UPS workers vote to approve ‘historic’ five-year contract

UPS employees approved a new five-year union contract with the delivery giant Tuesday, about a month after reaching a tentative deal that averted a strike of 340,000 United Parcel Services workers.

The Teamsters said 86.3% of members voted for the “historic” deal, saying it was “the highest vote for a contract in the history of the Teamsters at UPS.”

“Teamsters have set a new standard and raised the bar for pay, benefits and working conditions in the package-delivery industry,” Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien said in a statement. “This is the template for how workers should be paid and protected nationwide, and nonunion companies like Amazon
better pay attention.”

Matt Leichenger, a Brooklyn-based driver in New York, said Tuesday: “I’m surrounded by 1997 strike veterans who say this is the best contract they have ever seen, some of whom have also said this is the first contract they have ever voted yes on.” He credited “a credible strike threat” for what he said were the historic gains by the union.

Yet “the fight isn’t over,” Leichenger said. “Every UPS Teamster knows that the contract is nothing if we don’t enforce it.”

Among the parts of the contract the union highlighted were $2.75-an-hour raises for existing full- and part-time union members this year, and a total of a $7.50-an-hour raise over five years. All existing part-timers will earn at least $21 an hour starting immediately per the contract, according to the Teamsters.

The union also noted that the pay increases for full-timers will keep UPS Teamsters as the highest-paid delivery drivers in the country, with the average top rate rising to $49 an hour. In addition, the Teamsters said the new contract ends what it called the two-tier wage system at the company, with all UPS Teamster drivers currently classified as “22.4s” — or hybrid drivers and warehouse workers who were paid less than full-time drivers — to be reclassified immediately as RPCDs, or regular package car drivers.

A UPS spokesperson sent the following statement from the company: “Our Teamsters-represented employees have voted to overwhelmingly ratify a new five-year National Master Agreement that covers more than 300,000 full- and part-time UPS employees in the U.S.”

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

One local supplemental agreement that affects 174 workers in Florida will be renegotiated, the union said. The national master agreement will go into effect as soon as that supplement, which is one of 44 local supplements, has been renegotiated and ratified, the union said.

See: UPS blames ‘late and loud’ Teamsters talks for revenue miss, outlook cut

Also: Actors, writers, hotel housekeepers and grad-student workers are all striking for the same reason

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