Saturday, July 14, 2007

UPS Negotiations Update: Talks Temporarily Suspended

The following is an update on the UPS national negotiations from General President Jim Hoffa, Chairman of the Teamsters UPS National Negotiating Committee and Ken Hall, Co-Chairman of the Negotiating Committee.

We write to inform you that the Teamsters National UPS Negotiating Committee suspended talks with UPS on July 11, 2007. As you know, we entered into early negotiations in order to address our members’ concerns that their pension and health and welfare benefit funds were in jeopardy. Unfortunately, the Company has been unable to present a comprehensive response to the Union’s economic demands because of differences between the Company and several benefit funds over the amount of new Company money that is necessary to maintain and improve existing benefits.

These disputes cannot be resolved by the Union Negotiating Committee. And until they are resolved between the Company and those funds, the Union cannot proceed with bargaining over the outstanding economic and language proposals that are on the table. The Union is prepared to resume negotiations as soon as the Company is ready to put forth an economic proposal that addresses the issue that brought us to the table to begin with: improving the stability of the benefit funds upon which our members rely for health care coverage and retirement protection.

While negotiations at the National Agreement level have been suspended, both the Union and Company Supplemental Negotiating Committees have been instructed to continue to bargain over the working conditions covered in the Supplements. As always, we will provide you with information as soon as there are further developments.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Teamsters: The Union for DHL Workers

More Than 12,000 Workers in DHL System Are Teamsters

(Allentown, Pennsylvania) – Workers throughout the DHL system are building their union with the Teamsters Union. The union is fighting to ensure that all workers at DHL have the opportunity to join the most powerful union in North America. This week, workers at two independent cartage contractors in Allentown, Pennsylvania, voted for Teamster representation.

“I voted for the Teamsters because they are the biggest and best union,” said Felix Zamora, a worker who is a new Teamster delivering DHL packages in Allentown. “I know that Teamsters already represent many DHL workers, plus a whole lot more at UPS. They are the experts when it comes to representing parcel and small package employees.”

“Industry density matters when it comes to winning strong contracts that protect workers’ jobs and ensure solid wages and benefits,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President. “The Teamsters are the union in the DHL system.”

DHL workers at two independent cartage contractors (ICC), Northeastern Express and Jennings and Associates, both in Allentown, are now new members of the Teamsters Union. Workers at Jennings voted today, by a three to one margin, to join the Teamsters. Both are independent cartage carriers that deliver for DHL. On July 19, two Teamster elections will be held for employees of two more DHL ICCs, also in Allentown.

“ICC employees delivering for DHL in Allentown overwhelming voted for Teamster representation and we will stand with them to work on improving their rights and benefits in the workplace,” said Dennis Hower, Vice President of Local 773 in Allentown. “These employees have worked hard to keep DHL a successful company and they deserve excellent representation on the job. They made the right choice with the Teamsters.”

More than 4,500 workers at DHL in the New England corridor have successfully won union representation as Teamsters—from Baltimore to Boston. And, more than 12,000 workers in the DHL system are already Teamster members, including workers at DHL facilities in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and elsewhere. In the package-sort-and-delivery industry, more than 200,000 workers at UPS are Teamster members.

“We are expanding workers’ power and Teamster power in the global supply chain,” said Jeff Farmer, Teamsters Director of Organizing. “As more workers in the DHL system become Teamsters, their power becomes greater.”

“I tell every worker I meet: ‘I went through the organizing process, and you can build your union, and you have the full support of the Teamsters behind you,’” said Don Schmidt, a sort worker at the DHL gateway at JFK Airport in New York City.

Trade deals harm U.S. workers

NAFTA, other agreements cost jobs, hurt the environment and health

When the trade policies of the world's most powerful nation are broken, executives of huge corporations reap the benefits. But who loses? Everyone else.

Nobody has learned that lesson better than Michigan's working families. Seven of the 20 cities in the United States with the highest unemployment are in Michigan.

Policies out of date

Right now, the trade policies of the United States are miserably out of date and structured so the interests of working Americans are not looked after. Our nation's current policies are dangerously destructive to the working men and women of this country, and can be felt around the world. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and every "free trade" clone that has followed have wreaked havoc in a number of ways. The flight of jobs from the United States and the undermining of the domestic economy, environmental standards and health policies are only the beginning.

The mission of the Teamsters Union is to protect the rights of working people. We always fight for what we believe in and we always will. We will fight to the bitter end to protect the interests of this country's working families. We fought for years against the Republican-controlled Congress on a variety of issues, including trade policy reform. We fought for our political allies across the country to get them elected during the midterm elections in November 2006 -- a battle that we won.

Our mission does not change, no matter who is in office. We are working with members of Congress on righting the wrongs of the past decade's misguided trade policies. Right now, the Democratic leadership has stepped up to announce their opposition to the South Korea and Colombia Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). They also have decided to reject an extension of "fast track" presidential trade negotiating authority. The Teamsters Union strongly opposes every current "free" trade agreement in line for Congressional consideration -- this includes the Peru, Panama, South Korea, and Colombia FTAs. There is something inherently wrong with trade agreements that weaken our economy and cost jobs, and that is exactly what each and every one of these FTAs will do.

Democrats repeat errors

Even with the Democratic majority standing up for change on these issues, I am concerned that Congress is continuing down the dangerous path that leads to passage of trade agreements like the Peru and Panama FTA. Even with much-improved labor and environmental chapters, the agreement is modeled after NAFTA, a failure by any measure.

Before the Peru-Panama "deal," much of President Bush's agenda was already in deep trouble. The administration's quest for new blank-check fast track authority is comical, since the Democratic Congress has vowed to restrain Bush's abuses of power. The South Korea Free Trade Agreement, which was just signed, contains all of the problems of NAFTA. U.S. negotiators also did such a poor job on its commercial terms that it is opposed by many large corporations and is on life support.

Colombian corruption

The prospects for Bush's proposed free trade agreement with Colombia are dimmed with every new revelation of the Uribe government's links to right-wing death squads. Already, the deal faces widespread opposition given the assassination of more than 400 labor unionists during the Uribe regime.

The Teamsters Union stands ready to again take up the fight for fair trade agreements. It is not a pleasant task to fight against the Democratic leadership we worked so hard to put in office.

However, the prospect of Congress passing more of the same ill-conceived trade agreements is unacceptable and we will do whatever it takes to protect the future of the middle class.

Manufacturing jobs lost

More than 3 million manufacturing jobs -- one out of every six -- have been lost during the NAFTA-World Trade Organization era. While American workers' productivity has soared, real median wages remain flat at 1970s levels as the NAFTA-WTO globalization model subjects U.S. workers to a global labor arbitrage where the clearing price is the misery of $1-per-day wages.

Meanwhile, our current trade model has resulted in a nearly $800 billion trade deficit which, at 6 percent of our national income, threatens U.S. and world economic stability.

The entire system must be fixed. Whether it's NAFTA, CAFTA or the proposed Peru and Panama free trade agreements, they must not be allowed to continue to erode our economy. It is the responsibility of this Congress to act in the best interest of its constituents.