Today’s Pickup: Teamsters seek to stop UPS from using drones, autonomous trucks

 UPS has been testing the use of drones for last-mile delivery. The Teamsters have put forth a contract proposal that would ban the use of drones.
UPS has been testing the use of drones for last-mile delivery. The Teamsters have put forth a contract proposal that would ban the use of drones.

Good day,

The Teamsters have opened negotiations with UPS on a new contract and they have a significant request: no drones or driverless vehicles.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the union is asking UPS to forego using drones or driverless vehicles to deliver packages.

According to the Journal, a UPS spokesman said the company is trying to negotiate a contract that gives UPS the flexibility “to remain a highly competitive provider of reliable service.”

The report also said that the Teamsters 83-page proposal wants to ban deliveries after 9 p.m. as well as the use of technologies such as drones and driverless vehicles that could “transport, deliver or pick up packages.”

During the holidays, UPS caused a minor stir in the Teamster ranks when it directed drivers to work a maximum of 70 hours over 8 days to handle a backlog of packages.

Teamster General President Jim Hoffa had a strong reaction to the mandate. “On behalf of the 250,000 Teamster-represented UPS employees, I want to express my outrage and concern over the company’s decision to implement an 8-day/70-hour workweek for package car drivers. Your decision was made without any consultation with the Local Unions that represent UPS employees and, apparently, without any regard for the physical toll that will result from working the additional hours the Company will compel. And it callously ignores the plans they may have made for spending time with their families during this holiday season,” he said.

The Teamsters also seek to protect workers who refuse to work under conditions they deem unsafe, such as overloaded trucks. “It is the company’s responsibility to hire and maintain a sufficient workforce to service its customers without unreasonably burdening its employees,” the Journal quoted the document as saying. “Management has consistently failed to fulfill its obligation.”

Did you know?

The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index fell 5.7% in December to 142.9, down from 151.6 in November. For all of 2017, the index was up 3.7% compared with 2016.


“I still lament … that we have limited this to passenger vehicles and not incorporated trucks into this legislation. I think we can save a lot of lives and improve a lot of lives if we were to broaden the scope of it.”

Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), on autonomous vehicle legislation that does not address commercial vehicles

In other news:

Shipping marketplace Fleet secures funding to expand operations

International shipping marketplace Fleet has secured $10M in funding Lufthansa Cargo to expand its platform for rate comparisons. (American Shipper)

Shippers expect more freight to be moved in 2018

Nearly 75% of shippers expect to move more freight in 2018 compared to 2017, according to a new survey. (Transport Topics)

Republicans concerned about lack of trucks in autonomous vehicle bill

Republicans on the Senate Commerce Committee are airing their concerns that the autonomous vehicle legislation moving through the Senate does not include commercial trucks. (Transport Topics)

NYC considers congestion pricing for tolls

A report issued by a New York panel to address traffic congestion in the city is suggesting congestion pricing in downtown business districts. (Heavy Duty Trucking)

Existing home sales fall

Sales of existing homes fell in December, according to the National Association of Realtors, dropping 3.6%. (National Association of Realtors)

Final Thoughts

The Teamsters and UPS have opened contract negotiations, and already there seems to a difference of opinion. The union wants the contract to prevent UPS from using drones or autonomous vehicles to transport or delivery packages. It’s an obvious request, seeing that the Teamsters represent drivers, and a headline grabbing request, but whether it becomes a significant sticking point and how important it will be to the Teamsters remains to be seen.  

Hammer down everyone!

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.

One Comment

  1. Hey teamsters, how about asking for no Schneider trucks. Look at yrc and Harley Davidson