December 19, 2013

Teamsters, UPS Freight to meet Jan. 6 to discuss imminent contract proposal

Union gadfly questions timing of meetings with local leaders, rank-and-file

By Mark B. Solomon

After months of virtually no movement and stiff union opposition to the company's proposals, UPS Freight, the less-than-truckload unit of Atlanta-based UPS Inc., and the Teamsters union are close to a tentative collective bargaining agreement governing between 10,000 and 12,000 UPS Freight workers.

In a memo dated yesterday, Ken Hall, who co-chairs the Teamsters' UPS Freight National Negotiating Committee, instructed leaders of Teamster locals to meet Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C., with the company to discuss the proposal. Ratification meetings will be held Jan. 11 and 12 at various union halls and company terminals.

No contract details have been disclosed. However, some labor interests are perturbed that Hall scheduled ratification meetings with the rank-and-file just five days after the meeting with leaders of the union locals. Generally, local leaders meet with the company, report back to their members, and ballots are then mailed out with a deadline several weeks out for their return.

Ken Paff, national organizer for Teamsters for a Democratic Union, a dissident group that often clashes with Teamster leadership, called the short window between the Jan. 6 meeting and the Jan. 11 and 12 rank-and-file discussions "unprecedented." Paff said the union leadership's goal is to get a "'quickie' vote and ram [the contract] through."

According to a source close to the union, the original five-year UPS Freight contract in 2008 was ratified in the union halls and not through a mail-in vote. Its successor agreement, which was voted on through the mail, was rejected decisively in June. Given the circumstances of the two votes, UPS Freight and the Teamsters may believe they would have better luck ratifying the contract through a union hall vote, according to another union source.

The original contract expired July 31. The two sides have ben working under that agreement as they try to hammer out a new compact. UPS Freight and Teamster negotiators met earlier this month to discuss contract terms.

More articles by Mark B. Solomon

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