Nothing says “Happy Holidays!” like taking all but $15 from thousands of workers who just put in dozens of hours to help deliver presents to friends and family.
That’s what happened to Sheila O’Malley of Charlestown, Boston, who worked 41 hours the first week of a seasonal UPS job only to learn that the union, Teamsters Local 25, decided to force employees to pay its $490 initiation fee and dues up front instead of taking the fee in weekly installments. The result was that thousands of seasonal employees took home almost nothing for their work.
After pulling 41 hours, O’Malley opened up her first paycheck to learn to her dismay that the Teamsters had taken all but $14.52. “I was shocked,” O’Malley told CBS Boston.
Assuming the whole thing had to be some kind of mix-up and that, certainly, she’d be partly refunded, O’Malley contacted her union representative about the almost complete confiscation of her pay. It wasn’t a mistake.
“I cried and tried to plead my case with them. But there was no wiggle room,” she said. The union representative “said ‘You’re a part of the union now and you won’t have to worry about that coming out of your check.'”
“Financially it was crippling,” she said. “It seemed like a few hundred dollars but that money was already spent and then we didn’t have it.”
CBS notes that O’Malley is not alone in being forced to cough up hundreds of dollars up front to join the union for the seasonal work. She is among “thousands” of other seasonal UPS workers who are caught in the same financially “crippling” agreements. Other new hires told the station that they too found their paychecks leeched of the costly initiation fee and dues.
Some of the seasonal workers claimed that union officials tried to pass the blame to UPS; however, UPS made clear that this is all on the Teamsters. While the union’s policy used to be a far more reasonable $32 weekly installment approach, “Local 25 reversed this longstanding practice by rescinding this policy,” a UPS spokesman told the station.
But there’s some good news on the horizon, at least for future season employees: The union appears to have been forced to reverse its new, widely criticized policy. UPS says that Local 25 has now reinstated the old installment plan.
Along with the increased public scrutiny of the union’s Scrooge-like dues collections, authorities have gotten involved. The station’s “I-Team” has learned that the National Labor Relations Board “is now investigating charges of unfair labor practices against the Teamsters Local 25.”
The Teamsters declined offering a comment due to the pending NLRB case, but O’Malley was more than willing to give a few, including one comment that strikes at the heart of the union’s promises versus its action: “I thought they were supposed to protect our rights,” she said. Instead, they seem more concerned about collecting their dues.