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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 Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) through its own delivery network and in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Service. UPS has never operated on Sunday.

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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.

30 Comments

    1. Not counting all of us that were promised the higher pay of the new contract when we were hired…and are actually making considerably less…we just want what we were promised

      1. Too bad for you, Allison. You’ve been there what, a few months? Hired at peak? And you want your $13 per hour? Well I’ve been there 7 years, and I and my peers get a lously 70 CENTS. So buck up, sweetheart. You don’t deserve squat. Let’s see how long you stay around when you start hurting.

  1. Not even the main issue of the local above. New drivers guaranteed 40 hours of work (as a driver or inside the building). Current drivers guaranteed 8 hours only if work is available (in other words subject to layoffs). New drivers on Saturdays and Sundays that are being paid less than current employees delivering packages which were sped through the logistics network for weekend delivery in order for the company to layoff the higher paid drivers on Monday and Tuesday. Thereby reducing union employees salaries.

  2. All of this back and forth bickering from a company that already offers mediocre service. Now seeing that the mediocre service may come from bickering employees and not the company . Go with Amazon folks. They are the future. Great customer service, great prices, great business model, and let’s not forget how wonderful they are with appreciating their customers. Tell me folks, when’s the last time you had a UPS driver say "hi", "thank you", or even RING YOUR DOORBELL? UPS is horrible. I dread when vendors ONLY use UPS.

      1. I order from Amazon all the time, and it’s always been delivered–usually on a Sunday based on when I order–by an Amazon driver. Only issue I’ve ever had was during peak when a new driver delivered all my stuff to a neighbor. Amazon answered the phone on a Sunday and got the exact location of the package immediately. I walked over and got them myself, but they were going to have the driver return and bring them to me from the neighbor’s. Not bad–and free. I don’t mind what they charge for their annual. $119 now? I shop there for everything since retails are closing everywhere. I’ve saved well over $119 using Amazon.

        1. By the way, I hate UPS Surepost. The package is SOOO close, and it ends up at the fricking post office for another day or so. Several times, UPS offered to bring it to me directly–apparently because they had other packages in the area. That was great. But I hate the SUREPOST crap.

    1. Thats funny the Amazon drive that delivers here does the 20 foot toss and hope it gets to the door. He also decided to park in my driveway to set up his truck. Ive never had this problem with any other delivery service. Amazon drivers are the worst. We have never had a Amazon driver even come to the door!

    2. Hey, horhay, get a brain off amazon the next time you’re mindlessly ordering junk from your 800sqdt turd apartment. The two company’s are completely different animals. One is a transportation company and the other is a RETAILER. This is like comparing Burger King to QVC.

  3. Our local has implemented the contract except any wage increase. While the contract says you can opt out and work more hours, our local said no. All drivers are 9.5 and you cannot get more hours. It is all going to junior cheaper drivers. Even when child support and such was based on higher income of what was forced overtime.

  4. Amazon uses UPS as well, don’t be fooled by Amazon’s "business tactics". They keep each other in business

  5. I’m a union steward st local 89 in Louisville ky and I’m ashamed to be part of it…Hoffa is the best thing to happen to "Right to work"

  6. 27 year member of 249 Pittsburgh. What part of NO don’t you understand? This company buys 20 new jets and we get a .7 percent raise?

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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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