Delivery service UPS reached a tentative agreement with the Teamsters union, narrowly heading off a nationwide strike.
Approximately 330,000 unionized workers, including delivery drivers and package handlers, were prepared to go on strike unless the company agreed to improve benefits and working conditions.
“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,” said UPS CEO Carol Tomé in a press release on July 25.
“This agreement continues to reward UPS’s 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.
The five-year agreement must still be voted on and ratified by union members. UPS has agreed to raise the minimum wage for part-time employees to $21 per hour while full-time workers will be paid an average top rate of $49 per hour, per Business Insider. The company will end its practice of scheduling mandatory overtime shifts on union-member drivers’ days off and will give all workers a full day off on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
To avoid the danger of extreme heat, the agreement states all larger delivery vehicles, sprinter vans, and package cars are required to have in-cab air-conditioning at the start of 2024.
“Rank-and-file UPS Teamsters sacrificed everything to get this country through a pandemic and enabled UPS to reap record-setting profits. Teamster labor moves America,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien in a statement. “The union went into this fight committed to winning for our members. We demanded the best contract in the history of UPS, and we got it.”
“UPS has put $30 billion in new money on the table as a direct result of these negotiations,” O’Brien continued. “We’ve changed the game, battling it out day and night to make sure our members won an agreement that pays strong wages, rewards their labor, and doesn’t require a single concession. This contract sets a new standard in the labor movement and raises the bar for all workers.”
According to the union’s website, “the UPS Teamsters National Master Agreement is the single largest private-sector collective bargaining agreement in North America.”
Over 170 UPS Teamsters representing locals in the US and Puerto Rico will meet on July 3 to review the tentative agreement. Should they move forward with a recommendation, Teamster members will vote on the agreement between Aug. 3 and Aug. 22.
The last time UPS workers went on strike was in 1997. A strike would have caused widespread disruptions with an “even greater effect on consumers now that the U.S. economy is even more reliant on e-commerce,” per USA Today.
A UPS worker strike would likely have led to longer wait times for packages, especially in rural areas, and an increase in disorder for many small businesses that rely on the carrier.