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UPS Drivers Voted Down Their Union Contract, But The Teamsters Are Ratifying It Anyway

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Last month, before he got his chance to vote on a new collective bargaining agreement, UPS driver and Teamsters union member Ken Smith made a prediction. Most of the workers who cast ballots would vote against the proposal, Smith prophesied, but the contract would be ratified anyway, over the wishes of the voting majority.

That’s exactly what’s played out over the last several days, as the Teamsters approved a new 5-year agreement with the shipping giant ― one of the most far-reaching union contracts in the United States, covering more than 200,000 workers and influencing the entire logistics industry.

Fifty-four percent of the 92,604 UPS workers who cast ballots voted down the proposal, many of them no doubt concerned by how it would introduce a new class of lesser-paid drivers to work on weekends. But under the union’s constitution, such a proposal could still be ratified, because less than half of eligible union members exercised their vote.

When participation is that low, at least two-thirds of the votes must be “no” in order to reject a final offer. The UPS vote didn’t reach that bar, known as the two-thirds rule.

“It doesn’t seem very democratic to me,” said Smith, a driver in Tempe, Arizona, who originally made his prediction in August while speaking to a HuffPost reporter.

The messy ratification process has made an already contentious deal even more so.

The contract creates a new UPS job classification known as a “hybrid driver.” These workers will both sort packages in UPS facilities and deliver them out on the truck. They will work on a lower pay scale than current full-time drivers, starting and topping out at lower hourly rates. At the same time, they won’t enjoy the same protections against forced overtime.

UPS says these cheaper drivers will give them the flexibility they need to compete in the cutthroat world of online retail. Indeed, UPS bumps elbows with a lot of non-union operators that pay far lower wages. Amazon, for one, relies on its own army of “independent contractors” who deliver out of their own personal vehicles, as well as little-known courier companies that don’t offer the pay, benefits or stability of a company like UPS.

But many veteran drivers are leery of how such a two-tier system could affect the job over the long term. As HuffPost previously reported, they fear work will be shifted toward the lesser-paid hybrid drivers, and that the latter will find themselves ripe for exploitation. Most of all, they worry about a fraying of solidarity, as drivers may end up doing essentially the same work for less pay than others.

As one vocal “no” voter said in August, “If you continue to treat the next employee worse than the one before and let their rights get eroded, that’s not what being in a union is about.”

Nonetheless, many drivers got the sense that both UPS and union leadership wanted the contract to go through.

It doesn’t seem very democratic to me.
Ken Smith, a UPS driver in Tempe, Arizona.

Opposition to the hybrid driver provision whipped up an active “vote no” campaign among workers, much of it driven by the reform group Teamsters for a Democratic Union, a loud critic of the union’s president, James Hoffa. ”UPSers are furious and rightly,” the group said in a statement after the vote. “We organized and Voted No to reject contract givebacks and [leadership] is threatening to impose them anyway by saying the contracts we rejected are ‘ratified.’”

According to Teamsters for a Democratic Union, this marks the first time a national contract has been ratified despite a majority of “no” votes since the union revamped its two-thirds rule in 1987. It isn’t clear what accounted for the low voter turnout, though the membership includes part-time workers who are less impacted by the contract and probably less likely to cast ballots.

The ratification apparently surprised even UPS. The company originally issued a statement over the weekend saying it was “disappointed” that members had given a thumbs-down to the proposal, forcing everyone back to the table. But in a matter of hours, the company released a new statement saying it was pleased the Teamsters would be accepting the deal. “We look forward to implementing” the contract, the company said.

A Teamsters spokesperson referred HuffPost to a statement from the union essentially saying its hands were tied by its own rules. “Only 44.3 percent of members voted and 54.2 percent opposed the agreement – triggering the constitutional provision,” the union said. “Thus, the National Master Agreement has been ratified.”

The Teamsters said they still intend to negotiate further with UPS to address “a number of member concerns” with the contract. A UPS spokesman declined to comment when asked whether it was open to more bargaining on the question of hybrid drivers.

Smith, the Arizona driver, noted that the language in the Teamsters’ constitution does not necessarily require that the contract be passed due to the low turnout. It just allows for it. The language also seems to open the door to further negotiations ― a step he wishes the union would take.

The non-voting majority, Smith lamented, “have more power over the outcome than those of us who care deeply about the contract and the direction of our union.”

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Ontario’s new automated speed enforcement explained

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(NC) To wage the war against speeding, many municipalities across Ontario have turned to automated speed enforcement. Most recently introduced in Toronto, speed cameras are a high-tech solution to reduce speeding and are considered one of the most effective ways to create safer roads and save lives.  

