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Gains made by Teamster ‘Vote No’ movement at UPS. Keep voting no!

By Kas Schwerdtfeger

Milwaukee, WI – The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) have announced improvements to UPS Teamster health care “TeamCare” after a vote by the Teamster rank and file in several regions rejected a concessionary contract offered by UPS.

“I think that the improvement to the TeamCare on Sept. 4 is a big difference to the TeamCare they offered in the Tentative Agreement that was offered in May. I fully believe than these changes were brought on because of the Vote No movement,” commented Mark Timlin, founder of the 4000-plus member “Vote No On UPS” Facebook page.

A re-vote on seven rejected supplements and riders will be mailed out on Sept. 18, according to the IBT.

Although the national agreement passed by a slim 2 to 3% margin, the agreement cannot take effect until all regional and local agreements have been settled, so those eligible to re-vote, including Teamsters in the Central Region, Ohio, Michigan, Local 243, Metro Philly and Western Pennsylvania have the ability to vote no again.

Keep voting no

While health care gains were made, another no vote in the Central States Region, among others, will be necessary to fight the rest of the health care concessions, improve pay and full-time jobs for insiders and improve language on harassment.

Those who voted no in the initial round were angry with the cuts to health care, lack of additional full-time jobs, harassment, and longer wage progression scales for new workers, who would make less for longer periods of time than ever before.

The Vote No movement seems likely to continue strong, because although health care improvements were made, the health care plan is still worse than the previous contract. For instance, it includes a deductible in the last year, something UPS Teamsters never had to worry about before.

Teamsters currently in the TeamCare plan will not be given the same benefits, extending a two-tier system beyond wages and into union-run health care. Workers currently in the plan will begin paying deductibles immediately. Two-tier systems create different compensations for employees doing the same work, often based on seniority or part-time vs. full-time status. They are used by companies to break down solidarity among workers and violate the union principle of equal pay for equal work.

Other concerns include language on harassment. For instance, Article 17(i) in the Central Supplement is a loophole management uses to fire employees and it needs to be removed.

Ken Hall backtracks

UPS Teamsters were particularly upset with this concessionary contract at a time when UPS posted record-breaking profits of over $4 billion and broke another profit record in the first quarter of 2013, posting well over an additional $1 billion.

In response to rank-and-file Teamster outrage at the concessions, Teamster General Secretary Treasurer Ken Hall has backtracked on his initial claim that health care negotiations, as well as other stipulations covered in the national agreement, were a done deal. On Sept. 4, a new mailing was sent to the membership detailing significant improvements to the Teamster-run plan. Many of those who voted against the contract in the first round of votes see this as a victory, forcing the union to recognize and do something about the tens of thousands concerned about contract concessions.

For thousands of UPS Teamsters across the country, the struggle continues to stem UPS management's attacks on the wages, benefits and working conditions of drivers and warehouse workers and to hold Ken Hall and IBT President Jimmy Hoffa, Jr. accountable to the members. The Vote No movement has already beat back some concessions and will continue the fight into the next round by urging another ‘no’ vote.

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