against these concessions have been subject to harassment and retaliation by management. In places like Tampa, management has spoken to all of the workers urging them to vote yes on the agreement.
Teamster President Hoffa and the contract negotiators are also urging members to vote yes. They have sent out three different letters to the 250,000 members, full of skewed information promoting this tentative agreement. Many leaders have expressed to the rank and file that they should be grateful for this contract, because of hard economic times and that wages are all generally low. All while UPS almost hits record profits.
Local 79 president and contract negotiator Ken Wood urged members to vote yes at May's general membership meeting. He has stated, “I feel confident that when the votes are in, our members will show us that we did exactly what they wanted us to do.” However, the rank-and-filers in Local 79 have been working hard to talk to fellow members about the concessions in the contract and the importance of voting no.
Around the country, the rank and file, along with Teamsters for a Democratic Union, a reform group within the Teamsters union, have been organizing a “Vote No” campaign. They have been explaining the agreement and its changes to the current contract. The campaign spread to the internet, as well, and uses social media as a tool for organizing.
In Tampa, Florida workers have been active in getting the word out. At the beginning of contract negotiations, part-time Teamsters started wearing shirts around the building which said, “UPS part-time poverty” . Part-timers who work at UPS are far under the poverty line with the wages they make. Bryant Rabell, a part-timer had this to say, “After six years at UPS and this being my third contract, this hands down is the worst one of them all. We part-timers are exposed to dangerous fumes, chemicals and human biological samples on a daily basis just so the company can turn a profit. I feel that due to those reasons, the company should pay 100% of our health care with no deductibles or premiums. I am voting no on this sub-standard contract!"
Once the tentative agreement was reached between UPS and the Teamsters, both full and part-timers leafleted outside the Tampa building with flyers that explained what was really in the proposed contract. This immediately riled people up and members around the building expressed their anger at the proposed contract.
During the Local 79 May general membership meeting, the rank and file applauded members who spoke out against the contract, before the discussion was shut down and brought to a smaller room after the meeting. Soon after, part-timers around the building started wearing “Vote no” buttons and shirts, which helped get people together to talk about the contract. From part-timers to drivers to mechanics the rank and file is going to vote against this contract in the Tampa Bay area. Neighboring cities, which fall under Local 79, are also doing what they can to get the contract information out.
On, June 8, Teamster Local 79 members went to local meeting to talk further about this proposed contract. Many people were mad and asked questions about the contract. Questions centered around health care costs to part-timers; low wage increases overall, the pension and the 9.5 language. As Local President Ken Wood attempted to sell the contract, he received many complaints from members. People left the meeting even angrier than before. They plan to go back to work to talk to their brothers and sisters about the contract and urging everyone to vote no.
Jared Hamil is a UPS part-timer
June 5, 2013: You know something is up when senior management – the suits! – are passing out glossy brochures asking Teamsters to ratify the UPS contract.
That’s exactly what’s happening at the UPS Worldport in Louisville where management has already offered Teamsters a $1,000 bonus for voting yes.
The sales push is hot and heavy. Hoffa and Hall have now sent UPS Teamsters an unprecedented three Vote Yes mailings.
Those mailings are arriving without a hitch, unlike the ballots. The ballots were so messed up in Louisville Local 89 and Indianapolis Local 135 that the IBT had to send “do-over” mailings. Members of Local 135 were given the wrong information regarding their health and pension coverage.
This is on top of the nationwide screw-up in which thousands of UPSers got UPS Freight return envelopes and vice versa.
Management Joins Hoffa-Hall Sales Team
In Louisville Local 89, Teamsters there have already received a barrage of mailings from Hoffa and Hall to vote yes. One of them “coincidentally” arrived the same day as the ballots and blamed Local 89 for a dues hike that was imposed by Ken Hall’s office.
Now management is in on the act. Managers held captive audience meetings and one-on-ones to push a yes vote.
Management also illegally told Teamsters they could not say “vote no” while on the clock. (This violates the National Labor Relations Act which prohibits management from excluding union-related speech. If a worker can say “happy birthday” or “Go Miami Heat” while on the clock then they can legally say “vote no” and it is illegal for management to tell them to stop.)
Now, for what we believe is the first time in UPS’s long history, they are actually directing management to leaflet every Teamster with a fancy brochure urging a Yes vote.
When the car salesman has to resort to this many sales tricks, you may be looking at a lemon.
We urge all UPS Teamsters to send in a ballot. Make your decision and make your voice count. Independent rank and file observers will witness the ballot count.