Recognizing police officers cannot catch all speeders, these cameras fill the gap, providing monitoring in specific locations around the clock. When a car’s speed is even one kilometre over the posted amount, it will take a picture of the offending vehicle’s license plate, using the captured photo as indisputable evidence. A ticket is then served to the vehicle’s owner, regardless of who was driving. 

With a focus on high-risk areas, Ontario’s automated speed enforcement cameras are located in two specific municipal areas: school and community safety zones. School zones are designated streets close to a school, featuring reduced speed limits as dictated by local bylaws. Community safety zones are high-risk corridors and intersections, subject to increased fines and penalties.  

While the Ontario Highway Traffic Act outlines the use of automated speed enforcement, municipalities can decide when and where to use cameras to curb speeding. The act does dictate financial penalties for speed violations captured with cameras, which vary depending on the number of kilometres caught over the speed limit.  

Speed enforcement is not new, but part of a broader, integrated road safety strategy that includes infrastructure improvements, awareness campaigns and new uses of technology. City officials hope for a halo effect, inspiring better driving behaviour across entire communities, not only in areas with cameras. A controversial topic, some critics take exception to speed cameras, labelling them as sneaky cash grabs for municipalities. Governments think the opposite. 

Safety advocate and auto insurance provider Onlia is hopeful that the cameras will provide drivers with a reminder to slow down, especially in high-risk areas like school and community safety zones.  

For those who obey the speed limit, automated speed enforcement shouldn’t change anything about your driving style, says Alex Kelly, Safety Ambassador at OnliaDrivers have fair warning as they approach areas with speed cameras, as mandatory signs provide reasonable notice of upcoming automated speed enforcement. Regardless of warnings, the best speed is the posted speed. 

You can start to understand your speeding style by downloading the insurance provider’s new safe driving app that coaches and rewards for you for safe driving habits.

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Online banking: How to protect yourself from fraud

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(NC) Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, a growing number of consumers are regularly using mobile and online banking to paybill payments, transfer money and make purchases.

Although these tools can give you easy access to your personal finances on demand, there are also some risks involved. For instance, your banking information—such as your debit or credit card number, user name, or personal identification number (PIN)—could be stolen. If criminals have access to your online banking information, they can steal your money, which is why it’s so important to be  vigilant when you bank online.

Follow these tips to help protect your personal and banking information:

  • For your online bank accounts, use a strong password that can’t be easily guessed, and never share your user name or password with anyone.
  • Check your accounts regularly to make sure there are no transactions you didn’t make or authorize.
  • When making online purchases, never authorize a website to save your credit card information, password or other personal information. Giving websites this permission will save you some time the next time you access the site, but it poses a real threat if a hacker manages to access your information.

Most financial institutions have policies to protect you from transactions that you didn’t make.

However, you are responsible for protecting your online and mobile banking information. If you give your details to anyone—including your spouse or partner, a family member or a friend—your financial institution may hold you responsible for any unauthorized transactions in your account, and even strip you of protection from unauthorized transactions in the future.

If you suspect your information may have been compromised, change your passwords immediately, and check your account and credit card statements for anomalies and report any suspicious transactions to your financial institution.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has created resources to help you protect your online banking information.

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Payday loans: Not the best way to borrow money

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(NC) Payday loans are a very expensive way to borrow money. Even if you’re struggling financially, think twice—and crunch the numbers—before getting this type of loan.

Depending on the rules in your province, payday lenders can charge fees of $15 to $25 per $100 that you borrow.

As an example, let’s say you borrow $300 for home repairs. The payday lender charges you $51 in fees, or $17 for every $100 borrowed. Your loan balance is therefore $351, which amounts to an interest rate of 442 per cent.

There can be serious consequences if you don’t repay your loan by the due date. These may include the following:

  • The payday lender may charge you a fee if there isn’t enough money in your account.
  • Your financial institution may also charge you a fee if there isn’t enough money in your account.
  • The total amount that you owe, including the fees, continues to increase.

There are better options out there

Payday loans should be your last resort to borrow money. Consider cheaper ways of borrowing money, such as:

  • Cashing in vacation days or asking for a pay advance from your employer.
  • Getting a line of credit, a cash advance on a credit card or a personal loan from your financial institution.
  • Getting a loan from family or friends.

Before getting a payday loan and to avoid getting stuck in a debt trap, consider other, less expensive ways to borrow money.

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