Less than TruckloadNews

Teamsters ready to walk from UPS Freight should second contract fail

( Photo: Wikimedia Commons )

The Teamsters union has said that proposed changes to a tentative contract from UPS Freight, UPS Inc.’s (NYSE:UPS) less-than-truckload unit, fails to address the grievances raised by the rank-and-file, and that the union’s negotiating committee will call a nationwide strike sometime after Nov. 12 if workers reject the company’s offer.

UPS Freight employees will vote Nov. 9-11 on the contract, less than a month after more than 60 percent of eligible voters decisively rejected the first proffer. The contract rejection triggered a 30-day extension period that expires Nov. 12. After that time, the union’s negotiating committee can—and now appears it will—call a strike if an agreement isn’t reached within the 30-day period.

The memo said a strike would be a “last resort,” but that the negotiating committee would have no choice should members reject the offer. The rank-and-file are taking a second vote on the initial contract, and are not voting on a revised proposal.

UPS Freight, based in Richmond, Va., has called this its best and final offer. Union negotiators have said the company has told them there are no more financial concessions to be made. The Teamsters dispute that contention, noting UPS Supply Chain and Freight unit’s strong third-quarter results, which were disclosed last week.

UPS issued a statement today saying the contract does right for unionized employees while preserving the unit’s competitive position. The Teamsters represent about 12,000 workers at the unit.

In the communique, Kris Taylor, co-chair of the UPS Freight negotiating committee, said the company has agreed that road and pick-up and delivery drivers would be paid their normal driver wages when performing non-driving duties such as dock work. On the thorny issue of sub-contracting, Taylor said the percentages of subcontracting would be reduced over the contract’s 5-year life. Under the proposal, UPS Freight can subcontract out more driver work should volumes rise by certain levels. The unit could subcontract above a specific number of guaranteed Teamster jobs. The Teamsters have said UPS Freight has been engaged in excessive driver subcontracting for years.

The Teamster dissident group Teamsters for a Democratic Union, which is typically at sharp odds with mainstream leadership, unsurprisingly spared little invective to describe the changes. It called the language presented to members a “turd” and “insulting.” The original wage increases, which TDU said are so small that they will not keep up inflation, have not been changed, the group said. UPS Freight also failed to offer any “real improvement” in mitigating the frequency of subcontracting, TDU said.

Because neither the company or Teamster leadership want a strike at UPS Freight, the threat of a walkout so close to the start of the peak holiday delivery season should give the members enough leverage to effect meaningful contract change, TDU said.

If UPS Freight customers are concerned about the escalating labor tensions and are making contingency plans, they appear not to be showing it. Most shippers are either unaware of the situation, or if they know about it they are paying it little heed, according to several sources. A high-ranking LTL carrier executive said the company has seen no additional spike in business from UPS Freight customers possibly interested in diverting their shipments.

One shipper executive said some brethren are concerned about the talks’ status, but believe that both sides will work things out by Nov. 12. The executive is not aware of any shift in business away from UPS Freight.

The much larger UPS-Teamster contract covering 256,00 UPS small-package workers has already been ratified despite 54 percent of eligible voters turning it down. About 42 percent of 209,000 eligible voters cast ballots.

Under the Teamster constitution, if less than 50 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, a contract must be ratified unless it is opposed by at least two-thirds of those who did vote. The so-called two-thirds provision didn’t apply to the UPS Freight contract because far more than half of eligible voters cast ballots.


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Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.


  1. Eventually an eminent bankruptcy is coming, how long can you pay a dock worker six figures a year and compete in a competitive workforce, big “brown" is more like big "clown ".

    1. UPS going bankrupt? Never.
      Maybe could shut down the freight division if anything.
      I think they need LTL in their total sales proposition tho so not sure UPS has the upper hand.
      Will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  2. Clueless, aka tired —most dock workers average six figures like this: 15.00/hr – some, like ups only make 13.00/hr…… the only six figures are the number of zeros in your brain power.

  3. Many UPS Freight dock workers do make six figures a year. They are paid $28.05 per hour at the current top rate. When you put in 12 hours a day or 60 per week that easily puts them over $100,000. Way too much money for them in my opinion considering drivers top out at $28.65 and risk going to prison if they kill someone in a accident that’s their fault. Or get killed themselves.

    1. $100k at 60 hrs per week is $66k salary at 40 hours.
      Maybe a lil too much considering Amazon is paying half ($15 hr) for whse positions.

  4. Keep dreaming Union Reps! There is no holiday rush in the LTL Freight world! In fact Freight slows down in the winter. You are going to lose business by not picking up Freight and possibly striking. But that’s ok, the rest of the trucking companies out there will be happy to do your work instead!

    1. Jan and Feb are slow.
      Nov can be busy but things have slowed in the past couple of weeks for some carriers. Of course depends on location and type of trucking.


  5. First off I know for a FACT that a dockworker at UPS Freight does NOT make six figures a year. I supervised and managed at UPS Freight for ten years, and a lot like the small pack division they do not want ANY dock worker to be full time, they want them with their 4-5 hours and out, but since they bought out Overnight years ago, these people were grandfathered in. The Union is the only thing that has helped with any dockworker going full time now, and even then their no where close to six figures. Also, the freight business slows down tremendously during the holiday and winter, so this strike ultimately will hurt both the company and the workers.

  6. There’s many full time dock workers working in San Leandro, Ca and some of them make over $100,000 per year

  7. The dock workers are not making six figures. I work in this industry.

    Some drivers with significant seniority and working more than 40 hours per week might hit 100k but the hourly rate is not unreasonable considering the dangers of the job.


    1. If anything California port workers get paid too much while port truckers contractors may not make minimum wage due to predatory contracts

  8. I’m a ups freight road driver in New England.
    Dock works are part time only and make $11.00-15.00 per hour, that’s it.
    If your a CDL driver who occasionally works the dock, then you make $28.00 per hour at all hours worked.

    Ready for the big news?
    UPS Freight just shut down all freight pickups starting November 1st, and are emptying out their system!!!

    As of today (11/7/2018) nationwide there is only a skeleton crew reporting to work.

    Ups freight wants all customer freight gone before the saturday contract
    ratification vote.

    The president of ups freight called for this proactive shutdown not the union.

    Ups freight has promised to reopen Monday if there is a yes vote for the contract.