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Sources: UPS lays off undetermined number of junior drivers

Company says it is ‘reassigning’ drivers in response to slowing demand

UPS has laid off junior drivers, according to sources. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

UPS Inc. has laid off an undetermined number of Teamsters union drivers who fall under the so-called 22.4 classification in the UPS-Teamster contract, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Atlanta-based company (NYSE: UPS) said in a statement that it is “reassigning some of our employees to meet the needs of our business.” The changes, which are occurring in certain parts of the country, are in response to what the company called “uneven demand.” UPS said it hoped the affected workers will return to their prior positions later this year.

The actions seem “widespread,” said one of the people. Most affected workers will probably return within several weeks, the person said.

The 22.4 workers are junior drivers who work Tuesdays through Saturdays.

The 22.4 workers, so named by a section of the UPS-Teamsters contract that defines the role, was created in the 2018 agreement, which remains in force. It’s long been unpopular with the union, which views it as an unjustified second-class position because the junior drivers do the same work as senior drivers but for less pay.

Sean O’Brien, general president of the Teamsters, opposed the formation of the classification before he was elected. O’Brien has pledged to eliminate the language from this year’s contract and to move all drivers to full-time seniority status.

Under the contract, any layoffs must first happen at the junior level before senior drivers are affected.

The timing may seem unusual as both sides are gearing up for upcoming contract talks. The current contract expires July 31, and O’Brien has threatened to take 350,000 UPS Teamsters out on strike if an agreement isn’t reached by Aug. 1.

With volume down year over year, UPS may be sending a message that it doesn’t need as many Teamsters today as in the past, said Josh Taylor, director of professional services at consultancy Shipware LLC and a former longtime UPS executive.

UPS’ actions put the Teamsters in the peculiar position of “trying to protect people in roles they hope to upgrade,” said Taylor. “Do they fight to retain those people or to upgrade those positions? Because if UPS can get along without them, it will be difficult to justify both,” he said.


  1. Chad Deyarmon

    Bob Turner. That sounds like something a supervisor would say, just because a few drivers have nice cars because of forced overtime. What about the part timers that have to work 2 jobs to make it, because 9 years and there’s no “full time” jobs except management or driving? The contracts get worse while the top CEOs get fat.
    I worked Seattle and Redmond 1997 to 2013…
    I hope Teamsters strike like in 1997. You’ll get a nice contract then.

  2. Bob Turner

    Those comments about how ups doesn’t appreciate their employees….. next time you pass by a station look at their employee parking lot.

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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.