UPS-Teamsters Talks to Resume Today

Contract Expires July 31
UPS truck
Richard Drew/Associated Press

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With fewer than 60 days to go until the current labor contract expires, negotiations were set to resume June 5 between Atlanta-based parcel delivery giant UPS and members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents an estimated 360,000 UPS drivers and other workers.

Union leadership, led by new Teamsters president Sean O’Brien, remains committed to some key issues and maintains that they will not extend the current five-year contract past its July 31 expiration date.

UPS CEO Carol Tomé during an April 25 earnings conference call indicated negotiations were advancing.

“We are aligned on several key issues, like solving the staffing needs for weekend deliveries and ways to mitigate the summer heat in our package delivery vehicles,” she said. “While we expect to hear a great deal of noise during the negotiations, I remain confident that a win, win, win contract is very achievable and that UPS and the Teamsters will reach an agreement by the end of July.”


Teamsters members during a May Day protest for workers' rights in New York. (Paul Frangipane/Bloomberg News)

One issue that appears resolved is a reduction in the size of UPS SurePost packages that are eligible to be delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. Per the union, a tentative agreement has been reached on the issue.

UPS describes the SurePost service as an economy service for non-urgent, business-to-consumer deliveries. Under the existing contract, UPS makes the initial shipment pickup and USPS makes the final delivery, seven days a week. Packages handled by USPS must meet certain weight and size requirements to qualify as a SurePost package. If the parcel exceeds the limits, it can be redirected back into the UPS system for distribution by a union driver on a UPS truck.

“We’ve reached tentative agreement on the article, subject to ratification of the contract, to reduce the overall size of packages eligible for SurePost delivery, so more existing volume is going back onto Teamster trucks rather than coming off,” the union said in a statement provided to Transport Topics. “These tentative commitments from UPS would increasingly redirect more SurePost packages to bargaining unit regular package car drivers over the life of the contract.”

Kara Deniz


Meanwhile, Teamsters spokesperson Kara Deniz told TT that the two sides are negotiating two supplemental contract agreements on local issues for UPS workers at the company’s Louisville Worldport hub and Northern California facilities.

According to the union’s official Facebook page, the union and UPS remain at odds over compensation for workers during shuttle bus trips to and from work areas, as well as vacation pay for part-timers. In all, 44 regional agreements, supplements, riders and addenda are part of the ongoing negotiations.

“We have a lot of serious issues we want to discuss,” Deniz said, pointing specifically to an overall wage hike, adjustments to overtime, and pay and benefit scales for weekend drivers. The company and the union have both stressed the importance of negotiating on issues related to driver safety and comfort, notably air conditioning in delivery trucks.

The Teamsters maintain that the pandemic permanently changed the U.S. economy, increasing the ease of and consumer expectations for home delivery of goods. UPS workers stress that they played a part in that transformation, and in doing so made UPS a more valuable company.

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The 24 million packages UPS ships on an average day amount to the equivalent of about 6% of the nation’s gross domestic product, per UPS. That’s good for about one quarter of the nation’s overall U.S. parcel volume, said global shipping and logistics firm Pitney Bowes. The last time the union conducted a strike at UPS was in 1997 when workers walked out for 15 days.

Meanwhile, UPS rival FedEx Corp. and the union representing its pilots on May 31 announced that a tentative agreement has been reached to keep the pilots on the job and ensure uninterrupted parcel and freight service. The deal was awaiting approval by the membership.

UPS Inc. ranks No. 1 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America. FedEx ranks No. 2.