Voting the Central

Will there be support for UPS, Teamsters contract supplement?


Teamsters Local 89 members at United Parcel Service Inc. again are voting on a regional contract called the Central Region Supplement.

The regional contract covers geographically specific work rules, seniority and grievance procedures and acts as a supplement to a national contract between Teamsters and UPS, Mike Mangeot, manager of public relations for Louisville-based UPS Airlines, said in an email.

Voting began yesterday and continues through Oct. 9.

Union members rejected a regional contract supplement offer early this summer, as Business First reported. But UPS and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters agreed to an indefinite extension of their current national master agreement and supplements.

“While under the contract extension, it is business as usual at UPS while the vote and negotiations continue,” Mangeot wrote. “Any suggestions of potential disruptions during this period have no merit.”

Teamsters Local 89 president Fred Zuckerman also could not be reached immediately for comment.

According to the Teamster’s website, there is not support for the regional supplement.

Union members held a meeting earlier this month and unanimously accepted a motion to again vote no on the supplement, a post on the site said.

The post said the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, rather than local 89, is leading the negotiations with UPS and “the membership has seen only token attempts to resolve the many issues still lingering throughout the proposed Central Region Supplement.”

Among concerns listed on the website are that the supplement contains “dangerous language” that gives UPS “almost unlimited power to terminate employees for anything the company deems a ‘serious offense.’” The post also references modifications to the union’s TeamCare health care plan, saying it lacks many of the key benefits members and their families have come to rely upon.

“Current full-time employees under TeamCare will have an inferior plan to both part-time and new full-time employees if the package is not further modified,” it says.

Atlanta-based UPS (NYSE: UPS) is Louisville’s largest private-sector employer with more than 20,000 full-time equivalent workers. The company operates its largest air sorting hub, Worldport, and a ground operation, Centennial Hub, in Louisville.

Teamsters Local 89 represents about 8,800 workers at Worldport and about 1,900 in the company’s ground operations, Zuckerman said in a previous interview.

Another union agreement, called the Louisville Air Rider, remains in negotiations, so it is not up for consideration, according to Mangeot.

“As always, UPS continues to negotiate a contract that rewards our employees while protecting our competitive position,” he wrote.

   Reporter- Business First

Unions—Not Just for Middle-Aged White Guys Anymore

This week’s AFL-CIO convention heralds some fundamental changes for labor. 

During the floor debate yesterday on a resolution expanding the AFL-CIO’s commitment to take the workers excluded from labor law’s protections into its ranks—domestic workers, taxi drivers, day laborers, and the like—one delegate to the union’s quadrennial convention likened the proceedings to the 1935 AFL convention, when a sizable group of unionists wanted the Federation to expand its ranks to include factory workers. The more conservative Federation leaders, including its president, William Green, believed that unions should represent only workers in skilled trades—carpenters, masons, plumbers, and so on. But John L. Lewis of the Mine Workers and Sidney Hillman of the Clothing Workers believed that there were millions of factory workers who would flock to unions if given the chance.

Lewis and Hillman’s motion to organize factory workers was put to a vote and lost. They were not happy. Indeed, Lewis decked Big Bill Hutchinson, the president of the Carpenters, and stormed out—to form the CIO, a labor organization pledged to organize factory workers and that organized millions of them over the next couple of years.

No such dramatics attended yesterday’s proceedings, but the delegate who harked back to 1935 had a point. The issues before this year’s AFL-CIO convention, like the issues before the convention 78 years ago, concern opening labor’s ranks to a whole new group of workers—disproportionately minority, immigrant, and female. There was an ethno-cultural dimension to the factory-worker debate of 1935 as well: The AFL trade unions (though not the Mine and Clothing Workers) consisted disproportionately of men of Northwestern European descent, while the factory workers were often of Southern and Eastern European descent. Some were even black or, horror of horrors, women. Opening labor’s ranks to these workers was something that many in the AFL would simply not countenance.

