© 2024 Louisville Public Media

Public Files:
89.3 WFPL · 90.5 WUOL-FM · 91.9 WFPK

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact info@lpm.org or call 502-814-6500
89.3 WFPL News | 90.5 WUOL Classical 91.9 WFPK Music | KyCIR Investigations
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Stream: News Music Classical

UPS union negotiating contract for thousands of Louisville workers

UPS Worldport sign
Danielle Kaye
A sign marks the entrance to UPS Worldport, the company's largest air hub in the United States, located at the Louisville airport.

As the national United Parcel Service-Teamsters labor contract nears its expiration date, the union’s Louisville chapter is pushing for a new agreement on behalf of the thousands of workers it represents.

Teamsters Local 89, which represents approximately 10,000 workers at the UPS Worldport air hub and 2,000 at the UPS Louisville Centennial Hub, is hoping to reach an agreement that guarantees compensation for travel time on shuttles at the Worldport facility and additional full-time jobs.

Supplemental negotiations for local and regional UPS contracts are now happening simultaneously across the United States, before the UPS Teamsters National Master Agreement expires on July 31. National negotiations were slated to start April 17, but Teamsters leadership said the union will not bargain for a national agreement until all supplemental contracts are resolved.

Worldport, located at the Louisville airport, is the largest UPS air hub in the country. Stephen Piercey, communications director at Teamsters Local 89 in Louisville, said compensation and other labor issues at Worldport are unique because of the facility’s size.

“It’s such a large facility that a vast majority of people can’t walk to their work area. It’s miles and miles of facility,” Piercey said in reference to Local 89’s efforts to secure compensation for the time workers spend on shuttles.

Another key Local 89 demand: Add additional full-time jobs. Piercey said the majority of workers at Worldport are part-time because air operations are designed around short shifts.

Before joining the Local 89 staff, Piercey worked part-time at the Worldport facility. He said it wasn’t because he didn’t want to work there full-time, but that he wasn’t presented with pathways to do so.

Kara Deniz, a Teamsters spokesperson, said only about half of the 40 UPS supplemental agreements have been resolved, as of Monday. Local 89 began bargaining with UPS in February, but they have yet to reach a deal. Piercey said UPS is “slow-walking” the contract negotiation process.

“We have struggled to get the company to even talk about those issues, so it’s kind of difficult to settle or come to an agreement on a local contract when they’re ignoring your top two issues,” Piercey said. “And that seems to be the way it’s been going everywhere.”

Without resolved supplemental and national contracts by July 31, UPS could face a national workers’ strike.

Jim Mayer, a UPS spokesperson, said the company is confident they’ll reach a deal with Teamsters by time the contract expires, thus averting a strike.

More worker hours and information 

Multiple Worldport workers told LPM News they don’t have enough information about what exactly the union is fighting for in the current contract negotiations.

Anthony Sneed, a part-time package loader at Worldport, said he’s concerned about whether Teamsters members will be informed when it comes time to vote on a new contract – or on whether to strike.

“It used to be a big deal – what the union is and what they fight for. But it’s kind of tapered off,” Sneed said. “They need to have a younger spokesperson to come around and speak to the newer generation and let them know what the union is, and why it’s important to vote.”

Sneed also said his main concern – more than compensation for time spent on shuttles, or pathways to full-time jobs – is securing more hours on the job each week. He said there’s been a notable drop-off in hours in the past few months, since the 2022 holiday season. He used to work 35 hours per week, but he said he’s now scheduled for 22 hours per week on average.

Sneed has been working at Worldport for nine years. He said the recent cuts to hours is something he’d never seen before at the facility.

“I have a second job so I’m able to deal with it, but other people, it’s not looking good for them,” Sneed said.

Sarah Seebold, another part-time loader at Worldport, said extra hours would give her incentive to keep working there. But, like Sneed, she said she hasn’t received much information from Teamsters about ongoing contract negotiations.

Seebold, who has worked at Worldport for 11 years, said she’s nervous about the possibility of a strike, but will participate if it comes to that.

“If they don’t want to listen to our voices, then we’re going to have to [strike],” Seebold said. “There’s no way around it.”

National collective bargaining agreement

The Teamsters’ national UPS contract is the largest private-sector collective bargaining agreement in North America, covering roughly 340,000 Teamsters members, including delivery drivers and warehouse workers.

There is some overlap between national demands and those specific to the Worldport Air Rider contract in Louisville. Teamsters national, like the Local 89 chapter, is pushing UPS to create more full-time jobs.

On a national level, the union is also campaigning against what they call a two-tier wage system, under which some UPS package drivers earn less than others.

UPS reported a record profit for 2022. Deniz said the company’s strong financial position is only bolstering calls for fair wages.

“You have a workforce at UPS that, increasingly over the years, knows the financials of the company, they know how well the company has been doing,” Deniz said. “They firmly believe they’ve helped create those profits and they want to see their fair share of it.”


Can we count on your support?

Louisville Public Media depends on donations from members – generous people like you – for the majority of our funding. You can help make the next story possible with a donation of $10 or $20. We'll put your gift to work providing news and music for our diverse community.