UPS and Teamsters resume bargaining after supplements rejected

Teamsters and UPS agreed to extend their current contract indefinitely while the two sides continue negotiating on supplements and riders that were rejected when members voted to accept a new National Master Agreement.

In May, the two sides reached a tentative agreement, which in June was approved by 53 percent of the voting members, but the members also rejected 18 regional supplements and riders to the master agreement. The agreement can’t be implemented until the issues in the rejected supplements and riders are resolved.

One of the reasons that members rejected the supplements is that some of them may result in workers paying higher out-of-pockect health care costs and deductibles.

Teamsters for a Democratic Union, a rank-and-file caucus, has mounted a national campaign to reject any agreement that does not address concerns raised by members when they rejected the supplements.

Workers at UPS Freight, a separate division that provides less than truckload long-haul services, rejected a tentative agreement by a vote of 1,897 for to 4,244 against. Teamster officials and UPS Freight management said that the two sides would reconvene negotiations.

When the Teamsters union announced the outcome of the UPS vote, the union issued a press release stating that the new agreement would increase pay by $3.90 per hour over the five-year contract period.

The release also said that starting pay for part-timers, 180,000 at the end of 2010, would increase, 2,350 more full-time jobs would be created, and there would be more protection from harassment by supervisors.

“The agreement also maintains the current practice of no employee contributions for monthly premiums for health insurance,” reads the release.

But 47 percent of the voting UPS workers rejected the agreement, the largest percentage since 1979, because they felt that UPS, which reported profits of $4.5 billion in 2012, owed more to its workers.

The biggest complaints seemed to be that the new agreement calls for health care concessions.

Under terms of the new agreement, part-time workers are moved from the current UPS administered health plan to Teamcare, a plan that will be jointly administered by the Teamsters and UPS.

Those moved to Teamcare will receive reduced coverage and pay higher out-of-pocket expenses and deductibles.

“Many of us are only making $150 to $300 per week,” said Jared Hamil a part-time worker in Tampa to Union Book. “Union officials were telling us what a ‘good deal’ this was yet when we saw the health care concessions, we started to organize. Without us there is no UPS, yet they want us to continue to bust our butts while living in poverty.”

There was concern among members that some of the rejected supplements would have moved full-time workers into Teamcare.

At UPS’ Worldport Central Air Hub in Louisville, Local 89, the largest UPS local, rejected the national agreement by a vote of 483 for to 3,388 against. The local also rejected the regional supplement that affected its members.

“Our vote has rejected the Central Region Supplement and has protected every member in the Central Region from a terrible contract,” said Fred Zuckerman, president of Local 89 in a message to members.

The Local 89 executive board recommended a no vote for the agreement because the raises are less than the raises in the previous contract even though UPS profits have increased, pension increases are too small and take too long to kick in, the progression language for moving from part-time to full-time work is inadequate, the penalty pay language “is concessionary,” the protections against harassment aren’t strong enough, and the starting wage for new workers is substandard.

Teamsters for a Democratic Union is urging UPS workers to keep voting no on any supplement agreements that aren’t substantial improvements over those that have already been rejected. Doing so, says TDU, gives workers some leverage that could result in changes to the National Master Agreement as well.

The campaign includes a petition and on-the-ground organizing “in virtually all the areas where supplements and riders were rejected.”

At UPS Freight, workers overwhelmingly rejected the tentative agreement because the agreement did not reduce subcontracting, pension improvements did not keep pace with inflation, and the raises did not match the raises in the UPS agreement.

Furthermore, unlike their brothers and sisters at UPS, UPS Freight members continue to pay health care premiums

Negotiations between UPS Freight and the Teamsters have not resumed.

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