The Teamsters Local 89 UPS Air Negotiating Committee met with the Company today for the first session of Contract Negotiations. Hundreds of proposals were submitted to Local 89 during the summer highlighting many issues, which helped us hone in on what our members want to see in their next contract. These proposals were fine-tuned by our committee and were submitted to the Company today, with further discussions scheduled for later in November.
While collecting member proposals via meetings, stewards, and email this year, Teamsters Local 89 also conducted a questionnaire at all gates at Worldport asking members for feedback about upcoming negotiations. Over 800 questionnaires were filled out giving us around a 10% sample size. For comparison, most national polling agencies use a sample size of less than 1%. The large sample size of our questionnaire gives it a high degree of accuracy. Coupled with proposals from our members, this data allowed us to focus in on the things our members feel are most important to negotiate on.
To better keep our membership active, informed, and organized, we would like to share some of our findings with you, and show how some of the proposals we will be negotiating over will directly address the issues our members identified as most important to them.
Please keep in mind that due to the ever-evolving nature of negotiations, the following proposals may change during the course of talks with the Company, and there is no guarantee they will be successfully added into the next contract. Nevertheless, Teamsters Local 89 will fight hard for each and every one of them.
Questionnaire Participation Breakdown (See Chart 1)
Of those who filled out our questionnaire, 67% were 3-hour members, 20% were 6-hour members, and 13% were full-time members. This gives us a good representative range of our hourly member classifications.
Most Important Issues (See Chart 2)
All of the ten issues we asked our members to rate on a scale of marked very high, indicating that all of these issues are very important to our members. In order to do our best to address our members concerns, Local 89 will be negotiating ways to tackle every one of these highly rated issues by utilizing member proposals related to them. Let’s talk about some of those issues and proposals now.
Quality Healthcare – Our highest rated issue, quality healthcare was rated as an extremely important issue across all member classifications. In fact, in response to a separate question about what the Company should do to keep new hires, 38% of members said Earlier Access to Healthcare (See Chart 3). As a result of these responses and many proposals submitted to Local 89 on healthcare, this will be one of our top priorities.
In addition to submitting several proposals to the National Negotiating Committee (NNC) for the National Master Agreement (NMA), we have several proposals we will be discussing for inclusion in the Louisville Air Supplement. These proposals include but are not limited to: Shortening the length of time a new employee must work before qualifying for insurance, bringing all current healthcare plans in the Air District up to the best of those plans, and negotiating to have Full-Time disability paid out at the 60% rate that Part-Time disability is paid.
Wage Increases – Our second highest rated issue, wage increases are always one of the foremost issues in any negotiations. As most wage issues are negotiated by the NNC, Local 89 submitted several member proposals for consideration for the NMA including: Increases in starting wage, a catch-up raise for existing employees, higher yearly raises, no split-raises and others.
Perhaps the biggest Local wage related issue that we will be proposing revolves around the bonus programs UPS has been using to attract new employees. This issue, which 39% of our survey respondents found important to keep new employees (see Chart 3), has been highly controversial since the practice began. It has always been the position of Teamsters Local 89 that any bonus offered by the Company must be given to entire shifts rather than just new-hires. Many of our members submitted proposals about the bonus situation, and it will be an important issue during negotiations where we will be proposing for new-hire incentive bonuses to also be given to all existing workers on a shift.
Retirement Benefits – Tied for importance with wage increases, retirement benefits are another high priority issue in any negotiations. Like wages, the vast majority of Retirement language is negotiated by the NNC and Local 89 submitted several proposals related to retirement to the NNC for consideration.
One of the primary pension related issues that will be discussed in Louisville Air Supplement negotiations will be increasing the pension accrual rates for 6-Hour members as these pension rates have always been a locally negotiated item.
Workplace Safety – At 90%, workplace safety was rated as a very important issue by our members. There are many ways workplace safety can be addressed. At Local 89 we feel the best way to keep our members safe is by ensuring the facility itself is safe. As such, we will be proposing a number of items to the Company related to our mechanics to strengthen their ability to keep the facility functioning. These include: Creating a journeyman program to train new mechanics, certifying welders, and having our mechanics perform work that has traditionally been sub-contracted, which would allow for equipment to be repaired at a faster rate.
Another major item we will be addressing related to workplace safety is the repair of defective casters. This has been an ongoing problem in Worldport for many years, and we hope to speed up the process of repairs and prevent our members from working in areas where casters have gone bad. This will safeguard them from many potential injuries.
Workplace Staffing – An issue that everyone working at Worldport is aware of, the staffing issues in the UPS Air District must be addressed as it ties directly into our previous point of improving Workplace Safety.
