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




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“It doesn’t seem very democratic to me,” said Smith, a driver in Tempe, Arizona, who originally made his prediction in August while speaking to a HuffPost reporter.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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11-Step Guide to Buying A House




Purchasing a home is likely going to be one of the largest purchases you will make in your lifetime, which is why it is so important to follow the right steps when starting on your home-buying journey to ensure that the entire process goes smoothly from start to finish!

We’ve put together a step-by-step guide to buying a home, to help you get off on the right foot when it comes to buying a home. Click the download button below to download these steps in PDF form.

1. Decide to buy a home

Make sure you are ready both financially and emotionally!

2. Get Pre-Approved

Work with a mortgage broker or your bank. They will work with you on what you require to submit an application. Once approved, this will determine how much you can afford to spend on a home.

3. REALTOR® Consultation

Work with a RE/MAX agent to help guide you through the process. The right agent will discuss your price range, ideal locations, current market conditions and much more!

4. Start Your Search

Your REALTOR® will get you information on new homes that meet your criteria as soon as they’re listed. They’ll work with you and for you to ensure you find your dream home.

5. Current Market Conditions

Your experienced RE/MAX agent is a valuable resource as you consider different properties. They will be there when you have questions regarding the homes you’re interested in – they can tell you what is a good deal, and when to walk away.

6. Make an Offer

Your REALTOR® will help create your offer tailored to your needs including the right subject clauses down to the closing date that works best for you.

7. Negotiate

You may receive a counter offer but don’t be worried! RE/MAX agents will negotiate for you to ensure you get the best possible price for the house you love!

8. Accepted Offer

It’s crunch time! The next few weeks are busy as you need to schedule and remove every one of your subject clauses by the specified date. You’ll likely need to schedule an inspection, appraisal, financing approval, and several others. You will also need to provide a deposit to put down on the home. The deposit will be a pre-determined amount given in-trust to your REALTOR® to show the sellers you are committed to this home. Don’t worry, that money goes towards the purchase of said home if all goes well! This is a busy time but be sure to reach out to your RE/MAX agent if you have any questions or are unsure about next steps.

9. Subject Removal

Once you have completed all your subject clauses, and everything went smooth, it is time for you to sign on the dotted line and consider your new home to be yours (almost!).

10. Official Documents

You will need to provide your RE/MAX agent with your preferred lawyer or notary to have the official title transferred into your name. You will meet with the lawyer or notary in person to sign all the legal documents before you move in. This typically happens a few days before you take possession of your new home.

11. Move In!

Congratulations, you are officially a homeowner! The date pre-determined by you is your move-in day! You can now move into your new home. Your RE/MAX agent will be there ready and waiting to hand you the keys. Enjoy!

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Know When to Rent ‘Em, Know When to Buy ‘Em




We’re told it’s always better to buy than rent. Everyone—from our parents to the banks to the government—encourages us to buy, buy, buy our homes.

But times have changed, and I dare say that these authority figures might be slightly out of touch. The jaw-droppingly high cost of real estate in big cities is encouraging millennials to rent instead of own, causing homeownership rates to drop. At 30 years old, 50.2% of millennials own homes versus 55% of baby boomers at the same age. As a millennial homeowner, I can’t help but wonder if I’m generationally displaced.

There’s an old misconception out there about renting that needs to be addressed. You’re not “throwing away your money” if you’re renting. While that familiar axiom might be true sometimes, there are plenty of circumstances in which it does actually make more sense to rent than buy.

You Might Choose to Rent If…

…You Invest What You Save

Renting tends to come with lower carrying costs than owning. Typically, all you’ll have to worry about paying as a renter is, well, the rent (clearly) and perhaps a share of utilities. This leaves you with extra monthly cash to invest, which can ultimately put you on even financial footing or better with a homeowner.

As always, there’s a familiar caveat here: You need to be financially disciplined for this strategy to pay off. One mistake I see a lot is that those who rent tend to fall prey to something called ‘lifestyle inflation.’ Rather than investing what they save as renters, they just rent nicer apartments, eat at fancier restaurants, and put more money into their wardrobe than their RRSP. But this money vacuum can be easily avoided by:

1. Budgeting to find out how much you have left over to invest each month after factoring out all your expenses, then;

2. Funneling that leftover money directly into your investments. Some robo-advisors, like Wealthsimple, allow you to do this automatically via pre-authorized contributions, which set recurring transfers from your chequing account into your investment portfolio, at whatever amount and interval you choose.

