Pension & Benefits
The new Health Plan covering UPS Teamsters in the Southwest and New Jersey Local 177 is improving health benefits. Why won’t TeamCare?
Over the past two weeks, UPS Teamsters in most of the West and in New Jersey Local 177 got some good news in the mail: their health and welfare fund is improving benefits.
The modifications to the plan reduce emergency room co-pays, improve dental and optical coverage, and make other changes, effective September 1.
Members have been up in arms about the cuts in health coverage from day one, and that pressure finally won some improvements.
But what about TeamCare? It’s time for the Hoffa administration to deliver more than healthcare cuts.
On November 13, the IBT will mail out ballots to UPS Teamsters covered by the Western Region Supplement and the Local 177 Supplement.
The sales pitch will be the health benefits improvements which were won thanks to the overwhelming contract rejection in the first vote in June.
What members are not being told is that you are paying for the new health plan with money that was supposed to go to improve your pension benefit. Read the rest …
November 2, 2013: The Western Region and Local 177 UPS health care website is up.
You can find it http://www.wr177healthcare.com.
It includes information on benefits but has no information on the diversion of negotiated money from your pension to fund the health plan.
An 11-minute DVD is also available, and will be sent out prior to the upcoming re-vote on the UPS contract in the west. It contains the same info as the website.
October 17, 2013: Hoffa and Hall have lied to members about our contracts and healthcare. But in the fight to protect our benefits, we shouldn’t turn against union health plans.
Given all of Hoffa-Hall’s lies about Teamster contracts, it’s no wonder that many members don’t trust the union to run our health plan.
But in the fight to protect our benefits, we shouldn’t turn on union health plans.
The fact is union health plans work. They benefit millions of Americans. They have strong advantages over company plans and for-profit insurance companies.
Union health plans are efficient and don’t skim money away from benefits to pay profits, high executive salaries or costly advertising.
Not one dime of health plan money goes to the union, to union officials or to the employers.
The Central States Health and Welfare Fund pays 94 percent of its income in members’ benefits. General administrative costs take 3.2 percent. TeamCare administration costs are 2.8 percent. (TDU went to court to make quarterly Central States financial reports available. The most recent one is available here.)
Union health plans are jointly governed: 50 percent by corporate trustees and 50 percent by union trustees. Thus they are not really “union” plans, but “union-employer” plans. The union and management trustees are unpaid, except expenses.
This structure gives our union a voice in our benefits. Union health plans can’t be changed at the whim of management. The corporation’s bottom line doesn’t rule. It can be checked by the union.
Like union contracts, union health plans are good for workers.
That’s why all Teamster leaders support the concept, from Hoffa to Teamster reform leaders.
Betraying Members Trust
Again and again, Hoffa and Hall have betrayed members’ trust.
- They held contract rallies against healthcare cuts and then agreed to allow UPS to cut members’ benefits.
- They told members UPS was “getting out of the healthcare business” and negotiated a UPS Freight contract that keeps Teamsters in a substandard company health plan.
- They told members a No Vote on the contract wouldn’t affect their benefits and exposed their own lie when they improved TeamCare benefits after the No Vote.
Lying to members hasn’t just hurt Hoffa and Hall’s reputation. It’s undermined members’ trust in their union.
Hoffa and Hall gave members a devil’s choice on healthcare. No wonder so many Teamsters say they’d rather have a company plan than a union plan.
Members are also concerned that, down the road, Central States could cut benefits.
Of course, under a company plan, UPS can also cut benefits. UPS just slashed benefits for 15,000 supervisors, and they would surely do the same to Teamsters if they could.
The contract fight revealed that Hoffa and Hall can’t be relied on to defend our benefits. If we want to protect our benefits, members have to be organized and vigilant.
Despite all the problems with the Hoffa-Hall administration, we are 100 percent Teamster. We are pro-union and pro-contract so management doesn’t have all the control. We are pro-union health plan for the same reason.
