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UPS workers approve new national, Louisville labor contracts

Around 150,000 unionized UPS workers voted this month on whether to ratify a new five-year national contract.
Jacob Munoz
/
LPM
Around 150,000 unionized UPS workers voted this month on whether to ratify a new five-year national contract.

More than 86% of voters ratified a five-year national agreement covering more than 340,000 unionized United Parcel Service workers. The high margin gives the Teamsters union a major organizing victory and all but averts a massive strike.

UPS and Teamsters negotiators began talks over the national contract in April. Under the threat of a nationwide worker strike, and after discussions briefly collapsed, the two sides brokered a deal late last month.

In a press release, Teamsters leaders called the outcome “the highest vote” for a national contract in the union’s history with the company.

“Teamsters have set a new standard and raised the bar for pay, benefits, and working conditions in the package delivery industry. This is the template for how workers should be paid and protected nationwide,” said union general president Sean O’Brien in the release.

About 150,000 workers voted on the national contract, according to results published Tuesday by the union.

A supplemental contract affecting employees at Louisville’s UPS Worldport also passed with about 80% support from around 3,800 voters. More than 40 other supplemental contracts were also approved.

However, a group of Florida UPS workers rejected their proposed supplemental contract, the only unsuccessful agreement.

The Teamsters union said once that deal is renegotiated and approved, all of the contracts will take effect.

Stephen Piercey is the communications director for Teamsters Local 89, which represents about 12,000 Louisville-area UPS employees, including around 10,000 at Worldport.

He said his union promoted the national contract to workers by discussing its proposed wage increases, which raise full- and part-time hourly pay by $7.50 through 2028.

“In past UPS contracts, you usually average maybe $4, $4.50 over those five years,” Piercey said.

Once implemented, the contract will immediately push full- and part-time hourly pay up by at least $2.75 an hour. Existing part-timers will make a minimum of $25.75 an hour by the agreement’s expiration.

While the contract was approved by a large margin, some workers were critical of the deal.

A group called Teamsters Mobilize promoted a “vote no” campaign, arguing the changes to pay and benefits weren’t strong enough and demanded a better contract.

One of their concerns involved part-time employees hired after last month, who would only earn up to $23 an hour by 2028. They argued it would cause a wage division similar to a delivery driver pay system that the union argued against and dismantled during this year’s negotiations.

Stacy Windhorst, a Worldport employee and Local 89 steward, said the significant national vote margin showed that a silent majority of workers overpowered louder dissent.

“What you see on all these Facebook pages, and what you see on the media, is they want it to be kind of stirred up,” Windhorst said.

Windhorst argued the Worldport contract is the best Louisville UPS deal he’s seen in his more than 35 years with the company.

He highlighted changes that will add 300 full-time jobs by 2028 and guarantee part-timers an extra half hour of daily work starting mid-February. He also said workers are looking forward to the immediate pay increase from the national contract.

“Everybody's happy they're getting a $2.75 raise up front. I mean, that's huge. That helps people,” Windhorst said.

The national contract is the largest private-sector agreement in North America, according to the Teamsters union.

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