Just practicing for a just contract: UPS Teamsters demand fair pay and benefits
Just practicing for a just contract: UPS Teamsters demand fair pay and benefits (Photo courtesy of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters)

The Inter­na­tion­al Broth­er­hood of Team­sters and UPS have struck a deal on a ten­ta­tive con­tract that pro­vides big wins for the com­pa­ny’s work­force and will, if rat­i­fied by the mem­ber­ship, avert a strike that would have been very dam­ag­ing for the com­pa­ny, which is union­ized, unlike its rival FedEx.

“Rank-and-file UPS Team­sters sac­ri­ficed every­thing to get this coun­try through a pan­dem­ic and enabled UPS to reap record-set­ting prof­its. Team­ster labor moves Amer­i­ca. The union went into this fight com­mit­ted to win­ning for our mem­bers. We demand­ed the best con­tract in the his­to­ry of UPS, and we got it,” said Team­sters Gen­er­al Pres­i­dent Sean M. O’Brien in a state­ment.

“UPS has put $30 bil­lion in new mon­ey on the table as a direct result of these nego­ti­a­tions. We’ve changed the game, bat­tling it out day and night to make sure our mem­bers won an agree­ment that pays strong wages, rewards their labor, and doesn’t require a sin­gle con­ces­sion. This con­tract sets a new stan­dard in the labor move­ment and rais­es the bar for all workers.”

“Togeth­er we reached a win-win-win agree­ment on the issues that are impor­tant to Team­sters lead­er­ship, our employ­ees and to UPS and our cus­tomers,” said Car­ol Tomé, UPS chief exec­u­tive offi­cer, in a state­ment released to the pub­lic and the press. “This agree­ment con­tin­ues to reward UPS’s full- and part-time employ­ees with indus­try-lead­ing pay and ben­e­fits while retain­ing the flex­i­bil­i­ty we need to stay com­pet­i­tive, serve our cus­tomers and keep our busi­ness strong.”

“Tomé has donat­ed over $70,000 in the past decade to nation­al politi­cians and com­mit­tees set on rolling back union pro­tec­tions, accord­ing to records filed with the Fed­er­al Elec­tion Com­mis­sion,” The Inter­cept report­ed on July 14th.

“Rank-and-file mem­bers served on the com­mit­tee for the first time, so we got to show up every day to sup­port our fel­low Team­sters and share their sto­ries,” said Brandy Har­ris, a part-time UPS Team­ster with Local 174 in Seat­tle and a mem­ber of the Team­sters Nation­al Nego­ti­at­ing Com­mit­tee, in a statement.

“Our hard work has paid off — from those mem­bers and lead­ers nego­ti­at­ing for more at the table to my sis­ters and broth­ers build­ing a cred­i­ble strike threat around the coun­try. Our union was orga­nized and we were relent­less. We’ve hit every goal that UPS Team­ster mem­bers want­ed and asked for with this agree­ment. It’s a ‘yes’ vote for the most his­toric con­tract we’ve ever had.”

“I applaud the Team­sters and UPS for com­ing togeth­er, nego­ti­at­ing in good faith, and reach­ing a ten­ta­tive agree­ment today that will avoid a shut­down at UPS,” said Pres­i­dent Joe Biden in a state­ment issued by the White House.

“While this agree­ment still awaits final rat­i­fi­ca­tion by Team­sters mem­bers, today’s announce­ment moves us clos­er to a bet­ter deal for work­ers that will also add to our eco­nom­ic momen­tum. I’ve always said that col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing works by pro­vid­ing work­ers a seat at the table and the oppor­tu­ni­ty to improve their lives while con­tribut­ing ful­ly to their employer’s success.”

“This agree­ment is a tes­ta­ment to the pow­er of employ­ers and employ­ees com­ing togeth­er to work out their dif­fer­ences at the bar­gain­ing table in a man­ner that helps busi­ness­es suc­ceed while help­ing work­ers secure pay and ben­e­fits they can raise a fam­i­ly on and retire with dig­ni­ty and respect.”

The union cit­ed the fol­low­ing pro­vi­sions as high­lights of the deal:

