On Tuesday, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and UPS have agreed to a tentative deal of a new five-year contact that is aligned with the demands given by the union. This has came one week before the deadline on August 1st that the Teamsters had planned for a strike with over 300,000 workers, a first time since the last UPS strike in 1997.
According to ABC News, labor experts see the showdown as a demonstration of labor power at a time of low U.S. union membership. Unions have grown more active this summer thanks to several organized-labor pushes at major companies.
“We demanded the best contract in the history of UPS, and we got it,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O'Brien. “UPS has put $30 billion in new money on the table as a direct result of these negotiations. 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.”
A strike for less than two weeks would have cost the U.S. economy over 7 billion dollars, according research firm Anderson Economic Group, making that the costliest strike in the country's history.
Roughly 57.3 percent of the packages that the UPS workers deliver are sent straight to consumers, with the rest given to businesses and big retailers. Other delivery services were in preparedness of being alternative assistance if UPS were to be inaccessible during the possible strike, but even FedEx has recently had its 5,200 pilots in tension with their company.
Mentioned in a SF Gate article, “TForce Freight – formerly UPS Freight – reached its own new five-year contract with the Teamsters earlier this month along with competitor ABF Freight. Unionized piloted at Delta Airlines and American Airlines also recently agreed to new contracts with large raises, a 34 percent boost for Delta.”
Here are the requirements that are part of the tentative agreement:
- Increase starting hourly pay for part-time works from $16.20 to $21 and can advance up to $23;
- Raise the hourly pay of existing part- and full-time workers by $2.75 this year and $7.50 more in the next five years;
- Make Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a paid holiday for the first time ever;
- Add fans and install air conditioning in all company trucks to improve cooling;
- Create another 7,500 full-time Teamster jobs and fill 22,500 open positions;
- All UPS Teamster drivers classified as 22.4s would be reclassified immediately to Regular Package Car Drivers and placed into seniority, ending the unfair two-tier wage system at UPS;
- 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 contained to five weeks only from November-December;
- Age increases for full-timers will keep UPS Teamsters the highest paid delivery drivers in the nation, improving their average top rate to $49 per hour;
- Current UPS Teamsters working part-time would receive longevity wage increases of up to $1.50 per hour on top of new hourly raises, compounding their earnings; and
- More than 60 total changes and improvements to the National Master Agreement — more than any other time in Teamsters history — and zero concessions from the rank-and-file.
The UPS Teamsters National Master Agreement is the single largest private-sector collective bargaining agreement in North America.
On July 31, representatives of the 176 UPS Teamster locals in the U.S. and Puerto Rico will meet to review and recommend the tentative agreement. All UPS rank-and-file members will receive a list of improvements in the contract. Locals will conduct member meetings and Teamsters will have several weeks to vote on the offer electronically. Member voting begins August 3 and concludes August 22.
Ratification votes for companies have been known to fail, despite the deal being endorsed by union leadership. For example, 57 percent of pilots for a union at FedEx voted no on a contract agreement that included a 30 percent increase pay, but due to a labor law that is specifically towards airline pilots, the union cannot go on strike for a long while even though the vote was turned down.
This possibility for UPS Teamsters can trigger a strike, but that would not happen until late August, where the initial walkout was on August 1st.
Founded in 1903, the Teamsters Union represents 1.2 million hardworking people in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Visit Teamster.org to learn more and follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and on Facebook at Facebook.com/teamsters.