We don’t want a corporate CEO to control our health, impose extra costs on families or deny coverage to working spouses.
The issues for Teamsters are fighting benefit cuts, and adding a maintenance-of-benefits clause in the contract to prevent cuts in the future.
The problem is not the concept of a union health plan. The problem is the Hoffa-Hall leadership.
September 24, 2013: Some members report that business agents have told members that if they don’t vote Yes on the Central Supplement, they will have no health insurance as of January 1.
This is an outright lie and contradicts what Hoffa and Hall have put in writing: health benefits will be continuous, and there is a signed contract extension in place.
Some of the lies have been spread in the shops, but in Denver Local 455, the BA even stated it at a union meeting held on September 22.
When a used car salesman tells you blatant lies, you shouldn’t buy the car. The first No Vote in the Central Region forced improvements in the health benefits. The second No Vote will finish the job.
September 6, 2013: Ken Hall says “confusion over healthcare” caused members to Vote No and reject a record number of UPS contract supplements.
What exactly does Hall think members were confused about? Members voted No to stop healthcare cuts and fight to protect their benefits.
Hall made his statement on a conference call on Thursday night with shop stewards, saying, “I understand your supplements were voted down because of ‘confusion about healthcare.’”
Hall claimed they planned to improve TeamCare all along, saying, “We anticipated but couldn’t commit to” the TeamCare improvements until after the national contract was approved.
Some local officers have also started repeating this ridiculous claim. It’s an insult to members’ intelligence.
With UPS making $4.5 billion, Hoffa-Hall gave them concessions and agreed to healthcare cuts.
The Vote No movement forced them to reverse many of these cuts and improve TeamCare benefits.
Ken Hall is the one confused about TeamCare, not Teamster members.
September 6, 2013: Pension increases are on the line as contract talks continue in New York Local 804.
Local 804 members won a $400 pension increase in the new contract, with a $300 increase scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1—but pension trustees from UPS agreed to vote for these increases only after the supplement is ratified.
Under the Pension Protection Act, Local 804 members needs to ratify a contract by early October or the pension cannot be increased until 2015 or later.
The Local 804 Bargaining Committee, including shop stewards, is working to negotiate improvements and put out a new contract to vote in time for the October deadline for a pension increase.
September 4, 2013: The Vote No movement has reversed healthcare cuts and won better benefits. Remember when they said your healthcare benefits were negotiated in the national contract and could not be improved? Members have proved them wrong.
Ken Hall and TeamCare representatives unveiled new and improved TeamCare coverage at a national meeting of Teamster officers today in Chicago.
After repeatedly telling members that healthcare was a done deal, Hall reversed himself, improved the benefits and blamed himself for the healthcare debacle.
Other issues still remain to be addressed in the rejected supplements—including more full-time jobs at airport facilities and hubs, the 17(i) loophole in the Central, and other supplemental issues. Ballots for the rejected supplements will be mailed on Sept. 18 and counted on Oct. 10, provided that supplemental negotiations have been completed by that time.
Central States TeamCare has put up a new website with information about the new plan. A mailing from Ken Hall on the new plan is available here. A summary of the TeamCare coverage that was rejected on the first vote is available here.
Members should study the new TeamCare coverage needs carefully and get answers to their questions at upcoming meetings with TeamCare representatives.
An initial review of the new coverage reveals that rank-and-file power and the Vote No movement have defeated most cuts and restored most of their healthcare coverage:
- Deductibles for the in-network PPO have been eliminated until the last year of the contract when there is a $100 per person / $200 per family deductible.
- Retiree healthcare coverage will be available for spouses and children who would have been denied coverage under the old plan. Spouses will be covered to age 65 or Medicare whichever comes first. Children will be covered to age 19, or to age 25 if a qualified student.
