APWA IN THE PRESS: Pensions and Investments


Well-Known Member
Here is an article out today in the nationally distrubted Pensions and Investments magazine. Over 50,000 investment professionals subscribe to Pensions & Investments, and P&I reaches over 165,000 readers when you factor in the average over 3-person per copy pass along rate. Among the top 1,000 money management firms, 80% of all chief investment officers and director of investments regularly read P&I. P&I also reaches over 86% of the gatekeepers at the 1,000 largest U.S. corporate, government, union, education and foundation funds.

Labor dissidents try to oust Teamsters at UPS
Group would control employee share of over $50 billion in multiemployer assets
By Barry B. Burr
July 24, 2006

A dissident labor group is seeking to replace the Teamsters union at United Parcel Service of America Inc. and take control of the employees’ share of more than $50 billion in assets in multiemployer pension funds and more than $1 billion in annual contributions.

The $28 billion Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust Fund, Seattle; $19 billion Central States, Southeast and Southwestern Areas Pension Fund, Rosemont, Ill.; and $3 billion New England Teamsters Pension Fund, Burlington, Mass., are the three largest of the multiemployer funds covering UPS union members.

UPS employees’ represent about 20%, or $600 million, of the assets of the New England fund, said David W. Laughton, trustee and co-chairman of the fund.

The UPS employee share of the other two funds couldn’t be determined. Michael Sander, administrator, Western Conference, and Mark Angerame, chief financial officer, Central States, didn’t return calls for comment.

In all, UPS workers are covered by 35 of some 200 Teamsters multiemployer plans with assets totaling $100 billion, said Leigh Strope, assistant director of communications, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Washington. Norman Black, UPS director-media relations, puts the number of plans at 21. Total assets of the plans covering UPS workers weren’t available from Mr. Black or Ms. Strope.

The new labor group, the Association of Parcel Workers of America, seeks to obtain support among the 241,000 Teamsters-represented employees at Atlanta-based UPS, said Van Skillman, a UPS driver from Greensboro, N.C., and the president and co-founder of the organization.

30% threshold

If the APWA gets at least 30% of Teamsters members at UPS to sign cards declaring support for the new group, the APWA will ask the National Labor Relations Board to force an election between the Teamsters and APWA to determine which one should be certified to represent the employees, Mr. Skillman said. The election could be held as early as January, he said. APWA keeps membership figures confidential, he said.

UPS, as part of its contract negotiation with the Teamsters in 1997, sought to withdraw from the Teamsters’ multiemployer pension plans and start a new UPS plan for these employees. UPS representatives contended then the move would increase workers’ pensions by an average of 50%. UPS ultimately dropped the proposal before the negotiations concluded.

The APWA seeks to represent only UPS employees and take control only of their portion of the multiemployer funds, Mr. Skillman said.

The APWA, should it win certification for UPS, would seek to have contributions that would go into Teamster multiemployer funds put into a new APWA fund, Mr. Skillman said. Wrestling control of the UPS share of the multiemployer funds might prove a protracted legal battle, he acknowledged.

UPS contributed $1.289 billion in 2005 to multiemployer funds, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The bulk of the contributions would be for Teamster funds, although the filing doesn’t break it out.

The new APWA fund Mr. Skillman envisions would be jointly trusteed by APWA and UPS officials, and intended exclusively for UPS employees covered under a new APWA contract once it is negotiated.

The current Teamsters contract with UPS expires in 2008.

Mr. Skillman said his group has been unable to obtain details about money management at the funds. But he believes pensions of UPS workers in Teamster funds could be significantly improved.

UPS workers covered by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers receive more than double the monthly pension benefits that UPS employees under Teamster contract receive, yet pay the same contribution rate, Mr. Skillman said.

The APWA is also concerned about underfunding of the plans, caused in part by so many member employers going out of business. Mr. Skillman said a new APWA plan exclusively for UPS workers would be stronger because it would not have the pension liabilities from companies no longer in business.

Also, Mr. Skillman said, APWA is concerned about the lack of worker representation at the plans. He said Teamster members don’t vote for the union trustees.

The Teamsters’ Ms. Strope said information on how union trustees are appointed would have to come from the individual plans.

APWA has received no support from UPS, Mr. Skillman said, noting that such assistance would be illegal.

UPS’ Mr. Black declined to comment on the APWA, but said, “Our employees have expressed concern about their pensions and health and welfare benefits going forward.”

Underfunding of multiemployer plans “is a concern of employees because of an aging work force, and the Teamsters’ inability to organize new companies and add new employees (and new contributions to the plans),” Mr. Black said.

“Many companies (in the plans) have gone bankrupt, leaving liabilities in the plans,” Mr. Black said.

“Our hourly employees made it clear they are worried about the trend,” Mr. Black said.

The underfunding “doesn’t lead to UPS paying more money (in the plans), but UPS money is being used (by the plans) to pay benefits of people who never worked for UPS.

“It obviously is weakening the health of the pension plan,” Mr. Black said.

Mr. Black had no information on whether UPS would again seek to move employees in Teamster multiemployer plans to a UPS-run plan.

Teamster officials dismiss the APWA effort. “It’s a pipedream they will get enough signatures on cards” to require an election, Ms. Strope said. “We’re not concerned about this group.”