Watch Now

UPS should make MLK Day paid holiday for Teamster workers, group says

Group takes holiday to push now-familiar changes to upcoming contract

Teamster group calls on UPS to make Martin Luther King day a paid union holiday. Pictured, a group gathers to watch a wreath-laying ceremony at the King Memorial in Washington on Monday (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

UPS Inc. should make Martin Luther King Jr. Day a paid holiday and not require any unionized employee to work on it, a Teamster dissident group said Monday.

In a statement published to coincide with the holiday, Teamsters United said that if the U.S. Postal Service can respect MLK day as a national holiday, “so can UPS.”

The holiday was first observed on January 20, 1986, three years after President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law.

In a statement received after the story was published, UPS said that it supports employees “using their paid time off based on personal preference. We value the diversity of our workforce and by providing paid time to be used at our employees’ discretion, our employees can honor the dates most important to them.”

The labor group took the King holiday to push for changes in the upcoming contract with UPS (NYSE: UPS). Among the now-familiar proposals are to end the two-tier structure of so-called 22.4 drivers, who are full-time drivers paid less than full-timers and who typically work Tuesday through Saturday shifts. The dissident group demands that all 22.4 drivers be converted to  “regular package car drivers” with the same pay and other rights.

Other proposals include creating 25,000 full-time jobs for part-time workers, and to boost starting part-time wages to $30 per hour. The dissident group has also demanded an end to the use of “personal vehicle drivers” who deliver packages using their own vehicles and get reimbursed by the company on a per-mile basis. In addition, it wants UPS to end the subcontracting of road feeder services.

Teamsters United, which remained somewhat on the fringes of union activity during the long reign of General-President James P. Hoffa, who the union opposed, has become more of a mainstream influence with Sean O’ Brien, who the group has supported, at the union’s helm. 

Teamsters United played a key role in Fred Zuckerman, who is O’Brien’s second-in-command, almost knocking off Hoffa in 2016. It also was actively involved in electing the O’Brien-Zuckerman ticket in 2022.

The five-year UPS-Teamsters contract, the largest in North America with representation of 350,000 UPS employees, expires on July 31. O’Brien has vowed repeatedly that he will take UPS workers out on strike if a new contract is not agreed to by Aug. 1.


  1. Ron Kaminkow

    Every worker in the United States should have MLK Day off work. Or for essential workers like us in transportation, allowed either a comp day or time and a half pay. For that matter, Veterans Day too. And Election Day. These are national public days of remembrance and respect that help define the nation. If a UPS driver cannot have them off work, tell me who the hell should? Ron Kaminkow, locomotive engineer

  2. Steve Webster

    I can understand letting any employee take that day off without pay . Medical care and A C would be much better than asking for another paid day off unless sick

Comments are closed.

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.