UPS strikes deal with Teamsters to avoid strike

UPS’s 340,000 employees were eyeing a strike next week if a deal could not be reached.

UPS has reached a contract agreement with its 340,000-strong union, averting a strike that could have disrupted nationwide logistics for businesses and households.

Teamsters called this tentative agreement “historic” and praised its benefits, including higher wages and air conditioning in delivery trucks.


Driving the news: The five-year agreement covers US Teamsters-represented employees in small-package roles. However, it is subject to voting and ratification by union members. This reflects the importance of collective decision-making and ensuring the agreement reflects the interests of the workforce.

  • Teamsters had been dissatisfied with a contract imposed on them five years ago, which led to clashes with UPS over pay. The election of Sean O’Brien, a critic of the previous union president who approved the contract, signaled a change in leadership and a desire to rectify what they perceived as an unfair agreement.
  • The tentative agreement addressed safety concerns, particularly equipping more trucks with air conditioning. UPS committed to adding air conditioning to small delivery vehicles purchased after January 1, 2024. This is a positive development for workers who face challenging conditions during their deliveries.
  • The issue of a two-tier wage system was also resolved in the new agreement. The Teamsters deemed it unfair, and it has now been eliminated. This decision ensures more equitable treatment and compensation for all unionized workers.

The backstory: The profitability of UPS has significantly increased during the pandemic, with profits growing over 140% since the last contract was signed. Unionized workers argued that they have played a vital role in the company’s growth and were determined to address what they considered a flawed contract.

  • Member voting on the agreement began on August 3 and will conclude on August 22. This democratic process allows union members to have their voices heard and ensures that the final decision reflects the collective will.
  • It is worth noting that UPS has the largest private-sector contract with workers in North America. In the past, breakdowns in labor talks have resulted in strikes that had significant impacts on the company’s operations.

What they’re saying: UPS CEO Carol Tomé stated that the agreement was a win-win-win, addressing important issues for Teamsters leadership, employees, UPS, and customers. She emphasized that the contract continues to provide industry-leading pay and benefits while maintaining the needed flexibility to remain competitive.

  • “The union went into this fight committed to winning for our members,” O’Brien said. “We demanded the best contract in the history of UPS, and we got it. UPS has put $30 billion in new money on the table as a direct result of these negotiations.”
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