4/23/08

Teamster-happy UPS vexed by worker-choice

As the Teamsters union proceeds with organizing UPS Freight Inc. workers under a new contract, the company’s 300 area hourly employees await an agency’s ruling on a rival union’s attempt to do the same. The Association of Parcel Workers of America lost a second election in February trying to persuade workers to join its group at the UPS Freight terminal in Kansas City, Kan.

However, the group objected to the company’s actions prior to the election. The National Labor Relations Board’s Overland Park office found merit to the objection in that the election notice was posted later than it should have been, said Dan Hubbel, the agency’s regional director.

The local NLRB office recommended to the agency’s principal board in Washington that the election results be overturned again and another one be conducted. Since then, UPS Freight has filed its own objection to the local NLRB’s ruling.

The company argues that the small delay in posting the notice did not affect the second election’s results. The parcel workers group lost the February contest 109-87 after losing by a much wider margin last August.

Van Skillman, president of the parcel workers group, said there should be another election.

“The company knows they’re wrong about the notice,” he said. “If it’s posted late, it’s posted late. They’re hammering away at the workers there now, discouraging them from voting for us next time.”

UPS Freight spokesman Ira Rosenfeld said the company could not comment beyond what’s been communicated to the NLRB.

Meanwhile, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters said more than 9,900 UPS Freight drivers and dockworkers have approved a five-year contract with the company that provides wage and benefit gains.

The Teamsters have been conducting a card-signing campaign at UPS Freight terminals around the country. The company agreed to recognize the Teamsters at terminals where a majority of workers sign cards favoring representation. Once the cards are certified, the company then recognizes the union.

The Teamsters said the card-signing campaign has succeeded in more than two dozen big cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Los Angeles, Phoenix and St. Louis. The union said an additional 2,700 hourly employees at UPS Freight are eligible to sign cards and come under contract.

However, hourly employees at the local UPS Freight terminal may have to wait longer. Another election on joining the Association of Parcel Workers of America remains a possibility. But even if the NLRB in Washington upholds February’s election results that went against the parcel workers group, another labor organization will have to wait one year after the election before being allowed to organize that work force again.

(kansascity.com)

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