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Teamsters, UPS reach deal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has reached tentative agreements with the United Parcel Service for new five-year national contracts covering nearly 250,000 package and freight workers.

If union members approve the contract during votes at local unions across the country in June, the new agreements will take effect on Aug. 1. Today, the main UPS-Teamsters contract is the largest collective-bargaining agreement in North America.

The proposed contracts provide substantial wage increases, protect health-care benefits and increase company contributions to pension and health benefit plans.

Ken Hall, who began his career working for Pennzoil in Lincoln County, was the lead negotiator for the union. Still president of Local 175 in South Charleston, Hall also is international secretary-treasurer for the Teamsters Union.

Contract negotiations with UPS began in October and intensified in recent weeks, Hall said.

Scott Davis, UPS chairman and CEO, said, "These agreements are a 'win-win-win' for our people, customers and shareholders. The fact that we have reached agreements well before our current contracts expire is a testament to the skills and determination of all those involved in these negotiations."

Davis and other company officials believe reaching an early agreement will protect UPS against any possible losses of business because of the threat of a strike.

"The new contracts enable UPS to remain highly competitive, customer-focused and positioned to deliver transformative technologies in such areas as healthcare logistics and e-commerce on a global scale," UPS stated Thursday in a news release.

"Between money going to wages and to health care, there will be an increase of $8.90 an hour over the next five years in the main contract," Hall said during an interview Saturday.

"Drivers will make over $36 an hour by the end of this contract. That will be more than $58 an hour if you put wages, health care, pension and other benefits together."

The new contract will also raise starting wages for part-time UPS workers by 17 percent, or $1.50 an hour.

"While part-time workers have lower wages, after they work there for one year, they will have full health-care coverage and pension plans. They will be getting well above $20 an hour after a year," Hall said. "Not that many part-time jobs around the country have full medical care and pensions."

The new UPS contract will also create 23,050 new full-time jobs across the country, in addition to job openings created by normal turnover and retirement rates. Hall said those jobs will be filled by people working part time today.

The new contract also helps cut "excessive overtime for full-time workers" and includes "language limiting the company's ability to discharge employees based solely on technology, such as GPS [global positioning system] technology for drivers."

Hall, who began negotiating contracts with UPS in 1993, said more than 235,000 workers are eligible to vote on the main UPS contract in June, while another 12,000 will vote on the UPS Freight contract.

The UPS Freight contract covers workers employed by Overnite, a company UPS purchased in 2006.

UPS Freight workers will get raises of $2.50 an hour over the life of their new contract.

"Their health care will be improved. Their costs for health care have been substantially lowered since they joined the Teamsters," Hall said. "Many UPS Freight road divers, laid off as result of the company subcontracting their work, will be brought back to work."

Since UPS Freight bought Overnite, Hall said, health-care benefits and wages more than doubled for Overnite workers, who were working without any union contract.

"At a time when we are seeing companies dump their employees' health insurance," Hall added, "we are moving 140,000 employees, currently under the company's health-care plan, to Teamster-controlled plans. At the end of the day, nearly all of the 250,000 employees ay UPS will be covered under Teamster-controlled plans."

Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjnyden@wvgazette.com or 304-3348-5164.


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