No such hard and fast racial or gender lines were apparent in yesterday’s debate. Many of today’s unions are already heavily minority, immigrant, and female. Some of the union leaders who have been the most skeptical about allowing organizations that aren’t unions onto labor’s governing bodies have taken a leading role in the fight for immigration reform, most particularly Terry O’Sullivan of the Laborers.

Indeed, the most striking thing about this year’s AFL-CIO convention is that it’s the first one I’ve attended—I daresay, the first one, period—that hasn’t looked like a sea of middle-aged white guys. America’s unions have long had racially diverse and multi-gender memberships, but it’s taken a while for that diversity to reach the movement’s topmost ranks (AFL-CIO conventions draw their delegates from the leaders of the federation’s 50-plus unions). Today, the AFL-CIO’s two largest affiliates are headed by an African American man and a Jewish lesbian. Tefere Gebre, who will be elected the Federation’s executive vice president in balloting tomorrow, is a political refugee from Ethiopia who came to the United States as a teenager.

The resolutions enacted today, which commits the Federation to place almost as much emphasis on community coalition-building as it does on the increasingly impossible task of conventional union organizing, only furthers the impression of a movement in demographic as well as functional transition. In what I think was an unprecedented move, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka allowed three prominent allies of labor, including National Organization for Women President Terry O’Neill, to speak for the resolution, even though none were delegates or, for that matter, union members.

So, yes—by virtue of both the fundamental shift in strategy and the implications that shift has for further changing labor’s demographics, this week’s convention is a lot like 1935’s. With a signal difference, however: The changes of ’35 could only take place once the Federation split. The changes this week have clear majority support, though at some level they pose an existential threat to both a stereotype and some actual people: the labor boss of legend, old, white, male, and puffing a cigar. 

Harold Meyerson

What do you make of this?

IBM moving some retirees off its health plan

IBM plans to move many retired workers off its health plan and give them money to buy coverage on a health-insurance exchange. The move is part of a corporate trend away from providing traditional retiree health benefits as costs rise.

The company says it acted after projections showed that costs under its current plan for Medicare-eligible retirees will triple by 2020 and that the increases would be paid by retirees through premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

An IBM spokesman said Saturday that the change will affect about 110,000 retirees who are eligible for Medicare.

Under the change, IBM will make annual contributions to health-retirement accounts. Retirees would use the money to buy Medicare Advantage or supplemental Medigap policies through a private Medicare exchange.

The change affects medical, prescription drug, dental and vision coverage.

The company is meeting with retirees around the country to explain the change. About 1,300 retirees attended the first one this week in San Jose, Calif. The next is planned for Monday in Austin, Texas.

IBM acknowledged that “some retirees may be skeptical” about the changes. But it said the health exchange, Extend Health, will offer benefits not now available under IBM’s group plans and possibly at lower cost to retirees.

Spokesman Douglas Shelton said IBM capped health subsidies to retirees in the 1990s, and so higher costs would mostly lead to higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs for retirees.

Other large employers are also moving away from retiree health benefits. American Airlines parent AMR Corp., for example, is seeking approval for the change from a federal bankruptcy court judge.

A Kaiser Family Foundation report issued last month found that among companies with at least 200 workers, 28 percent that provide health benefits also offer retiree coverage.

The study’s authors said few large employers have turned over benefits for workers or retirees to private exchanges like Extend Health. But they said 29 percent of companies with at least 5,000 workers are considering it.

The authors said there could be “a significant change in the way that employers approach health benefits and the way employees get coverage, with employers playing a less active role.”

CBS News

Teamster History

1906: Members from Local 85 start the tradition of Teamsters as “first responders through their efforts of rescue and clean up after the massive earthquake hits the city.

Enhanced health coverage may move the needle on UPS-Teamster pact

UPS Inc. and the Teamsters Union appear to be closer to finalizing a new five-year collective bargaining agreement covering about 235,000 unionized small-package workers after the union on Wednesday unveiled a new health care plan. The plan would cover more than half of the bargaining unit’s members as of Jan. 1.

