In a major labor victory, United Parcel Service (UPS) employees have overwhelmingly ratified a new five-year union contract, averting a prospective strike involving 340,000 workers. The agreement, which has been touted as "historic" by the Teamsters Union, was approved by an unprecedented 86.3% of members, marking the highest vote for a contract in the union’s history with UPS. The new contract, which includes substantial pay increases and improved working conditions, sets a powerful precedent in the package-delivery industry.
The deal, which has been heralded as a "template for how workers should be paid and protected nationwide," includes a $2.75-an-hour raise for existing full- and part-time union members this year, and a total of a $7.50-an-hour raise over the next five years. The agreement also ensures that all existing part-timers will earn at least $21 an hour, immediately making UPS Teamsters the highest-paid delivery drivers in the country. The contract further eliminates the two-tier wage system, ensuring equal pay for drivers and warehouse workers.
UPS Employees Approve New Union Contract
United Parcel Services (UPS) employees have approved a new five-year union contract, averting a potential strike involving 340,000 workers. The Teamsters Union announced that 86.3% of members voted in favor of the contract, a record-breaking approval rate in the union’s history with UPS.
A Template for the Industry
Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien celebrated the agreement as a new standard for the package-delivery industry, with significant implications for pay, benefits, and working conditions. He warned non-union companies, such as Amazon, to pay close attention to this development.
Matt Leichenger, a UPS driver based in Brooklyn, called the contract the best he and his colleagues from the 1997 strike had ever seen. He attributed the union’s success to a credible strike threat. Nonetheless, Leichenger stressed the importance of enforcing the contract, emphasizing that the struggle is far from over.
Significant Pay Raises and Benefits
The contract includes a $2.75 per hour pay raise for full- and part-time union members this year, with a total increase of $7.50 per hour over five years. Part-timers will earn at least $21 per hour starting immediately.
The Teamsters Union also highlighted that the pay increase will maintain UPS Teamsters as the highest-paid delivery drivers in the country. The average top rate will rise to $49 per hour. Additionally, the new contract abolishes the two-tier wage system, reclassifying all UPS Teamster drivers currently considered as hybrid drivers and warehouse workers, who were paid less, as regular package car drivers.
Company Statement and Future Negotiations
A UPS spokesperson stated, "Our Teamsters-represented employees have voted to overwhelmingly ratify a new five-year National Master Agreement that covers more than 300,000 full- and part-time UPS employees in the U.S."
However, a local supplemental agreement that affects 174 workers in Florida will be renegotiated. The national master agreement will take effect once this supplement, one of 44 local supplements, has been renegotiated and ratified.
Conclusion and Takeaways
This contract sets a strong precedent for the package-delivery industry, potentially pressuring non-union companies to improve their pay and working conditions. However, the challenge ahead is enforcing the contract and ensuring it benefits all UPS employees. It will be interesting to see how other companies and unions react to this development and what impact it will have on industry standards.