Some of the actions necessary to fix this problem have already been discussed under Wages and Healthcare above, such as a higher starting wage being negotiated by the NNC, improved raises, and earlier access to healthcare. While these are likely the most important issues to address to correct the staffing problems at Worldport, there are some other things that we will be discussing with the Company such as: Increasing the 3-hour guarantee to a 4-hour guarantee, improving the transfer system to give existing employees greater flexibility to move to preferred jobs, making the transfer system more transparent, increasing the amount of vacation time that can be broken into individual days, and giving new employees earlier access to option days.
Another item related to staffing is Metro College. Although this program may not have the draw it once did, as only 25% of respondents felt it was important to keeping new hires (see Chart 3), it is still a very important tool. Keep in mind, fixing the staffing issue isn’t always about getting new hires, but making sure our current members stay. To help address this, we will be negotiating with UPS to expand Metro College to all shifts (it is currently only available to night shift), and all employees regardless of hourly classification. This would allow thousands more members to access this important program.
Issues 6-10 below would also all have a positive effect on staffing.
Adequate Breaks – As UPS continues to increase in volume and demands further productivity, it is important that our members receive proper rest periods. Based on our questionnaire results and proposals from our members, we will be fighting to increase the length of current breaks, and expand the language giving 3-Hour members a second break after 6 hours of work during peak season. When this language was originally agreed to in the 2013 contract it was a very positive step forward, as it was rare for a 3-Hour member to work more than 6 hours outside of peak season. Since then, however, increased volume and workloads have seen many of our 3-Hour members working more than 6 hours throughout the year. These members deserve to get a second break for the long hours of hard-work they are providing to UPS.
Cell Phone Access – Although Full-Time and 6-Hour members have access to their cell phones, the vast majority of 3-Hour members must leave theirs in their car or in their lockers. In this day and age of media connectivity, it is important that our members have access to their Cell Phones so they can keep in touch with their family so they can be contacted easily if an emergency comes up, to keep updated on their rights as union members through Teamsters Local 89’s social media and web pages, and even to relax during breaks. The importance of this issue to our members is clear as it was rated 6th, with 85%, in our Most Important Issues question.
New 6-Hour and/or 8-Hour Jobs – An issue that has always been important at Worldport, the creation of new Full-Time jobs must be a cornerstone of these contract negotiations. While the NNC will also be negotiating language for the creation of Full-Time jobs, such jobs for Worldport have traditionally been negotiated in the Louisville Air Supplement. Negotiating Full-Time jobs is even more important in this contract as, due to the interference and eventual implementation of the 2013 contract by the IBT, UPS did not create a fair number of these jobs in the last contract. In order to address this, we will be proposing that UPS create 500 new Full-Time jobs to make up for the insultingly low number that was imposed in the 2013 contract. If such jobs were to be created, it would have a domino effect. Current Full-Time employees would be able to move into more preferred spots, many 6-Hour and high seniority 3-Hour employees would move up and become Full-Time, and many more 3-Hour employees would then fill newly vacant 6-Hour and preferred 3-Hour spots.
Parking Lot Safety – 82% of members surveyed said parking lot safety was important to them. To address this, we will be negotiating towards changes in the current Parking and Shuttle Committee that would strengthen our ability to address any parking lot concerns brought to us by our members.
Shuttle Compensation –79% of members surveyed said shuttle compensation was very important to them. Those who were here during the 2013 negotiations will recall that shuttle compensation was a major part of bargaining and one that was still being negotiated when the contract was implemented by UPS and the IBT. Due to proposals and questionnaire responses from our members, we will once again be negotiating over this issue with UPS.
Teamsters Local 89 is dedicated to addressing our members most important issues during negotiations, and so we will have a lot to talk about with the Company as negotiations continue.
But these are hardly the only proposals we will be discussing. Many more issues were brought up in contract proposal meetings by our members that do not neatly fit into the categories above. Let’s highlight a few of those proposals as well.
Newly promoted Full-Time employees should receive their option week the following year.
Full-Time employees wishing to return to Part-Time work should be allowed to do so, should earn pension accrual for these new Part-Time years at the current rate, and should be allowed to retire (at the proper ages) with retiree health benefits.
New-Hire Orientation and pre-seniority language should be updated to give Union representatives greater ability to meet and discuss the benefits and rights of Union membership with new employees.
The double-shift guidelines should be overhauled to allow double-shifting by straight seniority, regardless of area.
Despite the comprehensive nature of all the proposals listed above, there will still be many more discussed. As talks with the Company continue these proposals could also change and evolve and new proposals could be added.
UPS negotiations are a daunting task due to the sheer size of the company and the fact that there are three major agreements (National Master, Central Region, and Louisville Air) that together form our contract. These negotiations are always a massive undertaking, but Teamsters Local 89 is primed and ready for the fight. We believe our list of proposals are comprehensive and cover all major issues our members have brought to us, and our committee is dedicated to negotiating in good-faith towards these changes.
As meetings with the Company continue, we ask that all our members at Worldport keep in touch with your steward, check our social media and web page, and watch for us at the gates when we are handing out flyers. It is crucial that you all stay informed, educated, and engaged as we march forward in this fight.