Under terms of the master small-package agreement ratified in June, 140,000 UPS small-package workers will transition from a company-sponsored plan to a program known as “TeamCare,” a plan co-administered by UPS and the union and which represents the health care interests of UPS Teamsters in the key Central States region. However, the two sides have been at odds for weeks over the shape of the new plan. Ken Hall, who along with General President James P. Hoffa co-chairs the Teamsters’ negotiating team, said the Atlanta-based company wanted a plan that would result in benefit cuts for active and retired workers, and force members to shoulder increases in premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. Hall made health care a line-in-the-sand issue in contract talks, vowing from the start that the rank and file would pay no insurance premiums, have virtually no co-payments for procedures, and have little or no deductible payments.

Concerns about Hall and his team fulfilling that vow, however, led to the rejection of 18 local supplements and riders that are attached to the national agreement. That is believed to be the largest number rejected in any contract negotiated by the Teamsters in its 110-year existence. The master small-package contract was ratified by 53 percent of the voting members, the narrowest margin of approval in the history of UPS-Teamster contracts. The first national contract was negotiated in 1979; prior to that, agreements between the two sides were hammered out at the local or regional levels.

UPS and the union have been working under an extension of their existing contract, which expired July 31. Voting on the outstanding supplements and riders could take place within the next two weeks.

Under the new health plan, UPS Teamsters will pay no premiums, no deductibles until the last year of the contract, and in many cases, no co-payments for medical, prescription, vision, dental, life, and disability insurance, according to information from several sources. There is no annual cap on the medical benefits that can be used, and the out-of-pocket ceiling of $2,000 per family is considered better than what was offered under the UPS company plan, according to the sources.

Retiree health care coverage will be available for spouses and children who would have been denied coverage under the old plan, according to sources. Spouses will be covered to age 65 or until they become Medicare-eligible, whichever occurs first. Co-pays for mail-order prescriptions have been eliminated, while dental coverage has been improved and the $1,500 annual cap has been eliminated, according to sources.

UPS declined comment, deferring to the Teamsters for any public statements.

Both sides hope that an improved health insurance plan will move the needle on ratification of the supplements and riders. As of now, only one supplement, covering a relatively small group of workers in upstate New York, has been ratified.

Because the UPS-Teamster contract is one integrated document rather than separate regional agreements, all of the rejected supplements and riders must be renegotiated and re-voted on before a national contract can be signed, according to dissident group Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU). A second rejection of a supplement or rider sends both sides back to the bargaining table. A third rejection, or inability to agree on a supplement or rider, means a strike vote can be taken in the affected region.

The situation at UPS Freight, UPS’s less-than-truckload unit and which employs about 12,000 Teamsters, is more nettlesome. Under terms of the UPS Freight tentative agreement, which the voting rank and file rejected in June by a margin of 4,244 to 1,897, members would remain in company-sponsored health plans and would be faced with higher out-of-pocket costs. The rank and file’s displeasure with the status quo was reflected in its decision to overwhelmingly reject the contract.

As with the small-package operations, UPS Freight and the union are working under an extension of their own contract, which also expired July 31.

DC Velocity

Healthcare Vote

Teamsters for a Democratic Union

UPS Contract Voting: Round 2
Hoffa-Hall have launched a PR offensive to try to pass the rejected supplements in the Central Region and Pennsylvania.
Ballots will be mailed Sept 18 and counted October 9 for a number of rejected supplements, including: the Central Region, Ohio Rider, Michigan Rider, Local 243 Rider, Metro Philly Supplement, Local 623 Supplement, and Western Pennsylvania Supplement.

Western locals and New Jersey Local 177 have also reached an agreement with UPS on their healthcare plan which they say will be equal to or better than the enhanced Central States TeamCare Plan.

