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Teamsters win historic UPS deal and set tone for transport worker negotiations globally

news 26 Jul 2023

In an eleventh-hour deal, UPS has accepted the demands of 340,000 rank-and-file Teamsters’ union members on pay and conditions, narrowly avoiding a strike that would have paralysed their operations across the United States with impacts globally.

“This deal is incredibly important for transport workers the world over,” said Paddy Crumlin, President of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). “UPS is a huge employer and its acceptance of workers’ demands sets the tone for many other pay talks. It’s a major victory for the Teamsters in the US, showing what can be achieved when workers stand together and stand firm.”

“We congratulate Teamsters’ General President Sean O'Brien, the Teamsters’ leadership and the negotiating team for the strength of their strategy, and every Teamsters’ union member for their resolve in winning this historic deal.”

Teamsters’ General President Sean M O'Brien told media yesterday that the UPS pay deal victory means an additional USD $30 billion that will land in the pockets of their members.

“We’re delighted that UPS has seen reason with this contract, coming to understand that its business thrives when it treats its workers fairly, pays them a decent wage and works with the workers and their unions on improving working conditions,” said Crumlin.

The tentative agreement will be voted on by Teamsters members during August and is expected to be approved. It will create a level playing field for part-time workers, giving them the same pay and conditions as their full-time colleagues. The contract runs until 2028 and will see existing part-time workers receiving a 48 percent average total wage increase over the next five years.

UPS workers have not gone on strike this century and so the Teamsters’ threat was significant, underscoring workers’ anger at their treatment in recent years. UPS ships 24 million packages daily in the US, about a quarter of the country’s parcels, AP reported. The newswire quoted an estimate from consulting firm Anderson Economic Group that a 10-day UPS walk-out could have cost the US economy more than USD $7 billion and triggered “significant and lasting harm” to the business.

The ITF was ready to mobilise UPS workers and their unions around the world in support of striking US workers after UPS management had walked away from the negotiating table on July 5.

“Like many companies in the transport sector, UPS made enormous profits during the pandemic and the consequent changes in business and society,” said Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the ITF. “That was only possible with the dedication and commitment of the UPS workers. Yet despite this, UPS seemed determined to crush the very workers it relies on. The global labour movement, and particularly UPS unions, were watching this dispute, and waiting to act if called upon.”

“This is a huge win for UPS Teamsters, but also for transport workers the world over,” said Cotton. “Transport workers globally deserve and are demanding respect and recognition, and this win was about much more than pay, it was about respect for transport workers, and for workers who keep our world moving, who keep our supply chains moving, and who work day in, day out despite pandemics and other crises. Massive congratulations to the Sean and his leadership team, their victory sets an expectation for transport companies globally.” 

Highlights of the agreement

The tentative 2023-2028 UPS Teamsters National Master Agreement includes:

  • Existing full- and part-time UPS Teamsters will get $2.75 more an hour in 2023, and $7.50 more an hour over the length of the contract.
  • Existing part-timers will be raised up to no less than $21 an hour immediately. Part-time seniority workers earning more under a market rate adjustment would still receive all new general wage increases.
  • Existing part-time workers will receive a 48 percent average total wage increase over the next five years.
  • Wage increases will improve the average top rate for full-timers to $49 per hour.
  • Current UPS Teamsters working part-time to get longevity wage increases of up to $1.50 an hour on top of new hourly raises.
  • New part-time hires at UPS would start at $21 and advance to $23 an hour.
  • Flexible drivers who do not work traditional Monday-Friday shifts will be reclassified as 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.
  • Martin Luther King Day (15 January) will be an additional full holiday for the first time.
  • Drivers can no longer 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 limited to five weeks from November-December.
  • The creation of 7,500 new full-time Teamster jobs at UPS and the fulfilment of 22,500 open positions, establishing more opportunities through the life of the agreement for part-timers to transition to full-time work.

Read the Teamsters' press release for more on the UPS Teamsters win.