Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!


Teamsters President Hoffa says Pensions, full-time jobs top issues in UPS talks

By John D. Schulz, Contributing Editor
September 20, 2012

The most important labor contract talks in freight transportation begin September 27 in Washington when UPS and the Teamsters union begin negotiations on a new contract.
 
The current five-year deal expires next July 31. But already the jockeying has begun. Teamsters union President James P. “Jim” Hoffa, in a speech to the National Press Club on September 13, outlined his priorities in trying to gain the best deal he can for 250,000 UPS Teamsters.
 
Calling UPS “a unique company,” Hoffa said winning better health care benefits and pensions and creating more full-time jobs would be as important as better wages. Currently, UPS Teamsters earn about $70,000 in wages, and another $35,000 or so in fringe benefits such as pensions and health care.
 
“It’s going to be more wages, more pensions, and we want to maintain health care benefits,” Hoffa said when asked what the top priorities were in the UPS talks.
 
The internal union strategy already has begun. The International Union will meet with local union officers this Friday to finalize the Teamsters bargaining proposals for negotiations with UPS and UPS Freight (formerly Overnite), the company’s heavy freight LTL union.

Approximately 13,000 Teamsters work at UPS Freight, which will negotiate separately but concurrently through its freight division.
 
These “two-person” meetings will be in Chicago on Friday. Every local union that represents UPS or UPS Freight employees has been invited. At those two-person meetings, the Teamsters’ National Negotiating Committees will present their bargaining proposals for approval.
 
In a speech at the National Press Club, Hoffa signaled that the Teamsters’ strategy would include pension increases, maintaining health benefits and more full-time jobs.
 
“We’ve got a pretty good idea where we want to go in this contract,” Hoffa said. “There’s going to be a lot of pressure to increase our pensions to make them better. Pensions will be a big issue in the negotiations.”
 
UPS is the biggest and most profitable transportation company in the world. Last year it earned $3.8 billion net income on $53.1 billion revenue, up from the $3.3 billion net income on $49.5 billion revenue in 2010.
 
In 2007, UPS made a one-time payment of $6.1 billion to pull out of the Teamsters Central States multiemployer plan. It paid that money because of the deteriorating financial position of the Central States plan, the Teamsters’ largest plan.
 
When those multiemployer plans were formed in the 1950s, Hoffa’s legendary father James R. Hoffa was a force within the Teamsters. Back then, Teamsters had more than 500,000 workers in the freight sector. Now, except for the 250,000 UPS Teamsters, there are barely 60,000 unionized workers in the LTL sector. Those multiemployer plans are struggling financially because so few active workers are supporting many more retirees.
 
Back in the Teamsters’ heyday, the younger Hoffa recalled, “There were four people working and one person retired. That was easy. Now we have one guy working and five guys retired. The math is harder to maintain.”
 
Converting some of the 125,000 part-time jobs at UPS (which start at a much lower salary scale and top out around $19 an hour, compared with $27 for a full-time UPS Teamster) also is a top priority, Hoffa said. UPS has promised to create 20,000 full-time jobs, but that has not always been the case, the union says.
 
“We’re always working to make sure we get more full time jobs,” Hoffa said. “There are a lot of part time jobs there, and we’re always trying to move that (full-time) number up.”
 
Those, in a nutshell, are the major issues in the Teamsters negotiations. Also diverting the union’s attention to an extent, the Teamsters freight division also must negotiate a separate contract with 7,500 workers at ABF Freight System, the nation’s seventh-largest LTL carrier which is struggling financially.

About the Author

image
John D. Schulz
Contributing Editor

John D. Schulz has been a transportation journalist for more than 20 years, specializing in the trucking industry. He is known to own the fattest Rolodex in the business, and is on a first-name basis with scores of top-level trucking executives who are able to give shippers their latest insights on the industry on a regular basis. This wise Washington owl has performed and produced at some of the highest levels of journalism in his 40-year career, mostly as a Washington newsman.


Subscribe to Logistics Management magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your
entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

The Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported this week that U.S. trade with its North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico increased 8.2 percent from September 2013 to September 2014 at $102.2 billion.

NS said that the D&H lines it plans to acquire connect with the NS network at Sunbury, Pa. and Binghamton, N.Y. and give NS single-line routes from Chicago and the southeast U.S. to Albany, N.Y., which is in close proximity to NS’ Mechanicville, N.Y.-based intermodal terminal.

This follows a 1.6 cent decrease last week, which was preceded by a 5.4 gain the week before and stands as the first increase going back to the week of June 23, when the weekly average headed up 3.7 cents to $3.919 per gallon.

BNSF said that its 2015 capital expenditures will be allocated towards various areas of its business, including maintenance and expansion of the railroad to meet the expected demand for freight rail service, with 2015 representing the third straight year BNSF has invested a record annual capital expenditures investment.

While the ongoing labor negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) ostensibly going from bad to worse, following the ILWU’s announcement late last week that it was halting negotiations from November 20 through November 30, a Congressional group last week penned a letter to PMA and ILWU leadership expressing concern over the state of the negotiations.

Article Topics

News · UPS · Teamsters · All topics

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.


© Copyright 2013 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA