In what first impressions indicate to be a major win for Teamsters Union drivers at UPS, the company and the union came to a tentative agreement July 25 on a five-year contract, avoiding a massive strike that would have had a major impact on the US economy. The 325,000 UPS drivers had voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike on August 1, the date the old contract ended, if an agreement on a new one was not reached by that date.
After negotiations broke down in early July, prospects were pessimistic about avoiding a strike until they resumed with a major company concession on part-time drivers July 25. The agreement was sealed a few hours later. The new agreement still has to be ratified by the Teamsters Union membership, a process that will take several weeks.
“We demanded the best contract in the history of UPS, and we got it,” the Teamsters president, Sean M. O’Brien, said in a statement. “UPS has put $30 billion in new money on the table as a direct result of these negotiations.” For the first time in Teamster’s Union history, rank-and-file members served on the union’s negotiating committee.
According to a union statement, the new contract provisions include:
- Historic wage increases. Existing full- and part-time UPS Teamsters will get $2.75 more per hour in 2023. Over the length of the contract, wage increases will total $7.50 per hour.
- Existing part-timers will immediately be raised up to no less than $21 per hour, a big boost from then current minimum of $16.20 for part-timers now. and part-time seniority workers earning more under a market rate adjustment would still receive all new general wage increases. Part timers currently comprise nearly half ofm UPS drivers.
- 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. They currently make $42 on average after four years.
- 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.
- An end to the unfair two-tier wage system and all drivers now entitled to seniority protection.
- 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.
- 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.
- No concessions from the rank-and-file.
The contract, if ratified, is a big win for the new teamster leadership, which is closer to the ßrank-and-file members, that ousted the old guard in a direct election of the entire membership last year. Previously, the leadership was chosen by delegates at national conventions.