Thursday, August 10, 2006

Teamsters organize UPS Freight

Successful card-signing campaign at Westside terminal brings it into Local 135's fold

Jesse DeWeese hopes to boost the $60,000 a year he makes driving a truck around the Indianapolis area by $10,000 or so now that the Teamsters union will represent him and other workers at the UPS Freight terminal.

In the last three weeks, DeWeese was among approximately 95 workers at the Westside terminal signing cards expressing their desire to be represented by Local 135. Roughly 125 workers were eligible to sign.
Workers and company officials learned of the Teamsters' victory Wednesday from an arbitrator.
It's the first time the union has organized a UPS Freight terminal, and Teamsters officials hope to negotiate a contract lucrative enough to encourage workers at other UPS Freight sites to join the union.
To DeWeese, the success of the campaign means prospects for improving an already good job. He said UPS Freight is well-run and offers a nice working environment.
"You can't ask for a better company to work for," said the Indianapolis resident.
UPS Freight spokesman Ira Rosenfeld said the company will recognize the union and bargain in good faith.
However, Rosenfeld emphasized the development won't affect customers and that the union does not represent the rest of its 16,000-plus freight workers. The Teamsters already represent thousands of hourly workers nationally at UPS' parcel operations.
"It's always up to the employees to decide whether they want third-party representatives," Rosenfeld said.
The decision was not made through a traditional election. Instead, workers decided through a process called a card check. Those wanting representation signed cards; those who didn't refrained from signing. A third party confirmed whether the number of signatures amounted to more than half the eligible workers.
Locally, the card-check organizing strategy succeeded about two years ago at clothing seller Brylane, now called RedCats USA. Earlier this year the Service Employees International Union persuaded GSF, the largest janitorial contractor in Indianapolis, to allow a card check.
Ruth Needleman, a labor studies professor at Indiana University Northwest who formerly worked for UPS as a Teamster, said card checks succeed more frequently than elections because companies that allow checks often already have unions in other parts of their operations.
The business, which specializes in hauling full truck loads, was Overnite Transportation Co. until UPS bought it last year from Union Pacific.
The Teamsters had tried to organize Virginia-based Overnite for decades, and the Indianapolis terminal and 36 other terminals nationwide launched a three-year demonstration in 1999 to try to force Overnite to negotiate a contract after workers voted to join the Teamsters.
"They've been struggling for a long time to gain some workplace democracy," said Local 135 Secretary-Treasurer Brian Buhle. "We're happy to help them achieve that."
Indianapolis was chosen for an initial drive at UPS Freight because organizers were optimistic a card check would succeed, said Ken Hall, who directs the Teamsters' national parcel and small package division.
DeWeese, the truck driver, was a Teamsters member while delivering food in the Indianapolis area for Houston-based Sysco Corp., and is convinced Teamsters members not only make higher wages than nonunion drivers but also are able to negotiate generous benefits, including health insurance and pension.
DeWeese said he switched to UPS Freight nearly a year ago because he expected the card check to take place, and because he says the company is the best in the industry.
Now that the Teamsters are in, he's even more optimistic.
"It was more about opportunity than anything else," DeWeese said.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

UPS rival buys land for Florida hub

FedEx Corp. has inked a land deal to build 200,000 square feet of package and freight distribution facilities in West Palm Beach, Fla.

The proposed 120,000-square-foot FedEx Ground hub and 80,000-square-foot FedEx Freight facility are scheduled to open by July 2007. The new hub is part of nationwide effort by Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx to step up capacity and speed for handling packages in the face of mounting competition by United Parcel Service Inc. and DHL International GmbH.

"In the last few years, everything is about speed," said David Pickering, vice president of research for industrial manufacturing for Industrial Info Resources, a Sugar Land, Texas-based marketing and research firm. "All the major carriers have allocated billions to boosting infrastructure."

FedEx has said it intends to spend $1.8 billion to expand its ground network. That plan includes construction of nine new hubs and expansion of 30. The move is intended to double FedEx's ability to move packages by 2010.

"If FedEx doesn't do it, then UPS will. If UPS doesn't do it, then DHL will. It is quite a competitive market right now," Pickering said.

In May, Atlanta-based UPS announced plans for a 1.1 million-square-foot expansion of its Worldport package-handling hub in Louisville, Ky., bringing the facility to a total 5.1 million square feet, or the equivalent of more than 113 football fields. The expansion will cost more than $1 billion, and is expected to create 1,284 full-time jobs and 3,787 permanent part-time positions.

Heritage lineup is set at PNC Park

The Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals will honor the Negro Leagues by wearing the uniforms of the Homestead Grays and the St. Louis Stars when they play at 7:05 p.m. Saturday. Fans at the game will receive a free Homestead Grays cap.

The observance is part of the Pirates' annual African American Heritage Weekend.

Other events this weekend include:

The African American Heritage Day Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Friday will feature Robert Paige, son of the late Satchel Paige, as the keynote speaker. Tickets to the luncheon in PNC Park's Home Plate Club are available to the public at $40 per person. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Satchel Paige Foundation and Pirates Charities.

A mobile museum called "Times of Greatness" will tell the story of the Negro Leagues with photos, video, uniforms and other memorabilia. The 53-foot trailer sponsored by Roadway Express will be located in Red Lot 6 directly across from PNC Park on West General Robinson Street. The museum will be open to the public from 4:30-7 p.m. Friday and 5-7 p.m. Saturday.

A Heritage Day Festival from 4-6:30 p.m. Saturday will feature a live jazz musical performance by the Afro-American Musical Institute as well as cultural arts and crafts exhibits.

The annual Community Service Awards will be presented before Saturday's game to youth baseball participants based on their essays honoring Satchel Paige.

Fans at the game can also visit Highmark Legacy Square, an interactive exhibit honoring the Negro Leagues and players from the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords. The exhibit is inside the left-field gate entrance at PNC Park.