Despite Local 'No' Votes, Teamsters International Declares UPS Contract Ratified

Despite Local 'No' Votes, Teamsters International Declares UPS Contract Ratified
April 28, 2014 / Jane Slaughterenlarge or shrink textlogin or register to comment
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Part-time UPSers in Louisville, Kentucky, voted 94 percent no on their local agreement last week. Earlier, they'd voted 89 percent no, and UPS came back with a worse offer. Photo: IBT Local 89.

The largest private sector union contract in the U.S. had been in limbo since last summer, as UPS workers around the country voted down their local supplements, sometimes more than once. Now the five-year contract is ratified—by fiat of the Teamsters international.

Members were angry about concessions on health care in the national agreement but also about other issues such as the need for more full-time jobs.

In 1991 the IBT constitution was overhauled to give members more democratic rights. Members won the right to vote on local supplements and riders to national contracts. Two hundred thirty-five thousand full- and part-time UPS workers vote on 28 local and regional agreements that cover issues such as the grievance machinery, working conditions, rules on seasonal workers, seniority rules, and in some cases, pensions. The constitution stipulates that the national agreement doesn’t go into effect until all supplements are ratified.

Early last year, the Teamsters’ chief bargainer with UPS, Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall, declared ending harassment the union’s main issue. But he quickly switched to a defense of health care when UPS demanded that members start paying premiums of $90 a week. Hall declared that members would not “pay nine cents” for their plans. The International sponsored a dozen local rallies against the cuts.

But Hall soon accepted health care concessions anyway, for 140,000 members, including all part-timers (the insurance plans vary regionally). Members were switched from a company plan to a Taft-Hartley plan called TeamCare that had inferior coverage, higher out-of-pocket expenses, and stiffer retiree premiums.

Forty-seven percent voted no on the national contract.

Lots of Reasons to Vote No

There were plenty of other reasons to vote no. Hall achieved only unenforceable language on limiting UPS’s intense harassment, surveillance, and overtime for drivers that averages two hours a day. A year was added to the time it takes drivers to reach top pay.
UPS made $4.4 billion in profits in 2012 and another $4.4 billion in 2013.