May 29, 2013: UPS is offering Teamsters in Louisville Local 89 a bribe. Vote Yes and get a $1,000 check!
The Louisville Air Rider Bargaining Committee is demanding pay for all time worked, more full-time jobs and job protections.
UPS ducked these demands by going behind the back of the Local 89 bargaining committee and getting Hall and Hoffa to mail out its “final offer.”
Local 89 is recommending a No Vote on the contract and the Air Rider which covers Worldport, the company’s worldwide air hub.
So the company is offering a one-time $1,000 bonus for all 9,300 UPS Teamsters in Lousiville. $9.3 million sounds like a costly bribe, but to UPS this is chump change to sell a cheap contract.
Management’s Cover Story
Local 89 has demanded, in line with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, that workers be paid for the time waiting for UPS’s shuttle and travel on it.
In today’s PCM, managers read a script which states that the $1,000 is “payable to all Local 89-represented employees who are eligible to vote on the contract,” and they call it a “Shuttle Incentive.”
It is actually a “Vote Yes Incentive.” The bonus has nothing to do with shuttle pay. A part-timer hired next year would get exactly zero “shuttle incentive” for four years of unpaid time!
Hall’s Hate Mail
Ken Hall also mailed a letter to all Local 89 UPS Teamsters— conveniently received the exact same day as UPS’s bonus offer—attacking the local union over part-time dues.
It’s enough that the International union, for political reasons, has failed to back Local 89′s bargaining demands. Hoffa and Hall don’t have to go from bad to worse by doing the corporation’s PR dirty work for them too.
A contract is a serious matter. It should be debated, pro and con, on its strengths and weaknesses. Bribes, threats and dirty tricks have no place in our union. They weaken us by dividing and alienating the members when we should be coming together to take on the company.
International Union Takes Claims of “Unanimous Approval” Too Far
May 29, 2013: The IBT has sent out a mailing listing every local officer by name that was at the two-person meeting in Washington, claiming they “unanimously approve” of the contract.
The list includes officers who are urging a No Vote and even lists the officers from Louisville Local 89 whose website includes a long explanation about why members should vote no.
The “unanimous support” lie is especially outrageous at UPS Freight where many local unions are not supporting the first offer.
The truth is a large number of officers abstained on the motion to approve the UPS and UPS Freight contracts until the changes could be carefully reviewed and discussed with members.
If the Hoffa-Hall administration really believed in what they’ve negotiated, would they really have to pretend that support is “unanimous”?
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The current issue of Teamster Voice is hitting the streets with detailed analysis on key contract issues and what members are saying—and doing—to help inform co-workers. In the coming weeks, national contracts covering more than 300,000 members will be voted on. There’s still time to get the word out, network with members in your area, and organize for the stronger contracts we deserve. Click here to order your bundle of this special issue and join thousands of Teamsters who are helping inform members across the country. If you aren't yet a TDU member and would like to check out this issue for yourself, click here to download and read an electronic copy of the whole issue. This all-in-one guide includes: UPS
The Teamsters and UPS reached agreement on a five-year contract April 25. After that, it was all rumors till May 7, when the IBT revealed the changes at its “two-man” meeting (two reps from each UPS local).
Chief negotiator Ken Hall said that he’d preserved our “excellent health care benefits” while “protecting them into the future.” The Teamsters website touted “substantial pay raises,” a “significant increase in the starting wage rate for part-time employees,” and “creation of more than 2,000 full-time jobs from the ranks of part-time workers.”
In fact, the agreement will greatly increase out-of-pocket health care costs for 140,000 Teamsters (60 percent of the bargaining unit), let the company continue with harassment, and maintain a permanent underclass of part-timers, at a company that is hauling in nearly $5 billion in profits a year.
As a negotiator on our local rider, I knew that our international leadership had gone into bargaining saying they had specific goals on ending bullying, harassment, and retaliation, and reducing mandator..., while also protecting health care and pensions. I heard over and over about bullying being mentioned at the table and how Ken Hall bothered UPS negotiators with every utterance of the word “bullying.”
Then UPS put health care on the table. Instantly, the union set up rallies all over the nation to change the subject from “bullying” to “no way we pay.” The problem was that our rallying cry was defensive, rather than offensive. The goal now was to maintain.
Hall told the 1,000-plus Teamsters at a rally in Washington state, where I live, that “if the company doesn’t take health care off the table, we’ll see them in July!” (when the contract was set to expire). Hall also hollered, “Teamsters won’t pay $90, $9, or 9 cents!” UPS had proposed that everyone, including part-timers, pay $90 a week of their premium.
