UPS Freight Teamsters ratify 5-year pact, nationwide strike averted

 Not this time around. (Photo:Shutterstock)

Not this time around. (Photo:Shutterstock)

Teamsters union members at UPS Freight, UPS Inc.’s (NYSE:UPS) less-than-truckload unit, tonight overwhelmingly ratified a second version of a five-year contract they had rejected a little more than a month ago, averting the first nationwide strike at UPS in more than 20 years.

The contract was ratified by a 77-23 percent margin, with about 9,000 members voting. The Teamsters represent about 11,600 members at the Atlanta-based company’s LTL unit. The first version was rejected by a 62-38 percent margin as workers voiced displeasure with what they said were substandard wage increases and little compromise by the unit in subcontracting out driver functions.

The new contract is retroactive to Aug. 1.

UPS had begun to wind down pick-up and delivery operations ahead of a possible Teamster strike, which union officials said they would have no choice but to call on Nov. 12 or soon thereafter if members rejected the second version. After rejecting the first version, the two sides agreed to a 30-day extension that would expire tomorrow.

A strike at UPS Freight would have been the first such event at the shipping and logistics giant since a 15-day strike in August 1997 shut down its nationwide operations.

In preparation for a possible strike, UPS Freight refused to accept pick-ups with a delivery date after Nov. 8, and said it would clear all fright shipments out of the system by Nov. 9. It also advised customers to find alternate means of transportation.

In a statement tonight, the parent said the unit will resume normal operations and will immediately begin accepting shipments from its customers. The Teamsters issued a statement tonight confirming that the contract had been ratified.

The Teamsters for a Democratic Union, a Teamster dissident group at odds with mainstream Teamster leadership, said that UPS Freight members received little support from top union officials in Washington, and that once leadership announced that the much-larger small-package contract with UPS had been ratified, the company could focus its hardball tactics on UPS Freight Teamsters by calling the revised contract version its last, best, and final offer, and then winding down operations.

Under the circumstances, it’s “understandable that the majority of members opted to vote yes this time and make their stand another day after we elect union leadership who will have our backs,” TDU said.