Winning Gains Beyond Dollars and Cents By Ron Carey It was no secret that, going into negotiations, UPS was prepared to offer sizable wage increases to avoid a repeat of the 1997 strike. The critical question was what would our union achieve beyond economic issues to win protections for the future. Fighting for the Future wasnt just a slogan for us in 1997. It was our motivating principle. We looked down the road and said, we cant keep letting UPS lead Corporate America in turning good full-time jobs into part-time jobs. We said, Part-Time America Wont Work. It sure doesnt work for part-timers. And it doesnt build power for full-timers when the majority of your co-workers are making about a third of full-time wages. The union had the chance to build off the 97 victory at the bargaining table this year. Union contracts are not just about money. More important issues are at stake, like decent working conditions, rights, and job protections that provide security for Teamster members. UPS has always thrown money on the table, in hopes of buying a ratification vote. In exchange, theyre after concessions and secret side-letter agreements (not to be included in the contract), which jeopardize good jobs, and hard won conditions. We fought hard in 1997 against this kind of tactic, because we knew the value of contractual guarantees that protect members into the future. Hoffa said he was going to make improvements in these areas. He said the big issues included pensions, unwanted overtime, closing the wage gap. But during negotiations we entered this information black hole and when we came out on the other end we found out we hadnt won on any of those issues. It looks to me like Hoffa took a shortcut. UPS had the checkbook out, trying to lure members into accepting the contract. Hoffa settled for 75 or 80 cents and the 10,000 jobs won by the union in 1997. But he handed over a six-year contract to the company. Six years is too long to wait to negotiate the improvements and protections that were left on the bargaining table, too long for the side-letter concessions and for no pension increase in the Central States. Its important to win gains that go beyond basic dollars and cents. It takes vision and determination. It requires constant communication with the members. And most importantly, it demands preparation and the ability to take on the tough fight. RON CAREY IS THE FORMER GENERAL PRESIDENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS AND THE LEADER OF THE VICTORIOUS 1997 UPS STRIKE.