While the tentative agreement (TA) between UPS and Teamsters is being sold as a “historic win,” the reality is that it falls far short of what UPS workers deserve and have the power to win. On questions of safety, wages, surveillance, outsourcing, tiers, forced overtime, pension increases, and harassment, the TA fails to meet the urgent needs of UPS workers, with part-timers in particular getting the short end of the stick. UPS has made billions off the backs of their 340,000 workers; they must be forced to concede more.
1. Part-timers are 60 percent of our union. They deserve better.
Until 1982, UPS employees working inside the hubs were full-time workers who received wages comparable to those of drivers. When part-time positions were created, the starting wage was equivalent to over $25 an hour in 2023 dollars, adjusted for inflation. Today, $25 an hour should be the bare minimum.
Breaks should be extended beyond the current 10 minutes. Air conditioning should be installed in every facility, and part-timers should get at least a 4-hour guarantee.
Part-timers with seniority deserve more, too: real catch-up raises that compensate them for years of sacrifice. This contract doesn’t cut it.
The TA does not ensure that market rate adjustments are made permanent, meaning some workers will gain a lot but others will lose out. Meanwhile, newly-hired part-time workers will start at $21 and won’t top $23 an hour by the end of the contract in 2027, when inflation will have eaten up those increases. Long-time part-timers will get a measly $0.50 to $1.50 seniority catch-up raise for over five years of service. After years of grueling work, especially during the pandemic, this is a slap in the face.
To show solidarity with part-timers and win a more equitable contract, vote no!
2. UPS workers of all classifications died in the pandemic. Now we deserve safety.
When Covid-19 swept across the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada (the areas covered by the IBT-UPS contract), workers risked their lives going to work every day while the company made record profits. Yet these workers didn’t receive hazard pay. And management never took safety seriously, either: no real social distancing, no distribution of Covid tests at the hubs, no temperature checks. Teamsters got sick, and many died as a result of UPS policies.
But dangerous working conditions have existed before and persisted beyond the pandemic. UPS workers load and deliver packages in all weather conditions, and some workers have even died from the sweltering heat. We need air conditioning in all package cars and hubs immediately, not 10 or 15 years from now.
Now is our time to take a stand in defense of safety, to demand hazard pay, and to say “enough is enough!”
3. UPS has the money to pay up.
UPS made tens of billions in profits off the backs of workers delivering goods during the pandemic. Now it’s time the company pays up.
As long-time Teamster activists know, the first TA is rarely the best that can be won, and we know UPS has more than enough money. To win the maximum and unite all classifications, workers must demand more. Tell O’Brien and the National Bargaining Committee to get back to negotiations and bring back a better TA. Vote “No” to resume the strike threat and win more.
4. We can’t abandon clerks, full-time helpers, and laid-off drivers.
One of the greatest injustices happening to UPS workers has been the displacement/layoff of clerks, full-time helpers and low-seniority drivers. These layoffs have been especially outrageous because clerks and other high-seniority union members are being forced to work the inhumane “split-shift.” The split-shift robs our members of sleep and any semblance of a normal life, and is a complete violation of seniority and the right to 8-hours continuous work for full-timers. This injustice must stop, and seniority must be defended. Tell union leadership we need stronger language to protect against layoffs and to defend seniority. Vote “No” to oppose layoffs, split-shifts and seniority violations.
5. Discipline and harassment must end.
UPS is one of the most brutal companies to work for, with a long history of management discipline and harassment of its workforce. In the majority of shops, union power remains weak in large part because workers fear being targeted. Putting in grievances or even joining the 9.5 list is enough to “put a target on your back.” To rebuild shop-floor organization and revitalize the Teamsters union, we need much stronger protections against unjust discipline and harassment, particularly of union activists. And this TA doesn’t help in this regard. For drivers, management could use the vague “ride-along” language to increase harassment. Inside the buildings, management can continue harassing workers on the belts and trailers. Workers need the right to strike to enforce the contract and combat management abuse. Vote “No” to unending discipline and harassment.
6. No more tiers!
While the union has secured the elimination of the hated 22.4 classification of drivers, other aspects of the tier system remain. Among drivers, only some will qualify for 9.5 overtime protections. And progression to top-pay takes too long. Meanwhile, other tiers of workers will remain during peak season: seasonal helpers, personal vehicle drivers (PVDs) and a completely new tier of workers, “seasonal support drivers.” All of these tiers serve to divide the union and push down wages, as do the long progressions to top-pay. Defend the principle of “equal pay for equal work” and Vote “No” to new types of tiers.
7. This TA will divide our union, not strengthen it
To rebuild Teamster power and improve the conditions of UPS workers in the long term, we need a unified union that uplifts ALL its members. While important gains have been made in some areas, part-timers, clerks, full-time helpers, and other sectors would be left behind and are likely to become embittered. Vote “No” to uplift every sector of workers and build greater unity.
8. Don’t open the door to company surveillance in the package cars.
The current TA allows UPS to install driver-facing video sensors, as well as audio sensors. While the contract stipulates that these sensors will not be used for discipline or to spy on workers, every Teamster activist knows that UPS management can’t be trusted. In-cab sensors open the door to company surveillance and possible discipline, regardless of what the contract language says. There should be NO driver-facing sensors or in-car audio recording, period.
Vote “No” to protect drivers and helpers from management spying.
9. We must end forced overtime.
The labor movement won the 8-hour workday and weekend through great sacrifice and struggle over a hundred years ago. Workers are supposed to have a bare minimum of 8-hours rest and 8-hours of leisure, as well as two guaranteed days off. Yet UPS drivers are routinely forced to work 60 or even 70 hour weeks, and with this TA, forced overtime will continue. We should build on the momentum of removing sixth-day forced punches for drivers and demand a real 8-hour work-day. Overtime should be optional, not mandatory. Part-timers and 22.2 full-timers should also have the same protection from mandatory sixth-day punches that drivers have won. And Sunday work should not be accepted by the union without a bigger fight. Vote “No” to fight for stronger protections against forced overtime and weekend work.
10. We have the power to strike and make history.
97 percent of voting Teamsters chose to authorize a strike, and many are still ready to walk out ASAP. Working at UPS is tiring, dangerous and difficult, and workers endure daily injustices. We are in a rare moment where conditions can be greatly improved by a massive show of union power. A militant UPS strike would win a better contract, inspire workers at Amazon, FedEx and other logistics companies to unionize, and help rejuvenate the Teamsters and the broader labor movement. We were ready to strike before, let’s get strike ready again.