- Prescription co-pays have been eliminated for mail-order prescriptions and set at $5 for generic (or brand if no generic equivalent) from any pharmacy in the CVS Caremark network. The old TeamCare allowed up to $50 co-pays on prescriptions!
- Dental coverage has been improved and the $1,500 annual cap has been eliminated.
The Vote No movement has even won some improvements for members in the South, the Carolinas, and parts of the Central who were already covered by the old Central States TeamCare plan. Rank-and-file power pays off.
Tell Us What You Think
By organizing and Voting No members have stopped key benefit cuts and won better benefits—something Hoffa-Hall and many local officials said was impossible.
What do you think of the improved TeamCare coverage? What questions do you have? What does this say about rank-and-file power? And what should the Vote No movement and TDU’s Make UPS Deliver network do next?
UPDATED August 30, 2013: Top Teamster officials want UPSers to give up, go home and cry in their beer. They say there’s nothing members can do to stop healthcare cuts.
Teamster officials are starting to send out notices to UPSers that say, “Effective January 1, 2014, you will no longer be covered by the Company insurance benefits but will be covered by the Central States Health and Welfare Fund TeamCare.”
They say there’s no point in Voting No again in the Central Region, Philadelphia Local 623, Metro Philly, New Jersey Local 177 or in the Southwest.
Are they right? Only if members believe their healthcare hype.
Members can still win better health benefits. How? UPS can put increased money into TeamCare to match and maintain the current level of healthcare coverage.
Look closely at the national contract. It never even states how much UPS has to contribute to Central States to pay for members’ healthcare coverage. No dollar amount was ever put to the members for a vote. And the figure remains a secret. Why?
Other Teamster contracts have a maintenance of benefits clause that says, “No health benefits presently in effect shall be reduced during the life of this agreement.” UPS Teamsters covered by TeamCare deserve this language.
UPS made $4.5 billion in profits while paying for members’ benefits last year; they can afford to maintain the same level of coverage under the new contract.
How to Fight the Cuts
Ken Hall has called a national meeting in Chicago on Wednesday, Sept. 4 where they will go over the new TeamCare health plan.
Local unions with rejected supplements in the Central Region, Metro Philly and Philadelphia Local 623 have been told to hold contract meetings to push the new plan in preparation for re-voting the supplements.
UPS Teamsters in these rejected supplements have the power to Vote No again if the proposed TeamCare benefits include cuts in their current coverage. The same goes for UPS Teamsters in the Southwest and New Jersey Local 177.
A No vote in these supplements will force UPS and Teamster negotiators back to the bargaining table—and it will increase members’ leverage.
Hoffa-Hall and UPS don’t want to risk a third No vote which would require a strike authorization vote per the International Teamsters Constitution. Management wants the contract settled without even talk of a strike.
That gives members’ leverage—not enough to win everything, but enough to win a better contract.
It’s Up to the Members
Teamster members are already organizing to Vote No again to protect their healthcare and win improvements in their supplements.
Members in the Western and Central Regions and in Philadelphia Local 623 are all campaigning for specific reasonable improvements—from more full-time jobs at the massive airport hubs in Philadelphia and Ontario, Calif. to eliminating 17(i) in the Central.
This movement needs you—your ideas, your questions, your help in informing and mobilizing other Teamsters. Click here to volunteer to help in your area or to send in your question or comment.
August 27, 2013: The International Union is holding a meeting for all locals with members in or moving into the Central States TeamCare plan in Chicago with representatives from TeamCare on Sept. 4.
The IBT announcement promises, “updated information about the plan” and “educational materials to take back to your Local Union.”
The only “updated information” that affected UPS Teamsters want to hear is that TeamCare will be matching members’ current benefits. UPS is providing those benefits now and made $4.5 billion last year—and has the money for a maintenance-of-benefits clause.
Following the meeting, the International Union is directing all Locals in the Central Region, Western Pennsylvania, Metro Philadelphia and Philadelphia areas where supplements were voted down to hold meetings with UPS members during the Sept. 7-8 or Sept. 14-15 weekends.