These February rallies continued from Seattle to Oakland, then Los Angeles, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Toledo, and more. One word was never mentioned by Brother Hall: “strike.” It was never an option for him.
All I heard after that was how stubborn UPS was being on health care. I then knew that Ken Hall didn’t stand behind his main rallying cry at our meeting in Seattle. Teamster headquarters came out with updates thanking members for coming to the rallies and talking about the company’s position on health care. An April 18 memo called health care “the major issue.”
When the agreement was reached April 25, members I spoke with were relieved. “This means we’re not going to strike,” an Oregon driver told me.
Finally, on May 7, specifics were given. Raises were a total of $3.90 over five years. That’s down from $5 in the 2001-2005 contract and $4 over five years in the last contract. In 2011 Bloomberg Business Week quoted UPS CFO Kurt Kuehn bragging about “a very reasonable contract in place that will show modest, below-inflation increases in wages.” The “below-inflation” bar has now been lowered even more. UPS and Hall are hoping that no one pays attention.
What is really being maintained is a near-permanent underclass of Teamsters, the part-timers who sort and load the packages. Management is very candid about who they’ll hire: they want students. Students stick around till they graduate, with no goals of staying at UPS. I can’t even remember the last time I saw a new-hire over 30.
The part-time starting rate in the current contract is $8.50, which is $.69 under the Washington state minimum wage. Now a part-timer’s pay, after 90 days, will be $10, just 50 cents higher than before. Many new hires are on call for a few months, getting called in a few times a week. If you’re lucky enough to get work all five days, your guarantee is only 3.5 hours a day, so a part-timer’s paycheck is very small.
Their health care deductible will now be $400 per year, and it was $0. Providers are now limited, and lab tests, prescriptions, and ER visits will cost more.
Yes, new harassment language has been added, but it doesn’t appear to add any teeth to what was there, and in some cases, it’s worse. As a driver, if you have more than four years’ seniority, to get a 9.5-hour day you have to demand to be on a “9.5 list” (never mind the eight-hour day the labor movement fought and died for). Once you’re on the 9.5 list, a supervisor will assign himself to a three-day ride-along with you, to bully drivers into staying off the list.
In my building, most drivers already avoid the list because of harassment, but for the few on the 9.5 list, the company pays the small penalty and the driver still never gets the 9.5-hour day. They can run drivers 12+ hours, and all the contract language is more hoops to jump through. Without real penalties, this language isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.
There is little hope of the promised new full-time inside jobs either (where two part-time jobs are combined), since our previous contract language on maintaining such jobs is not enforced.
Honestly, I get paid very well. I make $33.22 per hour, which sounds nice. But I make that wage after working seven years as a poor part-timer before getting a promotion, and then starting my progression to that wage, which was 30 months then but will be four years under the new contract, while calling in at 2 p.m. and 2 a.m. to see if there’s work for me, and usually working three days a week—only getting a consistent five-day work week after 12 years.
And even those standards are ones that many upcoming Teamsters will never experience the luxury of. We have a 10-12-year wait to go full-time now, in my region. Adding four years to get to top scale, our members are half-way into their careers before they make the best pay.
All the while, our company made record profits in 2012, on our backs, with record pay and benefits for our CEO.
As the union agreed to essentially a stand-pat contract on other issues, including harassment and overtime, Teamsters for a Democratic Union is finding widespread anger about the health care givebacks enshrined in the new plan.
TDU members and other UPS Teamsters are distributing popular FAQs that break down the complicated health care changes and rising costs.
In Philadelphia, air hub workers have printed up “Vote No” T-shirts that Teamsters are wearing to work and in contract meetings.
A “Vote No on the UPS Contract” Facebook page is drawing a crowd.
Chief negotiator (and James Hoffa heir apparent) Ken Hall had fiercely proclaimed that members would pay nothing for health care. So instead of premiums, 140,000 of the 240,000 UPS Teamsters will pay $400 deductibles and higher co-pays and be shifted to unfamiliar networks.
Retirees now in the UPS plan will pay $300 a month for health coverage for themselves and spouses, up from $50.
Some pensions are frozen and some increased slightly. There are no new penalties for supervisor harassment. UPS will continue to be able to use information from GPS and other surveillance technology to fire drivers on what TDU calls “trumped-up charges” of dishonesty.
For TDU’s analysis of contract changes and non-changes, go here.
Ballots will be counted approximately June 20.
Tim Hill is a UPS road driver in Spokane, Washington, and a member of Teamsters Local 690. He serves on the negotiating committee for the Washington State Rider to the national UPS contract and on the Teamsters for a Democratic Union steering committee.
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