From The New York Times
By Kareem Fahim
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United Parcel Service said yesterday that it would offer health benefits to its employees’ partners in civil unions in New Jersey, 10 days after Gov. Jon S. Corzine wrote a letter urging it to comply with the state’s five-month-old civil union law.
The policy decision was a reversal for the company, which had said it could not offer such benefits because the couples were not legally married, and will affect an unspecified number of United Parcel’s 8,700 employees who belong to the Teamsters union.
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Two couples, through a lawyer, formally appealed to the company in recent months to give them benefits. One of the employees, Tom Walton, received a letter yesterday from the claims review committee, telling him that his and his partner’s request had been approved.
This is big news. UPS is a big-time company. And they’re not thought of as some frou-frou ‘blue state’ company. And they’re not run by George Soros or some other ‘liberal’ capitalist. The problem with partnerships, in the eyes of the insurers, is that they are A) not verifiable and B) somewhat more likely than marriage to dissolve. Creating civil unions (say, in New Jersey) alleviates the former and time will only tell if the latter is still applicable. Companies may be reluctant to include partners because it costs them money (sometimes the rate for a couple is more than twice what an individual would cost – weird). And UPS is very money-conscious; how else could you explain the boring brown uniforms? We wonder if UPS will adopt this policy company-wide or just in civil union states. We also wonder if this will lead the Teamsters to demand this with other companies. Can you imagine a picket line of Teamsters demanding gay rights? That would be a sight.