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Louisville union endorses UPS national contract as workers vote on whether to approve deal

About 12,000 UPS workers in the Louisville Metro area could go on strike in August.
Jacob Munoz
Teamsters Local 89 represents about 12,000 UPS workers in the Louisville Metro area.

Teamsters Local 89 is putting its support behind a five-year contract they say delivers big wins to United Parcel Service workers. Employees have until August 22 to decide whether to accept the agreement.

Local 89 represents around 12,000 Louisville-area workers. There are more than 26,000 full- and part-time UPS employees in the city, according to UPS spokesperson Laura Holmberg.

The union is recommending employees vote for a tentative national master agreement, praising wage increases and changes to working conditions.

“Local 89 believes the 2023-2028 tentative agreement is the richest, most historic step forward for UPS members in our union’s history,” said the union in a statement last week.

Teamsters union chapters voted 161-1 to recommend the tentative contract at the end of July. Local 89 was the sole ‘no’ vote, as initially reported by WDRB.

In its statement, the union argues that its initial position was not a vote against the contract. It said it was caused by concerns UPS could eliminate workers’ market rate adjustments — non-contractual pay changes the company uses to stay competitive.

The union said it consulted with national Teamsters leaders on the issue.

“As a result of this information gathering, we can now say with confidence that our existing seniority members who currently enjoy MRAs will also receive the general wage increases on top of their MRA rates under the new tentative agreement,” it said.

A spokesperson for Local 89 did not respond to requests for comment.

Teamsters has promoted various changes within the national tentative agreement, including raising starting pay for all workers to at least $21 an hour, reclassifying workers from a controversial delivery driver position and adding Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a full holiday.

Existing part-time employees would earn nearly $26 an hour by 2028, with additional seniority increases up to $1.50 an hour for workers with the company for at least five years. However, new part-timers would only receive up to $23 an hour by 2028.

Ariana Levinson is a University of Louisville law professor who studies labor and employment law. She said the national contract and the new Louisville Air Rider contract, which affects UPS Worldport employees, also include subtle updates.

“You see them doing simple changes, changing pronouns to using the singular ‘their’…in the [Air Rider] contract, you see changes requiring interpretation into Spanish of important documents…which is more in sync with our workforce at this time becoming more international,” Levinson said.

However, some current UPS workers are not satisfied with the national contract.

Chris is a long-term, part-time employee in Louisville. He said he’s frustrated that starting pay isn’t higher for workers, and intends to vote against the national agreement.

He said he believes $30 an hour would be appropriate due to inflation. That’s similar to how much a full-time package car driver would make after three years under the new contract.

He’s also upset the agreement doesn’t include paid time off for workers who contract coronavirus.

“There's actually no COVID language in this new contract,— which is absolutely shocking — or any other sort of pandemic language. After what essential workers went through, I would assume every union would have language in that now,” Chris said.

About 340,000 UPS workers previously threatened to strike after negotiations between the company and Teamsters broke down.

A majority of employees who voted on the 2018-23 national master agreement went against it. However, the contract was ratified anyway because less than two-thirds of eligible voters did not vote against it. That clause was later eliminated, and now a simple majority rules.

Jacob is LPM's Business and Development Reporter. Email Jacob at jmunoz@lpm.org.

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