UPS Inc.'s unionized small-package employees in the Midwest ratified a regional supplement to a five-year national contract reached in June, despite another overwhelming rejection by the union's largest local of UPS workers, according to results posted late yesterday on the Teamsters union's website.
The supplement covering UPS workers in the Teamsters' Central Region was ratified by a vote of 11,599 to 10,006, according to the website. Approval by the key region was seen as critical in moving the contract process forward. Although the master contract covering the 235,000 UPS small-package workers represented by the Teamsters was ratified months ago, the Teamster constitution mandates that the compact cannot take effect until all regional supplements and local riders are ratified. Until now, only one supplement, covering a small group of Teamsters in upstate New York, had been ratified.
UPS and the union have been working under an extension of the existing contract since its July 31 expiration date.
The ratification by Central Region voters came despite another emphatic thumbs-down by Local 89 in Louisville, Ky., whose members work in and around UPS' global hub known as "Worldport." Voters in the local, which in all represents about 9,300 UPS employees, rejected the supplement by a vote of 3,580 to 488. In June, the local voted to reject the master agreement by a vote of 3,388 to 483 and to rebuff the supplement by a 3,520 to 441 vote.
However, the local is folded into the Central Region, and the total number of votes for ratification was more than enough to offset the local's rejection.
Meanwhile, Local 804 in New York City voted to ratify its supplement by a vote of 1,885 to 1,098. The local is perhaps best known as the home of the late Ron Carey, who headed the local until he ran in 1991 for the Teamster presidency and won in a stunning upset. In addition, riders in Michigan and in metro Philadelphia were ratified. However, voters in the Ohio Rider rejected their proposal by about 300 votes. In addition, members of Local 623 representing workers at the company's Philadelphia air hub rejected their rider by a 781-to-332 vote.
In all, affected members ratified five of the seven riders or supplements that had been up for a vote.
The chief concern among most union members was the status of their health care benefits under the new contract. In September, the Teamsters unveiled a revamped health care plan covering 140,000 UPS small-package workers who, under terms of the master contract, will transition on Jan. 1 from a company-sponsored plan to a program known as "TeamCare," a plan co-administered by UPS and the union. The plan represents the health care interests of UPS Teamsters in the Central Region.
Under the revised 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. 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 actually considered better than what was offered under the UPS company plan.
Local 89 officials acknowledged that the new plan is an improvement over a previously negotiated version. However, they said the new plan still doesn't go far enough to address members' issues or to serve as an equivalent to the current UPS plan. The local seemed especially upset over the creation of what it called a "two-tier" structure, where part-time and new full-time enrollees will have better benefits than existing members.