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Strike averted: UPS reaches tentative deal with 340K unionized workers

The proposed five-year contract includes pay raises for all workers, more full-time jobs, and improved workplace protections.
Posted at 12:50 PM, Jul 25, 2023

Just days before more than 340,000 UPS workers were set to go on strike, the company has reached a tentative contract agreement with the union that represents them.

Negotiators for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters called it the "most historic tentative agreement" in company history. Among other things, the five-year contract includes pay raises for all workers, more full-time jobs, and improved workplace protections, such as adding air conditioning in all new package delivery vehicles.

Current full-time and part-time UPS workers will earn $2.75 more per hour this year, and that will increase to $7.50 more per hour over the next five years. Current part-time workers will also have their minimum pay raised to no less than $21 per hour immediately and full-time delivery drivers will see their wages improve to an average top rate of about $49 per hour.

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Teamsters General President Sean O'Brien said months of negotiations are now responsible for $30 billion in new money for workers and rewards them for their continued labor throughout the pandemic.

"We've changed the game, battling it out day and night to make sure our members won an agreement that pays strong wages, rewards their labor, and doesn't require a single concession," O'Brien said in a statement."This contract sets a new standard in the labor movement and raises the bar for all workers."

Unionized UPS workers voted overwhelmingly last month to authorize a strike if the company and its employees could not agree to a new contract by July 31, which would have set the stage for the largest U.S. labor walkout since the 1959 steelworkers strike.

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With millions of Americans relying on UPS delivery services for essentials like food, clothing and medication, a strike would have brought a large swath of the U.S. economy to a grinding halt.

"UPS came dangerously close to putting itself on strike, but we kept firm on our demands," Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Fred Zuckerman said. "In my more than 40 years in Louisville representing members at Worldport — the largest UPS hub in the country - I have never seen a national contract that levels the playing field for workers so dramatically as this one."

Atlanta-based UPS said the company made record profits in 2022, delivering an average of 24.3 million packages per day to more than 220 countries and territories around the globe. It also issued some $8.6 billion in dividends and stock buybacks that year. Even in the midst of a pandemic, company profits increased by more than 140% since its last contract agreement with workers.

Voting on the latest proposal begins Aug. 3 and will conclude on Aug. 22.

The White House said Tuesday that President Joe Biden spoke with UPS President Carol Tomé and Teamsters President Sean O'Brien over the phone. The president "warmly congratulated both on reaching an agreement and thanked them for their hard work," the White House said. 

Biden also expressed his support for collective bargaining, the White House said in a statement.