Teamsters, UPS start talks on new pact

WASHINGTON—The Teamsters and United Parcel Service have opened talks on one of the largest private-sector contracts in the U.S., a new pact that would cover at least 260,000 workers.


Indeed, expansion is one of the issues already on the bargaining table, long before the two sides get around to the basic economic stands and demands: The union wants the firm to add 10,000 full-time workers over the life of the contract. The bargaining also covers UPS Freight, which was Overnite Transportation until 11-1/2 years ago.


The UPS contract is important not just for its size, but because the delivery service pact – and whether the two sides easily reach agreement – can be a bellwether for other negotiations. Last time around, they did.


“This week was for both sides to present their initial non-economic proposals and for both parties to ask questions about their intent,” said Teamsters Package Division Director Denis Taylor. “While these proposals are likely to be amended as negotiations proceed, it was good to finally present the members’ positions. We will reconvene our talks in Virginia” in early February.


Besides adding full-time workers, initial reports indicate the union also wants the firm to end late-night package deliveries – even in the holiday season — and ban the use of drones to pick up and deliver parcels. There was no word about company demands. The current contract ends July 31.


The union sent the firm an 83-page document updating it – and presumably including the union’s desired changes. Local union leaders hammered it out, starting last September.


And the Teamsters want to let workers refuse to toil in unsafe conditions and overloaded trucks, an area where the union says the company has fallen down on the job. “It is the company’s responsibility to hire and maintain a sufficient workforce to service its customers without unreasonably burdening its employees,” the document notes. “Management has consistently failed to fulfill its obligation.”


Other Teamsters contract proposals focus on subcontracting, excessive hours and other issues, the union said. For UPS members, additional proposals “related to ongoing harassment and increases in the average size and weight of shipments.” For UPS Freight, blackout weeks are a top issue.


“The Teamsters-UPS contract is without question the strongest labor agreement in the country, but we have major issues at stake in upcoming negotiations. Pensions, UPS’s use of new technology and the challenges posed by competitors like Amazon are going to weigh heavily in talks with the company. We have a strong, experienced committee ready to win the best contract possible for our members,” union President Jim Hoffa said.

Source: PAI