…You Have Rent Control, aka the Urban Holy Grail

Depending on where you live, you might be lucky enough to benefit from the urban miracle known as rent control. That means your landlord can only increase your rent by the rate of inflation, which in turn keeps your cost of living way down and leaves you with more money to invest. In Canada, rent control is now implemented in most big cities like Toronto and Vancouver (although not in Montreal).

…You Have a Mobile Lifestyle

Renting makes it easier to move; if you’d like to relocate it’s usually as simple as giving your landlord 60 days written notice. But when you own a home you’re more tied down, and the obligation to be near your property may prevent you from chasing new adventures in faraway lands. I once turned down a fantastic job opportunity in Dallas, Texas for this very reason.

…You’re on a Tight Budget

Renting tends to be more affordable than buying in big cities like Toronto and Vancouver. I know, I know, renting is still unreasonably pricey in certain neighborhoods. But buying in those same areas can be arm-and-a-leg expensive.

When you rent, all you have to come up with is the first and last month’s rent; no need to scrimp and save to pull together a massive down payment on a house, which, incidentally, will take you two to four times longer to save than it did your parents.

And homeownership leads to a lot of other costs aside from mortgage payments. When you buy real estate, you’ll need to pay closing costs, which typically add up to between 1.5%–4% of the property’s purchase price and can include a home inspection fee, real estate lawyer fee, land transfer taxes, and homeowners insurance (sometimes you’ll have to fork over an entire year’s worth of home insurance as one lump sum).

There’s also the elephant in the room that nobody likes to speak about: repairs and maintenance. Homeowners are responsible for paying the big bucks for costly home repairs, such as a new roof and furnace, and are advised to set aside 3–5% of a home’s value toward home repairs and maintenance each year. Renters, on the other hand, can just call their landlord whenever they need repairs (provided the landlord actually picks up). Still, it’s important that tenants know their rights when renting to be aware of which fees do and don’t fall under their responsibility.

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A Montreal Real Estate Broker Answered 5 Qs About Buying A Property To Rent Out




You’ve probably heard that Montreal’s real estate market is on fire. But how can you get in on the action? According to Alex Marshall, a local real estate broker, buying a property as an investment for the purpose of renting it out is a great way to go about it.

Marshall, who’s part of the Keller Williams Prestige team, sat down with us to explain why and how to purchase an investment property. These types of properties are also known as revenue properties.

Why do you recommend buying a revenue property?

Marshall used personal experience to highlight the advantages of owning a revenue property. He’s currently renting out the Saint-Henri loft he bought in 2010.

“Not only is my tenant paying off my mortgage, but I’m making a couple 100 bucks a month as well,” Marshall said.

Marshall was also able to take out a line of credit on the property, he said, and use the equity to buy an additional property.

“You actually don’t need to live in the property that you buy. I’m seeing clients who are in apartments with low rent [who] don’t want to move but have got the money right now … and are looking for smart ways to invest,” he said.

What are some tips to help people save up for a revenue property?

When Marshall was saving up to buy his first property, he said he worked a second job. 

“There’s a lot of value to having that side hustle … even if it’s at Subway or it’s at a landscaping company on Saturdays. It will add up significantly in the long run,” he said.

He gave the example of adding $5,000 to your annual income.

Marshall said you can qualify to borrow roughly four times your annual salary for a mortgage so $5,000 could actually provide you with an extra $20,000 of buying power.

“That might get you a second bedroom, that might get you a parking spot, that might get you a larger space,” he said.

The pandemic, Marshall said, has also helped some of his clients save extra funds.

“You can’t travel, you can’t go to the restaurant, you can’t go to the theatre, you can’t go to the bar. So a lot of people right now are finding themselves with almost a disposable income,” he said.

Marshall also recommends looking into Canada’s Home Buyers’ Plan program, which allows you to withdraw up to $35,000 — — tax-free — from your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) to put toward buying or building a qualifying home. 

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