On Friday two union contracts had to be approved by UPS employees. One one for the parcel division which includes drivers and workers and the other was for the freight division which includes drivers for its long haul freight service, UPS Freight.
While UPS employees overwhelmingly rejected both contracts, the national Teamsters union approved the parcel division contract.
The 54 percent “no” vote by the parcel division workers wasn’t enough to block the deal under union rules.
If less than half of the membership turns out to vote, two-thirds of the voting membership would have to reject the deal to block the ratification of the contract.
“Thus, the National Master Agreement has been ratified,” the Teamsters union said in a statement.
However, the Teamster’s leadership is demanding that UPS management head back to the negotiation table to address concerns raised by its membership.
Freight and Airport Mechanics Contracts Rejected
The contract for UPS Freight drivers and workers has been rejected by the membership forcing both the union and UPS to head back to the negotiating table.
This is a potential blow to UPS as the company is also dealing with another contract that was rejected last Monday by its airport mechanics at its Louisville, KY hub.
Just as the parcel division workers, both the UPS Freight employees and the aircraft mechanics are represented by the Teamsters union.
There appears to be a division between the national leadership of the Teamsters and the membership about the negotiated labor contracts.
Most workers feel UPS is a highly profitable company that can easily afford to pay its employees and accuses the union leadership of selling out workers to appease the carrier.
Union leadership claims rising competition from non-Union carriers such as FedEx and others will impact UPS’s businesses. They also fear that a national strike would severely harm the company’s market share.
With UPS being the largest private-employer with workers represented by the Teamsters union, the membership appears to feel that union leadership it more concerned about its standing and cooperation with UPS.
And Amazon’s recent announcement they are raising starting hourly pay to $15 has only added to the issue as some UPS workers under the new labor contracts would still have had lower starting pay than Amazon’s non-union workers.
This announcement slightly undermined a talking point by the national union leadership that Amazon workers are underpaid.
Impact on Holiday Season?
The internal strive between national union leadership and the rank-and-file membership is something can go into several directions.
While the parcel divisions drivers and workers have a new contract, if an impasse continues with the UPS Freight division and the Louisville airport mechanics, a strike is still a possibility before the year is over.
And as would be typical in such a situation, if one part of the company goes on strike, there is a good chance there will be solidarity labor actions by other unionized members of the company.
eCommerce merchants should take some precautionary steps just in case this situation escalates to a point it could disrupt operations at UPS.
Obviously, UPS has a lot to lose if a holiday season strike would disrupt operations and one would hope that both sides can come up with a reasonable solution to resolve the issues.
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