Originally created 08/12/97

Teamsters & pensions

A "deal-breaker" for the Teamsters in the United Parcel Service strike, says a UPS negotiator, is the union's rejection of a proposal that it surrender control of UPS members' pension funds.

Not too many years ago, don't forget, Teamster pensions were also known as the "mob's bank" -- raided to pay off gangsters and killers.

Since federal authorities intervened in the late 1980s, pension management has supposedly gotten more honest -- but not more efficient.

Profitable UPS pensions, for instance, are used to help fund the pensions of Teamsters working for less competitive companies.

UPS management points out that pension payouts to its workers could be boosted by a whopping 50 percent if other Teamster members' pensions weren't being subsidized.

Management has asked in negotiations to let UPS workers vote on whether they want to keep their pensions in Teamster hands or to let the company control them. This seems like a reasonable, democratic request, but labor negotiators will have none of it.

A Teamsters union that goes to such extremes to retain control of pensions -- at the expense of UPS workers it has put out on strike -- is a throwback to the bad, old days. The strike is less about workers' wages and rights than it is about Teamster bosses keeping their hands on the pension honey-pot.


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