Teamster locals in the West and New Jersey Local 177, where supplements were also rejected, are working on a health plan outside of Central States TeamCare.
August 27, 2013: In response to questions to Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU), we consulted an expert attorney who advises healthcare plans regarding compliance with Obamacare. Here are his responses to members’ questions.
Q. January 1, 2014, is a trigger date for implementation of Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act). Does UPS need to have any new health plans in place prior to that date or face financial consequences?
A. No. It really does not matter when a new healthcare coverage kicks in at UPS because, from the Affordable Care Act’s standpoint, affected UPS Teamsters will be covered with adequate care both in their current coverage and in the newly negotiated coverage.
This assumes that that UPS employees will continue to have the coverage they have in place now until it is replaced by any new coverage that is being negotiated, and assumes that any new coverage meets the Obamacare minimum standards for affordability and provides the minimum value required. The TeamCare coverage meets these criteria.
Q. Can UPS maintain a one-year waiting period for newly hired part-timers to get health care, or does this contract provision violate Obamacare?
A. UPS can maintain a one-year waiting period for part-timers, with certain limitations. Obamacare requires that employer health coverage for full-timers must begin within 90 days of the date they are hired into a classification that was eligible for coverage, but if an employer provides health coverage for part-timers, they can have an eligibility requirement based on the number of hours worked, up to 1200, and the 90-day clock could be started when they reach that eligibility threshold. Such an eligibility requirement would have to be clearly stated in the TeamCare Plan itself.
Q. Are any UPS Teamster health plans going to be affected by the “Cadillac” tax imposed on health funds or employers with high-cost plans.
A. No. In fact, the current cost of TeamCare and the other various health plans covering UPS Teamsters cost about half of the Cadillac cost threshold. Benefits can be improved and maintained and will still be well under the threshold.
Hall’s statement claims, “Because health care is contained in the National Agreement, another vote against the Supplement will not impact health care.”
At the same time, Hall says that improvements are being made to enhance TeamCare health benefits—something that Hall and many local officials claimed was impossible just a few weeks ago.
Hall’s double-talk and flip-flop shows both the power of the Vote No movement and the determination of the Hoffa-Hall administration to force the concessions they gave to UPS despite the company’s record profits.
Many members have reacted to the letter with anger. “We voted No to save our health benefits and win a better contract,” said Nick Perry, a UPS steward from Columbus Local 413. “They need to get the message that we’re not accepting givebacks to a company that made $4.5 billion.”
The International Union’s plan is to try to push through a Yes Vote on the supplements in a second round of bargaining by making minor enhancements in the supplements, while telling members it’s impossible to maintain the same level of healthcare benefits.
The truth is that absolutely nothing stops the International Union and UPS from negotiating an agreement to maintain members’ health benefits at the same level.
Without touching the national agreement, the International Union could bring the Supplemental Negotiating Committees together to demand that UPS make sufficient healthcare contributions in each supplement to maintain members’ current health benefits.
What happens next will be determined by the rank and file at UPS. Hall is hoping that members fall for his scare tactics and accept the supplements.
The national contract cannot be implemented until all of the supplements are approved which gives members leverage. But that leverage will only save members’ health benefits and win other contract improvements if the Vote No movement has enough strength to reject the concessions in a second round of voting on the supplements.
If you’ve read this far, you obviously care about this issue. Take the next step. Click here to download this Contract Update as a leaflet and pass out copies to other Teamsters.
July 29, 2013: Ken Hall and other Teamster negotiators are now promising to improve health benefits in the new Central States (TeamCare) plan for UPS Teamsters.
In a July 29 letter to UPS Teamsters, Ken Hall promises that TeamCare Trustees are working on improvements in the plan, “in areas that we know our members are most concerned with.”
