UPS Teamsters Overwhelmingly Approve ‘Historic’ New Contract, Averting Strike

“This is the template for how workers should be paid and protected nationwide, and nonunion companies like Amazon better pay attention,” said Teamsters president Sean O’Brien.

By Brett Wilkins. Published 8-22-2023 by Common Dreams

In Canarsie, Brooklyn, UPS Teamsters from Local 804 rallied in front of a UPS Customer Center on April 21. Photo: Peoples Dispatch

United Parcel Service workers in the International Brotherhood of Teamsters on Tuesday overwhelmingly ratified what the union called “the most historic collective bargaining agreement in the history of UPS,” avoiding what experts said would have been a crippling strike.

Teamsters members voted by 86.3% to approve the new tentative contract, which raises wages for full- and part-time workers, creates more full-time jobs, and secures “important workplace protections, including air conditioning.”

Both rank-and-file members and leaders of the 340,000-member union overwhelmingly approved the deal, with Teamsters leadership voting 161-1 in favor of the package.

“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 O’Brien said in a statement. “Teamsters have set a new standard and raised the bar for pay, benefits, and working conditions in the package delivery industry.”

“This is the template for how workers should be paid and protected nationwide, and nonunion companies like Amazon better pay attention,” he added.

Under the terms of the agreement, current full- and part-time UPS Teamsters will get $2.75 more per hour in 2023, with wage increases totaling $7.50 per hour over the length of the agreement. New part-time UPS employees will receive $21 per hour to start.

The contract includes new health and safety protections, including vehicle air conditioning and cargo ventilation. The deal also ends forced overtime on scheduled days off, makes Martin Luther King Day a full holiday for the first time, and commits to the hiring of 7,500 new full-time UPS employees.

“This is the richest national contract I’ve seen in my more than 40 years of representing Teamsters at UPS,” Teamsters general secretary-treasurer Fred Zuckerman said. “There are more gains in this contract than in any other UPS agreement and with no givebacks to the company. But the hard work doesn’t end here. We will continue to fight like hell to enforce this contract and make sure UPS lives up to every word of it over the next five years.”

The final contract vote means a massive strike—an action 97% of Teamsters voted in June to take absent an agreement—will be avoided.

UPS CEO Carol Tomé said in a statement that “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.”

“This agreement continues to reward UPS’ 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,” she added.

Progressives and labor advocates cheered the new contract.

“Congratulations to the more than 340,000 UPS Teamsters on this historic contract!” Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) wrote on the social platform formerly called Twitter. “You have demonstrated the power of solidarity and collective action in the fight for livable wages and better working conditions for workers across our country.”

Democratic Socialists of America posted: “As the result of a historic contract campaign, UPS Teamsters got a taste of how it felt to flex their power as workers. A working class with high expectations is a good thing for the union, for our labor movement, and for the struggle for workplace democracy and socialism.”

The AFL-CIO said that “this historic win creates new jobs, secures crucial protections, and raises wages for all workers.”

“Let’s be clear: Teamsters won this through relentless organizing and a credible strike threat that showed UPS the power of collective action!” the union added. “Workers united will never be defeated!”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

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