  • His­toric wage increas­es. Exist­ing full- and part-time UPS Team­sters will get $2.75 more per hour in 2023, and $7.50 more per hour over the length of the contract.
  • Exist­ing part-timers will be raised up to no less than $21 per hour imme­di­ate­ly, and part-time senior­i­ty work­ers earn­ing more under a mar­ket rate adjust­ment would still receive all new gen­er­al wage increases.
  • Gen­er­al wage increas­es for part-time work­ers will be dou­ble the amount obtained in the pre­vi­ous UPS Team­sters con­tract — and exist­ing part-time work­ers will receive a 48 per­cent aver­age total wage increase over the next five years.
  • Wage increas­es for full-timers will keep UPS Team­sters the high­est paid deliv­ery dri­vers in the nation, improv­ing their aver­age top rate to $49 per hour.
  • Cur­rent UPS Team­sters work­ing part-time would receive longevi­ty wage increas­es of up to $1.50 per hour on top of new hourly rais­es, com­pound­ing their earnings.
  • New part-time hires at UPS would start at $21 per hour and advance to $23 per hour.
  • All UPS Team­ster dri­vers clas­si­fied as 22.4s would be reclas­si­fied imme­di­ate­ly to Reg­u­lar Pack­age Car Dri­vers and placed into senior­i­ty, end­ing the unfair two-tier wage sys­tem at UPS.
  • Safe­ty and health pro­tec­tions, includ­ing vehi­cle air con­di­tion­ing and car­go ven­ti­la­tion. UPS will equip in-cab A/C in all larg­er deliv­ery vehi­cles, sprint­er vans, and pack­age cars pur­chased after Jan. 1, 2024. All cars get two fans and air induc­tion vents in the car­go compartments.
  • All UPS Team­sters would receive Mar­tin Luther King Day as a full hol­i­day for the first time.
  • No more forced over­time on Team­ster dri­vers’ days off. Dri­vers would keep one of two work­week sched­ules and could not be forced into over­time on sched­uled off-days.
  • UPS Team­ster part-timers will have pri­or­i­ty to per­form all sea­son­al sup­port work using their own vehi­cles with a locked-in eight-hour guar­an­tee. For the first time, sea­son­al work will be con­tained to five weeks only from November-December.
  • The cre­ation of 7,500 new full-time Team­ster jobs at UPS and the ful­fill­ment of 22,500 open posi­tions, estab­lish­ing more oppor­tu­ni­ties through the life of the agree­ment for part-timers to tran­si­tion to full-time work.
  • More than 60 total changes and improve­ments to the Nation­al Mas­ter Agree­ment — more than any oth­er time in Team­sters his­to­ry — and zero con­ces­sions from the rank-and-file.

The union empha­sized that the agree­ment with UPS is the “sin­gle largest pri­vate-sec­tor col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment in North Amer­i­ca.” It cov­ers about 330,000 pack­age deliv­ery dri­vers and pack­age sorters.

Next week, Team­ster mem­bers will get an oppor­tu­ni­ty to start eval­u­at­ing the deal. “Locals will con­duct mem­ber meet­ings and Team­sters will have sev­er­al weeks to vote on the offer elec­tron­i­cal­ly,” the union says. “Mem­ber vot­ing begins August 3rd and con­cludes August 22nd.” The nego­ti­at­ing team is rec­om­mend­ing approval of the agree­ment. If rat­i­fied, it would be in place for five years.

The con­sult­ing firm Ander­son Eco­nom­ic Group cal­cu­lat­ed ear­li­est this month that even a ten-day strike would be extreme­ly cost­ly. It “would like­ly fur­lough 340,000 work­ers, who are cur­rent­ly earn­ing annu­al wages of approx­i­mate­ly $90,000 per year (exclud­ing ben­e­fits), result­ing in wage loss­es of $1.1 bil­lion.” Addi­tion­al­ly, the firm esti­mat­ed that UPS cus­tomers might incur loss­es exceed­ing $4 billion.

The Team­sters had pre­vi­ous­ly warned that a strike “now appears inevitable” after an “appalling coun­ter­pro­pos­al” from UPS. UPS lead­er­ship and com­mu­ni­ca­tions per­son­nel respond­ing by stress­ing that they were still com­mit­ted to reach­ing an agree­ment. And now, a deal has been struck. The details mat­ter, of course, and the actu­al agree­ment text has not been pro­vid­ed, but the above key wins seem like­ly to be favor­ably received by Team­sters mem­bers. As the union points out, there’s no big con­ces­sions being made to the com­pa­ny, and the new con­tract will pro­vide for safer and bet­ter work­ing con­di­tions along with increased pay.

It’s good to hear that new trucks will have to have air con­di­tion­ing begin­ning in Jan­u­ary, and exist­ing trucks retro­fit­ted with more fans and ven­ti­la­tion systems.

Twen­ty-eight Demo­c­ra­t­ic or inde­pen­dent sen­a­tors and one hun­dred and sev­en­ty-two Demo­c­ra­t­ic House mem­bers had pledged in open let­ters not to inter­vene if the nego­ti­a­tions failed and a strike began. Among the sig­na­to­ries were Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden of Ore­gon, along with Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Val Hoyle, Adam Smith, Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Andrea Sali­nas, Suzan Del­Bene, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Rick Larsen, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Mary Pel­to­la, and Derek Kilmer, rep­re­sent­ing the states of Ore­gon, Wash­ing­ton, and Alaska.

“We are hope­ful that both sides can nego­ti­ate in good faith and reach a con­sen­sus agree­ment that address­es basic human needs and allows work­ers to do their jobs safe­ly and with dig­ni­ty,” the let­ter said.

“How­ev­er, in the event a fair and equi­table col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment can­not be reached, we com­mit to respect our con­stituents’ statu­to­ry and con­sti­tu­tion­al rights to with­hold their labor and ini­ti­ate and par­tic­i­pate in a strike.”

NPI con­grat­u­lates the Team­sters on the suc­cess­ful nego­ti­a­tions. We wish the mem­ber­ship well as they study and vote on the pro­posed five year contract.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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