May 24, 2013: New contract language would strip local unions of autonomy to enforce contract.
Lost in the hubbub about healthcare and harassment, the new contract includes changes that take autonomy away from local unions and consolidate power in the hands of the International Union Package Division.
For example: the contract would strip local unions of the right to pull out of company-dominated safety committees without the International’s permission (Article 18). Local unions from New England to Ohio to New York pulled out of safety committees to protest harassment, unsafe conditions, and management arrogance.
Teamsters in the Central Region have had a hammer for taking on contract violations—the right to strike on deadlocked grievances. Teamster officials in the Central Region haven’t used this right, but UPS isn’t taking any chances. Deadlocked grievances would now get punted for settlement between top UPS brass and the International. If that doesn’t work, Teamsters in the Central Region still can’t strike over deadlocked grievances without the IBT’s permission, something that was never required before.
The new 9.5 language gives only the IBT the power to meet with UPS about staffing levels when there are excessive 9.5 grievances at the local level. Why not give local unions the power to meet with management to review staffing and dispatch data when excessive overtime is out of control?
All Teamsters want a strong national union. But we need to be able to enforce the contract at the local union level. Look at the company’s attack on 22.3 jobs.
Under the contract, only the International union is entitled to a complete list of the full-time jobs under Article 22.3. This has allowed management to play a shell game with these jobs because no local union can effectively counter the company when it claims it has moved 22.3 jobs to another local.
This problem was supposed to be fixed in the national contract with language that requires UPS to keep 22.3 jobs in the local where they are created. It wasn’t. Contract enforcement remains in the hands of the International union, and Teamster members and our local unions remain at a disadvantage.
It’s no accident that the contract shifts power away from local unions and up to the International. UPS would rather deal with Teamster officials in Washington who are far from the members than with local officers who are subject to pressure from the membership.
The power grab also works for Ken Hall who holds his power like a carrot and stick over local officers whose support he wants in the next IBT election.
UPS Teamsters can still enforce our contract. But we’ve got to get organized in our centers and locals. Building pressure from the bottom is the best way to get results at the top.