UPS vs Teamsters:
Greed and discontentment in the workforce


The players

United Parcel Service - In 1996, UPS reported sales of $22.4 billion with 185,000 Teamsters employed and 75,000 management and non-union employees.

The Teamsters is part of the AFL-CIO, a federation made up of 78 national and international unions with 13 million members. The Teamsters has 1.4 million members and more than 400,000 retirees in the United States and Canada.


The Strike

The UPS strike in 1997 was not about part time jobs or pensions. What it was about was greed on the part of Teamster leadership attacking the free market system in America. This event exposed two giant organizations each fighting to control a multi-billion dollar pension fund and a workforce manipulated by discontent to believe they were somehow being treated unfairly.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. - 1 Timothy 6:6-11

This strike had all the markings of people who have lost sight of what's truly important. Rather than being content with the wealth they currently have, they still wanted more and fell into a trap filled with foolish and harmful desires. The trap they fell into is what I call the "More Syndrome".

The more they have, the more they want and more will never satisfy them. Once they get more, they will be left wanting yet more, and more, and more...

The Teamsters union fuels the lack of contentment by asking its members, "Are you satisfied with your wages? Your benefits? Your working conditions? Do you want a little respect and dignity on the job and an opportunity to build a better future for yourself and your family?"

While the questions may have some validity, the answers provided by the Teamsters do not. More money will not improve the workers situation so long as the that money is systematically devalued by inflation. They will only be left... wanting more.

The More Syndrome is a symptom or a sign of something missing in these folks lives. They sense a hole in their lives and foolishly believe that more will fill it. But, more does not fill what's missing. The apostle Paul learned nearly 2,000 years ago what did fill the hole ...

"...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."- Philippians 4:11-13

The Prize: Billions of Dollars in Pensions

The Teamsters union really doesn't care about their members well-being. What they do care about is pursuing their own political agenda, and protecting their control of billions of dollars in pension funds. The loss of this huge pension would have likely put the Teamsters Union, and by extension, the AFL-CIO into a financial tailspin.

UPS had proposed a single plan that would be created for the exclusive benefit of UPS employees, which would increase the monthly pension benefits for full and part-time employees an average of 50 percent. The Teamsters Union, on the other hand, were unwilling to allow UPS to withdraw from the 31 multi-employer Teamsters-controlled pension plans. Currently, UPS's contributions benefit thousands of Teamsters retirees who have never even worked for UPS. In simplest terms, UPS wanted UPS dollars to go to UPS people.

In 2007, the recession hit, hammering the UPS pension fund along with pensions for most Americans. Pension funds are rooted in the fiat money stock market ponzi scheme. When dollars are devalued, the value of the pension funds also decrease. The plan lost about 25 percent of its value in 2008, and since UPS took on billions of dollars of debt to buy some employees out of the union-run pension plan, it is now facing a unfunded balance. Combined with the ongoing financial crisis in the markets, UPS won't guarantee benefits after 2013.

The Complaint: Part-time Jobs

We're not talking about minimum wage jobs here or folks who are struggling to earn a living wage. UPS employees are without a doubt one of the more fortunate employees with higher than average incomes and excellent benefits. Some UPS drivers normally make $1,000 per week. It has been reported they earn anywhere from $50,000 to $70,000 a year.

Some Wichita UPS employees said the biggest issue, as far as they're concerned, was getting the company to convert many part-time jobs into full-time positions. They said that too many workers are already working 35-45 hours a week for the company -- often at two different jobs, and in some cases on split shifts -- for part-time pay. The average part-time worker at UPS earns $11 an hour, among the highest of all part-time earners in the industry. More than 60,000 part-time employees at UPS earn more than $16,000 annually for part-time work.

One person, for example, starts about 6 a.m. in the morning, delivering air express packages that have to be at their destination by 10:30 a.m. He makes $10.50 an hour for 15-25 hours per week. Then he comes back at 6 p.m. to wash trucks for another four hours a day at $10.25 an hour.

Another person says she also works two different jobs, at 35 to 37 hours a week, but her shifts are back-to-back. She pre-loads delivery trucks from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. or so, then delivers air express packages until noon.

According to information found on the UPS web page, unlike virtually any other company in America, UPS offers its part-time employees full-time benefits. They receive company-paid health, pension, vacation, holiday and dependent-coverage benefits. Most of the part-time jobs at UPS are filled by individuals who want to work part-time. Many are college students working their way through school. Others are homemakers or retirees looking for supplemental income and/or health benefits.