After being forced by the Vote No movement to reverse many healthcare cuts, the International Union is pulling out all the stops to push for members to approve the rejected contract supplements.
The International Union is sending every UPS Teamster a contract mailing and a promotional DVD. TeamCare representatives are fanning out to Local Union meetings over the next two weeks. TeamCare has a hotline for answering members questions too at 1-800-323-5000. 
Unlike the information Brownout that ruled over the contract negotiations, members will have a chance to get answers to their questions.
On a conference call with stewards from these rejected supplements, Ken Hall said “confusion over healthcare” led to the No Vote. 
What exactly does Hall think members were confused about?  Members voted No to stop healthcare cuts, protect their benefits and win improvements in their Supplements. For many members, the fight continues.
Vote No Organizing Continues
“I’m proud of what we won with Vote No power. But I’ll never Vote Yes for less,” said Bobby Curry, a leader of the Vote No movement in Philadelphia Local 623. “We don’t want concessions when UPS made $4.5 billion last year. We’re united for improvements, including more full-time jobs.”
Teamsters in the Central Region are also gearing up for a second Vote No effort.
“The changes to Team Care are a step in the right direction but don’t come near to matching what we had before. There is nothing in the new contract that keeps the Central States trustees from cutting benefits or raising the cost for members,” said Roger Austin, a Local 251 package steward from Owensboro, Kentucky. “At this point I can’t tell who Hoffa and Hall are working for but I am relatively sure it isn’t me.”
“The new offer in the Central is just a warmed-over version of the one we rejected,” said Columbus Local 413 member Nick Perry. “We need to Vote No again and make them finish the job.”

Click here to send TDU your comments, questions, or feedback.

Health Insurance

Teamsters for a Democratic Union

The Vote No movement has reversed healthcare cuts and won better benefits. Remember when they said your healthcare benefits were negotiated in the national contract and could not be improved? Members have proven them wrong.

Ken Hall and TeamCare representatives unveiled new and improved TeamCare coverage at a national meeting of Teamster officers today in Chicago.

After repeatedly telling members that healthcare was a done deal, Hall reversed himself, improved the benefits and blamed himself for the healthcare debacle.

Other issues still remain to be addressed in the rejected supplements—including more full-time jobs at airport facilities and hubs, the 17(i) loophole in the Central, and other supplemental issues. Ballots on some renegotiated supplements could go out as soon as Sept. 18.   

Central States TeamCare has put up a new website with information about the new plan. A summary of the TeamCare coverage that was rejected on the first vote is available here.

Members should study the new TeamCare coverage needs carefully and get answers to their questions at upcoming meetings with TeamCare representatives.

An initial review of the new coverage reveals that rank-and-file power and the Vote No movement have defeated most cuts and restored most of their healthcare coverage:

  • Deductibles for the in-network PPO have been eliminated until the last year of the contract when there is a $100 per person / $200 per family deductible.

  • Retiree healthcare coverage will be available for spouses and children who would have been denied coverage under the old plan. Spouses will be covered to age 65 or Medicare whichever comes first. Children will be covered to age 19, or to age 25 if a qualified student.

  • Prescription co-pays have been eliminated for mail-order prescriptions and set at $5 for generic (or brand if no generic equivalent) from any pharmacy in the CVS Caremark network. The old TeamCare allowed up to $50 co-pays on prescriptions!

  • Dental coverage has been improved and the $1,500 annual cap has been eliminated.

The Vote No movement has even won some improvements for members in the South, the Carolinas, and parts of the Central who were already covered by the old Central States TeamCare plan. Rank-and-file power pays off.

Tell Us What You Think

By organizing and Voting No members have stopped key benefit cuts and won better benefits—something Hoffa-Hall and many local officials said was impossible.

What do you think of the improved TeamCare coverage? What questions do you have? What does this say about rank-and-file power? And what should the Vote No movement and TDU’s Make UPS Deliver network do next?

Click here to send TDU your comments, questions and feedback.