When the company was Overnite Transportation, it was vehemently anti-union. The contract ratification caps a 50-year struggle by the Teamsters to organize workers at Overnite, which was bought by UPS in 2005 from Union Pacific Railroad and renamed UPS Freight.
The Teamsters kicked off this organizing campaign in 2006 when it organized UPS Freight workers in Indianapolis and negotiated a contract with the company that was ratified by a 107-1 vote last October.
In January 2008, the Teamsters launched its nationwide campaign. Hoffa and Teamsters Package Division Director Ken Hall attributed the organizing success to the card-check agreement the Teamsters won from UPS in December 2007. Card-check is a procedure where workers sign cards to join a union instead of going through a voting process. A majority of workers in a bargaining unit must sign cards, which are then certified, before the company recognizes the union.
"The card check agreement gave the Teamsters the boost it needed to organize UPS Freight, and the workers responded overwhelmingly. This is the largest organizing victory in the freight industry in 25 years," said Teamsters President James Hoffa said. "We were amazed that at the 90-day mark of our national campaign, 9,900 workers had signed cards. This shows the workers' commitment in joining a union that will give them a strong voice in the workplace."
The contract expires on July 31, 2013. Among the contract's highlights:
• Wage increases totaling $4.35 per hour or nearly 11 cents a mile over the contract.
• An improved health care plan with lower employee premium costs with no increases in costs to employees over the life of the contract.
• Overtime pay for work exceeding 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week.
• UPS Freight employees lock in their current pension benefits.
• The cost of retiree health insurance for most retirees is reduced substantially with no increase in premium cost to employees over the life of the contract.
The Teamsters will continue to organize UPS Freight workers nationwide. There are currently more than 15,000 UPS Freight workers, with 12,600 eligible to sign cards.