UPS Freight narrowly avoided a strike of 11,000 drivers — but not all of its employees are happy

UPS Freight narrowly avoided a strike of 11,000 drivers — but not all of its employees are happy
  • UPS Freight narrowly avoided a strike. The last time UPS saw a work stoppage was in 1997.

  • UPS Freight and Teamsters ratified a five-year work contract for its 11,600 unionized workers. The majority of its workers voted "yes" on the contract after months of negotiating.

  • Last week, UPS Freight was preparing for a work stoppage.

  • Still, not all UPS Freight employees are happy.

UPS Freight announced Sunday night that its five-year labor agreement with its employees was ratified. Teamsters represents those 11,600 UPS Freight workers.

The passing of this agreement avoids a strike that would have halted UPS Freight shipments. The last time UPS saw a work stoppage was in 1997.

According to Teamsters, 84% of UPS Freight workers in the union voted. Seventy-seven percent voted yes on the contract, after months of negotiating.

Most consumers don't interact with UPS Freight, which moves goods within the supply chain, rather than the small-package unit that makes deliveries to people's homes. It moved 2.8 billion pounds of goods in the last quarter, FreightWaves reported.

While UPS Freight doesn't come right to your home, a work stoppage in that division would still up the prices of your holiday goods, as Business Insider reported last week. Shippers would not be able to deliver goods on time and would have to find pricier, last-minute alternatives in the case of a strike.

Still, not all UPS Freight workers are pleased

UPS Freight workers told Business Insider that the contract didn't provide enough protection against UPS Freight hiring subcontracted workers, who are not unionized and are typically paid less than full-time employees.

They also said they've noticed their benefits being reduced with each contract, which are negotiated for workers on behalf of Teamsters.

Milwaukee-based Curt Siekert, who has been a UPS Freight driver for 13 years, said he and his coworkers used to receive 401k matching, health insurance coverage during work stoppages, and other stipulations. Now, their labor contracts don't cover that.

There is also a multi-tier wage structure in this contract that allows employees to start at a rate that's close to what more senior employees make. For instance, starting clerical workers are receiving a two-dollar raise, while workers who have been with UPS for 36 or 48 months are receiving only a 50-cent raise.

"The contract pretty much caters to the new employees," Tanya Finley, a UPS Freight employee based in Orlando, Florida, told Business Insider.

UPS counters that their freight drivers are among the most well-paid in the industry. A UPS Freight driver who has been with the company for 48 months earns 72 cents per mile, according to the latest contract. Truckers typically earn between 28 to 40 cents per mile.

"It is an offer that rewards our employees with wages and benefits at the top of the industry and compensates them for their contributions to the success of the company," UPS said in an emailed statement to Business Insider last week. "We are disappointed that the Freight Teamsters union leaders have chosen to announce the potential for a strike, should their members vote 'no' on the offer."

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