The RISKS of Independent Health & Welfare Agreements

Discussion in 'UPS Union Issues' started by InsideUPS, Sep 25, 2013.

  1. InsideUPS

    InsideUPS Active Member

    One Health & Welfare concept that I am intimately familiar with is Teamster Locals obtaining their own benefit plan from local providers rather than going with TeamCare.

    Forum comments such as:

    "Vote no! Guy's let's see what the western conferance get's. They have not released any new detail's to their new improvements in healthcare. Vote no and see if we can get the same."

    Why is it that no one thinks about the risks and long term ramifications of Teamster Locals obtaining their own healthcare plans?

    Our Local here in Ohio has a local H & W plan for our full-time workers (much like the Western Conference). As a PT steward, I initially argued here on BC and through petition to Ken H that our part-time work force should be allowed to join our Local H & W plan rather than TeamCare. A MAJOR concern that I always had was : "What IF our Local plan somehow decides to raise premiums, reduce benefits, etc.. The contract arrangement with our local H & W provider does NOT run UPS-contract to contract. Our BA is left on his own to negotiate rates, benefits, etc..

    Not ONE of the FT workers in our building that I polled had any idea when their H & W agreement ended. The answer is that it ends in three years. Again, what happens when that contract ends? Premiums really cannot be raised considering that UPS is paying a fixed amount per driver. The only other recourse is to reduce benefits in which our FT workers will have no recourse.

    Summary - In all good conscious, I could no longer attempt to guide our PT workforce into a plan that had so many uncertainties. People have been putting TeamCare under a microscope but have NO CLUE about the "microscopic" details of their potential H & W plan (such as the Western Conference). Furthermore, many local plans DO NOT have complete coverage when traveling away from home.

    Unions are about Unity......splitting off to separate plans will only weaken our Union more which is exactly what UPS would like. The petty, greedy, comments exemplified above will only continue to weaken us. It is my hope that some day....... we will ALL be in the same plan with the same benefits. I for one am happy to be away from UPS and their insurance. Anyone that remembers the forced ending of the "Thrift Plan" should understand how UPS can be deceptively ruthless in their business planning. Little did we hourly employees know that we were being forced to sell our "stock" in the company BEFORE the IPO.....

  2. PiedmontSteward

    PiedmontSteward RTW-4-Less

    From what little bit of reading I've done on locally-based plans, aren't these local union plans typically negotiated with the largest local hospital network? Basically meaning that the participants are in a relatively tiny "network" although all of their basic needs are met. Thus, they might be on the hook for an ER visit while out-of-town. Additionally, as you said, if the provider tries to raise rates after that 3 year window, UPS cannot be compelled to increase contributions within an already-negotiated CBA with a 5 year term. Smaller locals -- even, say, Local 89 with 9,000 UPS or even their 14,000 total member participants -- have nowhere near the same buying power on the market as does TeamCare with 150,000+ potential UPS participants alone. I'm also assuming the local unions are responsible for the overhead/administration of the plans, which requires additional office staff and resources that could be spent elsewhere.

    Personally, I feel that TeamCare gives us more leverage going forward. In the event of a strike, TeamCare would continue our insurance coverage (that leverage is increased by the thousands of other participants from other companies) while we are on the street. Conversely, the UPS company plan would have required COBRA payments from the rank-and-file or the individual locals themselves. It didn't end up being an issue in 1997 because the strike was over within ~2 weeks, but it could be one in the future. I'm sure many strikers who contemplated crossing the picket line were compelled to do the right thing because they knew the local wouldn't pick up the tab for their COBRA payments if they were seen crossing.

    Additionally, the 100,000+ (previously would have been 140,000 but I don't have any estimates on how many will be pulled into the locally negotiated plans/carve outs such as Local 177's) new participants will provide additional economic security to other Teamsters in different industries. That's one of the primary strengths of a Taft-Hartley plan: if the various participants span multiple diverse industries, the likelihood of an economic catastrophe seriously damaging the plan is greatly reduced. More contributing members equals greater buying power, something that the "carve out" locals don't seem willing to contemplate.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2013