UPS workers ratify new five-year contract, eliminating strike risk

UPS workers ratify new five-year contract, eliminating strike risk

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UPS workers on Tuesday overwhelmingly voted to ratify a new contract that includes higher wages for workers, effectively eliminating the risk of a strike that would have been the biggest in 60 years.

About 86% of voting members approved the contract, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters said in a press release announcing the vote results. The agreement, which will also create more full-time jobs and will secure air-conditioning in new trucks, covers about 340,000 UPS workers in the U.S.

UPS drivers will earn an average of $170,000 in annual pay and benefits by the end of the five-year contract agreement, UPS CEO Carol Tomé said in an earnings call earlier this month. The vote was the highest share in favor of a contract in the history of the Teamsters at UPS, the union said. 

“Our members just ratified the most lucrative agreement the Teamsters have ever negotiated at UPS. This contract will improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers,” Teamsters general president Sean M. O’Brien said in the Tuesday statement.

O’Brien said the new contract “raised the bar for pay, benefits, and working conditions in the package delivery industry.”

Teamsters general secretary-treasurer Fred Zuckerman called the new five-year contract the “richest” he’d seen in 40 years. 

What’s in the new UPS contract

Here’s some of what UPS workers are getting in the new contract:

  • Both full- and part-time UPS workers who are union members will get $2.75 more per hour in wages in 2023
  • New part-time hires at UPS will start at $21 per hour and advance to $23 per hour. Wage increases will reach $7.50 an hour over the length of the contract
  • Protections including in-vehicle air conditioning and cargo ventilation
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a full holiday for the first time
  • No forced overtime

Not all workers are happy with the deal, though. Anaheim, California-based package handler Jose Francisco Negrete, who has been working at UPS for 25 years, called the $21 an hour that new part-time hires will earn “poverty pay.” He had been part of a contingent of workers calling for a $25 hourly minimum for part-timers.

In addition to the national master agreement, the union also said more than 40 supplemental agreements were ratified. One agreement covering roughly 170 Florida union members was not ratified. The national master agreement will go into effect when it is renegotiated and ratified, Teamsters said.

A UPS worker strike lasting 10 days could have cost the U.S. economy more than $7 billion, according to the consulting firm Anderson Economic Group. Such a walkout would also have caused “significant and lasting harm” to the business and workers, according to the group. 

— The Associated Press contributed to this report

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