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July 5, 2018 3:00 PM, EDT
Union Touts Tentative UPS Deal
Some Teamsters Members Question Certain Details of Agreement
UPS truck TT File Photo

Negotiations were scheduled to resume between UPS Inc. and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters after they reached a tentative five-year labor agreement last month covering 250,000 drivers, loaders, package sorters, dockworkers and operations team members.

The union said numerous supplemental agreements included in the deal must be worked out during a July 9-12 negotiation period before their current five-year contract expires at the end of this month.

Separate talks also were scheduled during this stretch on a contract for 11,000 UPS Freight workers, with economic and subcontracting issues as the main focus. Workers in that bargaining unit are covered under a different contract.

In an effort to generate support among its members, the Teamsters UPS National Negotiating Committee recently released some details of the contract, which it said addresses many of the concerns members voiced before negotiations began.

The committee said the company will create a new classification of full-time combination driver at a starting hourly wage of $20.50, rising to $34.79 by Aug. 1, 2022. The union said this “hybrid driver” will resolve membership concerns about excessive overtime in the event UPS adds Sunday delivery to its current Monday-through-Saturday schedule. UPS added Saturday service more than a year ago.

The negotiating committee also said an unspecified number of current part-time employees eventually will be made full-time workers under this contract. Plus, the starting pay for part-timers beginning Aug. 1 will increase to $13 an hour and reach $15.50 on Aug. 1, 2022.

According to information released by the Teamsters, current full-time workers will receive pay increases of $4.15 per hour during the time of the contract. The union said full-time UPS drivers now earn on average nearly $75,000 a year, or $36 an hour.

The Teamsters union also is pointing to an agreement to create at least 2,000 full-time sleeper team jobs for drivers, where they would move items currently shipped by UPS by freight rail onto trucks. The two-person teams would move packages over the road; one driver would be behind the wheel while the other sleeps in the berth. This allows trucks to be on the road longer without running into issues with hours-of-service regulations, because one driver is off duty.

As details about the tentative agreement work their way out to the local unions and individual members, a leader with grassroots group UPS Teamsters United noted that there is a possibility the contract could be voted down by the membership. “What we are hearing out there from UPS workers, it’s a groundswell of opposition to those things,” spokesman David Levin said in an interview with Transport Topics. When asked if there is a possibility the rank and file could reject the contract, Levin answered, “Yeah, if not a probability, yeah.”

In 2013, members voted 34,307 to 30,202 to approve the current contract.

Levin’s group also took issue with Teamsters UPS National Negotiating Committee Co-Chairman Denis Taylor, who in a recent statement challenged some of the information circulating about the negotiations.

“On behalf of the entire National Negotiating Committee, I also remind the membership, once again, they should not rely on the misinformation that is circulating on the internet. The groups that are generating that information do not have your best interests in mind,” Taylor said in the statement.

Levin responded, “If they felt that misinformation is coming out, they could just put out the agreement for people to review. We pride ourselves on putting out accurate info. They’ve never come and pointed to a specific thing and said this is wrong, this is incorrect,” Levin said.

What they really want to do, he said, is “cherry pick and sell the agreement, and raise doubts in anybody’s minds when they’re given information about problems that are in the agreement.”

In June, the Teamsters voted to authorize a strike that could have begun as soon as August if a new contract were not finalized. The last time the union went on strike against UPS was in 1997, spanning 16 days and costing the company tens of millions of dollars in lost business.

UPS ranks No. 1 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.