This is a critical year (2018) as United Parcel Service (UPS) and the International Brotherhood (IBT) of Teamsters are negotiating the master contract for all UPS teamsters in North America. The interesting aspect of the negotiations is the enforced black out (brown out) on the national and local levels.
In a Friday morning massacre, Hoffa’s chief negotiator Denis Taylor threw off multiple members of the UPS National Negotiating Committee,including International Union Vice President Avral Thompson, for opposing givebacks. Taylor is embarrassed that his deal-cutting is being exposed to the membership –Teamsters Democratic Union, Denis Taylor doubles down on givebacks.
The contract is to be ratified, or voted on, by July 31st, 2018, but no one has seen, in detail, what has beenverbally agreed upon by both parties. To me the deception serves the purpose of forcing the membership to accept a contract that the IBT is painfully aware that if the membership were able to read it fully, then contract would be voted down. The fear of the eventual automation of UPS has always been a threat to the union as the corporation has already opened two new automated hubs inAtlanta, GeorgiaandSalt Lake City, Utah.
Denis Taylor had to be aware of the future plans UPS was already implementing in their effort to shed fat in order to compete with the threat Amazon poses in the e-commerce economy. The competition with FedEx and the United States Postal Service pretty much was settled as far as each delivery service possessing their niche in the shipping business; but Amazon is not the typical shipping company that is looking for small niche. With Amazon expanding it’s operations, including the purchase of ten (10) new aircraft, expanding their fleet to fifty (50), it had become apparent the only way for UPS to survive in the new e-commerce economy was the reduction in the workforce and automation. Automation has always been a effective cost cutting technique used in various industries over the past two centuries. With automation as a give, the two tier system was introduced, either by UPS or Denis Taylor, as a way to save union jobs and cost. Either way, the discussions in regards to the two tier hybrid driver began earlier than most Teamsters may have been aware.
Denis Taylor may or may not have been aware that the two tier employment system would allow UPS the ability to erode the concept of union over time, but retrospect in creating/saving jobs, Denis may have bought the union time in hopes the union will be able to find a way to better deal with UPS in the future as UPS is in the process of revamping it’s business model in order to compete with Amazon. The new facilities, automation, andthe eventualdrone delivery program could and eventually will replace workers. What the hope is, that by buying time the union will be able to figure out what new potential e-commerce positions being created by UPS could possibly be unionized This move, by agreeing to a two tier system, is a move, I believe by Denis Taylor, to slow the bleeding of jobs by the eventual shift to automation and toshore up the Central States Pension Funds.
More than a quarter of a million active and retired truckers and their families could soon see their pension benefits severely cut … And because of its size, the plan could overwhelm the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the insurance agency meant to shore up private pension funds, if it went under, Nyhan said –Jonelle Marte, One of the nation’s largest pension funds could soon cut benefits for retirees, Washington Post
Pension funds around the country are facing an onslaught by companies and now the United States Treasury Department, who just made it easier forcompanies to pay out a lump sum to retirees. A very unpopular idea but one that has been accepted in some circles, is that Denis Taylor simply sold out the future UPS employee in the form of the 22.4 drivers in order to get the funds necessary to save the Central States Pension Fund. With the Central States Pension Fund failing and the threat of automation looming around the horizon, Denis Taylor’s didn’t have any real leverage when he first approached UPS in negotiations; or did he sell out? A vote authorizing a strike is a powerful tool, if there was true intentions to use a strike. A threat is a threat, if you don’t want to follow through with a threat, but will actually do as you claim. The threat of a strike was not a a reality as the Teamsters did not prepare the members it’s members for the real possibility of a strike. In reality, most members were not prepared financially for a strike. As well intention-ed as the authorization for a strike might be, everyone knows it was not going to happen in any shape or form. The same leverage that won the Teamsters concessions from UPS in 1997 did not exist twenty years later.
There is a belief, that in order to vote for a strike the members need to be aware of what they are striking for in the first place. The only information members were aware of was the bread crumbs they received from their union representatives, who were given gag orders in the first place. Many felt the vote was going to be rigged. This assumption would make sense when many were aware that a handshake deal had already been reached with the promise that the contract will pass the first time around, despite the “Vote No” campaign. There was too much at stake financially for bothUPS and IBT. UPS has itseyes on Amazon, while the IBT is dealing with it’s own array of issues;eroding membershipand shoring up failing pensions.
UPS’ hiring practices of late, hiring from the street rather than promoting from within, has led to a new generation of unaware employees. Unaware as far as their rights, let alone the very idea of what a union is. This has made it virtually impossible to build any type of significant movement against the new contract or demand that the union not give as many concessions to the company as they more than likely are giving up. Without the new generation of employees engaging in union issues, then the fight against the contract becomes much more difficult. How are these individuals supposed to understand and vote on these issues that have an affect on their lives, but at the same time they don’t understand the simplest of fact?
This is why I said the “Vote No” will fail. The matter of the Hybrid Driver (two tier employee) is the centerpiece of the contract. Nothing is going to change this fact. Check the median income and you will see that most will view this new job positively. Secondly, our more knowledgeable members know about theCentral State Pension fund issue. This is one of the major reasons why the Teamsters needs this contract to pass. Dealing with the mammoth of an issue is a must. The Teamsters needs an infusion of cash as soon as possible in order to deal with the Central State Pension fund issue. This contract once again was important to both sides and if the “Vote No” campaign were to be successful, then UPS stock would definitely be effected. At this moment Hoffa won’t allow that to happen. Both the union and company need the “Vote No” campaign to fail.
But as I previously stated, I didn’t believe the contract will pass when voted on by the members, but somehow the contract will pass anyway. In many respects it does not matter if the contracts passes or fails the first time around, because one way or another the teamsters’ member will eventually have to deal with the reality of the Hybrid Driver (two tier system). I also have stated I am curious as to what is in the local supplements to deal with this issue. More than likely nothing, as the members are sure they will be able to vote down a contract that has already been decided on. The Hybrid is here! How are the local unions going to deal with the hybrid drivers as far as the language they put in their local supplements is very important. The Hybrid effects all full time employees, Air Drivers, Drivers, 22.3, Feeder, Porters, Clerks, and part timers, so everyone needs to to think about how the Hybrid affects their job and any other member in their barn. Why do I believe the “Vote No” campaign will fail. I just remembered a quote by Joseph Stalin.
“Those who vote decide nothing, those who count the vote decide everything.” – Joseph Stalin