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.