Teamster locals’ ‘no’ votes throw wrench into UPS’ contract implementation

 Some sand in the labor contract gears (Photo: Facebook/UPS)
Some sand in the labor contract gears (Photo: Facebook/UPS)

UPS Inc. (NYSE:UPS) employees at several Teamsters union locals have soundly rejected their respective riders and supplements to a five-year collective bargaining agreement which was ratified in October despite the majority of voters rejecting the contract.

The actions by the locals means that the contract, which was to be implemented retroactive to July 31, 2018, will not go into effect for an undetermined period. Under rules governing the UPS-Teamsters contractual relationship, the master contract cannot be implemented until all locals ratify their respective supplements and riders.

The rejections also set the stage for Teamster leadership to impose the contract on all locals if the side agreements are not ratified at the various locals. The international union took such a step in 2014 after several locals voted to reject their supplements, delaying the implementation process for months beyond the ratification date the year before.

The locals rejecting their supplements were in Detroit at Local 243, and in western and central Pennsylvania. The margins were overwhelmingly decisive in Detroit (88 percent) and western Pennsylvania (96 percent), with a narrower margin (56.3-43.7 percent) in central Pennsylvania. This marks the second time in this contract cycle that the locals had voted down their supplements and riders.

According to the Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU), a dissident group, Teamsters’ leadership forced contract votes in Detroit and western Pennsylvania even though local officers told the international union they were still negotiating with UPS. According to TDU, leadership also made a major strategic error by excluding Local 776 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which represents 1,900 UPS Teamsters, from the negotiating committee. Excluding the local, which has more UPS employees than all the locals in the central Pennsylvania group combined, hardly fostered unity among the rank-and-file, according to TDU, which is nearly always at odds with mainstream Teamsters leadership. Teamsters officials were unavailable for comment.

Ken Paff, national organizer for TDU, said today that the wide margin of rejections in Detroit and western Pennsylvania would make it virtually impossible for the leadership to demand another vote. Paff and others have called on the leadership to demand that the contract be reopened for further negotiations.

The master contract was ratified in spite of 54 percent of voting Teamsters rejecting it. Under a “two-thirds” provision in the UPS-Teamsters contract rules, a contract is ratified if less than 50 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, unless at least two-thirds of those who voted rejected it. About 44 percent of about 209,000 eligible UPS Teamsters voted, and the final tally fell well short of the two-thirds rejection threshold needed for a re-vote.

At the time of the vote, Dennis Taylor, the Teamsters’ lead small-parcel negotiator, said he would push UPS for modifications to the contract. However, Taylor said he was prohibited by the rules to reopen negotiations with the Teamsters’ largest employer. Various Teamsters leaders disputed that argument, contending that Taylor was within his right to reopen negotiations if it was deemed to be in the best interests of the rank-and-file. According to Paff, there has been no effort by Taylor or anyone else in the Teamster hierarchy to renegotiate the contract.

The contract’s most controversial provision establishes a two-tier wage structure for full-time drivers. Drivers with less seniority would make $6 an hour less than their senior counterparts. Drivers with less seniority would also work hours other than the regular Monday through Friday work week reserved for drivers with more seniority.

The language was a nod to the 24-7 fulfillment demands being placed on businesses by e-commerce customers. It was also a reaction to the seven-day per week delivery service offered by, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) through its own delivery network and in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Service. UPS has never operated on Sunday.

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. In 22 years at ups I’ve never seen the union or the company push a contract like this one that says it all right there.

  2. I’m glad the union employees and driver’s don’t get a raise!!! First off drivers are over paid babies and 2 the people who work inside get paid like crap!!! Which bothered me cause I tore my shoulder busting hump for UPS!!! But the REAL hard working UPSers are few and far in between, so if y’all want raises, take some initiative at your job!!! Don’t just do the bare minimum!!!

    1. Yeah, we want to be like you Sean. We would rather not tear up our bodies like you did because our families need us to keep working.
      SMH at your intelligence.

      1. It’s called repetitve motion and work ethic. Working in the hubs is a lot worse on the body then driving. Like my best friend says (whom is a driver at UPS) "being a driver is hard, like when I’m sitting in traffic"

        1. You’re a retard, Sean. You should have put your letter in to enter management. Can’t hurt your shoulder when you’re on your knees under Daddys desk.

  3. I am a 50 Year old Package Handler, I love my job at UPS. Yes it is very physical but it keeps me in shape. I worked for UPS 20 years ago, I loved it back then. I applied this past peak season, got ReHired on and I plan on retiring from UPS. I don’t know why you all have a problem with them. The pay is great and the benefits are awesome.

    1. I work for ups as well. Ive worked there for 3 almost 4 years now. I have the benefits (they are nice) but the pay is allot diffrent im makeing 12 an hour (part time package handler) and they are going to bump it up to 13 an hour but all the new hires that now come in will be making as much as someone who put years into the company

  4. And this is why I dropped out of the teamsters. Union officials have no more loyalty to the rank and file than politicians have for the country. So long as they are getting rich, everyone else can go kick rocks.

  5. Have a friend who works for post office delivering. Required to work Sunday’s and holidays at regular pay. No overtime or holiday bonus due to national contract with Amazon.

  6. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters’ forced implementation of a contract that was UNANIMOUSLY voted down will be viewed as one of the key points in the demise of American Unions. Right to Work will soon be implemented and taken advantage of by ALL affected members.

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