August 14, 2018

Stewards at UPS' largest local vote to reject labor contracts

Actions by Local 89 officials raise chances of `no' votes by rank-and-file.

By Mark B. Solomon

Shop stewards of the largest Teamster union local representing UPS Inc. small package and freight workers have voted overwhelmingly to reject the tentative collective bargaining agreement covering both groups, the Louisville, Ky.-based local said yesterday.

The action, taken by more than 70 shop stewards who represent about 10,000 UPS workers at Local 89, increases the already strong possibility that the local's rank-and-file will vote down both contracts, as well as a supplement to the master contracts that affect the union's central region, and a rider that covers workers at UPS' "Worldport" air hub, the company's primary global sortation facility for air services.

"Our stewards were clear that they believe our members deserve better," said Fred Zuckerman, Local 89s president, in a statement. "Local 89 stands by them in their recommendations for a no vote."

Zuckerman has already gone on record as saying the various agreements were at best not good enough for his members, and at worst, highly concessionary." Local 89 has been at loggerheads with mainstream Teamster leadership for several years. It refused several times to ratify its supplements during the last contract cycle in 2013, pushing the ratification process out months. Zuckerman came within a whisker of unseating incumbent James P. Hoffa for the presidency in 2016.

The two master agreements, which have been approved by Atlanta-based UPS and lead Teamster negotiators, cover about 256,000 small-package workers and 12,000 employees of the company's UPS Freight less-than-truckload (LTL) unit. Stewards that had fanned out last week out across 181 locals representing UPS employees had agreed to send the proposals out for a vote by the rank-and-file. It is unclear when voting will take place.

The current five-year agreement, which was set to expire July 31, has been extended for an undetermined duration.

The proposed small-package master contract, set to run for five years, calls for full-time workers to receive a $4.15 per hour wage increase over the contract's length. The proposal also would require the company to shift a large amount of traffic from the railroads to an expanded number of two-person truck driver "sleeper" teams.

Perhaps the most controversial provision is the creation of a full-time hybrid driver classification whose work schedules could extend into the weekends. The new drivers would make, on average, about $6 an hour less than the traditional UPS driver, who typically works a Monday through Friday schedule.

UPS has never operated on Sunday. However, given the increasing demands of consumers for Sunday deliveries, and with the U.S. Postal Service delivering on Sundays for Seattle-based e-tailing giant Amazon.com, Inc., UPS may have no choice but to enter the Sunday delivery fray.

At UPS Freight, the main sticking point is the amount of line-haul driver subcontracting the unit would be allowed to conduct.

If ratified by the rank-and-file at UPS and UPS Freight, the contracts would be retroactive to Aug. 1. The rank-at-file must not only ratify the master contracts, but all the riders and supplements attached to them.

About the Author

Mark B. Solomon
Executive Editor - News
Mark Solomon joined DC VELOCITY as senior editor in August 2008, and was promoted to his current position on January 1, 2015. He has spent more than 30 years in the transportation, logistics and supply chain management fields as a journalist and public relations professional. From 1989 to 1994, he worked in Washington as a reporter for the Journal of Commerce, covering the aviation and trucking industries, the Department of Transportation, Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to that, he worked for Traffic World for seven years in a similar role. From 1994 to 2008, Mr. Solomon ran Media-Based Solutions, a public relations firm based in Atlanta. He graduated in 1978 with a B.A. in journalism from The American University in Washington, D.C.

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