Johannes Werner: After test pickets in Sarasota and Tampa, the August package delivery strike is called off. The teamsters union scored a big victory with and for UPS drivers when the company agreed to a nationwide collective bargaining agreement yesterday. WSLR reporter Ramon Lopez has more details on this.
Crowd: [Chanting] You say “pay up,” UPS, pay up!
Host: That’s a sound you won’t be hearing now that UPS has reached a deal with the Teamsters union, which represents 340,000 UPS workers nationwide, including 16,500 in the Sunshine State and 3,000 working under Teamsters Chapter 79, which covers the Tampa Bay region and Sarasota.
Negotiations between the company and the Teamsters on Tuesday resulted in a tentative contract that averted the largest single employer strike in U.S. history and would have disrupted delivery services for businesses and households here in Sarasota and Manatee counties, and for millions nationwide. The deal was struck after both sides returned to the negotiating table after contentious negotiations broke down earlier this month.
The two sides faced a July 31 deadline with a work stoppage beginning the next day. The Teamsters called the agreement “historic.” Teamsters boss Sean O’Brien said in a statement that it sets a new standard in the labor movement. He added, “We demanded the best contract in the history of UPS and we got it.”
UPS Chief Executive Carol Tomé said in the statement, “This agreement continues to reward UPS full and part time employees with industry leading pay and benefits while allowing UPS to stay competitive and keep our business strong. We reached a win-win agreement.”
The tentative pact still needs union rank and file approval, but it provides full and part time union workers $2.75 more per hour this year, and $7.50 more by the end of the five-year contract. Voting on a new contract begins August 3 and runs through August 22.
A roadblock in negotiations had been starting pay for part time workers. Part time workers at UPS will now get $21 per hour from $16 The two sides had already agreed to make Martin Luther King Day a paid holiday. Drivers will now start to work in air conditioned trucks bought down the line.
The impact of the strike would have been far reaching. UPS ships 24 million parcels each day, about a quarter of all packages shipped daily. Competitors such as FedEx, Amazon and the U.S. Postal Service would have been hard-pressed picking up the load.
The last UPS strike was in 1997 and involved only 185,000 workers. It lasted two weeks and crippled the company, with UPS losing $600 million in business. A walkout this time would have had far reaching implications, as millions of Americans are now using online shopping with delivery through private companies, like UPS.
Observers say the negotiations may help set a new standard for all package delivery companies. Overall, about 1 million workers are working in the parcel delivery industry.
This is Ramon Lopez for WSLR News.
Thursday, February 29, 2024
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