All part-time employees at UPS enjoy a comprehensive benefits package of health insurance, dependent coverage, a retirement plan, vacations, holidays and more. Also, all UPS employees, full-time and part-time, have the opportunity to purchase stock in UPS. UPS has proposed paying full-time employees a profit-sharing payment in 1997 totaling $3,060, and $1,530 for part-time employees.

Teamsters wanted more full-time jobs (two-thirds of Teamsters at UPS are part-timers). UPS says it has three- to four-hour busy periods in the morning and afternoon; as a result, it does not want to guarantee employees full-time positions; the company also wants flexibility for competitive reasons. The UPS web page states, "The fact that part-time positions are growing at a faster rate than full-time positions is due to the part of our business that's growing the most... the air express segment. We have only a short window of time every day to process these packages, which requires that we have a large number of people working in 3-4 hour shifts. Growth in our ground business, which has historically fueled the need for more full-time driver positions, hasn't increased significantly over the last several years (less than 2 percent increase annually).

Why shouldn't United Parcel Service have the right to decide whether to hire full-time or part-time workers? Why should they bend to the demands of a labor union to convert its part-time workers to full-time? Why can't they convert the union pension fund to a UPS-based pension fund? Why shouldn't UPS decide where its $1 billion a year goes? Duhh. They are the employer are they not?

I'm sure there are many deserving Americans who would jump at the opportunity to work for UPS. Hey, now there's an idea. Hire people who want to work!

There are probably many people who would love to work part-time at UPS and earn a generous part-time pension benefit. That's better than most part-time jobs I'm aware of.

"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

"About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' So they went. "He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?' "'Because no one has hired us,' they answered. "He said to them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard.'

"When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.' "The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.

'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.'

"But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'

"So the last will be first, and the first will be last." - Matthew 20:1-16

Beyond the spiritual lessons taught in these verses, I think there are some practical lessons to be learned about employment.

The Results of the Strike

Now that the strike is settled you can count on at least one thing - It's going to cost you more money to ship packages via UPS and other companies. It's the More Syndrome you see. What began with a raise in minimum wage moves the higher paid positions to also seek higher wages which of course will be passed on to the consumer. That's you folks. As shipping costs increase, so does the cost of all businesses in America who rely on shippers to bring in supplies and to ship the finished products to you. As you begin to feel the increase of costs, you too will want more, and more, and more. Where does it end?

Indeed, United Parcel Service of America Inc. announced a 3.6 percent rate hike Dec. 30, '97 that will affect most of its domestic shipments slated to take effect Feb. 7. Residential ground deliveries, for example, will cost $1 more than those to commercial addresses.

So, these simple-minded UPS workers got their raise... and are now paying much more for everything they buy... leaving them with a net loss at the end of the day. Guess what? Now, they need more. Duh.

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." - Hebrews 13:5

This strike didn't improve the living conditions of a single person. It's single solitary result is MORE of the stuff we already have and less room for what we really need.

If you want to truly improve your life financially, you've got to STOP voting into office those Collectivist clowns on the Federal Reserve's payroll and support candidates that understands free market monetary policy. Money is the lifeblood of any economy, and control over a nation's currency means control over its economic well being. Fed bankers quite literally determine the value of our money, by controlling the supply of dollars and establishing interest rates. Their actions can make you richer or poorer overnight, in terms of the value of your savings and the buying power of your paycheck. So I urge all Americans to educate yourself about monetary policy, and better understand how a small group of unelected individuals at the Federal Reserve and Treasury department wield tremendous power over our lives.

National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation
Dedicated to the protection of all employees from abuses of compulsory unionism.




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Reader comments...
Dennis wrote, saying: "I think you need to be a teamster in order to understand! It's a small thing that you judge me!"

Johnny wrote, saying: "Who ever wrote this must be ups mgmt. "

Boohanks wrote, saying: "I think that the time for unions has passed. This recent strike only goes to prove my point that unions and the people that belong to unions are just plain greedy and uncommitted to their jobs. The average salary for a union car-transporter is $68,000, they have health care benefits, pensions, and the like, but they (union members) want more. Please tell the union members just shut-up and work an honest days labor for honest days pay like the rest of us. In short Unions do nothing but promote tension between companies and employees and are just out to make money. If they were really in it for the good of the worker, then why do the members pay dues? Greed, one word - one Union. "

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