Ups Union Constitution on Contract Ratification Vote Leaves Teamsters Drivers Feel Betrayed


Tens of thousands of Teamsters members in early October rejected a five-year contract agreement with United Parcel Service, unhappy with a proposal to create a new class of drivers with lower pay. But after less than half of the eligible union members cast ballots, one of the largest collective bargaining contracts in the nation has been ratified.

Unlike Pakistan, contracts negotiated by the CBA must be ratified by workers for final approval according to labor laws in most of western countries. Ratification helps workers to keep a check on their leadership if the negotiated contracts are not favourable to workers or tainted with corruption.

Fifty-four percent of the ballots were "no" votes, but under a Teamster rule, a rejection requires two-thirds of the voters to vote down the contract when less than half of eligible members participate.

Now, many Teamsters members are angry, divided and feel like their union leaders have betrayed them. "This destroys unions," said Sean Mason, a UPS driver in the Orlando, Florida area. "They had 54 percent of the people vote NO and they ignored the vote."

Atlanta-based UPS has one of the nation's largest unionized workforces, with the Teamsters representing around 240,000 UPS drivers, package sorters, loaders and clerks. UPS workers represent the largest share of members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, whose president, James Hoffa, is the son of the legendary Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa, whose 1975 disappearance is an enduring mystery.

During the Oct. 5 UPS vote, 44 percent of eligible Teamsters members cast ballots for the national contract. Under a rule in the Teamster's constitution, in cases where less than half of eligible members vote, at least two-thirds of voters...

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