After UPS Teamsters rejected 18 supplements, in part because of the healthcare, members were told that the national agreement was approved and nothing could be done to improve healthcare.
But with members organizing to continue to Vote No Until UPS Gets it Right, Hall is now flip-flopping on the issue — and he’s not alone.
SoCal and Philly Flip-Floppers
After telling members the Vote No movement was a waste of time and that healthcare was a done deal, International officers Randy Cammack and Ron Herrera, who head the largest UPS locals in Southern California, have told members they are working on an enhanced package of benefits for UPS Teamsters in the West.
In Philadelphia Local 623, they’ve taken the flip-flop to a whole new level.
For weeks, the Local 623 website has claimed that, “Healthcare is no longer in the Supplemental Agreement” and denounced Vote No activists in the local for “misinforming members about how the contract works and their healthcare.”
That was then. Local 623 principal officer George Ruggieri now says the local and the IBT are working, “to find a way to improve the benefit plan prior to voting on the supplement again.” He adds: “We have made it clear to both the Company and the IBT that we will not endorse voting the same agreement without improvements in healthcare.”
The flip-floppers now say healthcare improvements can be made. But the Brownout is still in full force on all other key questions.
What is included in the new and improved TeamCare benefits? When will members get to see the details? And will the new benefits match the health benefits members currently have?
What other improvements is the Union working for in the rejected supplements and what is the timeline for contract negotiations? Members have pushed for more full-time jobs, the elimination of the 17i loophole in the Central, grievance procedure reform and other contract improvements.
Hall’s July 29 letter tells member that “Your supplemental negotiating committee is now bargaining with the company to address these [local] issues.” In truth, UPS has refused to even schedule negotiations with a number of supplemental bargaining committees!
The biggest unanswered question remains why did Hall negotiate healthcare givebacks in the first place? UPS made $4.5 billion in profits last year alone.
At the Teamster Convention, Hall announced he hoped that UPS would make $10 billion because, “The more they make, the more we take.” He promised that, “We’re not going to be talking about concessions. We’re going to be talking about improvements.”
It is not too late for Hoffa and Hall to make good on that promise. Without touching the national agreement, the International Union could bring the Supplemental Negotiating Committees together to demand that UPS make sufficient healthcare contributions in each supplement to maintain members’ current health benefits.
But that is not the International Union’s plan. UPS management and Ken Hall will try to push through the supplements on a second vote after tinkering around the edges and doing a sales job with the new TeamCare benefits.
It’s up to Teamster members to keep the pressure on.
Leafleting, petitioning, sticker days and other organizing by Vote No Teamsters have forced the flip-floppers to promise improved benefits.
TDU is looking for UPS Teamsters who want to build the movement to protect our health benefits and win contract improvements. Click here to team up and get involved.
July 10, 2013: Hoffa and Hall are so out of touch with rank and file Teamsters, they have hired a telemarketing company to ask UPS Teamsters what it will take to settle the contract!
Research Center in Zeeland Michigan is making the calls to a sample of UPS Teamsters from across the country.
Here’s the most interesting question that Hoffa and Hall had the telemarketers ask: “Would it be advisable for the union to reopen the master agreement and renegotiate the health care?”
Hoffa and Hall have told local officials to lie to members and that it is “impossible” to renegotiate healthcare. Now their own survey asks members about doing just that! Read the rest …
“Hoffa and Hall are telling members that our insurance will be just as good or better moving in to the new Central States/Team Care. But then I saw this article in the Wall St. Journal where Hoffa’s asking Obama for relief on the ACA or Teamster health funds will be “unsustainable.”
“How can our leaders be selling us one set of promises on the contract for our insurance while they know themselves it’s a bum deal? Working Teamsters won’t be sold out on false promises. We’ll vote NO until we get the insurance we need and deserve.”
UPS Alternate Steward and 2013 UPS Vote Observer
Local 249, Pittsburgh
(Pictured at Hoffa’s desk)